With Halloween just around the corner and AMC’s The Walking Dead back on our screens, we thought it was time to turn our attention to some of the spookier situations you could face on the road.
Of course, there are plenty of guide and review sections out there but while it’s all well and good to know how well your car will fare on the average commute, there are still some questions that just need answering.
Like what’s the best car to have in a zombie apocalypse…
Picture waking up one morning to discover no babble of rush hour traffic in the air, no children walking to school or postmen delivering their rounds. Instead, the silence and heavy stench of decay on the wind is broken only by the crackle of frantic radio reports.
The dead have risen from their graves, and are coming for the flesh of the living.
We’d hate for you to be caught unprepared in a situation like this, so we thought we’d offer our advice. You know, just in case…
First of all, let’s take a closer look at exactly what you need in a motor that’ll help you survive a run-in with the living dead.
The first thing you’ll need is a car that’s rugged and tough enough to help protect you from the swathes of reanimated corpses. That pretty much rules out most small cars, while supercars will certainly be of no use.
As well as that, off-road capability is preferable, as it’s best to get away from built-up areas where you could be easily overwhelmed by masses of zombies and escape to the open spaces of the countryside. Therefore, some sort of 4×4 SUV seems to be the best choice of car.
That’s not all; you’ll also need a lot of storage space for weapons, equipment and food supplies, plus friends, family and other human allies.
With the downfall of society as we know it, at least you’ll get a break from vehicle tax. However, it’ll still pay in the long run to get a car with good mileage per gallon as fuel will quickly become scarce.
Finally, speed definitely helps to avoid the undead, but a good anti-zombie vehicle ideally also needs lots of torque. The pulling power provided by an engine with lots of torque will help you wade through zombie crowds if you get surrounded, to pull extra equipment and to help get you to higher ground.
With all that in mind, here’s our roundup of the four best cars you can have if you find yourself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
Fiat Panda Cross
Despite Fiat’s Panda Cross model looking all cute with its round bodywork and cuddly styling, Fiat has outfitted it with a wide range of equipment to make it a bona fide off-roader.
It has a nice and sturdy metal front bumper, which is perfect for mowing down undead assailants, and its elevated driving position offers good all-round visibility.
Along with the tough front bumper, Fiat has also equipped the Panda Cross with an armoured undercarriage, meaning that this chubby Panda isn’t afraid to rough it with the best of them. Diving headfirst into the mud (or guts) is no problem when needed, while the inside is comfortable and well-equipped.
Priced from just £15,945, the Panda Cross is plenty cheap and offers a great compromise between comfort and genuine off-roading ability.
That said, in terms of its ability when faced with legions of reanimated corpses, the little Panda has its limitations. Despite its list of tough-nut equipment, the Panda is still considerably dinky when compared with other 4x4s.
A 225 litre boot doesn’t leave much room for supplies or for weapons, while the interior won’t have much room for extra passengers. As a result, we’d recommend that the Fiat Panda Cross is perhaps best suited for solo adventurers.
On top of that, its 90bhp engine isn’t the strongest out there, while its 57.9mpg fuel economy will be decimated when pushed to the limit over rough terrain. It’s not the fastest 4×4 by far either, and has a pretty limp torque figure of just 145Nm, meaning that this little Panda could find itself in severe pandemonium.
The bigger brother to Nissan’s highly-successful Qashqai, the X-TRAIL is larger, leaner and meaner.
Unfortunately, the newest version of the X-TRAIL has cast aside some of its ruggedness in favour of a more family friendly vibe. This is great if you have a load of kids that need carting about, but family friendly unfortunately doesn’t equal zombie friendly.
That said, the X-TRAIL packs a wide range of kit that includes a 360 degree parking camera to spy zombies sniffing around your car, plus light steering and a punchy diesel engine that’s great for navigating through the hordes.
A high-strength steel bodyshell makes the X-TRAIL extremely resilient, while the rear doors open a full 90 degrees for easy and quick loading of equipment and personnel.
