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2 | DECEMBER 2019
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62 12 ISSUES OF 4X4 – FOR JUST £12!
This has got to be the best value offer in the history of publishing… subscribe to 4x4 for a year and it’ll only cost a quid an issue! News 12 12 14 18 18 18 20 20
Bollinger Motors New electric off-roaders announced VW Amarok Special-edition treatment for premium pick-up Audi AI:Trail Is this the future of off-road mobility? VW Touareg New model celebrates a million sales Vauxhall Grandland X Family SUV becomes plug-in hybrid SsangYong Rexton Yet more value from former 4x4 of the Year Peugeot 3008 Beefed-up crossover takes on Vietnam Skoda Spec imrpovements for Karoq and Kodiaq
Tested 30 34 36
Range Rover Evoque New model driven in First Edition form Mercedes EQC All-electric mid-size SUV is gorgeous but pricey Jeep Grand Cherokee Latest version of an all-time great
Every Month 4 6 8 22 80
Alan Kidd Looks like there will soon be a £100,000 Defender Gallery Why we’re all secretly hoping it snows this winter Destinations The iconic wilderness that is the Australian Outback Products Parts, accessories, tools and much more for your 4x4 life Next Month Get ready: it’s almost time for Double-Cab of the Year
Features 40 46
Ultimate 90 Land Rover’s best, rebuilt to be better than ever Arctic Trucks AT44 The mighty Hilux that conquered Iceland
Travel 52 58
Tierra del Fuego En route to the southern tip of the Americas Peru Exploring the national park where there are literally no roads
Our 4x4s 64 66
Nissan Qashqai A rare 4x4 model joins our long-term ﬂeet Jeep Cherokee In shock news, it’s ﬁnally got an MOT ticket again
Off-Road Scene 68 70 72
Lake District Good sense triumphs over greed, lies and hysteria Strata Florida Powys says closure will be kept as short as possible Odyssey Challenge Fancy dress ﬁnale rounds off 2019 season
Off-Road Calendar 69 73 76
Pay-and-Play Events Go in as hard as you want UK Convoy Tours Tag-along runs on public rights of way Overland Travel Long-range adventures in your 4x4
4x4 2-3 Contents Dec.indd 3
DECEMBER 2019 | 3
Alan Kidd Editor
he seismic upheaval of the new Defender has hardly settled down yet. But after the earthquake come the aftershocks. As I write this, reports have just started coming out that Land Rover is planning a high-performance SVR Defender with lowered suspension and a 500bhp V8 engine. The idea is that it’ll take on the AMG version of the Merc G-Class. Now, if I had a quid for every one of those shock-new-car-due-next-year stories I’ve read (or written, for that matter) that turned out to be a load of old cobblers, I’d be able to afford a new Defender. Often, they’re based on guesswork: sometimes they’re just complete ﬁction. I know of one ‘exclusive ﬁrst drive’ article that ran in a major mainstream motoring title some years ago featuring an action photo of the car with the author behind the wheel… only it was a part-built prototype with no engine and they got their shot by rolling it down a hill. However, whether or not Land Rover really is planning a scorchio Defender, what matters is that the story is totally credible. None of us would be in any way surprised that they’re doing such a thing – far less that the price tag being predicted for the vehicle was going to be on the I-play-forChelsea side of £100,000. In fact, we ourselves said last month that Land Rover would be likely to put out a Defender not too far down the line that would bust the six-ﬁgure barrier. We reckoned it would more likely be an SVX off-roader than an SVR street machine, but perhaps that’s just naivety on our part. Either way, while it’s bound to be seen by lots of people as yet more evidence that Land Rover has lost its grip on what made the Defender special, in terms of its own business plan for the new vehicle a hot one makes perfect sense. It’s not like those £150,000 anniversary specials lingered on the forecourt, is it? And ultimately, Land Rover is just following the pattern of what so many of its fans have been doing over the last few years. Defender values have been through the roof for the best part of a decade now, and it’s come to be well known that if you
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What’s wrong with just following the money? want to make the most of what they’re worth, you need to keep them as clean and original as possible (or rather, restore them back to looking as clean and original as possible). Is that a case of people respecting the Defender tradition? No more so than Land Rover turning the new one into a cool urban truck for Bear Grylls wanabees, surely? It’s just a case of following the money. And I’m certainly not being a hypocrite about it – if I still owned the old 300Tdi I had from new and used to hammer off-road, I’d set all my heartfelt principles to one side and restore it back to original in a heartbeat if that would mean being able to sell it for a year and half’s worth of mortgage payments. Talking of which, sort of, I heard something very interesting yesterday. Obviously, lots of Land Rover fans and off-roaders have been waiting with baited breath to see what the new Defender was going to look like. And the moment it was unveiled, something happened that none of us predicted. Apparently, in the last month pick-up dealers have been inundated by customers wanting to trade in their old 90s and 110s. What I was told is that punters were hoping to be able to order a new Defender – but having seen it, and in particular seen how much it’s going to cost, they went straight to their nearest double-cab dealer and placed an order for an Isuzu D-Max, Toyota Hilux or whatever instead. So perhaps there is going to be a new Defender that’s the real thing. Sort of. If what I’ve been told turns out to be correct, there could be a lot of old farm trucks being dumped on the market very soon. Which may bode tremendously well for a return to the days when Land Rover’s ﬁnest was an off-roader, not a unit of exchange. Even if you couldn’t burn off a Mercedes G-Wagen in one…
Tel: 01283 553243 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.totaloffroad.co.uk www.4x4i.com Online Shop: www.toronline.co.uk Facebook: www.facebook.com/totaloffroad www.facebook.com/4x4Mag Editor Alan Kidd Assistant Editor George Dove Art Editor Samantha D’Souza Contributors Mike Trott, Dan Fenn, Paul Looe, Pip Evans, Jenny Bright, Gavin Lowrie, Photographers Harry Hamm, Steve Taylor, Tomasz Jarecki Group Advertising Manager Ian Argent Tel: 01283 553242 Advertising Manager Colin Ashworth Tel: 01283 553244 Advertising and Exhibition Sales Executive Abigail Cooper Tel: 01283 553246 Advertising Production Sarah Moss Tel: 01283 553242 Subscriptions Manager Catherine Martin Subscriptions Assistants Emma Emery, Kay Tunnicliffe, Abi Dutton Publisher and Head of Marketing Sarah Moss Email: email@example.com To subscribe to 4x4, or renew a subscription, call 01283 742970. Prices for 12 issues: UK £42 (24 issues £76); Europe Airmail/ROW Surface £54; ROW Airmail £78 Distributed by Marketforce; www.marketforce.co.uk Every effort is made to ensure the contents of 4x4 are accurate, but Assignment Media accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions nor the consequences of actions made as a result of these. When responding to any advert in 4x4, you should make appropriate enquiries before sending money or entering into a contract. The publishers take reasonable care to ensure advertisers’ probity, but will not be liable for loss or damage incurred from responding to adverts Where a photo credit includes the note ‘CC BY 2.0’ or similar, the image is made available under that Creative Commons licence: details at www.creativecommons.org 4x4 is published by Assignment Media Ltd, Repton House 1.08, Bretby Business Park, Ashby Road, Bretby, Derbyshire DE15 0YZ
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4x4 25/10/2019 12:48
The right choice when replacing the old sagging original springs! Britpart Performance - Lifted Springs
Bar Rate Defender 90 Lift Load Diameter lbs/in DA4201 Front 25mm 25kg 16mm 200 DA4202 Front 40mm 50kg 16mm 230 DA4203 Rear 40mm Light 17mm 220 DA4204 Rear 50mm 100kg 18mm 300 - 340 DA4205 Rear 50mm 200kg 19mm 360 Defender 110 DA4201 Front 25mm 25kg 16mm 200 DA4202 Front 40mm 50kg 16mm 230 DA4206 Rear 40mm 100kg 17mm 270 - 295 DA4208 Rear 50mm 500kg 21mm 420 Defender 130 DA4202 Front 40mm 50kg 16mm 230 DA4208 Rear 50mm 500kg 21mm 420 Discovery 1 DA4201 Front 25mm 25kg 16mm 200 DA4202 Front 40mm 50kg 16mm 230 DA4203 Rear 40mm Light 17mm 220 DA4204 Rear 50mm 100kg 18mm 300 - 340 DA4205 Rear 50mm 200kg 19mm 360 Discovery 2 DA4199 Front 40mm 20 - 50kg 15mm 180 DA4198 Front 40mm 50 - 100kg 16mm 220 DA4203 Rear 40mm Light 17mm 220 DA4197 Rear 40mm Medium 18mm 290 DA4205 Rear 50mm 200kg 19mm 360 Range Rover Classic DA4201 Front 25mm 25kg 16mm 200 DA4202 Front 40mm 50kg 16mm 230 DA4203 Rear 40mm Light 17mm 220 DA4204 Rear 50mm 100kg 18mm 300 - 340 DA4205 Rear 50mm 200kg 19mm 360 Note - Spring quantity 1 = 1 pair
Free Height 420mm 390mm 435mm 425mm 430mm 420mm 390mm 445mm 445mm 390mm 445mm 420mm 390mm 435mm 425mm 430mm 390mm 390mm 435mm 430mm 430mm 420mm 390mm 435mm 425mm 430mm
Britpart performance springs are high quality, versatile and competitively priced - the right choice when replacing the old sagging original springs. Developed by one of the world’s top spring manufacturers these high quality, powder coated yellow springs have been designed with the needs of today’s Land Rover owners in mind. Britpart performance lifted springs have the added benefit of improving your vehicles approach and departure angles which in turn allows you to overcome more obstacles when off-roading. As Land Rovers are often working vehicles as well as the family car, uprated springs must offer the ability to carry loads, handle off-road terrain and provide a good ride on road. The progressive springs offer a compliant ride when lightly loaded, but firm up as the load increases.
“Britpart performance springs are high quality, versatile and competitively priced...” Britpart Performance - Standard Height Springs
Defender 90 DA4277 Front DA4278 Rear Defender 110 DA4277 Front DA4279 Rear Discovery 1 DA4277 Front DA4278 Rear Range Rover Classic DA4277 Front DA4278 Rear Note - Spring quantity 1 = 1 pair
Bar Diameter 16mm 18mm
Rate Free lbs/in Height 225 390mm 285 385mm
16mm 225 390mm 19mm 330 415mm 16mm 225 390mm 18mm 285 385mm 16mm 225 390mm 18mm 285 385mm
Britpart yellow springs are designed for the enthusiast who wants a performance spring without having to raise the vehicle. They offer a firmer ride with less body roll, ideal for a vehicle with uprated performance or one used for carrying heavy loads. The springs are designed to offer full articulation off-road with a compliant ride. Developed by one of the world’s top spring manufacturers these high quality, powder coated yellow springs have been designed with the needs of today’s Land Rover owners in mind.
Britpart Performance 1” Lower Springs
Reduce the ride height of your Land Rover by 1” (25mm) by fitting these lowered springs. By lowering your vehicle it will help reduce body roll as well as giving your vehicle a more sporty squat stance. The springs are designed in line with the standard spring rate specification. Finished in powered coated orange paint.
DA4563 Defender 90 & 110/Discovery 1/Range Rover Classic Front pair DA4564 Defender 90/Discovery 1/Range Rover Classic Rear pair DA6449 Defender 110 Rear pair DA1234 XD Handling Kit for Defender 90/Discovery 1/Range Rover Classic Kit contains lower springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars, turret rings and more...
