Gizmag: 5th May 2015
For people who live and work in the great outdoors, getting around isn't easy. There aren't many vehicles out there that are practical and tough enough to deal with the rigours of farm life, where owners need to be able to carry their loads across rough and rocky terrain. That's where the Australia-built Tomcar comes in. Built around a strong, light frame, the Tomcar has been designed to carry people and their goods across whatever Mother Nature can throw at it.
According to Tomcar co-founder Michael Brim, the car was originally designed in Israel with military use in mind, before it was adapted to cater for Australia's recreational market and its farming communities – the latter of which can consist of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land that need to be looked after. Tomcars are also used for mining and military applications.
Unlike many off-road vehicles, the Tomcar is strictly rear-wheel drive. The car's engine and most of the accompanying drivetrain components are housed at the back of the car for better grip and a light, responsive front end. This plays a big role in allowing the Tomcar to traverse rough ground at high speed, as does the car's fully independent suspension system, which takes advantage of dual coil hydraulic shocks to provide owners with a massive range of freedom with setup.
If things do get a bit rough, the Tomcar's front system has been designed to bend, not break. The system's double A-arm setup integrates a sacrificial part that bends after a heavy impact, allowing owners to drive their Tomcar home for repairs instead of leaving them stranded in the wilderness.
Depending on the model, power comes from a four-cylinder petrol or diesel motor, which Tomcar claims provides more low-down torque than the single-cylinder engines that power most modern ATVs and quads. Power is channeled to the wheels through a CVT transmission with an exposed drive belt for easy, tool-less replacement in the field. The main quirk of the Tomcar's drivetrain lies in the way it delivers its power to the rear wheels. Both rear swingarms house double roller chains, which sit in an oil bath, protected by armored steel. It's a setup that stops the car from squatting under acceleration, with the torque instead forcing the swingarms down and, consequently, lifting the rear of the car.
The outside of the Tomcar's body is dominated by its fully-welded cage, which is made of high-strength steel to protect occupants if their off-road ambition exceeds the limits of their vehicle. Also protecting the Tomcar against overzealous driving is a flat one-piece skid plate. Talking about the car's external cage, Tomcar Chairman Joe Brim says "It's safe, if it flips nothing happens ... Nothing is an afterthought."
So what does all this tough, off-road engineering add up to? Our experience of the Tomcar came from the passenger seat at the Australian Motoring Festival, where we were taken for a few laps of a track usually designed for big four-wheel drives. It quickly became clear that Tomcar could handle everything the track could throw at it without really breaking a sweat – the big bank designed to test the lean angles was dispatched with ease, and the ride remained comfortable across the track's ride-testing log section. The Tomcar is built in Melbourne, and comes in multiple body styles.
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