Go on, admit it. This effort from German tuning house Startech might be a little ridiculous, but unequivocally cool. Making its debut at the Shanghai Auto Show, the bold British bakkie promises to “cut a splendid figure” whether rolling through the “magnificent boulevards” or trundling through “hill and dale” – according to its makers.
The folks at Startech say that while it’s been converted to this format, it retains the structural integrity of the base car. Transforming it from SUV to bakkie required designing and manufacturing 100 new bodywork components from aluminium, carbon fibre and steel.
From the pictures, the load bay isn’t particularly massive. And you could probably get a whole lot more in the boot of a standard Rangie. But once again, the cool factor! It’s lined with rugged plastic and offers a loading length of 110 centimetres. Startech believes it could catch on with golfers, or buyers in the Middle East who apparently “like to use the pickup bed for transporting a securely fastened cage that holds their falcons for the hunt.”
Land Rover’s five-litre, eight-cylinder supercharged mill has seen some mild enhancement for this application – the power output is rated at 387kW, enabling a charge from standstill to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds and a (limited) top speed of 250km/h. Additional grunt and acoustics comes courtesy of a new exhaust system, which also allows the driver to switch between “sporty and subtle” tones.
The accoutrements you see on the outside claim to give the Range Rover a little bit more in terms of aerodynamics. But we won’t fool ourselves; looking properly bad is the primary reason. Carbon fibre trim, wider fenders and 23-inch wheels are part of the package. The air suspension and all-wheel drive systems still work as they should too.
The best part is that this is a conversion buyers can actually have – it even comes with a warranty. And while it does look outlandish, there could be sense in owning one if you’re in China. You see, the market is subjected to hefty import duties. So a standard Range Rover costs around twice as much as it would in the USA. Whereas this Startech model, by virtue of being a bakkie, can be registered as a commercial vehicle – which negates those heavy fees. According to a release by Startech, these vehicles “may be cheaper for owners than a production luxury SUV.”