In pictures: 4x4s and off-road stories from around the world
It’s that time of year again when us Brits start hoping for snow. Well, we do if we’re the smart ones who drive 4x4s, because on the wonderful if all too rare occasions when the white stuff comes down properly, we can get out there and have a ball while everyone else is calling the police because they can’t get off their driveway. Obviously, there are countries where you just get out there with your snow shovel and dig your way to freedom. And others where people actually know how to drive on snow, unlike here where the answer is to be as useless as possible. It would appear that there are others yet where thick snow is to be dealt with by taking your clothes off and going trail riding in old army trucks with no roof, but mainly we all just want to get out there and enjoy having the world to ourselves for once. And when it’s at its very most beautiful, too. Result! Main picture: Lewis Ridge near Sly Creek Reservoir dam, by Aaron Bond @ flickr. com, CC BY-ND 2.0 Right: Winter sun over the village of Ozsdola, by Paul White @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Left: 4x4 no more, by Martin F @ flickr. com, CC BY 2.0 Below: Snow Problem for a Disco by Craig Chew-Moulding @ flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0
6 | OCTOBER 2019
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Everything electrical for your 4x4 project at great prices. 1000’s of parts in stock for immediate despatch with fast delivery. Above: Gatol fotograﬁa @ ﬂickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0 Below left: Tilehurst, Berkhsire by Mic @ ﬂickr.com, CC BY 2.0 (top picture). and SUV Life by Miki Yoshihito, CC BY 2.0 Below right: roovuu @ ﬂickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0
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4x4 2.5pp Gallery + Dec.indd 7
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DECEMBER 2019 | 7
The world’s greatest 4x4 travel adventures caught on camera. This month, simply the most iconic off-road landscape in the world
The Australian Outback The Outback is a mystical, beguiling place, even to Australians. And they’re used to Australia. If you’re used to landscapes on a UK scale, it’s almost impossible to comprehend. It’s not all just sand dunes. The Outback has a wide variety of landforms and terrain types, but what it all has in common is that it’s huge, empty and inhospitable. Oh, and there’s something else about it, too – it’s heaven on earth for 4x4 adventurers. You can break virgin ground in the Outback, but in the main adventurers go there via long-distance trails that can take several days to complete. The barrenness of the landscape is remarkable in places, as of course is the extreme climate, and even where signs of human life are to be found they’re rudimentary at best. You definitely need to be self-sufficient here… The Outback is not to be taken lightly, but it’s not to be missed, either. If you love adventure, you owe it to yourself to go there at least once – though having experienced it, odds-on you’ll always yearn to go back. Main picture: A selfie under the desert stars, by Patrick Savalle @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Top right: 4x4 sinking, by NeilsPhotography @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Above right: Cape crossing, by NeilsPhotography @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Right: Oh, une belle dune! by Julien Carnot @ flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0 Far right: Gunshot Creek, by NeilsPhotography @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Below: Paleontour @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Below right: Road-signs and wreck by Alexis O’Connor @ flickr.com, CC BY 2.0
8 | DECEMBER 2019
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PERFORMS EXCEPTIONALLY ON ALL-TERRAINS The Grabber AT3 combines superior on-road performance, with exceptional off-road capabilities. It’s a tyre developed to enhance the potential of your 4x4 driving experience. • Features an aggressive pattern to work on multiple surfaces with enhanced grip. • Provides a robust compound for improved tread life on rugged terrain. • Designed for a smoother, confident and quieter drive • Safe handling in all-seasons, indicated by the M+S mark and the snowflake symbol. General Tire. A brand of Continental.
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10 | DECEMBER 2019
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Enter at www.totaloffroad.co.uk/readersurvey2019 – or fill in below and post back to us Question 1: What make of tyres do you currently have on your 4x4? Question 2: How many copies of 4x4 magazine have you read in the past year? 1 2-5 6-9 10-12 I’m a subscriber Question 3: Which makes of 4x4 interest you? Land Rover Suzuki Jeep Toyota Nissan Mitsubishi Other (please specify)
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Your name Address Contact tel Email You may photocopy this form – no purchase is necessary. Please return to Assignment Media Ltd, Repton House 1.08, Bretby Business Park, Bretby, Derbyshire DE15 0YZ All reader surveys received by 20 December will be entered into a prize draw. The winner will be announced on 2 January 2020 Data protection: Assignment Media Ltd would like to share your details with General Tire for use in their marketing. We will not share your data with anyone else. If you do NOT want us to share your data with General Tire, please tick this box Assignment Media would like to contact you from time to time with emails of interest to 4x4 Magazine readers. Please tick this box if you would prefer not to receive these
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DECEMBER 2019 | 11
BOLLINGER ADDS DOUBLE CAB TO PRODUCT PLANS
lectric vehicle start-up Bollinger Motors has announced that it plans to make four-door versions of its forthcoming B1 and B2 off-road trucks. The American manufacturer has also revealed that the vehicles’ all-electric powertrain will have more power than was previously expected – a mighty 614bhp, which will come
Volkswagen has introduced a new version of the Amarok. Called the Black Edition, this is adds unique styling and technology to our reigning Double-Cab of the Year – creating what VW says are ‘among
12 | DECEMBER 2019
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in conjunction with a range of 200 miles from a 120kWh battery. Bollinger initially announced that it was working on the B1, a shortwheelbase station wagon with an interior which, aided by the lack of a traditional engine and drivetrain, was highly conﬁgurable with various seating positions and stowage opportunities. The B2, which was added to the plans later,
the most powerful and luxurious variants of the award-winning pick-up ever created.’ The Black Edition model is available both on standard and range-topping Aventura versions of
is a pick-up whose in-cab tailgate allows it to carry the requisite 8x4’ sheet of plywood. The B2’s rear bed measures 5’ 9” long and 4’ 1” wide. It has 15” of ground clearance, giving it 52° approach, 25° breakover and 28° departure angles. The vehicles’ design features a ‘frunk’ (front trunk – we’re not sure if ‘froot’ will catch on in the UK) the Amarok, with prices starting at £34,835 plus VAT. The former is powered by the familiar 3.0 V6 TDI engine in 204bhp form, with the Aventura featuring the 258bhp version of the same engine and costing from £40,995. In each case, the engine is mated as standard to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Based on the existing Highline model, the Black Edition adds 20” Talca alloys (black, naturally), Discover Media Navigation with European map data and Off-road information display and a Lights and Vision pack including rain-sensing windscreen wipers. In addition, the vehicle gains a black styling bar, black rear
– and with the glass on the rear folded up, Bollinger says you can haul 72 sheets of ½” plywood. The four-door models can be expected to move the design’s inherent ﬂexibility and practicality to another level altogether; production is due to commence next year, with right-hand drive models set to come to Britain some way down the line from that. bumpers, black sidebars, black fog light frames and a black polish trim strip on the grille. Inside, the cabin features black headlining and a gloss black decorative insert on the dashboard. Further kit includes an exclusive Nappa leather interior (VW doesn’t say what colour), Ergo Comfort front seats with electric adjustment and a leather multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifts for the auto box. If you want to choose matt paint from the options catalogue, it will cost £2420 – that’s a 24% saving over standard – and Mountain Top roll covers will be available with a ﬁtted price of £1665. The Black Edition is available to order now.
4x4 23/10/2019 22:31
ALL-ELECTRIC PROPULSION FOR AUDI’S ‘OFF-ROADER OF THE FUTURE’
AI:Trail concept mixes human-driven and autonomous operation • 107bhp electric motor at each wheel • 155-mile range on severe terrain • 1750kg kerb weight • LED drones instead of headlamps
aunching a thing you call ‘the off-roader of the future’ at the same show as the new Land Rover Defender is a brave move. But Audi isn’t the sort of company to bottle out of a ﬁght – and with all-electric propulsion and autonomous driving capabilities, the AI:Trail concept certainly has a forward-thinking vibe. It also has thoroughly futuristic styling. Wouldn’t be a concept car without it, of course, but it’s the sort of thing you could imagine showing up in the deserted city
14 | DECEMBER 2019
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streets of a post-apocalyptic Marvel set. Possibly with the sound of a throbbing V6 dubbed in (you know what that’s a reference to, right?) but deﬁnitely driven by one of the good guys. It might look like a fantasy, but Audi calls the AI:Trail ‘a comprehensive concept for sustainable mobility off the beaten track.’ It’s a four-seater inside, and parents might appreciate something about its intent: ‘The glass surrounding the cabin extends all the way to ground level, providing unrivalled
all-round visibility. The name evokes the idea of exploring nature. That is why there are no big screens on board for streaming TV series or videoconferencing; instead, broad glass surfaces provide a clear view of the surroundings.’ In terms of off-road ability, exceptionally good approach and departure angles are backed up by 340mm ground clearance and 33.5” tyres on pronounced 22” wheels – each of which is driven by its own electric motor. The vehicle’s architecture keeps its high-capac-
ity battery pack well clear of the ground in all off-road situations, but despite having a length and width of 4.15 and 2.15 metres its steel, aluminium and carbon body only weighs in at 1750kg. While some of the all-electric off-roaders that have been proposed in recent years have boasted supercar-toppling performance, Audi says the AI:Trail’s development ‘was not about achieving remarkably quick acceleration or hitting extreme speeds.’ It maxes out, indeed, at a quoted 80mph.
4x4 23/10/2019 22:31
Pillarless body design and rear suicide doors mean wide-open ease of access – as well as helping visibility while driving. Dashboard is minimalist in the extreme, and hammock-style rear seats can be removed to become camping chairs when parked. Passengers don’t have any infotainment screens to distract them – the idea is that on board this vehicle, the only thing you’ll want to look at is the world around you Instead, recognising that the vehicle is designed to be used in areas without any battery charging infrastructure, the designers’ primary target was to optimise its range. This is approximately 250-310 miles on roads or easy off-tarmac trails, however even on non-stop rough terrain it remains at a very usable 155 miles. The lack of top-end pace is primarily down to the vehicle’s gearing, which has been calculated to ensure each of its wheels can always transmit enough torque to the ground – however extreme the terrain it’s tackling. Total system output is quoted at 429bhp and 737lbf.ft; with a motor at each wheel, no differentials are required, however the system constantly monitors the traction at each corner and limits torque where it detects unwanted slippage. In off-road situations where wheelspin is beneficial, on the other hand, Audi says the vehicle can understand what’s going on and continue pumping in the torque.
Although the off-road part of its character means the AI:Trail is fully equipped with pedals, a steering wheel and everything else you need to drive a car, it’s also capable of Level 4 autonomous operation. This means it can operate without any driver input, albeit only in specific areas such as inner cities with suitable infrastructure in place. The hardware and software that makes this possible do also play a role off-road, albeit only for driver assistance rather than full autonomous control. The vehicle’s ESP sensors provide the drive system with the information it needs to maintain optimal traction, and the full range of electronics can intervene at any point to warn the driver when critical limits are about to be exceeded. This includes ground clearance and tilt angles, which are monitored by cameras and lasers as well as ultrasound and radar. Audi says the vehicle’s assistance systems ‘provide effective support, definitely help to improve safety and take a significant amount of the strain off the driver.’
Another autonomous function the vehicle boasts is self-regulating tyre pressures. The ESP system, backed up by information from optical sensors, monitors the surface of the terrain and airs the tyres down as required for optimal traction – before reinflating them to the correct pressure once back
on the road. The wheels ride on MacPherson struts with coil springs and adaptive dampers, which in turn are controlled by transverse links. Other parts of the AI:Trail concept are pure automotive fantasy. Instead of headlamps, for example, it has five rotorless drones which fly ahead of it casting a pool of
Instead of headlamps, the AI:Trail has its own miniature squadron of drones whose LED beams light up the route ahead – and can even project GPS directions on to it
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4x4 NEWS LED light on to the road or track. And as if that’s not enough, you can integrate them into the vehicle’s navigation system – whereupon they’ll also project arrows on to the road showing you which way to go at junctions. This sounds like a recipe for chaos if everybody has it, but you can certainly image it helping you out on a complicated backwoods trail. And it’s safe to say that if you were to start doing the school run in anything that looked even remotely similar to the AI:Trail, having your own mini air force of helpful drones to show you the way to go home is one of the few things that could make you even cooler than you already were. While it’s still a long way off, the AI:Trail is more than just a car for Audi. The company says it completes a quartet of concepts (the others being the Aicon, AI:ME
and AI:Race) which ‘embody an entirely new mobility concept.’ In the future, Audi says that rather than selling cars, it intends to operate an on-demand vehicle pool from which customers will be able to lease speciﬁc models. ’It will be possible for all the user’s available data and preferences to be taken into account in the process of conﬁguring and equipping the vehicle for lease. The colour, interiors and technical options can be preconﬁgured online – even drivers’
preferred interior temperature, seat adjustment and their personal music library will already be activated when they get into the car.’ So perhaps it wasn’t so silly to launch the ‘off-roader of the future’ at the Frankfurt show after all. The
Defender is a high-tech new vehicle in the here and now – but for the sort of futuristic fantasising only a concept can truly promise, Audi appears to have taken the rest of the industry aback with the extraordinary AI:Trail.
