In my younger days, much younger, a Tonka truck took its proud place on the living room carpet. That truck went through walls, bounced over rough terrain and launched several feet into the air off ludicrous ramps made from wood and bricks. This, right here, is the real version: the Bowler Nemesis EXR.
It’s the go-anywhere supercar that makes soft-roaders from Porsche and BMW look just a touch lame. In fact, this might be one of the most spectacular cars to launch this year and while Bowler currently has no plans to bring it to the U.S., we might want to start a Facebook campaign or go on a hunger strike to fix that.
Because there really isn’t much to beat full opposite lock and full-throttle drifts across a field while the car bounces off ruts and kicks up a plume of dirt off each and every wheel. Stones volley off the undercarriage like machine gun fire, the 500-hp, 5-liter, supercharged V8 powerplant roars to the redline like a whistling storm and the car is already flying down the next straight at speeds that would shake a normal car to death toward another ridiculous drift.
It might be childish, but if I owned this car I’d find a cross-country route to work and rip up the outback trails every day. I don’t get the folks who spend their weekends attacking vertical climbs at walking speeds in Mk1 Land Rover Defenders, but this is just attacking landscape in a Tonka supercar. Yeah, I get this.
It looks ostensibly like a highly modded Range Rover Sport, but it’s really not. This is a purpose-built competition car originally designed for the rigors of the Dakar Rally, the hardest off-road race there is.
Drew Bowler forged an almighty underground reputation in the event with cars of his own making and customers were soon throwing checks at him. The Tomcat and then the Wildcat consistently mixed it up with the big works teams on a fraction of the budget and with way less manpower.
Bowler’s too modest a man to take the compliment, but think of him as the Colin Chapman of the off-road world and you really wouldn’t be far wrong. He has created a legend in a converted farm building in rural England and he could be about to go mainstream.
The Nemesis is his third car and Bowler always had a plan to turn this fearsome off-road warrior into a street legal weapon that could tear up a trail or even a field if you’re so inclined. I am, so it feels like Christmas when he takes us to his scrub field and tells us to have at it.
This road car comes in almost any flavor you want, from luxurious, super fast, and slammed-to-the-deck street spec, with an additional low-slung body kit, to a stripped out off-road Atom bomb with full Donerr rally-spec suspension. We’ve got the latter, which is the ultimate toy for weekend dune bashing. Though the everyday road car variant has to be quicker and more refined on tarmac, there’s a real filthy charm to the jacked-up competition car with a license plate. It even looks better with mud-straked arches and a patina of dust on the side.
Either way it’s fitted with the stock 500hp, 5-liter, supercharged V8, and contained within a tubular spaceframe chassis that looks like it’s built from girders and a two-layer composite body that helps keep the weight down to 3,850 pounds. That doesn’t sound so great compared to, say, a Lamborghini, but it’s 1,650 less than the Range Rover. Which is epic.
That means this beast will storm from rest to 60 mph in, wait for it, 3.9 seconds. With the help of the standard ZF six-speed automatic tuned to hold the gear in Sport mode right to redline and operate more like a paddle shift manual it screams down the road. And field.
The suspension, too, totally trick and designed to soak up everything from high-frequency ruts to Titanic-style encounters with rocks while keeping all four 23-inch wheels flat to the ground and driving forward with the help of a heavyweight rally-spec diff at the rear and a viscous coupling that transfers drive to the front.