Off-roading is one of the best ways to have a race in GTA V. Obstacles such as bumps/jumps/trees/rivers/guardrails/wildlife highlights just how crazy and diverse GTA can be. And this class is arguably the most diverse class in GTA, having both the largest and smallest land-based-vehicles in the game. I tried to think of how to open up this review, and the first thing that came to my mind was Mad Max, and then tell them that the new Mad Max is going to be here like tomorrow and then show them the epic new trailer!
But I actually already did that when I reviewed the sports car class, so I have to think up something else (before I move on, I wanted to remind you all that the new Mad Max has some bad ass ladies up in there who are not your typical “oh save me, I need a man to save me!” so be ready for some female rioting). So instead, I thought I would open up with a movie that is about as close to the reality of Off-Road racing as you will find in GTA: From Dust to Glory. This is a documentary of the Baja 1000, and is filmed in such a way that the drivers/riders are broken up into classes. This race is sanctioned by privateers who break just about every law in an attempt to conquer the 1000 mile race. Check out a clip below from the movie. At 4:30 the drama for “Mouse” boils over as he eats shit, breaks his finger, some ribs, and separates his shoulder and has to gather his bike up and finish the last sixty miles at over 100mph WITH NO HEADLIGHT IN THE PITCH BLACK DARKNESS OF NIGHT WTF. Balls for real. You have got to see this film if you like anything off-road related. The soundtrack is horrible, but it is definitely worth the watch and it is free on Netflix. That is about as close to GTA as I think I can muster, so without further ado, lets have a look at the off-road class.
Not to criticize the game too harshly, but in my review of the Bike class, I mentioned that the Sanchez (thanks Francky5exy for the picture above) is perhaps a little unbalanced for the off-road class. I hold by that statement, if you want to win at any cost, you really need to get good with the Sanchez. It is faster, more nimble, and easier to jump than any other vehicle in the off-road class, but there is an issue with this vehicle: it will kill you. And here is the thing: if you are in front with the Sanchez, you should win no problem. If you crash, die and respawn, odds are, you are going to spawn in traffic. And if you spawn in traffic, and someone who isn’t driving a Sanchez sees you are on a Sanchez, they will probably want to kill you. Then you will respawn and have to fight traffic again. I could end the review here, but I want to review some of these vehicles. Some of them are darned fun, and some of them are worth having in your garage, so if I refer to the Sanchez often in this review, it is because I want you to know how easy (or difficult) it is to topple the lightweight champion of the class.
Nagasaki has three versions of it’s Blazer to choose from: the standard Blazer, a Lifeguard version, and a Hot Rod version. The standard version is basically an ATV and does fairly well off-road. Speed is not quite at the levels of some of the other vehicles, despite having excellent traction, but it can give a good run. It’s Lifeguard counterpart is quite a bit slower, and the vehicle is bigger. The Hot Rod version (pictured above) is definitely a looker! And it has some speed to boot, with excellent acceleration. Problem with all three of these vehicles is the short wheel-base. At higher speeds, it seems to be prone to spinning, so try to keep the rear end of the vehicle behind you. It also seems to want to kill you, offering none of the real benefits of the Sanchez and all of the downsides (like death). So if you choose this vehicle for racing, you must have already determined your competition to be beneath you. That is not to say these vehicles are not desirable. In fact, have a look at Duffi_21’s shot below to see just how desirable these vehicles are.
Another vehicle I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for racing, but is interesting nonetheless is the Canis Bodhi, which is Trevor’s personal vehicle in single player. This vehicle is nasty and dirty, with gum on the dashboard, filth everywhere, and porno posted in the interior, this vehicle just screams classy. Top speed is okay, but acceleration is bested by a few other vehicles in the class. I will say this, this vehicle is tough, and can easily knock a rider off of their bike. And it had better be able to, considering this vehicle is based off of the Kaiser Jeep M715, which is a military vehicle. This vehicle actually becomes even more badass when you have the aftermarket front fenders installed with a teddy bear. The Bravado Duneloader is another military-style vehicle (it is retro, maybe 1930s or 1940s?) with less than impressive race performance. It is very tough, so if you get into a shootout and need cover, or just want to crash into stuff, this is a good match.
The Canis Kalahari comes in hardtop and convertible. This is a nice cruiser, based on the Citroen Mehari, it is great for showing off your new bikini, but I wouldn’t recommend this in a gunfight nor in a competitive race. A harder version of this might be the Canis Mesa, which is essentially a Jeep Wrangler. The speed and acceleration of this thing is mediocre, but what shocked me is how nimble this vehicle is, considering it is not exactly a small vehicle. This would be good in thick woods or if you had to dodge and weave through traffic/gunfire. The Declasse Rancher XL also leaves some room to improve in the speed department. I wouldn’t really recommend this vehicle for racing either.
