We all know the Tumbler as Batman’s cruiser of choice, but Wayne Enterprises has worked hard over the last eight years to make it something we can all enjoy, even if we don’t beat up criminals in cape and cowl every night. It takes but a cool $17 million to own one.
The people at Wayne thought we might want to take a closer look at this year’s Tumbler, and we happily obliged. We set up our reviewing system as a hopefully legal-actionless homage to the clever format Jalopnik started using recently.
I was flown out to Wayne Tower in Gotham, where I was warmly greeted by Lucius Fox himself, who was on his way to a meeting. He handed me off to a svelt young woman called Ms. Miller, who had me sign my name thirty-one times, then handed me a glass and a pill. I think I was out for somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve hours, but when I woke up, I was at an abandoned desert airstrip.
According to Ms. Miller, who had come along to wherever we were, Wayne sells most of their Tumblers to overseas clients, several of them anonymous. As most the Tumblers are fitted for, but not packaged with, any weaponry, clients aren’t required to disclose their identities. Fair enough. I wasn’t here to unmask the Bat. I love the guy, and we all know what happened to the last schmoe who tried it. On with the review, Ms. Miller.
Exterior: 9/10 It’s said that Mr. Fox’s team at Wayne first envisioned the Tumbler as a cross between a Lambroghini and a Hummer, the Tumbler has likely come out better. For a comparison, check out the still awesome Lamborghini LM002. It’s every kid’s dream to hoon a stealth fighter. Now some of us can. My test model was sprayed over in an attractive flat black with dull brass accents, just like the Dark Knight’s. A few of the angles are a bit awkward, but they were designed for functionality. Every inch of the thing is armored.
Interior: 6/10 So yes, it was originally designed for military application, but for $17 million a pop, would it have bankrupted Wayne to throw in some soft-touch plastics? The seats were thankfully free of leather, which was good, because the tiny, consumer-grade air conditioner was little help against the heat of the 350 SBC as it crouched behind my tail-bone devouring worlds. And the windows don’t roll down, either, so I was glad I wore shorts, hokey cargo pockets or no.
Acceleration: 9/10 The zero-sixty on this monster is only worth measuring when you’re using the plain old V8. And yes, it takes 7 seconds at full throttle. But that’s quite an achievement for something weighing 3.5 tons. Haters can try to match that in a garbage truck. When you switch over, however, to the Rolls Royce jet engine mounted just over your right shoulder, you get a different story. You also get your organs rearranged. Though the jet was originally added for jump assistance, Wayne adapted it to give the necessary speed boost to the fleeing head of state or super hero. The downside? It takes several seconds to spin up. Turbine-lag.
Braking: 7/10 As with getting it to accelerate, we can count any effort to stop the Tumbler from its top speed of 220 mph as an engineering accomplishment. At that speed, it engages the ample air brakes for several seconds before even trying the conventional pads. Front to back it’s equipped with seven-piston calipers, specially designed by Brembo, and carbon-ceramic discs from Power Stop. EBC put together the pads, which are the size of the average banana. The massive Mickey Thompson off-road tires help with this, too. No, it won’t do a handbrake turn around a toothpick stuck in a crack in the pavement like Ken Block’s Fiesta, but the brakes do their job.
Ride: 9/10 Wayne liberally littered the old airfield with things to run over and crash through. You might be surprised to find out that this is the first time an automaker has asked me to do this. But I happily obliged nonetheless. It’s an odd feeling barreling through an overturned camper at 80 mph, but surprisingly smooth in the Tumbler. The wedge shape helps, and the active suspension, also developed for the jumping system, smoothed out the normal road bumps. Like the junked compacts I crushed.
Handling: 6/10 That suspension, specially developed by Monroe, is the Tumbler’s greatest asset and worst flaw. The entire body of the Tumbler is designed to roll a bit, letting the computer decide which of those 3.5 tons should go where and when. And to be honest, it’s a bit freaky. You don’t want to take a Cadillac Brougham around a 90-degree corner at 95 mph, because you’ll lose it and clear a row of parking meters like brushwood. The Tumbler would never actually let you do that, but that’s how it feels. It’s unsettling, and doesn’t engender confidence in the driver.
Gearbox: 4/10 Well, it isn’t exactly a flaw. The five-speed automatic does its job transferring the power to the wheels and all that, but it isn’t terribly memorable. There are no paddle shifters, and you can’t even feel the jumps. It might as well be a CVT. Not a gearbox for the enthusiast.
Audio: 7/10 Like the tank that it is, the Tumbler has no stereo. But you can’t judge Taco Bell for not selling burgers. Unless it’s combined with an A&W. What you can do is lean back and listen to that 350 roaring through a trim Corsa exhaust. There’s no drone, as is the norm with Corsa, but Ms. Miller made me wear earmuffs before firing up the jet, so it’s almost too loud.
Toys: 10/10 Rarely will we bestow the perfect 10 on any category, and I was fully expecting to give it an 8 for the easy touch screens and the fact that I could jump it 35 feet without a ramp (something they wouldn’t let me try, mumbling a few words about “insurance”) until they drove me to an open bunker about a mile from the airstrip and let me shoot the guns. The Tumbler can be fitted with several weapons arrangements, including a 30 mm autocannon on a turret, but mine had the more standard pair of 7.65 mm machine guns and two 40 mm grenade launchers. There were a scattering of wrecked, late 90’s GMs in the bunker. For a few minutes, anyway.
Value: 9/10 If you need a Tumbler, you can afford it. And if you can afford it, you most likely need it, too. Nobody will mess with you in one of these, and if they do, you can either outrun them, or blast them a new one.
It was a sad moment when Ms. Miller gave me another pill to take and confiscated my camera. And no, I didn’t get her number. I woke up several hours later in the Wayne Tower lobby wondering if it had all been some kind of impossible dream. Perhaps it had been.