Boot space clocks in at a respectable 550 litres, but drops to 445 if you specify extra seats in the back, meaning that you might have to sacrifice some supplies in favour of more people.
The diesel engine is not only quick, but also reports fuel economy figures of a reasonable 57.7mpg, which will definitely come in handy as fuel becomes harder to come by.
That said, four-wheel drive doesn’t come as standard and the engine produces just 240Nm of torque, meaning that if you get boxed in by zombies you might have a bit of bother trying to pull yourself free.
Regardless, for £29,295 the Nissan X-TRAIL offers a rock-solid mobile base for any undead apocalypse, that even the toughest zombies will have trouble breaking into.
Land Rover Defender
Virtually invincible, the Land Rover Defender has been employed by the Army since it was released, and has also historically been a firm favourite with the Royal Family as well.
As if that didn’t tell you everything you need to know, the quintessential tough 4×4 features a rock-solid chassis and high ground clearance, with a powerful stance on the road. Seriously, this thing has literally survived bombs, so a bunch of zombies should be no problem.
The problem with the Defender () is that it’s basic. So basic that it doesn’t come with airbags as standard. In fact, airbags aren’t even an upgradeable option, that’s how basic the Land Rover Defender is.
While you won’t want to go crashing headlong into anything, basic doesn’t necessarily mean bad all the same. At the end of the day, less equipment means less to go wrong and the last thing you want is to be immobilised due to some electrical malfunction that will be impossible to fix.
The Land Rover Defender is utilitarian at its very essence, with an interior finished in hard black plastic. Pretty, it ain’t, but at least the plastic interior and hose-down floor means that it’s easy to wipe blood and brain matter off after a hard day’s work bashing zombie heads in.
If you’re looking for comfort, however, you’ve come to the wrong place. “Rudimentary” is an understatement, and the seats are firmly of the “If you don’t fit, tough” variety. But you do have the option of up to seven of them, giving plenty of space for you and your whole crew.
The indestructible nature of its build means that it can and will destroy anything and everything thrown at it, zombies included. A huge amount of boot space means lots of room for supplies, weapons and ammo, while the 2.2-litre engine has enough torque to pull up to 3,500kg.
However, where the Defender really falls is with its fuel efficiency. It might be built like a brick house, but that comes at the expense of a piddly 25mpg and 266g/km of CO2.
Priced from £23,095 for the basic model, the price tag isn’t too expensive for what’s essentially the toughest 4×4 on the road, but you’d better have a huge supply of petrol ready.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover’s hotly-awaited new Discovery Sport SUV made its debut only at the start of September, but it’s already created waves in the car industry, with Land Rover using every and any excuse to show off its off-road credentials.
Capable off road as much as on it, the Discovery Sport also boasts a seven seat capacity for your whole team of survivors. There’s also a panoramic roof to see what’s going on around you, plus plenty of space to hang out the windows and shoot zombies making a beeline for your brains.
However, unlike the hard as nails Land Rover Defender, the Discovery Sport swaps an all-steel construction for a steel-aluminium blend, which could reduce some of the exterior toughness and make it easier for zombies to break through.
The trade-off is that the new body construction reduces weight and should make the Discovery Sport quicker and more nimble than its rivals, powered by a 187bhp 2.0-litre engine.
It also comes with a maximum boot space of 1,698 litres, which will give you enough room for plenty of clothes, various guns, bats and other weaponry if you have it, or approximately 238 cans of beans. Nice.
Priced from £32,395, the Discovery Sport is definitely the most expensive of the bunch, but comes with potentially the best usability and performance, plus a boot space unrivalled by any of the others.
Land Rover has also said that from next year onwards, a second version of the Discovery Sport will be available with fuel economy of around 47mpg, priced from below £30,000. The only drawback is that this second version will come equipped with front-wheel drive only, not much use for navigating slippery streets lined with blood and guts.
However, Land Rover has also partnered with Virgin Galactic, so if things get really bad you can always jet off into space instead…