A better option in the truck department, in my opinion, might be the Karin Rebel. This thing must be a Toyota Hilux, this thing is tough! If you are not familiar with the toughness of the Toyota Hilux, check out the videos posted above for a good laugh (and perhaps the best ad for Toyota toughness ever). While on paper, the performance ratings of this vehicle might not be all that awe-inspiring, I have to tell you, when it comes to just tear-ass-haulery off the streets and into the bushes/dunes/mountains/snow/whatever, this thing will do it and do it well. It is a small vehicle and fairly nimble, but the ground clearance and suspension set up (in stock form) is perfect for hopping over hills and jumps. Even with modified suspension, the clearance is excellent, and it has enough mass to topple a rider over in the process. Another popular choice amongst the truck crowd is the Vapid Sandking, which is some sort of cross between a Cheverolet Silverado and a Ford Super Duty F-Series something or other. This comes in many different versions of extended crew cab with lots of bits of details that can be customized to suit your needs, but in terms of performance, they all seem to be the same (even the SWB and XL versions have the same wheelbase). This thing has poor handling, but handles bumps and hills very well. It also has good acceleration and great top speed. It is not very good at catching the Sanchez riders, but if it does, the Sanchez is going to have a hard time finding a way around this truck.
The “I’m Not a Hipster” DLC package included the Benefactor Dubsta 6×6. This crazy 6-wheeled vehicle is based upon the Brabus 700 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 (posted above is a review of this vehicle by Richard Hammond of Top Gear). This vehicle is rediculous. Why it needs 6 wheels is beyond me. If you want to race it, go right ahead. This thing hauls in a straight line, good acceleration when you consider how heavy the vehicle is, and has exceptional top speed. But if there is a corner anywhere in the race, you will lose. This thing cannot turn worth a damn, slow or fast. It also takes several hours to come to a complete stop, so braking and entering is where you will lose out in a race. Having said that, this thing is actually very durable, considering it is a rich girl’s toy. This thing will not only knock a Sanchez racer out, but knock other vehicles around pretty well (even some of the vehicles that look larger).
There are two monster trucks in GTA V, the Cheval Marshall and The Liberator. These are definitely interesting vehicles and worth having a look at. Both are pretty much identical in terms of performance except in terms of traction, where the Marshall has a slight advantage. Really, I believe you could get away with choosing either, so it really comes down to style. I find myself leaning towards the Marshal in that department as well, as the Marcshall appears to be a Chevrolet El Camino with redonculous lift and crazy monster truck wheels. You can buy one for $500,000, but I wouldn’t even if you like the vehicle. You cannot modify it after purchase, and most off-road races allow you to drive it as a stock vehicle anyway, so you may as well keep the money and choose your paint job when you choose this vehicle in the pre-race menus.
Likewise, The Liberator is not even available to buy anymore, so you are stuck with it in the pre-race menus. At least the Marshall allows you to change the color/nationality displayed on the vehicle, the Liberator was part of the Independence Day DLC and is very very “Murican. Both of these vehicles have great acceleration and lousy top speed. The handling of these vehicles are unique in that they both have four-wheel steering, which takes some getting used to (at least for me). Once mastered, the steering and traction is actually a good fit when you consider how large these vehicles actually are. They are huge, so having to negotiate these behemoths around trees, for instance, makes four-wheel steering a necessity to decrease your turning radius. These vehicles are excellent for making a run up a mountain or just generally driving over things. Be mindful of your weight transfers as well, as you will be spending some time in the air. The giant tires make you bounce off of things, even during collisions, but having said that, they are actually very strong, sturdy vehicles. These, frankly are perfect for running over bikes and ATVs. If you so much as touch one of the tires at speed, you are probably going to die or at least get ejected from your bike. If you are on a Sanchez eating rampage, try to get the bikes early, if you don’t get them and they find a straight-away, they will easily walk away from you.
I love the little BF Bifta. I mean just look at it. If you say to yourself “this thing reminds me of a beetle”, you are partially right. This is actually a Meyers Manx, which is a kit car based upon the VW Beetle. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, this vehicle dominated dune racing, so you can see a version here. Above is a throwback ad for the old-school version (although there are more contemporary versions of this available for purchase today). The Bifta can be quick, it is small, nimble, has good acceleration and good top speed. It is a bit tricky to control, however, especially around corners and over elevation changes. It has a short wheel base, which means it can spin easily, if you are not careful. But if you can keep the rear end in line, this vehicle can be quite quick. However, it does get knocked around for being so small, so be aware of pitch and roll when you go over a jump. It is so small, in fact, that if you were to ram into someone riding a Sanchez, you are not guaranteed to knock them off. Furthermore, the Sanchez can actually PIT you quite easily in this thing, given it’s short wheel base and tendency to spin, which is a little absurd. I have never seen a motorcycle PIT a four-wheeled vehicle in real life EVER, but it can happen in GTA V, so be weary.
