Off-road cars are not meant to go fast, or so we were told. That was before we lay our eyes on the manic Ariel Nomad. It was perfect off the road. The long travel suspension, feather-light weight and the torque-y Honda sourced 2.4 L engine gave it the power to run over anything. While it was incredible fun, it maintained a distinctly spartan approach and it was still not as well established on the road as its track cousin, the Atom.
Now Zarooq Motors, a Dubai based sports car manufacturer claims to have cracked the key to the perfect off-roading supercar (which is what my teacher used to call an oxymoron, I think). With the Sand Racer, the brand says that it has created a sublime road-legal off-roader that can outrun proper track monsters on your weekend visit to the neighbourhood circuit.
It gets a proper mid-ship mounting position for a massive Chevrolet sourced 6.2 Litre LT1 V8 engine. It puts out 525 BHP and 660 Nm of torque, which mated to a 5-speed sequential manual gearbox from Weddle, help this 1300 kg monster reach an electronically restrained top speed of 220 km/h. It boasts of solid racing pedigree as well with a bespoke chassis designed by the good folks over at Campos Racing.
It features a Dakar-grade Intrax suspension system with an unbelievable 45 centimetres of maximum travel. On track, the suspension can be dropped to the more aggressive Race mode, helping it hug the road as it carves through corners.
The carbon fibre body is supplied by iconic performance tuners, Mansory and so are the delightful luxe-barge rivalling hand stitched interiors. It looks the part too, with bold lines and striking exhausts at the back. The sharp rear diffusers are also easily removable – just in case you decide to climb down the cliff at Grand Canyon, you know.
It’s extremely practical as well, with two bespoke carbon-fibre seats, a digital dashboard, climate control, Apple CarPlay and even power windows – take that Nomad. Zarooq claims to have already put a support infrastructure across Europe and other Arabian nations to help owners maintain their Sand Racers.
Only 35 of these beasts will be built and some have already found takers with deliveries beginning by the end of this year. So if you have a spare USD 450,000 lying around and want a vehicle that can help you survive the apocalypse in regal luxury, you know where to go.