This is a piece I wrote for a car blog called Autohack earlier in the year.
The QT Services Wildcat is a supercar for the rough stuff in the same way that a Ferrari 458 Italia is a supercar for the track. More than 40 Wildcats have competed at the Dakar Rally, many of which have routinely finished in the top 20. Put simply, it’s a purpose-built off-road toy like nothing else this side of a tank.
Still, QT Services founder and managing director Dave Marsh is looking to take to the road with his Wildcat, building versions with leather interiors, sat-navs and air conditioning. However, he still maintains that these softer models are more capable off-road than almost anything else on the market. And he invited me out for a ride in this 300STR variant to explain the thinking behind it.
“We thought that the car would lend itself well to the UAE market,” Marsh says. “But to increase the appeal, we took a gamble by putting a lot of time, money and effort into building one with luxury car refinements. The interior alone took eight weeks to finish.”
With a Dh560,000 asking price, Marsh is right to assume that the car needs to have a degree of usability on the road if buyers are to be enticed. The Wildcat might be the ultimate off-road toy, but many might think that, for the purposes of mucking about in the desert, a Polaris side-by-side could provide similar thrills, at a fraction of the price.
This is why Marsh and his team of 10 have strived to turn the 300STR into something so much more than a simple toy. As we make our way to the fringes of the city, he explains that the price reflects not only the machine’s capabilities, but also the highly personal service that his company provides. Anything can be specced, within reason, from 19-inch rims clothed in low-profile tyres to a luggage space big enough to accommodate a set of golf clubs. Marsh describes the Wildcat as a “Savile Row suit of the car world”.
And yet, despite the leather interior, the Alpine touchscreen entertainment system and the bespoke aluminium switches, it’s clear from the get-go that this particular Wildcat still means business. The car sits on big, chunky, off-road tyres; the four-point harnesses bolt you down into racing seats; and you have to raise your voice in order to be heard over the 4.6-litre Rover V8’s bellow.
Unfortunately, Marsh wasn’t willing to show me the car’s real off-road capabilities – he’s hoping to sell it before he leaves Dubai next week – but, regardless, the car gives the impression of a bodybuilder in a suit. It might appear to be civilised for what it is, but you get the feeling that, given the chance, it could take on Big Red without breaking a sweat.
And, likewise, it can handle a cruise down the Beach Road with just as much ease. At one point, we were overtaken by a Lamborghini Gallardo, the driver of which slowed down to check us out before giving an approving nod and taking off. Marsh took note and said, “That tells you something, doesn’t it?”
And that’s what it comes down to. Despite the best intentions, the appeal of the 300STR doesn’t come from its off-road capabilities; it comes from its exclusivity. Marsh was driving us around in the only Wildcat in the country, one out of only 81 examples worldwide, making it more exclusive than any Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati currently available.
At Dh560,000, then, it seems like quite a bargain.