When we initially saw the Sherp ATV rolling its way around the Internet, our first thought was that it must be the work of a designer, not a real vehicle. The compact body tucked between ginormous off-road tires just looked too odd to be real. But the Russian vehicle is indeed real and it's one hell of a way to drive over anything short of a sheer cliff face.
Led by technologist Aleksei Garagashian, the minds behind the Sherp ATV – minds that are almost certainly a little twisted – got together in 2012 to develop a vehicle with supreme terrain navigation capabilities. They finished up the design last year and are now showing the vehicle at expos like the upcoming Hunting and Fishing in Russia show.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
The Sherp ATV isn't just an off-roader; it's an off-track vehicle designed to navigate over terrain that hasn't benefited from even the most basic human clearing – through the heart of brush fields, into swamps, over deadfall-strewn forest floors, and up and over talus fields. Its positively massive tires stand 63 in (160 cm) tall and provide the size and traction needed to roll over and through virtually anything in the way.
With nearly two feet (60 cm) of ground clearance, the Sherp underbody glides over obstacles that would eat up lesser vehicles. A tire-inflation system helps the vehicle adjust to the varying demands of the ground below.
And the Sherp ATV even swims, with the terrain-grappling ridges on the tires doubling as paddles. Drainage valves shed water after the Sherp ATV gets back on land.
If you think the ultra-rugged, 134 x 99 x 91-in (340 x 252 x 230-cm, L x W x H) Sherp ATV requires some kind of massive engine to shove it forward, you'll be rather shocked to learn that the whole thing is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with just 44 hp (33 kW) on tap. Though massive to the eye, the Sherp ATV weighs as little as 2,866 lb (1,300 kg), and that small engine and the five-speed manual transmission can get it going up to 28 mph (45 km/h) on land and 3.7 mph (6 km/h) in the water.
Sherp drivers also rely on skid steering, whereby the two wheels on each side are locked in synchronization, and can be driven independently of the pair on the opposite side.
The Sherp ATV seats four people inside its steel body and even has two seat belts. It can carry up to 2,200 lb (1,000 kg).
The St. Petersburg-built Sherp ATV soft-top base model starts at US$65,000. Options include an onboard generator and 50-liter (13.2 US gal) in-wheel fuel tanks to augment the 58-liter (15.3-US gal) fuel capacity. The Sherp AV is also available for lease, though what we're really hoping for is day rentals.
Watching the Sherp ATV in action is absolute magic – it speeds through the swamp, pulls itself out of the water onto ice after a swim, and slices through tall brush. After watching the video below, we're already reserving it a spot on our off-road vehicles of the year list for 2016.
Source: Sherp ATVView gallery - 16 images