‘The name evokes the idea of exploring nature. That is why there are no big screens on board; instead, broad glass surfaces provide a clear view of the surroundings’
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EXPERIENCED DRIVER DEPICTED
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SPECIAL EDITION MARKS MILLIONTH TOUAREG
olkswagen recently built its millionth Touareg. And as is now the tradition in the motor industry, it has marked the event by launching a new special-edition version of the vehicle. The Touareg ONE Million features darkened rear lights, inscribed
sill panel trims and badges on its B-pillars, as well as gloss black diffuser and wheelarches. It can be ordered with a choice of 20” or 21” wheels, and further options include an exclusive Sechura Beige paint colour. Inside, high-end Puglia leather seat trim is coloured using olive
SsangYong has launched the Rexton ICE – a new special edition model based on the mid-range ELX Auto. This gains unique Ice White pearlescent paint but is priced at £500 less than the donor model at £34,995 OTR. SsangYong being SsangYong, you get an extremely good equipment list, as well as a very robust warranty. The vehicle is in dealerships now.
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leaf extracts. At this point, you can be fairly sure that the options don’t include a winch tray. The upper seat surfaces and door trims are ﬁnished in diamond-stitched Amber Brown, with the same theme continued over to the dash panel, steering wheel and gear lever. Naturally, Volkswagen’s
sensational Innovision Cockpit is ﬁtted as standard. The Touareg ONE Million will be available with a range of engines. European prices start at €80,880 with the 286bhp V6 diesel, so put a ﬁnger in the air for what it’ll be in the UK and, so long as you’re pointing upwards, you won’t be far off.
Grandland X becomes Vauxhall’s ﬁrst plug-in vehicle Vauxhall has opened the order book on its new Grandland X Hybrid4. The plug-in SUV, which combines a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with two electric motors for a combined output of 300bhp, emits just 36g/km of CO2 and, with an all-electric range of 32 miles, returns up to 176.5mpg. The motors’ position in the front and rear axles provides an form of allwheel drive, and the vehicle has a drive mode option to make the most of this. Further equipment on what will be the top-spec Grandland X model includes sat nav with real-time trafﬁc information and a telematic route planning service taking into account the location of charging stations and the vehicle’s remaining range. Prices for the Grandland X Hybrid4 start at £35,590 on the road. First deliveries of the new model are expected in January 2020.
4x4 23/10/2019 22:32
All Seasons. All Conditions. All Terrains.
Davanti has spent years developing this AllTerrain tyre, applying the latest design and manufacturing innovation to develop a tyre as comfortable on the road, on the construction site, in the fields or up in the mountains. Terratoura is a high performance All-Terrain tyre. Its innovative tread pattern provides exceptional traction across all environments.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT WWW.DAVANTI-TYRES.COM Untitled-3 1
PEUGEOT MODIFIES 3008 FOR VIETNAM EXPEDITION
eugeot has created a unique off-road concept car based on its 3008 SUV. The vehicle, which was built for ﬁlming on a TV show, features Cooper Discoverer AT3 all-terrain tyres on 17” steel wheels, enhancing the traction provided by the Grip Control system that’s optional on showroom examples of the vehicle. The 3008 is also equipped with a front skid plate and an aluminium roof rack made by Russian manufacturer Rival; the latter carries an LED light bar as well as a Simpson roof tent from ARB. Based on a 1.6-litre PureTech GT Line model, the one-off 3008 has a rear bike rack and was ﬁnished in a decorative wrap ahead of its stint in front of the cameras. Whereby stands the point of the whole exercise, as the show was about tackling the northern Ho Chi Minh trail in northern Vietnam – an expedition that’s deﬁnitely not just a gentle drive on a smooth road. ‘This one-off model exempliﬁes the practicality and off-road ability of our best-selling SUV,’ says Peugeot UK boss David Peel. ‘With relatively minor modiﬁcations, the 3008 has tackled some tough terrain, proving the effectiveness of its Advanced Grip Control technology and demonstrating its true outdoor potential.’
Pictures: Rowan Horncastle / Peugeot
Spec improvements for Skoda's SUVs Skoda has updated its Kodiaq and Karoq SUVs for the 2020 model year. This isn’t a full facelift – the only visual change is a new-look ‘Skoda’ tailgate badge – however it brings with it a safety enhancement with the new option of Side Assist to replace the previous Blind Spot Detect system. Side Assist has a range of 70 metres (more than three times that of the old system), features more noticeable warning lights and incorporates Rear Trafﬁc Alert, warning the driver about potential hazards when reversing. Further changes include the availability of Skoda’s DCC Adaptive Chassis option on vehicles that don’t have four-wheel drive, not that you’re likely to be very interested in that if you’re reading these words. In addition, the 190bhp version of the muchloved 2.0 TDI engine becomes available on the Karoq. On the Kodiaq, meanwhile, there’s a new, wider 20” wheel option, as well as optional temperature-regulating leather seats on the Kodiaq Scout.
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COMFORSER MUD -TERRAINS AND ALL-TERRAINS BROUGHT TO BRITAIN BY EXCLUSIVE DEAL WITH MICHELDEVER TYRES
COMFORSER IS LIKELY to be a new name to many people. The Chinese tyre brand is manufactured by Shandong, which has been operating since 2012, and now it is being brought to the UK through an exclusive arrangement with well known importer Micheldever Tyre Services. The good news is that this means there are new all-terrain and mud-terrain tyres on the market – at prices which, according to Micheldever, represent great value for money. Comforser’s commitment, it says, is to ‘deliver a range that are quiet, comfortable and harness outstanding driving performance on or off-road.’ The all-terrain option is the CF1000 A/T, whose pattern is designed to perform equally well on and off-road. Built with sidewall
protection and a highly durable 2-ply construction, Comforser says it has ‘a unique 3D block design for enhanced grip on both wet and dry roads that protects the tread against damage sustained under severe road conditions.’ If you’re after tipping the balance further towards offroad performance, the CF3000 M/T will be the one. This has a directional tread pattern with tread blocks which extend on to the shoulder of the tyre and features protective strips and 3D sidewalls for enhanced traction in muddy and snowy conditions. ‘The directional pattern grooves increase grip and the shoulder design offers stone protection under severe off-road conditions as well as offering great road manners,’ says the company. Commenting on Comforser’s arrival in its stable of brands, Micheldever Tyres’ UK 4x4 Sales and Technical Manager Dave Dineen said: ‘We are delighted to have UK exclusivity for Comforser as it has a good range of products, with a tyre to suit most 4x4 vehicles. ‘What has impressed me about Comforser is the way that the brand has delivered a wide range of all-terrain and mud-terrain tyres for drivers that are looking for great value for money.’ The CF1000 A/T is currently available through Micheldever in six sizes to ﬁt 16” and 18” rims. The CF3000 M/T, meanwhile, offers a
range of 14 different sizes for rims between 15” and 20” in diameter, including Light Truck (LT) and Extra Load (XL) construction on selected sizes. Prices are not stupidly extreme in either direction.
Want to know more? You can get Comforser’s CF1000 and CF3000 through the network of 4SITE 4X4 Tyres centres – you’ll ﬁnd them at www.4site4x4tyres.co.uk.
EVEN MORE PERFORMANCE FOR AUDI SQ2 WE WRITE A LOT about off-roading and expedition kit on these pages, but if performance SUVs are your thing the Audi SQ2 might be on your radar. And if it is, enhancing it with the latest kit from ABT might be too. ABT is the world’s largest tuning company specialising in VW and Audi vehicles. What you’re looking at here is an example of its retro-ﬁt wheel range for the SQ2, which features a number of 19” and 20” options. Speciﬁcally, it’s the GR alloy, a 20” unit whose gloss black ﬁnish contrasts with a diamond-machined rim lip. There’s more to life than wheels, though. Apparently. Like making them turn. The SQ2 is already a bit good at this, but with ABT’s new performance upgrade it’s a bit better. A lot better, actually – thus tweaked, the 2.0-litre petrol engine bungs out 350bhp and 325lbf.ft, launching it to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and maxing out at 163mph. Want to know more? ABT has loads of dealers across the country – to ﬁnd out which is closest to you, head for www.abt-sportsline.com.
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The indicated values were determined according to the prescribed measurement method. These are the “NEDC CO2 values” according to New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). For more information on these values and how they have been calculated please see www.mercedes-benz.co.uk/vans/en/WLTP Official EU-regulated test data are provided for comparison purposes and actual performance will depend on driving style, road conditions, chosen optional extras and other non-technical factors. Midlands Truck & Van Ltd, Wheler Road, Off Humber Road, Whitley, Coventry, CV3 4LA, Tel: 02476 217266, Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, www.midlandstruckvan.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. © Daimler 2019.
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As easy as 1, 2, 3 1 hour to install or remove Available for all 4x4 European pick-ups inc. Amarok, Defender, D-Max, Hilux, Ranger etc Supatracks Ltd Unit 3, Alva Industrial Estate Alva FK12 5DQ 01259 760418 | email@example.com
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DECEMBER 2019 | 23
EDELBROCK LAUNCHES NEW SUPERCHARGER FOR JK WRANGLER THE MORE YOU MODIFY A VEHICLE, the heavier it gets. That’s one reason why off-roaders seem to spend a lot of their time trying to turn up the wick on their engines. If your weapon of choice is a Jeep Wrangler JK with the 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol lump, turning it up us now easier than ever thanks to a new supercharger from Edelbrock. Housed in a body cast from T-6061-T6 aluminium, this features a lower manifold with an integrated high-capacity air-to-water intercooler – making it, in the manufacturer’s own words, ‘the most complete and easy-to-install forced induction system on the market.’ Edelbrock says the vehicle’s daily driving characteristics will remain almost unchanged with the system in place, with factory-standard pedal feel – and fuel consumption, too, which is a bonus. When you need it, however, the blower will ﬁre up smoothly and quietly, boosting the engine’s output to 317bhp and 278lbf.ft at the wheels. ‘Owners can climb harder, tow heavier loads and have plenty of power to pass safely on the highway as they head to the nearest trail or simply to the grocery store,’ says Edelbrock. The great thing about superchargers, of course, is that being belt-driven they work instantly when called into action, allowing a precision of throttle control that’s a prime reason for choosing them ahead of turbocharging for vehicles designed to go off-road. The Edelbrock kit comes complete with everything you need – including a 3-year, 60,000-mile warranty – and requires nothing in the way of cutting or additional mods to ﬁt. ‘Edelbrock superchargers provide a major power increase while retaining factory drivability,’ says company boss Don Barry. ‘Wherever they plan to take their Jeeps, we’re extremely excited to offer owners reliable power in an easy to install package.’ Want to put that claim to the test? It’ll cost you in the region of £5000-£6000 plus ﬁtting to get one over here – but if that sounds like a clear case of ‘spend it once, spend it right,’ your ﬁrst port of call should be www.edelbrock.com.
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4x4 25/10/2019 22:07
MODULAR WORKSHOP SYSTEMS TO TURN YOUR GARAGE INTO A WORKSHOP MOST OF US don’t have the luxury of a fully ﬁtted workshop in which to build our ideal off-road creation. If you do at least have a garage, however, and somehow it’s not packed full of knackered sofas, scratched furniture and endless boxes of old toys, the new Clarke range of Heavy-Duty Professional Modular Storage packages from Machine Mart could go a long way towards making the most of what you’ve got. Comprising tool chests, ﬂoor and wall cabinets and accompanying back panels, these feature high-quality ball bearing drawer runners, gas-strut door opening, lockable doors and a choice of wood or stainless work tops. They’re ﬁnished in a combination of black and grey and, being modular, can be speciﬁed to ﬁt exactly the space you’ve got available – be that in a workshop, warehouse, garage or even just a shed. Machine Mart is offering a choice of 10 complete packages, any of which will save you money compared to buying all the units they comprise individually. You can also spec your own tailor-made system by selecting individual component parts to suit your space and budget. Either way, you can always add further units as required later on. Prices start at just under £950 including VAT and climb to £4999 for the full works. To ﬁnd out more (and there’s plenty), pay a visit to www.machinemart.co.uk and bang ‘modular workshop systems’ into the search bar.
