Supercars are dead to me. Sports cars might as well be wheelbarrows, hot hatches roller skates for all I care, because I have actually simply done a large four-wheel drift in a Prodrive BRX Hunter and afterwards run it up with its sequential gears as hard as I potentially can, twin-turbo V6 bawling away by my right knee. An experience equally as particular as it seems. Each gearchange is freely linked to a whipcrack of fiery side exit exhaust flame despite the fact that there’s enough rainfall to be bouncing vertically back up from the tarmac, as well as yet the Seeker does not care. The Seeker is setting fire to the rain. Pyromania with the help of some strongly poisonous ₤ 3-per-litre fuel with an octane rating somewhere in the ‘jet’ range, yes, yet by crikey, there’s not a car right here– and I include the Lambo STO and Ferrari SF90 in this– that will make you vibrate with life quite like a full-fat Dakar buggy and also space to play.
The most effective little bit is that the Prodrive device isn’t the only gently psychotic point currently distributing, either. Sliding neatly under the Hunter’s ‘concentrate or die’ delivery is the Bowler Land Vagabond Protector, an off-road race-fettled Defender 90 sporting a stripped inside, FIA roll cage, rally preparation bits and also a 2.0-litre gas engine tuned to 300bhp. Yes, it’s a lesson in power-on understeer on a scriptural Dunsfold, yet throw it around in the margins of the track in wet, three-foot-tall turf and mud, and also it’s got such confidence it makes a hero of the underskilled and over-egoed. This is a track vehicle with less race as well as more ranch. However it’s additionally a cinch to drive, and also includes a plug ‘n’ play competitors plan attached. However a lot more on that particular in a bit.
Prior to we get there, there’s one more ‘off-roader’ to introduce to our little event: the Morgan CX-T. Yes, it’s a Morgan, with all the olde worlde appeal that seems to entail, but this time it’s a Plus Four given a Safari Rally treatment. Or, possibly a lot more properly, an overlanding makeover. No roofing outdoor tents at the moment (although one can be fitted, evidently), yet there’s long-travel suspension, off-road tires, wildly various suspension kinematics and an entire SAS supply decrease bolted right into the rear area. It’s courteous, chic and also rugged. It’s primarily Bear Grylls with knobbly tires.
As you can probably tell, it’s a good team to get to have fun with. I am not unamused. There’s possibly a little bit of history needed on every one however, so we’ll begin with the Big Red Bus. Officially called the Prodrive BRX Seeker T1+, the BRX T1+ is an upgraded variation of Prodrive’s initial BRX, massaged to take on brand-new Dakar guidelines. Compared to the original, it’s 300mm broader, runs 37-inch tyres on 17-inch wheels (versus 32s on 16s), and also has 350mm of suspension travel courtesy of eight sets of bypass dampers (2 on each corner).
The body is still by Ian Callum of Jaguar popularity, and also it’s eminently more purposeful with the larger wheels as well as squarer stance– as well as a new, meaner, quad-eyed face. The chassis is a spaceframe with a carbon monocoque apparently grown around it like a tree around a fencing post, and also the bodywork is skillfully competition-flimsy. It’s additionally a bit befuddling– get up close and it’s simply huge, as well as what appear like intakes in the rear three-quarters remain in truth spare wheels bracketing a 500-litre gas container. And indeed, you did check out that right. The 400bhp Ford EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 nicked from the Raptor is installed under the windshield fifty percent in, half out of the cabin, and among the sidesaddle turbos snuggles against your knee, separated only by a thin skin of composite. The cabin gets very hot. The cooling was faulty. I was sweating like a horse.
Only partially due to the warmth: there’s a massive amount of scare tactics when driving a full-on racecar of any red stripe, yet Dakar equipment gets on another level– numerous systems, many switches– it’s more like a helicopter than a vehicle. Contribute to that a seat that was bolted up for the BRX’s existing pilot, the 6ft 5in Nani Roma, and also it felt like attempting to drive my dad’s automobile at 14. But basically, as soon as you’ve keyed the gas pumps, turned on the ignition, fired it up and determined the consecutive box (back for up, forward for down, switch push and also flick for opposite), it’s … not that challenging to drive. The guiding is terribly light as well as numb, a bit like a forklift vehicle– which benefits desert slamming, but much less so for tarmac really feel– and there’s an excellent quantity of transmission shunt as the different diffs and drivetrain components arrange themselves out, once you’re going, harsh is key. The Seeker works best at 100 per cent commitment. At which point every nerve comes to life and also you blow up with delight.