Just like the Meyers Manx was a kit car based upon the VW Beetle, the Bifta could be interpreted as being a kit car from the BF Injection (pictured above). I am convinced this is a Baja Bug, which is also covered in the film “From Dust to Glory”. This is perhaps the cheapest way to enter the Baja 1000, and a few friends of mine and I have toyed with the idea of trying to do it ourselves, but even “cheap” by racing standards can be hella expensive (and I am still working on my own project cars and school). The BF Injection has been around for a long time, all the way back to GTA III. “BF” standing for “Big F*@&ing” Injection, I assume. In terms of racing, is very fast for the class. It is smaller, but the acceleration and top speed are both very good, especially on the streets, but it does very well on off-road as well. This is one of my favorite vehicles for racing in the off-road class, not only for it’s lineage in GTA, but for its actual speed and useability. You can knock a rider off with this vehicle, too, but be careful. This car seems to get damaged easily, and sometimes your wheel will lock up inside the wheel well, which will really slow you down. But for $16,000 it is quite a deal for the speed you get.
More from BF would include the BF Dune Buggy, which is perhaps my favorite vehicle in the class. It comes with a tubular frame chassis and is a basic sandrail. But tube-framed vehicles are typically very fast, and this is not an exception. It has a longer wheel-base when you consider how small it is, so it is fairly easy to handle. It take bumps okay if you are prepared to catch air. It is not very sturdy, the open-wheel design leaves you vulnerable to damage, and I do not recommend slamming into any of the larger vehicles, but hitting a Sanchez would do you okay. I must admit, I have pushed these vehicles into spins using the Sanchez, so be weary. This vehicle, when fully tuned, has slightly better top speed and better traction than a fully tuned BF Injection. Overall, I think this vehicle is the best in terms of racing and feel, but I have been bested by other vehicles in this class.
UPDATE: THE GAME CHANGER
Over the summer of 2015, Rockstar released two “Ill Gotten Gains” DLCs. The second of which contained something that I found very interesting: the Coil Brawler (thank you ap4321 for the snap above). This vehicle is a game changer, in my opinion, for the off-road class. Clearly a rally fighter, this vehicle takes the fight right to the Sanchez bikes. It’s acceleration is absurd for how large the vehicle is, I have caught many bikes off-guard in this thing. Have a look at the video below for a taste of what this thing can do off the line and at corner exit.
Top speed is very good also, keeping up with the Sanchez when it isn’t doing a wheelie. Cornering is also good, the car is easy to control. When the rear end does step out, it IS rather quick, but it takes minimal effort to get it facing the right direction again. Suspension (as well as everything else, really) has many options to choose from. me, being the person I am, went with the most expensive that drops the Brawler to it’s lowest setting. After a few races, I realized that doing so limits the vehicle’s ability to roll over boulders and you might even plow the front bumper into the side of a steep hill, so be careful when choosing your suspension (I have since raised it a bit to handle bumps). Braking is pretty bad. Pretty really bad, even with upgraded brakes, so prepare yourself for corners.
So who is the winner?!?!
Most of you are not going to be shocked by this news, but the Sanchez is my go-to vehicle for producing wins. I am not particularly proud of that fact, especially given the sheer diversity of the class, it would be nice if the class was not dominated by one vehicle. The Sanchez dominates in acceleration, speed, cornering capacity (despite the claimed traction rating), and can handle jumps like no other. That being said, I don’t believe that is why the vehicle is a little over the top in the class. The reason the Sanchez is so difficult to beat is because you cannot be thrown from your bike as easily as you should. You can literally push some of the smaller vehicles around with the Sanchez, which is why this vehicle becomes unbalanced. I almost wish there was a manner in which you could corner too hard or lean too far to one side that would make you topple over, or at the very least, make the bike itself more fragile. What would happen, for instance, if I drove into the back of a vehicle and even lightly tapped it with my front wheel? I would wind up damaging my wheel or perhaps blowing a tire. These are things that could easily be replicated in the game, but it doesn’t happen. Even running over a pedestrian or falling off of your ride should do some kind of damage to it, but in GTA V, it doesn’t seem to.
If you do not want a Sanchez and want to race, more power to you, but in my experience, there are more Sanchez racers than any others in this class, which is somewhat of a shame. When I am not using the Sanchez, I am on the Dune Buggy or in the Marshal, depending on what course I am on. I do see quite a few BF Injections that also do well and some of the trucks presented here.
Since the Ill Gotten Gains DLC, the Coil Brawler has very much found a permanent home in my garage.
*Disclaimer: these are my opinions. While I love racing in GTA, the in game physics are simply not what I would call a driving simulator. Having said that, I believe the physics for a game are very good, which means strategy and knowledge are both crucial to winning races. Furthermore, many of the cars have different strengths/weaknesses and the driver is always a determining factor in winning races. These are my opinions, and I am open to discussion and alternative perspectives on these matters.*
Hope this was helpful! I will have more coming in the near future, and plan to relook at some of my early reviews where I did not get to every single car in the class. In the meantime, be on the lookout for Mad Max: Fury Road, and have a lovely, lovely, lovely day!
Live fast, die young.