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NEW HANDLING AND BRAKING UPGRADE KITS OFFER TRANSFORMED ROAD MANNERS FOR RANGE ROVER CLASSIC – WHILE RETAINING ITS FACTORY- STANDARD APPEARANCE
RANGE ROVER SPECIALIST Kingsley Cars has launched a set of upgrades for Mk1 Classics – which promise to transform the vehicles’
26 | DECEMBER 2019
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road manners without leaving a mark on their appearance. The company’s Fast Road Suspension Kit and Performance
Brake Kit, which are engineered for easy DIY fitment, bolt on in place of the OE items to enhance the Range Rover’s handling and braking alike. The latter does so while still fitting behind the vehicle’s standard 16” wheels, allowing owners to instal it without turning their precious Classics into ghastly custom car lookalikes. ‘With the new Kingsley Cars Fast Road Suspension and Performance Brake Kits, the ride and handling is transformed and stronger, safer braking is achieved without the need to fit bigger, aftermarket alloy wheels,’ says company founder Damon Oorloff. ‘Not only does the driver have increased enjoyment and confidence in their vehicles, but also the classic looks of the Range Rover are preserved. We are able to transform these vehicles into what are, for their size, truly engaging drivers cars, while maintaining the correct period aesthetic.’
The Fast Road Suspension Kit includes lowered springs and fully serviceable performance shocks, in each case with new mounts, an uprated rear anti-roll bar, new anti-roll bar links all-round and a full set of bushes for the radius arms, trailing links, A-frame and anti-roll bars, as well as all required bolts and nylock nuts. The company says this will maintain the Range Rover’s famously smooth level of ride quality around town and on the motorway, while adding higher levels of vehicle control at speed, minimising body roll while adding driver appeal in corners. The Performance Brake Kit, meanwhile, promises exceptional stopping power, increased pedal feel and a remarkable resistance to fade, even under heavy use – all of it without the need to go beyond the Range Rover’s traditional 16” rim size. The kit includes six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers,
4x4 28/10/2019 12:38
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along with clips and hoses, plus vented discs and performance brake pads all-round. ‘Although a well-accepted range of enhancements exists for those looking to maximise the off-road capabilities of their Range Rovers,’ continues Oorloff, ‘in our experience over the last 25 years, our clients use their classic Range Rovers primarily on the road. ‘When we looked for suspension kits that would allow them to enjoy their vehicles in this way, we couldn’t ﬁnd any that matched the three criteria of comfort, control
and ease of ﬁtting, so we engineered our own. I am proud to say that the Kingsley Cars Fast Road suspension kit gives possibly the best ride you will ever experience in a Range Rover Classic.’ To experience it, ﬁrst you’ll need a Range Rover and then you’ll need £2895 plus VAT, or £3775 plus VAT ﬁtted. That gets you the suspension kit: for the brakes, the price is £4995 plus VAT supplied. If an old Rangey is part of your life, you’ve probably paid more to get less. You can order the kits by visiting www.kingsleycars.co.uk.
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DECEMBER 2019 | 27
NEW XENONS FROM RING PROVIDE 150% MORE LIGHT – WHILE STILL LASTING AS LONG AS STANDARD BULBS AS WE WRITE THIS, the clocks are about to go back. It’s wet and miserable outside, the roads are slippery and the prospect of going out and actually driving anywhere is about as appealing an idea as a three-up dinner date with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. It’s at times like these that your thoughts should turn towards lightbulbs. Good ones, obviously. Good ones like the Xenon150 from Ring, for example. With this new halogen bulb, Ring says it has ‘once again set the standards in vehicle lighting.’ The Xenon150 is so called because it puts up to 150% more light on the road compared to a standard bulb without compromising operating life – making it, Ring says, the longest lasting +150% bulb on the market.
How does it pull off such a trick? By using the latest in filament technology, that’s how. The filament has been engineered to be shorter, with a tighter-wound coil to produce a brighter, whiter light output. When combined with 100% xenon gas in the glass envelope, the result is up to 150% more light on the road. The Xenon150 also produces an 80-metre longer beam pattern, picking out other road users from further away and giving you more time to react to hazards. The light temperature is closer to daylight, too, at 3700K, thus providing better reflections from road markings and signs. ‘Development of the Xenon150 has been complex and is something that all those involved in the process at Ring are proud of,’ comments the company’s Vehicle Lighting Product Manager Matthew Flaherty. ‘We have engineered a brighter light that complies with all the legal regulations for light output, without compromising on operating life when compared to our other performance halogens.’ The Xenon150 bulb is is available in a choice of H4 and H7 references, making it a dead simple
plug-and-play replacement for your 4x4’s standard items – there’s no need to mess with the vehicle’s wiring, just bang them in there and blow away those winter blues.
Want to know more? Like, for example, where to get a set? The bright thing to do (we never tire of making that joke) would be to visit ringautomotive.com.
AIR DOWN WITHOUT FEAR FOR SNOWY ROADS RING MAKES MORE than just lights, too. The company’s RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator is one of those things that do exactly what it says on the tin. From zero to 35psi takes a mere two minutes, according to Ring. And it’s not just the act of inflation that it’s brisk at, either, as the big, clear digital screen makes it easy to command and as quick-set dial means you can get the process underway with speed rather than stress. It comes complete with an LED light, which makes all the difference if you’re trying to inflate a soft tyre after dark (or ‘all the time,’ to use another word for winter). A 3.5-metre cable means that regardless of your vehicle’s size, it can remain plugged into its 12v socket while you sort out all four tyres. Then when you’ve finished, you simply pick the dust caps up from the inbuilt holder on the inflator, pack the cables and air line into the integrated storage compartment and carry on with your day. What has all this got to do with winter motoring, you may ask yourself? Soft tyres can crop up at any time of year, after all. Well, yes, that’s true – but being that you’re a person who knows their off-roading, it won’t have escaped your notice that to make it up a snowy hill, the thing almost everyone forgets to do is…dump a load of air out of their tyres. You know, that? The kit includes a storage case with a three-piece adaptor kit, spare valve caps and even a pair of latex gloves. The RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator is available nationwide at a suggested retail price of £49.99 – to find out more, head to ringautomotive.com.
28 | DECEMBER 2018
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4x4 25/10/2019 22:12
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RANGE ROVER EVOQUE
All-new version of Land Rover’s posh kid feels like a proper Range Rover at last, and is vastly improved to drive –but is frighteningly thirsty in petrol form ON TEST Evoque P250 First Edition
and Rover hit gold with the original Evoque. With its combination of class, equipment and concept car styling, it became the fastestselling model ever to wear the green oval badge, proving beyond doubt that Land Rover had entered the premium car mainstream.
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As has been the case with other premium car makers in the past, however, what the Evoque demonstrated was that people will eagerly splash their money for a badge – irrespective of whether the vehicle itself is actually worth it. The original Evoque was a looker, for sure, both inside and out, but it was
cramped in the back, low on practicality and average to drive. It might have had classy trim and premium kit to go with its iconic styling, but there was precious little about it to justify being called a Range Rover. It says much that the new Evoque is so similar in appearance to the old one. People who fell in love with its styling then will still love it now. In fact, you’ve got to look carefully for the differences. But under the skin, what we have here is an all-new model. Based on Land Rover’s new PTA platform, it’s 13% stiffer than before and has a
21mm longer wheelbase – despite being only 1mm longer in the body. All Evoques equipped with four-wheel drive are hybrids, with a 48-volt electric motor aiding the engine during acceleration. This brings down emissions, but it doesn’t make the Evoque a fuel-sipper – the mid-range petrol model tested here quotes WLTP figures averaging 29.5mpg. You get a return of 249bhp and 269lbf.ft for that, from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot that’s dubbed the P250 in Land Rover’s model range. We’re testing it here in First Edition form, priced from £50,400 on the road; our Evoque was unusually low on optional extras, with only Adaptive Dynamics and Configurable Dynamics added
4x4 22/10/2019 23:37
with an easy one-shot motion to add length. We’d like to see them dropping flatter, but there’s no step to get over when you’re loading long and heavy items and the tailgate lip is nice and low. So it does enough without dishing up any full-on wonders, and the same is the case with oddment stowage – you won’t grumble, but you certainly won’t be wowed by how clever it is either. The big story inside the Evoque is definitely how cool, slick and modern it is – just like the old one, you might say, only this time the stuff that really matters hasn’t been left behind in the rush to stay classy.
DRIVING The Evoque’s cabin is finally that of a true Range Rover, with the bulk of its infotainment and control systems taken directly from the full-fat model costing twice as much. Material and build quality is outstanding, and so too is the driving position. Another advance on the old Evoque is that rear-seat accommodation is now suitable for tall adults to the already rich mix, and would cost you £51,120.
CABIN AND PRACTICALITY It feels like a Range Rover from the moment you climb aboard. That’s a very good start, and by and large the Evoque keeps it up. The dash is attractively laid out and presents you with a mixture of leather, highquality plastics and slick looking touch-screen control panels, giving it a pleasingly minimal appearance that’s tidy without looking sparse. The controls are universally excellent to touch and operate, and ergonomics are similarly good. We found that the gear selector baulked at being flicked quickly between Drive and Reverse during brisk three-pointers, and the menus on the two touch-screens needed more learning than some, but it’s very tidy and pretty logical overall.
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It also has a seating position that’s worthy of the Range Rover name. Despite the fairly shallow windows, you get an excellent view ahead, to the sides and even over your shoulders – there’s no such thing as an SUV without a cluttered rear three-quarters these days, but the Evoque is above average here. Not that it matters much when you get an excellent high-res reversing camera and sensors, but still. The seats themselves are pretty good, too. There’s plenty of support all round, and loads of adjustability; we did find ourselves needing to pump up the lumbar cushion to prevent aches on a long journey, but they manage to strike a pretty fair balance between being soft and supportive. The leather in our model didn’t strike us as feeling as nice as it looked, but one of the good things about Land Rover is that it offers various other premium materials as well. In the back, the old Evoque let itself down very badly. And aided
by that longer wheelbase, the new one is massively improved. Land Rover says rear legroom has been improved by 20mm, but it feels to us like a lot more – with deep recesses in the backs of the front seats, one six-foot adult can now sit comfortably behind another. Headroom is on the tight side here, and the view out is compromised by a rising waistline and sloping C-posts, but it’s like chalk and cheese compared to the old Evoque. Tall adults might not want to sit in the back for hours on end, but for short and medium journeys it’s more than adequate. A very welcome surprise. It’s a decent load-lugger, too – though without setting any new standards in the class. Land Rover claims a 10% increase in capacity, which sounds handy until you consider how poor the old one was, but again the improvement goes way beyond what the numbers suggest. It’s spacious enough when the seats are up, and they fold
The new, stiffer platform on which the Evoque is built makes its presence felt from the word go. It’s smooth and beautifully composed to drive, whether at speed on twisting B-roads or around town on the jagged mess of broken tarmac that’s our typical lot in this country. Ride quality is impressive, with not even the 285/50R20 tyres on our test vehicle preventing bumps in the road from being kept at arm’s length. You do feel the body being moved on its springs, but without any harshness at all. It has to be recognised here that our test vehicle was on optional dampers, however – but given that they add so little (everything’s relative) to the overall price, we’d not hesitate to recommend its overall dynamics exactly as we found them. In particular, the balance of ride and handling is excellent. It’s smooth and fluid in low-speed corners, then at speed it becomes taut and agile, allowing you to make the most of the engine’s not insubstantial output. This comes with a lively snarl that adds a bit of theatre to the occasion – and perhaps reminds you of what you’re doing, which is no bad thing as this is one of those vehicles in which a brisk overtaking manoeuvre can very easily result in you glancing at the dash to discover that you’re busting the speed limit by 50%. Certainly, twisting roads become very entertaining – with torque vectoring to back up all the good stuff from the steering and suspension, corners are taken with great confidence, and body roll is minimal however hard you push it. Our impression was that we’d have liked a stronger feeling of
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The P250 engine is full of zest and makes a nice noise, but if you thought a return to petrol 4x4s was the answer to spiralling tax on diesels you might be in for a shock. It doesn’t get on as well as we’d like with the nine-speed automatic gearbox, but the main problem is its sheer thirst. As the picture on the first page illustrates, we averaged an utterly terrible 24.4mpg over an 850-mile test drive, only a small amount of which was done with a heavy right foot
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times when cruising in traffic on a trailing throttle, too. It could of course be said that shunting from the transmission is actually a very Range Rover thing, at least if you grew up on pensionable Classics. It’s not what you expect of them these days, though, and it surprised us. So too did the amount of fuel we used during the course of our week with the P250. Not that 29.5mpg sounds very promising in the first place, but the eco data screen in the latest Touch Pro infotainment system suggested that we only managed to achieve that once – and that overall, we were actually averaging just 24.4mpg. It should be stressed than the B-road antics described above only represent a small portion of the miles we did, too – in the main, it was motorway cruising and gentle urban work. And of course you could call that a very Range Rover thing, too – again, if you grew up on old Classics. Our Editor used to own a
grotty Vogue SE from the late 1980s, and he was able to get 23mpg out of its 3.5-litre V8. Three decades later, for a smaller vehicle to be chugging down almost as much gas hardly sounds like progress – our Evoque’s CO2 emissions are quoted at 180g/km, and the Ed’s old minger probably chucked out more than twice that, but if you’re a normal person who just looks at the fuel cost you might well wonder what on earth is going on.
