Like the Lada Niva, one of the oldest cars sold new around the world, the original Land Rover Defender refuses to die. It retired in 2016, it unexpectedly made a brief comeback in 2018 with a V8 under the hood, and the British firm announced it gave in-house tuner Bowler permission to bring it back as a high-performance, rally-bed SUV.
Called CSP 575 internally, the born-again Defender will share only a silhouette and body panels with its rudimentary predecessor. It will be built on a chassis made with high-strength steel, and it will feature a full roll cage. Renderings released by the firm strongly hint at comprehensive suspension modifications. Bowler will pour all of its expertise into the project, and it made a name for itself by transforming the Defender into a rally car.
At the end of its life cycle, the first-generation Defender was exclusively offered with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine tuned to develop 122 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. These figures were fine for motorists seeking a daily-drivable tractor, but the 2.2-liter isn't the ideal starting point for a British-flavored take on the concept pioneered by the Ford F-150 Raptor, so Bowler will replace it with a 5.0-liter V8 supercharged to 575 horsepower. It's the familiar eight-cylinder found in several Jaguar and Land Rover models, including the F-Type and the Range Rover. Four-wheel drive will come standard, but transmission options are unconfirmed.
Built in England, the CSP 575 will land with a base price of about £200,000, which represents roughly $259,000 at the current conversion rate. It will have global appeal, Bowler said, though there's no word on whether it will be sold in the United States. We've reached out to the company, and we'll update this story if we learn more.
Land Rover stressed Bowler — which it saved from an uncertain fate in late 2019 — will turn the original Defender into a full family of models, so the CSP 575 is likely the tip of the iceberg. It's not too far-fetched to imagine short-wheelbase SUVs will join the range sooner or later. We'll learn more about the project in the coming months.
Introduced in 2019, the long-awaited second-generation Defender is a completely different off-roader than its predecessor. It's much more upscale, far less primitive, and, significantly, built on a unibody architecture. It's not available with a V8 engine as of writing, but spy shots and videos suggest that's going to change in the not-too-distant future. Insiders claim the high-performance off-roader will likely arrive as a limited-edition model.