Can whimsical cars like the MILITEM Ferox save us from boredom?
Cars are becoming all substance and no fun and we're running out of options: performance or senseless whim is all we've got left
The first few days in a new place always feel strange. Every detail and corner looks foreign and alien but the feeling changes very quickly. One day, you're tentatively walking around trying to find the nearest coffee spot and the next you're navigating the streets and it feels like you've been there forever. That's the exact feeling you get when you drive the MILITEM Ferox* even though, there's no two ways about it, it is obviously massive.
editor's note: cool-looking Italian guy and old MINI not included in the sale
You may have heard of MILITEM because I've talked about them before but we'll get to the brand shortly, let's start with the vehicle. The Ferox is based on the Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited, available in both Sahara and Rubicon trim levels, but Militem made a few changes. There's a new adjustable track bar and new performance suspensions and new 20-inch wheels wrapped in 35-inch off-road tyres, a new front grille and bumper, a new rear bumper and a new dual exhaust system and power side steps with LED lights.
Ah yes, before I forget, this is technically a convertible in the sense that you can remove the two-piece roof for a spot of open top driving. Unfortunately, that's the bad news right there, the roof won't fit in the boot unless you're very good at Tetris and you're willing to do away without the rear seats.
Under the bonnet, you get a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, which produces 272 hp and 295 torques, or alternatively you can also have a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6. Both engines are mated with an 8-speed automatic with low-range and I'd personally go for the 2.0-litre version, which is just as powerful and much, much more economical. I know it sounds mad, and I know some might say it's irrelevant, but the Ferox actually gets good mpg. I put around 1,200 miles under its tyres and got an average 29 mpg in return, which is not bad all things considered. And Fred the Border Collie loves it.
They've also done a proper job with the interior, with revamped leather and Alcantara upholstery and MILITEM embroidery here and there. Speaking of which, MILITEM has also created this signature "half star" shape which they use for the brand's logo and the stitching for the seats. I kinda like it, what do you think?
I have to say the sat-nav and infotainment system in the Jeep is a lot better than I remembered. When all is said and done, the Wrangler still remains a bona fide off-roader and that means that the system also includes sub-menus (they're actually called 'off-road pages'), to check oil pressure and temperature, pitch, roll, yaw and so and so forth.
As the car world is in the fierce grip of regulations, with international institutions trying their best to quench our thirst for hp and noise, manufacturers are running out of options to express themselves.
These days, form follows function but they both report to regulations. Emission and safety rules dictate every move and every detail of the car from the cubic capacity of the engine to the shape of the front bumper. It's hard to be creative with an institutionalized big brother watching you closely every step of the way.
MILITEM is technically not a manufacturer. It was founded in 2017 by Italian entrepreneur Hermes Cavarzan, founder and CEO of Cavauto, the go-to place for American cars since 1980. With MILITEM, they make cars but they do it in limited numbers, which is why they can do just about everything they please, including slamming enormous wheels on the Ferox. And a wide body kit. And mad-hatter interior upholstery. And that’s exactly what they did.
Does it make sense? Sort of. Is it practical? Not really. Do we need one? Nope. Do we want one? Yup. That’s it. That’s the key.
*FERŌX is the official designation