For those who don't want to take in the scenery when going off the beaten path.
Anyone that has driven off-road with any degree of regularity knows that there are two ways people approach the discipline. One is to take it slow and tread carefully, be wary of dangers, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Mother Nature at work. The second tactic for tackling rough terrain is to just send it - bury the throttle pedal, get as much power down as possible, then don't lift until you get where you're going. As Colin McRae always said, "when in doubt, flat out."
These are the cars that will exhilarate and terrify scholars of the "just send it" school of thought. They're insanely fast and agile cars, and in most cases, they're descended either directly from supercars or engineered to the same levels, but ready swing off the pavement and scare the local wildlife.
Laffite Supercars is a company formed by professional racing driver Bruno Laffite and his wife, Laetitia Laffite. The company's first product is a US road-legal version of what is best described as a hardcore Dakar prototype racer. Under the hood is an LS3 6.2-liter V8 that produces 470 horsepower in the base model and 720 hp in its most potent configuration. It also weighs in at just 2,866 lbs, has only two seats, a rear-wheel-drive layout, and 17-inches of suspension travel. Pricing comes in at $465,000, and an electric version is slated at $545,000.
The X-Road is born from the Zarooq Sand Racer 500 GT that Laffite was involved with a few years ago.
The Lamborghini Urus is primarily designed for pavement. However, the Italian supercar maker is now offering a specific off-road package. It's not just a raised suspension and some new bodywork, though. The bumpers get steel reinforcement, metal underbody protection, and new off-road modes. There's also wet-arm wipers and headlight washers to go with the ride height lift of 1.3 inches, up to 3.5 inches with air, and lightweight forged Asterope 21-inch alloys with all-terrain tires. The lift increases the front approach angle drastically, giving it 27.9 degrees compared to 20.3 degrees, and improves the rear incrementally to 28.3 degrees.
Bowler Manufacturing is a UK company that was recently acquired by Jaguar Land Rover. It specializes in building off-road racers based on Land Rover platforms and has a fearsome reputation for its rally-raid vehicles. The Bowler EXR-S was the road-legal version of the Bowler Nemesis and featured a tubular steel spaceframe chassis and incorporated roll-cage. The road-legal version also came with Bilstein and Eibach double wishbone suspension and 11.2 inches of wheel travel. There were two engine choices, and the more powerful option was the Range Rover Sport's 5.0-liter supercharged V8 pushing out around 600 hp. It was built until just a few years ago with minimal compromise for the road.
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning the granddaddy of insane off-road supercars. The company was called Mega, and the model was called the Track. The company was an offshoot of a French brand called Axiom, and the Track was its supercar. It was a behemoth that measured almost as wide as a Hummer and as long as a Mercedes S-Class. The best example of how absurdly big it was, though, it was built in the mid-1990s and had 20-inch wheels. The Mega Track also had a mid-mounted 6.0-liter Mercedes-Benz V12 pumping out 400 hp, and an eight-inch ride height that could be turned up to 13 inches. Only five were made because it was completely unrealistic as a production model, although some believe 11 or 12 were built in the end.
You can debate whether the term supercar applies to the Ariel Nomad, but you can't argue that it is anything but heroic. It's a zero-door, mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, skeleton of an off-road brawler. It's powered by a 2.4-liter Honda engine making 235 hp and delivered to the wheels via a manual transmission. That might not sound powerful, but the road-legal Nomad weighs just 1,600 lbs and hits 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It's suspension isn't tuned for negotiating treacherous ruts or rocky ground, but for thumping through a forest, preferably sideways and showering the local wildlife in mud and pebbles.
Alternatively, you could order the 2021 Nomad R with a supercharged version of Honda's older Civic Si engine making 335 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque. Supercar? We think so.
Xing Mobility's Miss R electric supercar is still in its prototype stage, but the Taiwnese EV company has shown a video of it doing both on-road and off-road shakedowns. Xing claims that the all-electric mini-monster is the "first electric supercar with both on-road and off-road capabilities," which sounds apt when it produces 1,341 hp. More claims include a 0-60 mph time of 1.8 seconds and an off-road setting as well as changeable wheels and tires for either road or dirt use.
As amazing as it sounds, though, our favorite fact about the Miss R is that the drivetrain technology will also be used in a 3.5-ton truck. That prototype is called Mr. T.
Also currently playing with a prototype electric off-road supercar is the "artist of the automotive design" Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son Fabrizio. They've formed the GFG Style company and created a 483 hp prototype electric supercar with three suspension settings: Track, Road, and Off-Road, with ride height settings of 5.5 inches, 7.5 inches, and 10.2 inches, respectively. In addition to all-wheel drive provided by two electric motors, the Kangaroo also has all-wheel-steering and a 90-kWh battery pack that should give a range of over 280 miles.
The electric platform it's on is developed with the Chinese company CH Auto and the "Hyper SUV" is promised to complete the 0-62 mph sprint in 3.8 seconds on tarmac.
Lamborghini is also in the prototype off-road supercar game and put together the incredible looking Huracan Sterrato. The name Sterrato, loosely translated, means dirt or rural road, and the story is that the idea came up when the Urus development team took a shine to off-roading while developing the Urus. Then, in true Lamborghini style, they went nuts. The result is a Huracán Evo with a two-inch lift and hulked-out wheel arches to accommodate prototype Pirelli off-road tires. To fit those new tires, the front axle is moved three inches forward, which means the prototype has longer fenders and new control arms.
The whole electric drive control system is tuned for low-grip surfaces, and armor plating has been added under the nose along with shielding to prevent rocks from getting through the side intakes. The best bit? A limited run between 500 and 1,000 units could be produced.
The original Baja Boot was a four-wheel-drive racer with a 450-horsepower V8 and was piloted by Steve McQueen in the late 1960s. Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus reimagined the racer and entered it in the Baja 1000 in 2019. Its only competitor in the road-legal class was the Ford Bronco, and the Bronco had terrible luck. SGC also built a couple of more road-friendly versions for the US. The two-door and four-door models have a 6.2-liter, 460-horsepower LT1 V8, Fox coilover suspension, chromoly chassis, composite body, a leather interior, and a removable hard-top. They aren't exactly production models, though. Only a couple exist, and the ex-factory versions from SGC's site are on offer for $287,500 each.