UN­SUNG HEROES: 5 CON­CEPT 4WDS

5 awe­some 4WD con­cepts they should have built

4WDrive - - Contents - RE­VIEW BY BUDD STAN­LEY, PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEEP, VW, MERCEDES, LAND ROVER AND GM

Last is­sue, we brought you the story of all the great Ford 4WD Con­cepts that were cre­ated to get our mouths sali­vat­ing, only to be hid­den away in mu­seum cat­a­logs never to be seen again. Un­for­tu­nately, this is what con­cept ve­hi­cles are, they are de­signed to judge a po­ten­tial mar­kets’ opin­ion, to fig­ure out whether cer­tain de­sign el­e­ments should be rein­car­nated in fu­ture ve­hi­cles.

It’s a painful thing to ex­pe­ri­ence for fans of a par­tic­u­lar mo­tor­ing genre or brand. Out-of-the-box think­ing and fu­tur­is­tic leaps for­ward in de­sign and tech­nol­ogy are placed in front of our en­thu­si­as­tic eyes, then snatched away to study our re­ac­tions. When you spend as much time as an au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ist and en­thu­si­ast as we have, you start to feel like a lab rat ev­ery time one of these things come along. You do your best not to fall in love with them, be­cause chances are, they’re never go­ing to be built.

Re­gard­less, we found five in­cred­i­ble 4WD con­cept ve­hi­cles that truly should have been built. Yes, they are all over the top and each brand would have lost money on the ex­er­cise, but how cool would it have been to be able to go down to a show­room and pick up one of these beau­ties? Here are our top five 4WD con­cepts they should have been built.

2005 Jeep Hurricane

Let’s start with Jeep, and their manic Hurricane con­cept they re­vealed to the world at the North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show back in 2005. The Hurricane is quite likely the great­est an­swer to why we are Jeep fans. They knew they were never go­ing to build the Hurricane, so why not make it com­pletely bonkers. And we’re not talk­ing 1,000 hp and 54-in tires bonkers, we’re talkin’ two en­gines, 16-cylin­ders, 11.4L of dis­place­ment, four dif­fer­en­tials and four-wheel skid steer­ing bonkers. Bonkers to the point of think­ing, “stor­age space be damned, we can fit an­other HEMI in there.”

The Hurricane was some­thing epic, Jeep didn’t just take it to an­other level; they blasted it out of the at­mos­phere. It starts on a com­pletely cus­tom buggy body and makes use of two 335 hp HEMI V-8’s (it was 2005, imag­ine a cou­ple Hell­cat en­gines), one in the front and one in the back, for a to­tal of 670 hp and 740 lb-ft. In­stead of sim­ply putting transaxles on each en­gine, Jeep made a maze of drive­shafts com­ing into sev­eral cen­tral trans­fer cases, then be­ing dis­trib­uted out to four sep­a­rate dif­fer­en­tials, one for each wheel. This al­lowed the Hurricane to not only have four-wheel steer­ing, but to also put re­verse and for­ward drive to se­lect wheels. This gave the Hurricane the abil­ity to move in ways no other ve­hi­cle could, in­clud­ing ro­tat­ing on spot, crab­bing and piv­ot­ing; it was the per­fect rock crawler.

To get into all the de­tails of this bril­liant en­gi­neer­ing ex­er­cise would re­quire an en­tire fea­ture. But an ap­proach an­gle of 64° and a de­par­ture an­gle of 87.7° has to be men­tioned. At the end of the day, the Hurricane was eas­ily the great­est 4WD con­cept of

all time, quite pos­si­bly the great­est of any genre. Too bad they couldn’t make a small hand­made pro­duc­tion run of 10 or so ve­hi­cles, just to say they built the great­est 4WD of all time.

2006 VW Crafter Ata­cama

VW sur­pris­ingly makes the list with this 4WD camper dubbed the Ata­cama, which was dis­played back in 2006. Based on the VW Crafter van, VW de­signed this very cool cam­per­van body that sits on the mod­i­fied chas­sis that was re­worked by Aus­trian 4WD spe­cial­ists, Ach­leit­ner.

Not a lot has ever been said about the cabin of this camper, but un­der the skin, the Ata­cama has VW’s 2.5L 5-cylin­der TDI en­gine that de­liv­ers 164 hp with 148 lb-ft with a 6-speed gear­box. Power is de­liv­ered to all four wheels thanks to mod­i­fi­ca­tions by Ach­leit­ner, which pro­vide three lock­ing dif­fer­en­tials, a sus­pen­sion lift and meaty BFGoodrich tires. These mods al­low the van to wade 600 mm, climb a 45° hill, han­dle a 43° side-slope and have a 28° ap­proach an­gle and 45° de­par­ture an­gle. Not sure about you, but that all sounds like the per­fect over­land­ing ve­hi­cle to us… with a lit­tle ex­tra turbo boost.

