Arriving in Sardinia under ultra-blue skies, we are swept from the airport to the other side of the island by Audi A5. As we crest a hill, the Parcour is sitting across a verge with its gullwing doors open, looking for all the world like it is impatiently trying to make a pitlane start and that I’m late for it.
The people from ItalDesign march me straight to the Parcour and in through its open gullwing door before setting about adjusting the four-point harness. The briefing about how to operate this one-off is remarkably brief. A prominent console sits high on the centre tunnel and is simplicity itself. Mounted on it is a bank of four back-lit Perspex paddles to control the automatic transmission’s driving modes. A fingertip’s flip is all that’s needed to switch between them.
Alongside these is a Land Rover-style knob for selecting the different chassis settings for various types of terrain. We won’t be leaving the asphalt this afternoon, but there are four settings: Road, Race, Off-road and Snow/ice. Later, Giugiaro claims that the Parcour, even at its lowest setting, has “more ground clearance than an Audi Q7 and good ramp angles, which might even be as good as those of a Land Rover Defender 110”.
According to the specification sheet, the Parcour has a street-setting ground clearance of 210mm, which can be lifted to 250mm and on to a remarkable 330mm at its highest. A Defender 110 on 235-section tyres has a minimum ground clearance of 245mm, so the Parcour can indeed outstride the Land Rover. And although the Parcour has a rather extended concept car nose and a 984mm overhang (easily beaten by the Defender’s snub-nosed 649mm), its 836mm rear overhang is shorter than both the Defender 90 SW (913mm) and 110 SW (1196mm).
It’s worth trawling through these numbers, because it is the best way of emphasising just how cleverly thought out this engineering package manages to be. Under the skin is – I would guess, because ItalDesign isn’t saying – a good chunk of the Lamborghini Gallardo.
The Parcour uses that car’s 542bhp 5.2-litre V10 engine and all-wheel drive, but it rides on unique two-stage pushrod suspension. Much of the car’s essential structure is likely to be a modified version of the Gallardo’s aluminium spaceframe. What is remarkable, though, is that ItalDesign has managed to package and re-engineer a supercar to have such a remarkable wading ability.
With the pre-flight checks over and now tightly strapped into the Parcour’s impressively futuristic and remarkably clear interior, it’s time to start the engine.
For a one-off, this car feels remarkably slick. The air-con is whisperingly effective and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is shifting up through its ratios near-seamlessly as we gather speed along a Sardinian A-road. In only the first few hundred yards, the Parcour reveals itself to be stable and capable of roll-free cornering.
My recent weekend in the McLaren 12C provides a remarkably useful counterpoint. On first acquaintance, the Parcour is handily easier to get into. The door aperture is larger and the seats are wider, with bolsters that wrap over on to the sill, which makes entry and exit if not exactly easy, then certainly less challenging.
The forward view in the Parcour is also excellent, partly because it rides much higher than a typical supercar. The driver is low in the seat with legs stretched forward, but the eye point is quite high. It’s a clever combination that makes this car – 2070mm wide and 4530mm long – much easier to punt about with confidence. The Parcour also gets a rather neat central glass roof panel that isn’t wide enough to risk roasting the car’s occupants but lets in enough light to make the cabin feel light and airy, even if the packaging is supercar-snug.