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On paper, 4x4s are designed to do work. Whether it’s taking you and all your gear on that once in a lifetime lap of Australia. Forging new paths through inhospitable terrain. Or lugging a worksites worth of tools where no 2WD would have the good sense to go. But we’d be lying if we said half the fun wasn’t in modifying them. Making them fit for purpose, even if that purpose is just putting a smile on your face when you see it parked in the driveway.
Every year manufacturers like flexing that same creative muscle. Showing us who they are as a brand, and what they’d like to make if there were enough customers. The results are often times obscure, outlandish, and more than a little lairy. But occasionally they piece together some real gold. Below are our top 5 concept 4x4s we’d love to own the keys to. Some for practical reasons, others because they’re so ludicrous it’s hard not to fall in love with them.
Toyota HiLux Tonka
Despite being popular on the internet for about 30 seconds, the HiLux Tonka concept had hope to be the start of something truly spectacular. Ignore the lairy paintjob and bulbous bodywork. Toyota, one of the most conservative manufacturers in the world, put out a version of their ute with portal axles, upgraded suspension, and 35in tyres. If any custom 4×4 shop built it we’d be salivating over the possibilities. It’s a shame it ultimately went nowhere as those options would solidify the HiLux as an animal off-road.
Way back when Holden was on top of the world they pieced together what could have been an absolute game changer for the now dead and buried company. The Jack8 was loosely based on the Jackaroo four door wagon but very little remained of it. A 5.7L V8 under the bonnet, beefed up suspension, custom two door body and a host of wild (at the time) goodies like GPS, big brakes, long range fuel tank and custom interior made it something truly special. In the end Holden had no plans to invest in the 4×4 market, instead focusing on making Taxi’s and terrible econo-hatches instead.
Audi Ai:Trail Quattro
Okay it might be a stretch to say you’d like to daily drive the Audi Ai:Trail Quattro – but it’s insane nonetheless. Forget the electric powertrain, it’s the Jetson like features that have our attention. Like what we hear you ask? Well there are no headlights, instead 5 drones fly ahead to illuminate the track for you. When you pull up to camp they circle back and light it up next. The entire cabin is designed to give you as much vision as possible and the rear seats are hammocks. Does it make any sense? Absolutely not. Would we love to hit the trails in it? You betcha.
Ever noticed that most trucks on our roads have the drivers compartment all the way up the front? It’s so you can get more load space for the same size vehicle. Jeep noticed that too, and figured it was dumb to sacrifice load carrying capacity just so you had a bonnet for some reason. They made a forward control Jeep way back when and while it wasn’t overly popular, their modern concept still has all of our attention. All the off-road ability of the most capable 4×4 platform, and a tray that’d rival any light truck on the market.
Tesla Model P
The Model P concept is here not because of any ground breaking features, but just in a ‘what could have been’ kinda way. Like them or not Tesla have been the front runners for electric 4x4s becoming mainstream, and if they had been able to make an actually good looking ute with a solid range, huge power, and a built in 20,000 watt inverter we’d be lining up for one. Instead, we got the Cyber Truck. At least we’ll always have the Model P in our dreams.
What do you reckon? Do these 5 concepts make you feel all funny, or are our tastes as weird as the Cyber Truck? Let us know in the comments below.