The 4x4 or off-road car has morphed from being something farmers once used to rescue sheep on desolate hillsides, into SUV-style vehicles that increasingly play a part in all our lives.
But if you think workaday SUVs look extreme, think again. They’re comparatively wimpy, more suited to a life of shopping and motorway cruising than getting stuck into rough, tough terrain.
When drivers dream of getting behind the wheel of a car with extreme go-anywhere ability, these are the most outrageous off-roaders they should consider – and you can watch them all in action.
Mercedes-Benz G63 Brabus 700
As if a six-wheel super off-roader isn’t extreme enough, German company Brabus has taken things to a new level with its version of the Mercedes-Benz G63 6x6. The basic car already looked angrier than a sack of snakes so visual adornment was largely ignored. Instead, engineers set to work extracting more power from the 5.5-litre V8. They strapped on bigger turbo chargers, then wrapped the air intakes in gold to keep things cool.
The result is a power output of 700 horsepower (the equivalent of about seven low-range VW Golfs) and a 0-60mph time of 7.4 seconds. Not bad for something that weighs nearly four tonnes.
Fiat Panda Monster Truck
On average it’s been estimated that we spend a year of our lives stuck in traffic jams. If you’ve ever fantasised about driving over the cars in front rather than queuing patiently behind them, the Fiat Panda Monster Truck could make your dreams come true.
Built as a one-off publicity stunt vehicle, it marries a Fiat Panda’s body with a Jeep chassis and then sits them on 1.5m diameter tractor wheels. The whole thing is 3.9m high, so multistorey car parks are one of the few places it can’t get to.
Conquest Vehicles Knight XV
Imagine you’re the average evil dictator. Life’s good, for you and your supporters. Trouble is, there are some in your country who don’t agree; who think the world would be a better place if you weren’t around. You need protection. You need the Conquest Vehicles Knight XV. Inside, it’s the last word in luxury with a 26-inch LCD TV, games console and its own bar.
It’s also designed to cosset its owner from life’s inconveniences ‑ such as opposition. There’s oxygen for gas attacks, the floor is bomb-proof and bullets will bounce off the bodywork and windows. The downside is it’s 6m long, weighs five-and-a-half tonnes and you’ll need your own oil well to keep its fuel tank topped up.
Ford F-150 RaptorTRAX
Pick-up trucks look like they’re made for pussycats alongside the RaptorTRAX. This cross between the popular (in the US) Ford F-150 pick-up and a snowmobile was dreamt up by some-time racer and stunt driver Ken Block, star of the Hoonigan viral videos.
But it also has a practical purpose, enabling Block and his extreme buddies to go snowboarding in places mere mortals and chairlifts can’t access. With a 6.2-litre V8 and Recaro sports seats they can get there in some style too.
Normally cars that look like off-roaders have power going to all their wheels. The Peugeot 2008DKR16 bucks that trend by having drive only go to the rear wheels and using sophisticated computer software to control how the power is delivered to the wheel with the most grip.
It rolls on 37-inch wheels, sits nearly half a metre off the ground and uses a 3-litre diesel engine. As well as revolutionary, it’s successful too. It won the 2016 Dakar Rally, a 6000-mile trek through Argentina and Bolivia against vehicles that are – on paper at least – much more suited to challenging terrain.