Automotive

Wicked $1.6-million off-road coupe cranks up Dakar action for amateurs

Wicked $1.6-million off-road c...
The production Hunter trades out the side-carry spare tires for air intakes
The production Hunter trades out the side-carry spare tires for air intakes
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Prodrive Hunter T1+ BRX Dakar car #211 driven by Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin during Stage 8 of Dakar on January 10, 2022 in Wadi Ad Dawasir, Saudi Arabia
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Prodrive Hunter T1+ BRX Dakar car #211 driven by Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin during Stage 8 of Dakar on January 10, 2022 in Wadi Ad Dawasir, Saudi Arabia
Prodrive's Hunter T1+ Dakar racer shows what the Hunter is all about — speeding across wide-open landscapes far from any road or gas station
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Prodrive's Hunter T1+ Dakar racer shows what the Hunter is all about — speeding across wide-open landscapes far from any road or gas station
Sebastien Loeb of Bahrain Raid Xtreme races Stage 02 of the Dakar Rally from Hail to Al Artawiyah, Saudi Arabia on January 03, 2022
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Sebastien Loeb of Bahrain Raid Xtreme races Stage 02 of the Dakar Rally from Hail to Al Artawiyah, Saudi Arabia on January 03, 2022
The high-priced Hunter off-road sports coupe has an approach angle-boosting front skid plate and double-wishbone suspension
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The high-priced Hunter off-road sports coupe has an approach angle-boosting front skid plate and double-wishbone suspension
Prodrive Hunter roof intake
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Prodrive Hunter roof intake
Prodrive incorporates two adjustable dampers per wheel
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Prodrive incorporates two adjustable dampers per wheel
Digital instruments
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Digital instruments
The interior is designed to deliver some comforts of a road car, but it's still pretty stripped back and race-inspired
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The interior is designed to deliver some comforts of a road car, but it's still pretty stripped back and race-inspired
Departure angle shouldn't prove a hang-up
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Departure angle shouldn't prove a hang-up
The looks might not appeal to the average seven-figure sports car buyer, but the short overhangs, high clearance and large tires are ready to boost off-road performance
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The looks might not appeal to the average seven-figure sports car buyer, but the short overhangs, high clearance and large tires are ready to boost off-road performance
Prodrive adds on a big wing in back
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Prodrive adds on a big wing in back
The production Hunter trades out the side-carry spare tires for air intakes
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The production Hunter trades out the side-carry spare tires for air intakes
Prodrive introduces the consumer version of its Hunter T1 BRX Dakar car
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Prodrive introduces the consumer version of its Hunter T1 BRX Dakar car
The Prodrive measures 4,600 mm long and has a 3,000 mm wheelbase
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The Prodrive measures 4,600 mm long and has a 3,000 mm wheelbase
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Like clockwork, every few years for over a decade, some car manufacturer, designer or exec feels obliged to dream up an off-road sports car. Unlikely from the start, these vehicles usually make for a few buzzy videos and headlines, then disappear quietly before being largely forgotten. The all-new Prodrive Hunter looks like it could be a more serious proposition, or at least it comes from a more serious background. Billed, in an egregious overstatement, as the world's first all-terrain hypercar, the Hunter brings Dakar-proven design and engineering to the high-dollar sports car market, letting any novice pilot their own fast-paced all-terrain adventure.

We're not really willing to call the Hunter a hypercar or supercar because 600 hp isn't nearly enough for either designation these days. Perhaps Prodrive is thinking that it's hypercar-level for an off-roader, but when you have everyday car and truck brands fielding 700-hp pickups and SUVs, 600 horses, no matter how wild they run, simply don't add up to a hypercar.

So, it's a sports car then. And it's in the unfortunate position of following a long line of ill-fated off-road sports car concepts and projects that includes the Audi Nanuk Quattro, Zarooq Sand Racer (and Laffite G-Tec X-Road that kind of followed) and Camal Ramusa. Forgive us if we missed a few. The Hunter does bring something that none of those past cars did, however: a Dakar pedigree. The new street-legal car is a direct descendant of the Hunter T1+, raced to a second-place podium finish by Sebastian Loeb, Fabian Lurquin and the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team at Dakar 2022.

Sebastien Loeb of Bahrain Raid Xtreme races Stage 02 of the Dakar Rally from Hail to Al Artawiyah, Saudi Arabia on January 03, 2022
Sebastien Loeb of Bahrain Raid Xtreme races Stage 02 of the Dakar Rally from Hail to Al Artawiyah, Saudi Arabia on January 03, 2022

Interestingly enough, without race circuit regulations constraining it, Prodrive has gone even bigger with the consumer Hunter. It retains the Dakar car's 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine but massages 50 percent more power for the 600 bhp (447 kW), which goes along with 516 lb-ft (700 Nm) of torque. It adds in a six-speed paddle-shift transmission for smooth, millisecond-quick shifts and sends power out to all four wheels via a 4WD system. That power line would be enough for a sub-four-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h) and near-186-mph (300-km/h) top speed, according to Prodrive's math, but that would entail putting something quicker than those clunky 35-in off-road tires on the ground. Buyers will be happy with those 35s when swimming through sand or maneuvering over tall rocks, though.

"We took the deliberate decision to keep the Hunter as close to the original as possible," explained Prodrive chairman David Richards. "It’s about giving owners the opportunity to experience what it is like to drive Loeb’s Dakar car across the desert, but with all the comforts of a road car and the ability to drive it from your home, through a city, to any destination of your choice."

The interior is designed to deliver some comforts of a road car, but it's still pretty stripped back and race-inspired
The interior is designed to deliver some comforts of a road car, but it's still pretty stripped back and race-inspired

Prodrive stresses that the road comforts are concentrated inside the doors, where former Jaguar and Aston Martin designer Ian Callum did some work to complement the exterior design he created for the Dakar racer. The two-seat cabin still looks pretty race-spec to us, though, combining carbon fiber seats, six-point harnesses, bare roll cage bones and exposed carbon all around. The large, bright digital instrument panel and navigation system are things you might see in a premium road car, and a highway-friendly center console keeps the driver in command with its stack of tactile controls.

The Hunter wears carbon fiber and natural-composite bodywork atop its high-tensile steel space frame, and save for being stripped of its race car livery and half-concealed spare side tires, the body looks barely altered from the Dakar car. That's good or bad, depending upon what you're looking for – we tend to prefer the silky smooth Italian bodywork that's rolled out of the houses built by Giugiaro, but the high-riding Hunter and its skid-plate chin should be much better prepared for actual real-world off-roading. Double wishbones with dual adjustable dampers at each wheel devour bumps with up to 400 mm (15.7 in) of travel, 50 mm (2 in) more than the actual Dakar Hunter T1.

The looks might not appeal to the average seven-figure sports car buyer, but the short overhangs, high clearance and large tires are ready to boost off-road performance
The looks might not appeal to the average seven-figure sports car buyer, but the short overhangs, high clearance and large tires are ready to boost off-road performance

Unsurprisingly, Prodrive developed the Hunter with the Middle East in mind, undoubtedly pinning it as the perfect combination of great wealth, supercar fanaticism and rugged, roadless lands. The company says it is currently touring the region with its first development vehicle, offering test drives and locking in buyers at a starting price of £1.25 million (approx. US$1.64 million) apiece. It plans to begin production later this year.

Source: Prodrive

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1 comment
EJ222
I think it looks fantastic. Far better than the Rally Fighter, and IMO far better than your average sports car just because of how outrageous it is. Its like someone stuck a track racing shell onto a chassis that would put a Ford Raptor or G-Wagon to shame.