front-end grip, as well as a more linear feel as the brake pedal went down, but there’s no doubting its agility and athleticism. It’s a very fine cruiser, too, capable of smoothing away the hours and miles on the motorway with no more than a moderate hum of road and wind noise in the background. You don’t have to fight with the steering to keep it on track, either, even with such wide, low-profile tyres constantly looking for an excuse to take you off down a tramline. In this way, it’s just what a Range Rover should be. But a Range Rover should be refined in every way, and the Evoque’s drivetrain didn’t impress us at all. We found it hard to pull away smoothly, and that we’d frequently be disturbed by shunts and jolts as the ninespeed auto box changed up – often with more than one shifts coming in very quick succession. This was most pronounced under hard acceleration, but it happened a few
Of course, the Evoque is an entirely different proposition to a tatty old Classic. And if you don’t want to drive a gas-guzzler, the diesel options should at least get you into the mid-30s or beyond without sacrificing anything significant in terms of pace. All the same, this sort of fuel consumption can hardly help but be a deal-breaker for a lot of people – however good the vehicle might be in every other way.
RR Evoque P250 First Edition Feels like a proper Range Rover, but far too thirsty with this engine The Evoque is all-round excellent to drive and, at last, its practicality is almost on a par with its image inside. Most of all, it feels like a mini Range Rover rather than a pretender. We think the P250 engine needs to get on better with its gearbox, however – but with such horrific fuel consumption as tested, we doubt many people will ever find that out for themselves.
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All-electric soft-roader is based on the new GLC – and makes as compelling a case as we’ve yet to hear for making the switch away from traditional fuels ON TEST EQC 400 4Matic AMG Line Premium Plus
ercedes was one of the first premium car makers to start building SUVs. The original M-Class was a bit of a blunt instrument, but since then the company has created a platform for itself as a maker of 4x4s that are sharp, stylish, brilliantly made, classy to drive and, if you want them to be, disarmingly capable off-road. Now you can add ‘electric’ to that list. The EQC isn’t one of those self-consciously electric vehicles that bash you over the head with
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their futuristic stylish and quasispace-age materials. It’s a Mercedes SUV, like any other Mercedes SUV – only, it’s an electric one. Mercs are very good at winning you over the moment you climb aboard. The ECQ mimics the company’s other latest-generation SUVs with a beautifully modern cabin design featuring a stunning combined dash and infotainment screen – it’s one large, long display stretching out to something like two feet along the top of the facia, with every function picked out in
absolutely pin-sharp graphic detail. It really does need to be seen to be fully appreciated. The dash surfaces are quite hard to the touch but feel superbly well made, with beautiful tones and textures. There’s no trace of a creak from the facia or floor console, and every part of it looks as good as it feels. It’s a game-changer. We could be talking about any of Merc’s latest SUVs there – the point, again, being that the EQC is just like the rest of them, only electric-powered. From the outside, its has the company’s highly distinctive EV-family styling, and its body is a little bigger than that of the new GLC – the equivalent model in Merc’s traditionally powered range, with which it shares a production line in the company’s Bremen factory – but to all intents and purposes inside you wouldn’t know the difference. There’s plenty of room up front, with good visibility in all directions
except over your shoulder. There’s just about enough room in the back for one six-footer to ride behind another, and the seats fold very close to flat. The boot floor is a little on the high side, but you still get a shedload of cargo space whether the seats are up or down. However perhaps Mercedes’ greatest achievement has been to make the EQC very much like a normal car to drive. Some EVs come with hey-everybodyI’m-electric tricks which hover somewhere between worthwhile features and pure gimmicks, but the EQC’s trick is to be just like driving a GLC. Power comes from an electric drivetrain on each axle, meaning four-wheel drive is standard on all models. The EQC 400 tested here has 408bhp and 560lbf. ft, accelerating from 0-62 in 5.1 seconds. As you’d expect, it takes off on a wave of torque and runs smoothly and silently.
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Cabin is a treat for the senses, with superb materials and top-notch use of modern tech. It’s futuristic yet familiar, and very very classy. Rear seats fold near-ﬂat (below) to give it a healthy dose of good old-fashioned practicality The powertrain is exceptionally ﬂexible, with bags of pull in every situation, but what’s noticeable is that the smoothness keeps coming as you get on and off the pedals. In particular, the brakes are totally progressive, with no snatching at all, and the steering is completely natural, light but full of feel. You’d want more from a hatchback, but for an SUV its dynamics are well matched to its performance. And it has plenty of performance. All this remains the case whether you’ve got it in Sport or Comfort mode. To us, albeit on a pretty short test route which happened to be just about under water on one of the wettest days of the year, the difference between them was minimal to say the least. The same can be said of the EQC’s ride quality. Whether the drive dial is pointing to Sport or Comfort, it’s lovely. It’s very smooth on good, fast roads, allowing the car’s inherent dynamism to take over, but doesn’t pick up on scruffy bumps around town. On the sort of road surfaces that smash your suspension up and down, meanwhile, it’s as composed
as you could dare hope: there’s no savage jarring, and you don’t get launched around in your seat. There ought not be any rude shocks in terms of the EQC’s range, either. This is quoted at 259 miles (WLTP), and the 80kWh battery can be rapid-charged from 10% to 80% in 40 minutes, so with a bit of forward planning you could cover a good chunk of the country in a long day’s driving. And you certainly wouldn’t ﬁnd it stressful in any other way. Whether a price tag of £74,320 as tested would keep you feeling quite as chilled is a different matter, though it’s likely that more or less every order Mercedes takes for these will be leased rather than purchased. And if you’re after a soft-roader at that sort of money, you should consider it seriously – not just because it’s a good electric SUV, but because it’s a good SUV. If you’re not ready to make the switch, it’s a great advert for Mercedes’ traditionally powered 4x4s – but if you didn’t think you were, it provides perhaps the most compelling argument yet
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JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE
Latest high-spec version of Jeep’s long-running premium off-roader has a cabin that’s loaded with luxury but continues to be the real thing in every driving situation ON TEST Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Summit
ou don’t see nearly as many Jeep Grand Cherokees around as you used to. This is a direct consequence of premium car makers from Europe flooding the market with posh soft-roaders – but though the Grand is certainly
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posh, especially in the Summit form tested here, it’s still very much the real thing. Look at the drive mode dial on the vehicle’s floor console and you’ll see settings for sand, much and rock as well as three different lift heights for its air suspension.
Low range is standard. The rest of the cabin might be clad in soft, cream-coloured, diamond-quilted leather, but right there is an indication that if you want to ride one of these things into off-road battle, you can. Taking that into consideration, the Grand deserves to be seen in a different light to the likes of the BMW X5, Lexus RX and so on. It has evolved from the old beamaxled ZJ and WJ of old – but it’s still a truck at heart. This is easy to forget when you survey the cabin. The Summit model tested here is trimmed in
a very appealing light grey, almost cream leather that looks and feels very classy indeed, and it’s extremely well equipped inside. Not everything you see in our pictures is standard, however: the diamondquilted finish is part of a £5275 Laguna leather option pack which helped bump the test vehicle’s screen price from its £56,750 starting point to comfortably into the sixties. You’re talking about an entrylevel Merc GLE at that money, a mid-range Discovery or one of the fancier X5s. Get stuck in to any of those vehicle’s own option
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Cabin materials are lavish in this model, with soft leather featuring diamond-quilt stitching – though this is a £5275 cost option. Legroom is generous enough all-round, and luggage space is excellent thanks to flat-folding rear seats, though the media system is more powerful than it is convenient to use lists, though, and you’ll find that the Grand Cherokee is actually a lot of car for your money.
CABIN AND PRACTICALITY It certainly gives you plenty of space up front, as well as a fine view of what’s ahead and to the side. You even get reasonable over-shoulder visibility, and there are sensors all-road plus a rear-view camera for parking – though the latter is prone to lens flare from the sun.
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There’s enough space in the back, too, for four tall adults to cross a continent in comfort. Headroom in particular is excellent, even with a panoramic sunroof taking a bite out of it, and for luggage-carrying the rear seats fold as good as 100% flat to create a huge cargo space. What you don’t get is a decent range of oddment stowage options, as the glovebox is shallow, the door pockets are narrow and the cubby box is basically a slot. There’s plenty of equipment, though, with pride of place going to a multimedia system with a prominent screen at the top of the facia.
This does its job well enough, though it doesn’t have CarPlay or Android Auto and its menus confront you with a sea of icons which demand more concentration than they have a right to expect of someone driving a car at the time. The Bluetooth interface is effective and the system responds promptly in use, but it’s just not as user friendly as these things can be.
DRIVING Talking of things that could be better, the official fuel consumption
figure for the Grand Cherokee with its 3.0 CRD diesel engine is 28.8mpg. That’s on the WLTP cycle, which should be believable (the good old silly NEDC test gave it 35.8), but at the end of our week with the vehicle the trip meter said it had averaged 23.5mpg over the preceding 946 miles. That sounds painful, but the engine does at least give you plenty of power for your pounds – 250bhp and 420lbf.ft, the latter from 2000rpm. It does so with impressive refinement (aided perhaps by the aforementioned noise cancelling tech), snarling a little when kicked
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The 3.0 CRD engine likes a drink, but you get plenty of power and torque for your money and it’s impressively smooth and quiet in operation. Ride quality is good despite the 20” alloys, and the presence of mud, rock and sand positions on the drive dial, not to mention a low-box button, illustrate that this is still a proper off-road vehicle
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while Sport mode does tauten it up a little, it no longer feels as if it’s moving freely, so it’s best to just leave it be and accept what it is that you’re driving. Do so, and you’ll find it very rewarding. What it lacks in agility compared to the sort of SUV that can’t make it up a raised kerb, it gets back tenfold in character, with an authenticity to its nature that only the proper 4x4 makers like Jeep, Toyota and Land Rover seem capable of nailing. You really can take it offroad, too, with a combination of engineering and high-tech aids that make it pleasingly sure-footed and very tractable indeed on a variety
of terrain tyres. At the very least, it will have prodigious green lane skills – though as always with a vehicle of this nature, the limits will be set by your willingness (or otherwise)
down but otherwise thrumming along in near-silence. The eightspeed auto box is beautifully smooth, too, with shifts hardly ever registering as noticeable however keenly or gently you’re driving. The result is a very sweet cruise on the motorway, aided by steering that needs nothing in the way of small adjustments to keep you on line. It rides very smoothly, too, on all-round air springs which also behave well in corners. Here, there’s more body roll than you might expect in a softroader – not too much, and it corners naturally with the drive mode palette set to standard, but you know it’s a 4x4. We found that
to risk scratches or body damage. And that interior was definitely not made for being jumped in and out of by people wearing wet, muddy clothes and boots.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 Summit Loads of SUV style, but definitely still an off-roader at heart A damaging off-road session on board a Grand Cherokee would make your eyes water almost as badly as its list price and fuel consumption figures. Nonetheless, this is a 4x4 that really can do it. It’s built for war and equipped for peace; if you want a premium SUV with real-world ability running through its veins, the good news is that you can still trust Jeep to deliver.