2011 Land Rover DC100 Can you be­lieve it has been five years since Land Rover taunted us with the re­leases of the DC100 Con­cept (DC stand­ing for De­fender Con­cept)? The two con­cepts were sup­posed to be a de­sign ex­er­cise to judge the pub­lic’s opin­ion for what the iconic De­fender’s suc­ces­sor should look like. Ap­par­ently they didn’t get the an­swers they were look­ing for, be­cause five years later we still haven’t re­ceived this, or are any closer to know­ing if Land Rover even plans to re­place the De­fender, a ve­hi­cle that was sup­posed to come online a year ago.

Re­gard­less, the DC100 was a fan­tas­tic look­ing ve­hi­cle that didn’t quite have the clear­ances of the old De­fender, but looked wilder­ness-ready nonethe­less. On top of that, there re­ally isn’t much to tell about the DC100, as it was a true con­cept car and had very lit­tle in the way of op­er­a­tional me­chan­ics.

Think what you want when it comes to the DC100’s le­git­i­macy as a De­fender suc­ces­sor, we think it looks so good Land Rover should have pulled the trig­ger on this ve­hi­cle re­gard­less what name would have gone on the tail­gate. Let’s hope this, or some­thing sim­i­lar, is still on Land Rover’s draw­ing boards.

2012 Mercedes Ener-G-Force Like the DC100, the Ener-G-Force that was re­leased back in 2012 was a de­sign ex­er­cise meant to re­place an iconic of­froader with a modern in­ter­pre­ta­tion. While sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances can be re­lated to the DC100, the Ener-G-Force ac­tu­ally has more in com­mon with the Jeep Hurricane, as it is a fan­tas­tic en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­i­ment.

A great deal of the tech­nol­ogy still needs some ad­vance­ment to work but we like the di­rec­tion Mercedes is tak­ing. The roof of the Ener-G-Force is de­signed to catch rain­wa­ter in tanks. This “re­cy­cled H2O” is then trans­ferred to a “hy­dro-tech con­verter” turn­ing it into hy­dro­gen. This hy­dro­gen is used to power the fuel cells, with elec­tric­ity stor­age cells hid­ing in the side skirts. The wheels are fit­ted with elec­tric mo­tors, and power is ad­justed in­di­vid­u­ally to give this 4WD the abil­ity to keep all four wheels spin­ning, or not, de­pend­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment to be tra­versed.

You gotta ad­mit this thing has some real po­ten­tial, per­haps when the G-Wagon’s days are fi­nally up we’ll see some­thing along these lines ac­tu­ally make it to mar­ket.

2015 Chevro­let Colorado ZR2

As we come to our fi­nal con­cept, we find a ve­hi­cle that lifted our spir­its back in Jan­uary 2015, in hopes that the Gen­eral would fi­nally pro­duce a re­al­is­tic all-ter­rain of­fer­ing to off-road-starved GM fans. Ford, Jeep, Ram, Toy­ota and Nis­san all make proper off-road fo­cused 4WDs, but for a very long time, GM has been sit­ting on the side­lines look­ing in.

The thing is, GM has been think­ing of build­ing a proper off-roader for some time now, show­ing a cou­ple Rap­tor fight­ing ver­sions of the Sil­ver­ado in years past. Then Chevro­let showed us this Colorado ZR2 con­cept last year, sport­ing a proper sus­pen­sion lift with King Off-Road ex­ter­nal reser­voir shocks, meaty Goodyear Mud Ter­rains, proper tow hooks and rock slid­ers, an in­te­grated winch in a bumper that takes ap­proach an­gles se­ri­ously, as well as lots of other off-road good­ies. It all seems like the per­fect fit, with GM’s baby Du­ra­max pro­vid­ing the grunty low-end torque. But like all con­cept cars, it’s all just hope.

Here’s the catch how­ever, a test mule has been spot­ted that sports a sim­i­lar ride height and bumper clear­ances as the ZR2 con­cept. Trans­la­tion – the Colorado ZR2 will likely be­come a real­ity, and could be on the scene in a very short pe­riod of time. So re­joice GM fans, your long wait could be over. Keep watch­ing this space as we will have the ab­so­lute lat­est on these de­vel­op­ments.

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Car­ry­ing your liv­ing quar­ters cross-coun­try, we like the sound of that.

The DC100 could have been an ex­cel­lent De­fender re­place­ment, but there’s no sign of it yet.

The Ener-G-Force runs on water and has four elec­tric mo­tors, one for each wheel.

Keep the faith, there is still a good chance the ZR2 will be­come real­ity.

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