QT Wildcat 500DKR

We find out how the toughest thing on four wheels, designed for crossing deserts, drives on the road.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Put simply, the Wildcat is the toughest thing on four wheels. For years it’s been the car of choice for off-road racing enthusiasts the world over, and now they can  use it to go to the shops in too! With it’s enormous fuel-tank, that would cost around £440 to brim, lack of sound deadening and virtually zero storage space it’s clear than on-road it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense - but once on the rough stuff nothing comes close. With V8 power, an indestructable chassis and hi-tech dampers to absorb bumps and jumps, it’s an experience everyone should try at least once.

Strap yourselves in for the wildest first drive ever! The QT Wildcat is an off-road racecar designed to cover terrain that would be impassable for most road cars... and at serious pace. But now the Wildcat has another string to its bow - it can be driven on road too. So Auto Express took a deep breath and jumped behind the wheel.

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Our test car was fitted with a Jaguar-sourced 4.0-litre V8, although Jag’s latest 3.0-litre V6 diesel is also available. Hooked up to a six-speed sequential gearbox with an addictive rifle-bolt action the V8 provides brisk acceleration and a booming exhaust note - but its corners that provide the real entertainment.

Turn into a bend and initially there’s loads of bodyroll, but the car quickly settles at its chosen angle and powers out the other side with grip to spare.

It’s off-road where the Wildcat really starts to make sense though - we were given a disused quarry to play in, and whether we were flying over a jump, splashing through puddles or drifting around corners it pummelled the terrain into submission.

Customers can order their cars in three, increasingly extreme, specifications. Although all are road legal, the 300STR is the most road-biased and can be fitted with luxuries like air-con and sat-nav. Next up is the 400NSR which takes a more stripped-out approach, but it’s the full-fat 500DKR, designed without compromise to tackle extreme rally raids like the Dakar, that we were handed the keys to.

You might notice a slight resemblance to a Land Rover Defender, but in fact the high-stregth steel space frame chassis and dramatic fibre-glass panels are completely unique, only the headlights and grille are borrowed from the Defender. To give the car a useful range a 365-litre fuel tank is fitted where the rear seats would be, while two spare wheels slot either side of a storage box at the back.

Other kit rarely seen on the road includes a hydraulic jack to lift up the car at the touch of a button - ideal for running repairs - and remote-resevoir Donneaire dampers, costing £2,500 per wheel.

Rival: Bowler Nemesis Former owners of the ‘Wildcat’ brand, the Nemesis is what Bowler did next. Available with a 4.4-litre Jaguar V8, it’s designed to offer the same go-anywhere capabilities but with added refinement over the Wildcat.  

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