4x4 23/10/2019 23:11
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A Lifetime’s Achievement
After a life spent in the Land Rover business, David Bowyer thought he’d put his expertise to use and ﬁnally get round to doing a project he’d always promised himself. It’s been well worth the wait… WORDS AND PICTURES: MIKE TROTT
ou know those jobs you’ve been meaning to do for, well, ever? Like putting up that shelf and starting that diet you’re always harping on about? Imagine how smug you would feel if you were ever actually to ﬁnish them all. There is one person out there, though, who knows what it feels like to reach this state of nirvana. The man in question had dreamed for many years of fully restoring and rebuilding a Tdi
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Land Rover 90 – but not just back to the way it left the factory. Those kind of rebuilds are all the rage now, perhaps with some polished metal here or soft leather there, but this was a proper old-fashioned off-road project. A proper old-fashioned off-road project of the best-of-everything variety, too. We like those. The man behind it is not just any old man, either. It’s a man who was doing green lane convoy tours before most of today’s operators
were born, who created one of the country’s best off-road sites on the land where he lives and who who went on to become perhaps the pre-eminent name in winching. Yes, it’s David Bowyer. ‘Anything that hasn’t been galvanised on the Defender is stainless steel or has been sheradised, which is an old Black Country preservation method!’ he explains. ‘The thought was there ﬁve years ago, and it all started with a roll cage I bought at Billing. “What vehicle is it for?” they asked. ‘I told
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them: “It will be for a special project… when I ﬁnally get round to it!”’ At the time of writing, David reckoned that the 90 may be about 98% complete. We suspect he might still tell you the same thing now. It’s like eating out at one of those Chinese buffets. It starts so innocently until you get to the point where you’re thinking, ‘Just one more prawn cracker… just one more spare rib…’ and then before you know it, all the staff are having to
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wrestle you to the ground for fear of being eaten out of business. No? Just me then. We’ll get to the ﬁnishing touches later. And they’re worth the wait. But ﬁrst, if you’re going to spend two and a half years rebuilding a vehicle, you need to make sure it’s the right one! For David, it had to be a Tdi 90. ‘Over the last few years, we’ve used a 2002 Td5 90 for the shows and towing trailers,’ explains David, who deﬁnitely knows his Land Rovers. ‘I
don’t drive it too often and, as much as I like the vehicle, I don’t like the ECU-driven ﬁve-cylinder engine and its drive-by-wire throttle. ‘I like to feel the revs of the engine through the pedal – it’s much more gratifying!’ Things were less gratifying when David bought what he thought would be the perfect donor vehicle for the rebuild, only to ﬁnd that after the removal of much crud the vehicle’s chassis was beyond economical repair.
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Above: More or less everything about the 90’s suspension was sourced from Gwyn Lewis 4x4. The vehicle rides on +2” Old Man Emu +2” springs and shocks, with relocation cones at the back, and the same company provided the heavy-duty propshafts, radius arms, cranked trailing links and A-frame you see here picked out in blue Below: More blue stuff, in the shape of a heavy-duty panhard rod. The axle itself contains a Detroit Truetrac – which, in combination with the Detroit Locker in the back, means the 90 can waltz over terrain like this (right) without churning up the ground, subjecting its halfshafts to nasty shock loads and, ultimately, not being able to make it
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Reconditioned 300Tdi looks very much at home. It’s aided by a huge full-width intercooler from AlliSport, and those silicone hoses aren’t going to turn soft and ﬂoppy any time soon
‘We found a 1993 200Tdi Hard Top in white, which was pretty ﬁlthy to say the least. We had to make a quick decision and unfortunately it was a little too quick.’ On the plus side, having budgeted for a new galvanised chassis anyway, all was not lost – especially when you can call on the help of a couple of friends. Jonathan and Greg have been off-roading with David for years and when Jonathan mentioned that he happened to own a genuine, unused, export Tdi chassis, everything went click.
Now, there are lots of intricate and neat details to be seen as you look around this vehicle. Among these is a set of enlarged drainage holes, created by a cone cutter, which run along the bottom of the main chassis rails. The idea here was to let sediment and other debris ﬂow back out of the chassis more easily, rather than clogging up its insides like dead and very corrosive weight. Because this vehicle uses a Td5 rear body, the rear tank carrier had to be welded into place in the middle. The chassis was stripped right
down before being hot-dip galvanised – which of course means it’s good to go for the odd quarter of a century or so to come. There are plenty of Defenders on galvanised chassis these days, but not many of them have the same treatment on their bulkhead too. That and the steel cappings on the rear tub are a further illustration that this one has been rebuilt to be as durable and long-lived as possible. It’s more than just that, though. First and foremost, this is an off-roader – and the way it’s
‘We found a 1993 200Tdi Hard Top, which was pretty ﬁlthy to say the least. We had to make a quick decision and unfortunately it was a little too quick’
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specced will tell you everything you need to know about what David built it to do. ‘A good friend, Gwyn Lewis (he of Gwyn Lewis 4x4 near Welshpool), recommended and supplied ARB Old Man Emu +2” shock absorbers and springs to match, along with heavy-duty propshafts and Sumo bars,’ says David. There’s a whole lot more under there, too, as you’ll see from the pictures, but essentially everything blue under the 90 is from Gwyn Lewis. One thing (two, actually) that you won’t see is hidden away within the 90’s axles. David was already sending its transfer box to by rebuilt by the guys at Ashcroft Transmissions, and while he was about it he threw in a pair of diffs for them to work their magic upon.
‘They rebuilt them and fitted Detroit Truetracs, also supplying us with front and rear heavy-duty halfshafts, CV joints and drive flanges to fit once we got them back here,’ says David. Focusing on the Truetracs for a moment, these are torquebiasing limited-slip differentials and an alternative to full-on diff lockers. ‘If one wheel gets light or lifts up, as much as 60% of the power can be transferred to the side with the grip,’ explains David. One of their biggest attractions is that they do it all automatically, so there’s no need to be pressing buttons in anticipation of what’s about to happen. You just point, steer and, if any of your wheels get light along the way, the diffs will have done their thing before you even know what’s happening. It sounds
suspiciously like some of the ABS-led traction control systems SUV manufacturers like to tell you are capable of getting you anywhere on the planet, the difference being that they are capable of getting you anywhere on the planet. Another very capable thing is the Tdi engine. Though the original unit in the donor 90 wasn’t, because it was totally knackered and well beyond economical repair. A shame, this, because it was a 200Tdi and David wanted one of those. Jonathan suggested otherwise. His suggestion was a reconditioned 300Tdi unit, which would be smoother and more refined – and, more to the point, for which spares are more readily available. ‘The fact he had a spare engine was a nice coincidence,’ smiles David. ‘So it was completely
That’s definitely a galvanised chassis. Rather than buying a new one, David used a genuine Land Rover unit sourced from a friend which was sent for hot-dipping once it had been prepped. It didn’t need much, although its drain holes have been enlarged to help prevent it from getting clogged with crud
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The cabin is loaded with comms and navigation kit, mounted in custom dash housings from masters of the art Raptor Engineering. It does look a little like a Bond villain’s mobile command centre, but everything you see has a purpose stripped and re-bored, the crankshaft and flywheel were rebalanced and Jonathan completely rebuilt the head then reassembled the engine, fitting all new or refurbished components.’ In went a boost pin at the same time, along with a full-width AlliSport intercooler and radiator to eke out some extra power. ‘Being a virtually new engine, we had a new speedo fitted reading from zero miles,’ says David. ‘The first MOT was done with just five miles on the clock!’ It wasn’t just the speedo that was new inside, though. Around it is an interior tailored to David’s exact requirements. The CB and amateur radio holder, for instance, was designed by the man himself and built for him by Phil at Raptor Engineering. The voltage readout
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on the dash was provided by Roy at 4x4 Obsession, illustrating the outputs of the front and rear batteries which help power a mighty Goodwinch G10 at the front. It’s not just the vehicle that’s gone up in the world, either. ‘I was fortunate enough to obtain a pair of “take off” late-Puma heated seats,’ David recalls with a laugh. ‘And being short rather than tall, I installed my driver’s seat on some spacers to give myself a two-inch lift!’ He’s got the seating position, he has the set-up he wants with Memory Map, GPS and Terratrip all primed and ready for the moment he hits the lanes and, with the seat box rubber soundproofing cover and one-piece heavy-duty floor and tunnel mat system from Wright Off-Road, David has a tranquil cabin environment (well, by Defender
standards) in which to process all the mass of information coming his way. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever met anyone quite so enthusiastic and passionate about off-roading. Even now, having taken a step back from day to day involvement in the professional world after a lifetime spent in the off-road game (on top of everything else, he was one of the founders of this very magazine), his eagerness to get out on the lanes is second to none. For David, retirement is going to be like an unstressed version of working life. And this beautifully conceived 90 is at the heart of that. Most of the rebuilds you see now are focused on making the most of the Defender’s monetary value – so it’s great to see that people still prize them for what they can really do.
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Life begins If you see one of Arctic Trucks’ builds on a British road, odds-on it’s an Isuzu D-Max on 35” tyres. But the Icelandic company built its reputation on far bigger things – of which this mighty Toyota Hilux AT44 is a spectacular example WORDS: PAUL LOOE PICTURES: HARRY HAMM
rctic Trucks has become part of the new-car industry over the last few years. The Warwick-based company (yes, Warwick: it hails from Iceland, but its global HQ is here in the heart of Blighty), which likes to be seen as an OE supplier rather than part of the aftermarket, took its ﬁrst steps into the showrooms as builder of the Isuzu D-Max AT35 and has since embarked on similar collaborations with Nissan and Toyota. But the vehicles on which Arctic Trucks’ reputation is based are not the sort you’ll see on a dealer’s forecourt, save perhaps as a way of grabbing attention. With the AT44, it’s deﬁnitely more of an aftermarket company – albeit one that operates right at the top of its game. The numbers in AT’s vehicles’ names relate to the height in inches of their tyres. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, but these are specialised machines designed to crawl across the harshest of ground at low tyre pressures – and you can
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imagine the sort of footprint the AT44’s 475/70R17 Nokian Hakkapeliittas are capable of covering when they’re running at single-ﬁgure PSIs. More height means more ground clearance, too. And the Toyota Hilux you see in these pictures boasts a monumental 365mm (more than 14”) below its belly. This is achieved by a combination of 90mm front and 40mm rear suspension lifts, as well as a 60mm body lift, plus the replacement of the original wings with vast ﬂared wheelarches. The front axle line moves forward by 45mm as part of the suspension work while the rear shifts back by 160mm, and the whole lot is supported by new springs and Fox dampers (monotube as standard, remote as an option). The front chassis mounts are upgraded as part of the work, as are the steering knuckles and rear bump stops. Customers can opt for uprated rear leaf springs, too – or to go the whole hog and convert to coils.
