Zarooq off-road supercar standstorms its way toward production

Emirati-Monégasque newcomer Zarooq Motors previewed its SandRaceroff-road supercar back in late 2015. It was awesome. Or it seemed like it could be awesome … assuming it ever showed up again. Well, here it is not two years later, and we’re seeing it again. In fact, Zarooq says that it’s ready for production and will launch with a special edition 500 GT model. The rally-style supercar has an off-road racing chassis, carbon fiber body, mid-mounted V8 engine and Mansory interior. Deserts of the world are about to get a little less peaceful.

Zaroog-sandrace 500 GT3

What you see snarling, spitting and kicking above isn’t built to battle it out in the Silk Way Rally ahead of a big Dakar 2017 attempt. Zarooq actually fancies it docile enough to take out for dinner and drinks.

The company recognizes that there are a lot of great supercars fine-tuned to excite and impress on pavement, but it feels the market lacking in performance cars that are equally comfortable careening up and down sand dunes and tearing across desert floor.

“Zarooq Motors makes supercars that are unique since you can take them on a weekend track day or for a luxurious commute in the city but also on any off-road terrain, even the toughest dunes of the Arabian Desert, where they were born,” says Zarooq co-founder Mohammed Al Qadi.

Of course, from its oversized off-road tires, through its Campos Racing-designed tubular space frame chassis with roll cage, and out to its beefy, flared bodywork, this car just pleads to be taken off road. And we’re guessing anyone who puts down half a million dollars on the launch edition already has a garage full of supercars with better road and track manners. This one will be getting dirty.

Zarooq hasn’t spent the entirety of the past year and a half designing fancy computer renderings to show in place of real photos, although it’s clearly been doing plenty of that. It promises that it’s been reworking, refining and testing the SandRacer toward optimizing power, weight and performance. That work includes calling in a 525-hp 6.2-liter GM LT1 V8 engine to take over for the 300-hp V6 it was talking about last time around.

The V8 is mounted toward the middle of the racing chassis and works with a racing-grade Weddle five-speed sequential gearbox to drive the rear wheels and push the 2,645-lb (1,200-kg) car forward. A revised suspension with Dakar-grade Intrax dampers and 17.7 in (45 cm) of travel cushions those big-tired wheels. Road and sand settings adjust the ride height for what’s ahead.

“We listened to our clients, who definitely wanted something more powerful, lighter, with an even more radical design, and with a luxury interior,” explains Iannis Mardell, another company co-founder.

The design was already pretty radical and aggressive back in 2015, but it has indeed gotten bolder. The big additions are the rear diffuser and centralized rectangular exhaust tips. Zarooq assures the diffuser is easy to take off for off-road adventures on which it might prove a detriment. The new SandRacer design also includes a few more curves and a revised front-end geometry.

Mansory, famous for over-the-top tunes like this one, will assemble the carbon fiber body and dress the interior in carbon fiber and leather. The cabin will include a digital dashboard, infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, climate control and power windows.

Zarooq says it’s already recorded its first sales and will offer each of the 35 SandRacer 500 GT models for a price of US$450,000. It is offering the cars in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and European countries, and deliveries will begin in the 4th quarter – maybe some satisfied new owners will post some actual photos of the production-spec model then. In the meantime, we tracked down a few real photos of an earlier development car.