Consider the modern supercar. Is it really the ultimate expression of the four-wheel driving experience? Not according to Fabrizio Giugiaro’s latest vision of the future, the ItalDesign Giugiaro 4x4 Parcour. And I’m tempted to agree with him.
By very handy coincidence, the two days prior to driving Giugiaro’s highly unusual 4x4 Parcour concept in Sardinia, I had been driving a McLaren 12C around the English countryside. As it turned out, this couldn’t have been a better preparation for understanding the thinking behind a concept that is described as a “mid-engined V10 sports car that’s ideal for all-track driving”.
I first saw the Parcour earlier this year, at its debut at Volkswagen’s pre-Geneva show exposition. As I tweeted a picture from the audience, my first thought was to describe it as a kind of Lancia Stratos Allroad. But while the Stratos comparison – made by quite a few others too – exasperates Giugiaro (possibly because the iconic Stratos was the work of rival Bertone), it is not so far off the mark.
The name ‘Parcour’ comes from the French Parkour, which grew out of military obstacle course training and has become popularised in recent times as free running, the art of running, leaping and jumping through harsh urban landscapes. This, in a nutshell, is the Parcour’s USP: it can drive across all but the most unyielding terrain, as well as hit a theoretical 198mph and sprint from 0-62mph in 3.6sec.
Arriving in Sardinia under ultra-blue skies, we are swept from the airport to the other side of the island by Audi A5. As we crest a hill, the Parcour is sitting across a verge with its gullwing doors open, looking for all the world like it is impatiently trying to make a pitlane start and that I’m late for it.
The people from ItalDesign march me straight to the Parcour and in through its open gullwing door before setting about adjusting the four-point harness. The briefing about how to operate this one-off is remarkably brief. A prominent console sits high on the centre tunnel and is simplicity itself. Mounted on it is a bank of four back-lit Perspex paddles to control the automatic transmission’s driving modes. A fingertip’s flip is all that’s needed to switch between them.
Alongside these is a Land Rover-style knob for selecting the different chassis settings for various types of terrain. We won’t be leaving the asphalt this afternoon, but there are four settings: Road, Race, Off-road and Snow/ice. Later, Giugiaro claims that the Parcour, even at its lowest setting, has “more ground clearance than an Audi Q7 and good ramp angles, which might even be as good as those of a Land Rover Defender 110”.