Arctic Trucks’ own tyre inﬂation system has air hoses running to each wheel through the arch above it, allowing pressures to be regulated from within the cab. The company is clear that its conversions are designed to work best with the tyres aired down
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Above: 90mm front and 40mm rear suspension lifts are achieved using longer springs paired with Fox dampers – remote reservoir in this case, though the standard option is monotube. That back axle contains a locking diff as standard, and Arctic Trucks’ options list includes an ARB unit for the front
Below: You’d be doing well to smack the AT44’s extremities on the ground, what with them being positioned so far away from it. But given that the vehicle is designed for use in incredibly hostile environments, protecting against every eventuality is essential. That’s why there are heavy-duty bash guards beneath the steering, sump, transmission and fuel tank, and why the rear bumper could be stuffed backwards into a mountain and all that would happen would be that you’d end up with a slightly smaller mountain
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Tubular front bumper actually looks quite meek on such a big truck, but as the winch receiver shows there’s plenty of heavy metal behind there. Side steps are bigger than the ﬂight deck on the USS NImitz Further options include a heavy-duty 9.5” rear diff, a Landcruiser 200-Series transfer case and -2.566:1 crawler gears, as well as a front locker (the rear diff is lockable as standard on the Hilux). Tick all those boxes and you’ll have a truck capable of walking over just about anything its 47° approach and 45° departure angles will allow. Which is most things. Making it more unstoppable still, the AT44 in the pictures has Arctic Trucks’ own tyre inﬂation system to regulate pressures up and down as required. This is fed by air hoses which appear out of the wheelarches – truth to tell, it looks a bit ungainly, and you wouldn’t fancy their chances of surviving to the end of a tight and scratchy green lane, but for the wide open wastes of the Icelandic interior the system is absolutely perfect. Talking of survival, heavy-duty front and rear bumpers, steering and sump guards and a long
skid under the transmission all mean that if you somehow manage to ﬁnd terrain that can get past the AT44’s ground clearance, the AT44 will win. There’s another slab of metal protecting the fuel tank, too, as well as side steps you can see from space, and both bumpers contain recovery points as well as receiver hitches for a suitable winch. Of course, you can have a fully mounted-up front winch if you wish, and that’s the way Arctic Trucks tends to equip the vehicles it uses on the extreme off-road expeditions it operates in places like Greenland and Antarctica. When you put it like that, carping about the AT44 being too wide for a British green lane sounds a bit ridiculous. Nonetheless, there’s a reason why you don’t see many of these over here. We won’t say it’s too big for Britain, though… probably fairer to say that Britain’s too small for it.
Either way, even though the AT32 is the most effective of all Arctic Trucks’ vehicles we’ve experienced, the sheer presence of the AT44 makes it very special. It’s instantly recognisable and thoroughly commanding, and far less of a handful than you’d expect on the road. In fact, if you want to carve your way through urban trafﬁc, we reckon this would be a pretty supreme way of doing it. Most of all, the AT44 is just a marvellous work of engineering. Anyone can order up a load of bits and bolt them on to create a car they call unique, but this is what happens when you develop something properly, creating solutions to help you reach your goal rather than setting your goal to suit the solutions already available. It’s why Arctic Trucks has become a globally known name in its ﬁeld – and why the AT44 is one of the very few modiﬁed off-road vehicles that have genuinely earned the right to be called icons.
Available through your local Toyota, Isuzu or Nissan dealership,* with full manufacturer warranty.
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*Hilux, D-Max and Navara (AT32-AT35). Selected dealerships: Europe, Middle East and Africa.
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Earthquakes, volcanoes and penguins galore in an Andean adventure on both sides of one PICTURES: JENNY BRIGHT AND GAVIN LOWRIE
ew things go completely according to plan in the off-road world. This applies whether you’re trying to clear a trial section, hoping your favourite green lane in the Peak District hasn’t been taken over by nazis or making for some far distant goal behind the wheel of an aged Land Rover. The latter is what Jen Bright and Gavin Lowrie where doing when,
on the way south from Bolivia to Chile via the classic Lagunas trail, they broke one of their Defender 110’s front shocks. Job one for Chile, then, was to find a mechanic. Easier said than done in the small town of San Pedro de Atacama, as it turned out, so the couple had to limp on towards the mining town of Calama – with a wheel judder now limiting them to 25mph.
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of the world’s longest land borders
Above: When people talk about seeing animals on an overland expedition, odds-on they’re thinking of lions, elephants and so on in southern Africa. But the Antarctic is as rich as it comes in wildlife – some of it the most magnificent you’ll ever see (and some the most adorable) Main picture: The Torres del Paine National Park is a landscape of mountains, lakes, glaciers and icebergs – a dramatic introduction to the wonders of Patagonia
Finally, they were able to get the Defender’s wheels realigned and fit it with a full set of front shocks – including a new steering damper, which turned out not to help with the death wobble. Further investigation revealed worn panhard rod bushes, and still further revealed that the garage doing the work wasn’t going to be able to get its hands on any for longer than Jen and Gav could wait. Cue a bit of
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bush mechanic work to get the 110 back on the road for now. The reason Jen and Gav couldn’t wait was that they had somewhere to be. Before setting sail for South America, they had booked themselves on to an Antarctic cruise – and having used up an entire week into Chile, it was already time to cross into Argentina en route to catch a connecting flight from Buenos Aires.
There was at least time to learn a bit about northern Argentina on the way. In Salta, they visited the catchily named Museum of High Altitude Archaeology, whose star exhibit is a trio of mummified Inca children discovered as recently as 1999. Something else that became apparent was that the people are very welcoming and very, very fond of barbecued meat. Camping wild in the Quebrada del Condorito National Park, home to the magnificent Andean condor – one of the world’s biggest birds, with a wingspan of more than ten feet. They visited Cordoba, Argentina’s second most populous city, which is home to the Museo de la Memoria, a museum dedicated to the memories of the Disappeared – as many as 30,000 people who were abducted, tortured and killed between 1976 and 1983 during a campaign of state terror by a USsponsored military junta. It’s known
now as Argentina’s ‘Dirty War.’ Whether it deserves to be called a war is open to question, but it was certainly dirty. In Rosario, Jen and Gav visited the birthplace of Che Guevara and the grave of Manuel Belgrano, who designed the Argentinean flag. But the big story was a couple of miles south-east of here, on the road towards Buenos Aires which follows the southern bank of the Rio Parana – the Gaucho Festival in the town of San Antonio de Areco. ‘In South America, Gauchos are cowboys,’ explains Jen, ‘We settled at a camp site just outside of town where we were promptly invited to a proper Argentinean barbecue by a friendly family who owned a ranch near Cordoba. Gav just couldn’t resist the prospect of trying to eat half a cow! ‘That evening, the festival put on a fantastic display of traditional folk dancing and music, with Gauchos
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The Fray Bentos factory in Uruguay fell silent in 1979 and remained that way until re-opening as a museum in 2005. It played a huge role in winning WWII for the Allies, shipping more than sixteen million cans of corned beef to Europe in 1943 alone, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meat remains as popular as ever in South America, where barbecues are no so much a way of cooking as a way of life. In the middle here is a mural of revolutionary icon Che Guevara, Rosario’s most famous son (until Leonel Messi turned up…) decorated in their tapered trousers, ponchos and berets. The next day was scheduled for the big parade and horse-riding displays, but a torrential thunderstorm put a stop to the festivities.’ What was that we we saying about things not going to plan? Buenos Aires is only another hour from San Antonio de Areco, and Jen and Gav had made it here with a couple of weeks still to go before their flight. So they took a detour into Uruguay, visiting the town of Fray Bentos. This was home to a meat processing factory which closed in 1979 after 117 years in operation, and the town’s name became that of a very well known brand of pies. The town’s heyday was in World War II, when the Fray Bentos company shipped more than sixteen million cans of corned beef to Europe in 1943 alone. The factory is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there’s a museum there which opened in 2005 – though rather impressively, that didn’t stop Jen and Gav from being able to camp wild in its grounds.
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Uruguay only has a population of about three million – that’s less than Birmingham – and half of them live in the capital, Montevideo. There’s another museum here – dedicated to the macabre history of the 1972 Andes flight disaster, which gained global attention when it emerged that survivors had been forced to resort to cannibalism to stay alive in the frozen wilderness. Let’s not make any smart-alec comments about Uruguay’s meat processing industry, now, shall we…? After what Jen describes as ‘a short but very sweet visit’ to Uruguay, the Defender was scheduled to be parked up in a storage facility just outside Buenos Aires. From here, Jen and Gav took a flight to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina, from where they would travel by sea to explore first South Georgia and the Falklands and then Antarctica. If you’re into wildlife, you’ll be turning green with envy. Rockhopper penguins, whales, a black-browed albatross… and then they arrived on the Falklands
themselves and best of all, there was a pair of Land Rover 110s! ‘One formerly belonged to the governor of the Falklands,’ says Gav, ‘and still had the attachment on its bonnet for a flag. They were transporting people who struggled to walk up and down a hill.’ Most mind-boggling of all, though, is the fact that there’s a Land Rover dealer on the islands. It’s in Port Stanley, it’s called Falklands 4x4 and at long last, it gave Jen and Gav the opportunity to buy a new pair of shocks for their Defender! ‘We were also very lucky to meet Tony, who we got talking to when we learned he owned a Defender too,’ says Jen. ‘Tony kindly offered to take us on a tour of Stanley in his Land Rover, driving us off-road to visit battlefields and landmarks while giving great insight into the islands along the way. It was only later that he revealed the Defender we were in had belonged to Prince William while he was stationed in the Falklands!’ Celebrating Christmas aboard a ship as snow falls on a South Atlantic seascape of icebergs the
size of aircraft hangars sounds pretty magical. As does stepping ashore at Brown Bluff and, in Jen’s case, becoming one of the very few people to have set foot on all the world’s seven continents. ‘If you ever think about going to Antarctica, don’t think about the cost,’ she advises. ‘Just go. It’s like nowhere else on Earth. At times we had to pinch ourselves at what we were seeing and experiencing.’ You can’t drive there, obviously. Though you can drive to Ushuaia, which was what Jen and Gav set out to do having been reunited with their 110 in Buenos Aires. At this point, the slow and easy pace of expedition life took a bit of a back seat. It’s around 2500 miles from Buenos Aires to the southern tip of Argentina, and the Defender mopped it up in ten days. Ruta Nacional 3 quickly became the couple’s new home – though they were sharing it with ostriches, armadillos, roadrunners and guanacos, as well as visiting the world’s largest parrot colony at Balneario El Cóndor. Here, they camped wild on top of cliffs whose
Above: As we noted opposite, the Fray Bentos meat factory is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There can’t be many of those where you can park up your 4x4 and camp wild without the culture police turning up mob-handed… faces contain more than 35,000 nests. the guy who counted them probably didn’t have trouble getting to sleep that night. Stopping in Puerto Madryn to pick up a serpentine belt and tensioner for the 110, Jen and Gav continued to Ushuaia. Flanked by the Southern Ocean to one side and the Andes to the other, this really does feel like the end of the road. That’s literally what it was for a couple of Yorkshire who they bumped into there, too, called
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Amy and Guy, who had spent the previous 18 months travelling south from Alaska aboard a Land Rover of their own. Having driven to the southern tip of the Americas, what was there to do next? Why, drive back north again, obviously. The purpose behind that ten-day blast was to get to Ushuaia nice and quickly – leaving as much time as possible for the return journey. This would involve several more flirtations with the frontier
between Argentina and Chile – which, at just under 3300 miles, is the third longest on the planet (see if you can name the longer ones before Googling it). Back in Chile, the Torres del Paine national park provided a spectacular introduction to Patagonia, a landscape of mountains, lakes, icebergs and glaciers. It’s a wild place, and all the more wonderful for it. But you don’t expect the wildlife to have a delinquent streak to it. One
morning, however, a southern crested caracara bird landed on the 110’s bonnet and started tearing the rubber from its windscreen wipers. Is that the avian equivalent of smashing up a bus shelter? Happily, the spares supply included a new set… Rather more bothersome was the need to replace the rear prop and UJ, which happened back in Argentina in El Calafate. This is the gateway to another national park, Los Glaciares.