It isn’t a car you drive with your mind, this. You can not overthink anything– you just commit, as well as ride it out. The body is very stiff, however the suspension is long and after that tightens as it reaches in the direction of the ends of travel, so as long as you maintain going, direction gets ironed out. And then you’re in an odd world of understeer that can be revolved away with more throttle, at which point the BRX simply beings in a stock-straight four-wheel drift. All four wheels clawing forwards, however relocating 35 ° from the direction of travel. It’s befuddling, awe motivating, and badly addicting. Afterwards, physics just appears to get burnt out of trying to affect what the Hunter is doing, as well as just allows it freestyle. Off-road? I can not even begin to imagine– yet rollicking throughout a wet field made me laugh so difficult my eyes were sprinkling, so barrelling around the Vacant Quarter would probably see me off. As well as of course, there is a ‘civilian’ variation on the cards for around a million quid, yet I can not see it being roadway lawful. Still, what a thing. If you live in Dubai.
The Bowler is altogether more recognisable, but I have to claim, almost as much enjoyable in a far more friendly package. Probably since it has that familiar air. This is a Bowler Protector Challenge automobile, a rally series meant as a feeder stream for endurance rallies (like the Dakar), and also Bowler offers competing plans for both professionals of the category and also complete amateurs, with complete support. The car itself has that 300bhp 2.0-litre turbo petroleum, four-wheel drive and great deals of race upgrades– from the FIA full roll cage, to thick aluminium underbody defense that stretches all the way below the cars and truck. There’s a plumbed-in fire suppression system, race seats and a competition-style single paddle on the right-hand side of the race steering wheel for the eight-speed box (ahead for down, back for up), additional lights … the jobs. And the 7 races in the Difficulty weigh in at ₤ 99,500 consisting of VAT for a package (you own the cars and truck), with extended ‘show up as well as race’ plans available for extra cash money.
Now, motorsport is never cheap, yet that seems like a little bit of a deal– the Bowler is an appropriate toy. No, it’s not going to make your heart vibrate like the BRX, yet it’s the very first rung for major off-road racing. Responses declare, the engine is remarkably zingy and also again, you have to be slightly harsh to get the most effective from it. It’s noisy as well as rigid, once you get made use of to just flinging it at geography as well as letting the car do the job, it comes to be the black Labrador of off-road racers: constantly hungry, a little bit daft, loyal unto death. For choice I ‘d most likely set it up a little softer at the back, yet without trying it correctly off-road, it’s difficult to court. Yet I guarantee that any individual that goes into the Difficulty will not be dissatisfied– Bowler makes hardy set, as well as the Protector really feels exactly what it is– a Dakar lite. Perfect.
To drive, it’s in fact much, better than a Plus Four. Sorry, Morgan
The Morgan CX-T, on the other hand, isn’t implied for significant off-roading, but it’s a lot more entertaining for that, as well as by no means unable of enduring abuse, considered that I drove it at 50mph straight into a field of 3ft high lawn and became Malvern’s first integrate farmer. Undoubtedly one of the triplet of windshield wipers promptly diminished (that’s ‘personality’, that is), but the beefy Morgan rode some pretty huge bumps without bad, as well as skidded around on the right track like a pro. In the dry, at the very least. In the wet, with a loosened diff, it was largely lethal. However weirdly, that kind of contributes to the appeal. The body is the most recent aluminium effort which is apparently 100 percent stiffer than its forebears (that’s the ‘CX’ part of the name) with the ‘T’ standing for ‘Trials’– an arbitrarily specific niche sort of off-road autocross.
Built by a firm called Rally Raid UK, it’s not a show-pony: redesigned suspension with 140mm of back traveling, longer suspension arms, rally damping, wider track widths, thorough underbody security, external roll cage– it’s got the whole lot. It’s additionally still obtained the Plus Four’s BMW-sourced 255bhp/258lb ft turbo as well as six-speed guidebook, but this moment attached to the locking rear diff from an xDrive BMW– though it didn’t seem functioning, something I saw while cheerfully pirouetting via Chicago corner. To drive, it’s really much, far better than an And also 4. Sorry, Morgan. Probably not as straight-out quickly, however there’s still more than sufficient power as well as reputable grasp, and also it’s typically amusing at slow-moving speed, also on tarmac. Off it, it’s hilarious. Yes, it’s still cramped, unusual as well as uncomfortable, however what cost this quantity of wonderful eccentricity? Well, ₤ 204,000 actually, which is not to be sneezed at. However when you take into consideration that it will certainly be a lot more fun to make use of 95 per cent of the time than the ₤ 250k Ferrari or Lamborghini, it seems like the compromise may be a good one. And also, it’s sort of rakish, where a supercar makes you look a little underfunded in the self-confidence division.