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5 Cars You Would Never Suspect Of Being Awesome Off-Roaders

The incognito Range Rovers of the world.

The BMW M3 and M4 have conquered the market by retaining all-round sleeper prestige. You can go grocery shopping in it, cram friends in for a night on the town, and put a massive smile on your face by using it for a little weekend track duty. But there is untapped potential when it comes to off-road vehicles. So what happens when you want the duality of of a latte-sipping urbanite and ability to conquer anything? Enter the family of secret off roaders that will surprise you on your local trail.

With leather seats, four-wheel drive, and SUV-like cargo space, there’s no reason to buy a G-Wagon: the Mercedes E-Class 4Matic Estate is the incognito rock climber for you. With it, you can take a break from hanging out in your cigar lounge and go hunt pheasants on your muddy property without ruining your smoking jacket. Shell out over $100,000 and you can get the S63 AMG E-Class Estate that churns out 577 horsepower and pulls a drift like its nobody’s business. The car is a jack of all trades because it can haul anything, hit the tough terrain, fit in at the country club, and pull lap times sure to piss off old men in Porsches.

The Fiat 500L is a pointless car. It's as ugly as an object can get, it lies at the bottom of Consumer Report’s reliability list, and almost any other four-wheeled object will do its job better. The Fiat, however, has one big advantage: it’s secretly a Jeep Renegade in Italian clothing. The FCA partnership has come out with a number of head scratchers, but this one is the most confusing. Sure, if you buy a 500L your friends may start holding interventions but you’ll have the last laugh when the apocalypse finally does come and you’re on the way to an off-grid shelter in your Fiat. So go ahead, buy a 500L without shame, but just remember that your never getting laid again.

Lotus is a brand that you probably think about as often as you think about shoe polish, but the notion that the company is irrelevant is simply not true. During the episode of Top Gear where the gang infamously traveled through Argentina, James May proved to the world that a 1996 Lotus Esprit can confront the worst that the Andes has to offer and come out in better shape than many diehard off roaders. The little British roadster isn’t even known for its on-road prowess, so it was impressive to see it fare well through bogs, rocky roads, blistering cold, hot dry dunes, and in the role of a support vehicle.

The Zarooq Sand Racer is a first of many sorts. Its unanticipated ability comes from the fact that the car is both a supercar and an off-road mile muncher. Okay so maybe it isn’t a supercar in everyday terms, but it is one of the first attempts to stretch the boundaries of what a supercar is by bringing the same concept of expensive, exotic, and capable to the world not explored by paving crews. The guys who make this off-road Ferrari really know their stuff too because the team consists of the designer responsible for the Lykan Hypersport, who designed the car with off-road racing in mind.

The revised Rolls Royce Phantom came into service as a shuttle for the one percent in 2003, and the makers of the spirit of ecstasy said it was the best car in the world. With a 6.75-liter BMW V12, 15 sacrificial cows coating the interior, and the ride quality of a marshmallow riding stoned on a cloud, they seemed to be making valid claims. Little did they know that while the Phantom is soft and cuddly to riders, it treats terrain the same way it treats the poor. With 453 aristocratic horsepower and the nonchalance of someone accustomed to doling out executions, the Phantom doesn’t even get wobbly knees when crossing mountains. Problem is you’ll need to fork over $417,825 to find out yourself.

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