The Perito Moreno glacier itself is almost 20 miles long and covers an area of just under 100 square miles. It has an average height of 74 metres above the water of Lago Argentina, too. ‘We travelled to a sheltered camping spot in Tres Lagos,’ says Gav, ‘before making our way 350 miles to the last town before the Chilean border, Los Antiguos, which is set on a stunning turquoise lake.’ Yep, back to Chile again. From here, the couple’s route was to follow the 770-mile Carretera Austral, which as well as offering sensational views of forests, glaciers, turquoise lakes and the Pacific Ocean, had the added bonus of being largely unpaved. Following a visit to Laguna San Rafael National Park, home of the 30,000-year-old San Valentin glacier, a pit stop with a mechanic in La Junta finally sorted new bushes for the 110’s front shocks. Things started to hot up after this with visits to a series of volcanoes – including Calbuco, several of whose 150 churches and chapels join the Fray Bentos site on UNESCO’s world heritage list. these buildings are famous for being made of wood, which sounds like a bit of a fire hazard, but it was raining so that was alright. Another quick hop over the border to Argentina saw the Land
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Rover being left behind for a winetasting tour of Mendoza. Alcohol and driving definitely don’t mix, so Jen and Gav decided to hire bikes… which of course require a good sense of balance. Enough said. That was a little lairy, but not as lairy as what happened once they had crossed back into Chile via the 3200-metre Paso Internacional Los Libertadores. Descending down the steep hairpins on the western side of the pass, they had almost reached Los Andes when the Land Rover’s clutch let go. There aren’t many things more effective than this at leaving you totally stranded. Rescued by a kind father and son, the Defender was dragged to its final South American capital, Santiago. ‘While it was being fixed, we stayed in a small house owned by Teresita, a wonderful lady who lived next door,’ says Gav. ‘We were invited for Sunday lunch with Teresita and her children and had a wonderful time, filled with meat from the parilla and lots of good wine.’ Jen continues: ‘The following weekend, we reciprocated and invited them for a traditional English Sunday dinner, consisting of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. They loved it!’ Less fun, though a travel experience in its own right, was a
Few parts of Britain, which is of course what the Falklands are, could be more suited to 4x4 ownership. The Land Rover pictured above has a bit of provenance behind it, having once been the property of Prince William 7.1 magnitude earthquake which struck one evening and lasted for what must have felt like an extremely long minute. This was a pretty unusual way to say goodbye to South America, but a few days later the Land Rover was repaired, back on the road and, having had a thorough all-round clean, ready for a journey to the docks. Next stop, Vancouver. ‘South America has been a brilliant experience and has been so very kind to us,’ was Gav’s
glowing verdict on the continent. ‘We both overwhelmingly loved Colombia and we could not recommend it highly enough to other overlanders.’ ‘Its people are the friendliest we have met,’ agrees Jen. ‘In fact that is the standout trait of South America, followed by the continent’s diversity. It is so beautiful, with beaches, mountains, jungles, the history – we will certainly be back.’ Now, there’s something we definitely can see going to plan.
4x4 22/10/2019 23:42
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THE LAST WILDERNESS?
Manu National Park in Peru is almost untouched – for now. Even on a 4x4 expedition, it’s WORDS: DAN FENN PICTURES: PERU SAFARI
etting off on holiday isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. Ethical considerations, climate change, airline collapses and security concerns are all now playing a part in the decisionmaking process – and that’s without even bringing up the ever-popular subject of Brexit! If you want your holiday to be more than just an identikit fortnight
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cooped up in a sweaty cabin by the Med, and you’re able to pay a premium to explore parts of the world less imaginative travellers will never even know about, the possibilities are almost limitless. Yet even then, the majority of people who’d consider themselves truly adventurous all too often stick to a few honeypot destinations. You might dream of taking three years out to see the world on an
overland expedition, for example – but in reality, you know that everyday life is too demanding. Job, mortgage, kids… the best you can hope for is two or three weeks, so you’re determined to make the most of them. There’s nothing wrong with having a kitted-up trail truck and joining a tag-along tour to Morocco or the Pyrenees once a year. But if you want to see parts of the world
even the rest of the 4x4 fraternity miss out on, you need to look further aﬁeld. Plenty of global tourists do just that, whether or not by 4x4, if the numbers are anything to go by. Once again, though, it’s the honeypot destinations that get the bulk of the attention. Look at Machu Picchu, for example: the famous Incan citadel high in the Andes receives some 1.57 million
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still accessible only by boat…
The good news is that the Peruvian government has recently taken to promoting other destinations within what is one of the most vibrant and diverse nations in the world. Whether you’re in it for the history and culture or the flora, fauna and scenery, Peru is stunning – and if you’re also in it for a world-class off-tarmac driving adventure, so much the better! That’s where Peru Safari comes in. The company is a small, specialised 4x4 tour operator based jointly in the UK and Lima, running guided self-drive expeditions to various parts of this spectacular land. We’ve featured it in these pages before – but no apologies for doing so again, because its latest itinerary is perhaps the best yet. For 2020, Peru Safari will be running four different tours – only one of which takes in Machu Picchu. This is its original and still very popular Inca Tracks route – but in addition, it now offers its Cloud
visitors a year and has become so popular that tourists have to abide by strict entrance and exit times to prevent overcrowding. Its spectacular, mystical location, not to mention the fact that it was never discovered and vandalised by the Spanish during their conquest of South America, makes Machu Picchu very special. You can certainly see why it’s considered one of the wonders of the modern
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Warrior Tracks (featured in our July 2018 issue), Jaguar Tracks and Desert Tracks options. Each is different – but one thing they all have in common is plenty of breathtaking off-road trails! Obviously, getting your own 4x4 to South America is a bit prohibitive unless you plan to spend several months travelling there. However something that’s unusual about Peru Safari is that it operates its own fleet of expeditionprepared Toyota Hiluxes. The trucks are based in Lima and ready to collect clients from the airport. Then, when the expedition begins, you take over behind the wheel and simply follow your tour leader – an expert from a very small team, for this is a genuine family company and not part of a huge corporation hiding behind a cool name. It’s a company that cares about Peru, too. Run by Paul and Marisol Boardman, a British/Peruvian couple whose family home is a hacienda in the Andes, it’s a company every
world. But as an adventurous traveller seeking to explore the world for yourself, how much of a buzz are you going to get from sharing the experience with 1,569,999 other people?
DECEMBER 2019 | 59
Manu is home to more than 800 species of bird, as well as a huge variety of native wildlife. That’s an arborial anteater at the bottom of the page, and in the morning you’re likely to be woken up by a chorus of howler monkeys. There’s a puma on the previous page, too – in stark contrast to the rest of the world, where big cats are critically endangered, they thrive in this mainly undamaged environment, with an estimated 6000 jaguars roaming within the national park. And it’s all threatened by the arrival of illegal logging and mining; animals are nice but the dollar is king, right? one of whose people understands the need for true sustainability in the way it operates. ‘The initiatives we have in place are continually assessed,’ it says. ‘The association between protecting wildlife/culture and a healthier economy indicates to both local people and national government alike the importance of conservation.’ The company knows all about how fragile the landscapes and ecosystems through which it passes are, too. ’Many areas we visit are suffering from multiple threats to the environment,’ it confirm. And that brings us to the new Jaguar Tracks 4x4 adventure. Venturing deep into the jungle of the Amazon, this takes you to what Peru Safari describes as ‘the planet’s most bio-diverse location.’ Quite a claim – but virgin rainforest is becoming more and more rare, and this part of the jungle has thankfully been spared the devastating wildfires which have wreaked havoc across the border in Brazil.
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But fire is by no means the only threat. ‘We are living in the most dramatic era of road and infrastructure expansion in human history,’ continues Peru Safari ‘Thousands of projects are opening up many of Earth’s remaining wild areas and it is little surprise that illegal road projects are now threatening Manu National Park, possibly the biologically richest ecosystem on Earth. ‘There are some places so special and biologically irreplaceable, such as Manu, that should remain free of the Pandora’s Box of disruption that roads bring.’ The thing with Manu National Park is that it doesn’t have roads in it at all. It’s the only park in South America that protects the entire watershed of a major Amazonian tributary, the Madre de Dios, which runs from the high Andes to the Amazonian lowlands – and travel here is by boat. Quite possibly the closest thing left on planet Earth to an
untouched virgin rainforest, Manu is still home to uncontacted indigenous people. It’s hard to believe that such a place could still exist in the modern world – and indeed that its indigenous big cats, rather than clinging on to survival, are positively thriving. Hence the name of Peru Safari’s Jaguar Tracks tour – with around 6000 believed to live in the park, the jaguar is almost common here. So too are howler monkeys, black caimans, pink dolphins and more than 800 species of birds. Manu is the last preserve of the giant river otter, too, a critical endangered species but one whose families can regularly be seen playing by the riverbank. But if all of this is accessed by boat, how does that fit in with a 4x4 expedition? The answer is that the Peru Safari convoy will follow an 1800-mile trail from the Inca capital of Cusco in the High Andes, descending towards Manu – where it swaps its Hiluxes for canoes.
From here, travel is water-borne, with accommodation being in ecolodges by the river. Make no mistake, this is the real thing. But the threat to Manu is real too. An illegal road is being cut into the mouth of the Manu River to allow access for illegal logging and gold prospecting – an environmental travesty so awful that Pope Francis decried the illegal miners and their ‘devastating assault on life.’ But money talks, and it talks loud enough to drown out the angriest of global outcries. Aided, even promoted by corrupt officials with ties to the illegal exploitation trade, a 15-mile swathe of cleared land now punches its way into the heart of this priceless wilderness – its sole purpose being to facilitate the criminal trades. No authority seems able, or willing, to tackle the damage being done to Manu. In Peru Safari’s own words, ‘by hook or, more likely, by corrupt crook, this road will
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continue to assault the tropical Eden of Manu unless the world wakes up and acts decisively.’ Waking up and acting decisively is still something that can get you thrown in jail, even in Britain. Which means that if a travel experience in a genuine, still-unspoilt wilderness is what you want most from life, you’d better get there soon. ‘For sure,’ continues Peru Safari, ‘a 4x4 adventure in Peru is not for everyone. It’s a full-on travel experience, taking in some of the world’s more spectacular roads, at heights that exceed Everest base camp on occasions. ‘So it’s not for the faint-hearted. And you need to enjoy driving!’
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We’ll take it from the fact that you’ve got this magazine in your hands that you do enjoy driving, love adventure, yearn to explore the world’s most spectacular roads and positively welcome the sort of terrain that makes your spine tingle. You’re probably not what a person would call faint-hearted, either. Which just leaves you to figure out whether you can get yourself to Peru for 22 July or 10 August next year – and of course how much the travel experience of a lifetime is worth to you. Places on the Jaguar Tracks Tour cost from £4480 to £5900 per person, depending on how many people there are in your party and whether you want to get
behind the wheel (which you do, of course), and for that you get two weeks split more or less equally between the Hiluxes and canoes. Want to know more about Peru Safari? Its website, at www. perusafari.com, is full of information,
or better yet head along to the Great British Land Rover Show at Stoneleigh on 24 November and meet them in person. Just don’t ask them for a trip to Machu Picchu – unless you’re ready to discover a whole lot more besides!
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OUR 4X4S: NISSAN QASHQAI PREMIER EDITION
An everyday rarity
A new soft-roader joins our ﬂeet, in the shape of a very rare early Mk2 Nissan Qashqai. This one has four-wheel drive – and a different make of tyre at every corner. Hmmm…
couple of winters ago, we did the unthinkable and ran a project vehicle wit two-wheel drive. The idea was to see whether a non4x4 on winter tyres would cope better in winter weather than the real thing on everyday rubber – and the conclusion was that it very deﬁnitely did.
The vehicle in question was a ﬁrst-generation Nissan Qashqai. You can mock and scoff all you want, but it’s a model that outsold every hardcore-credible 4x4 in the country put together from the moment it went on sale. The Qashqai did its job very well, it made its point beyond any doubt and, when we came
to sell it on, found itself a new owner who was absolutely delighted with it. Its space in the ofﬁce car park was taken by the Skoda Kodiaq Scout we ran from spring 2018 until the same sort of time this year, but with a Land Rover 90 cluttering up the place just recently we’ve been short of a soft-roader on our ﬂeet.
One Dunlop, one Pirelli, one Yokohama and, er, one Nexen. Spot the odd one out there… At least all four tyres are the same size, though of course each has its own tread pattern and will inevitably at a different stage of wear to all the others. Not exactly making the most of the Qashqai’s all-wheel drive there, are we?
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Light grey suede and leather seat trim was a special feature of the Premier Edition model. They came up well after a good valeting Hence the arrival of… another Qashqai. This time, our intention for it is to remain with us for years, because we want to see just how well these enormously popular vehicles are made to last. It’s an early example of the current model, and a bit of an unusual one. When Nissan launched the Mk2 Qashqai at the end of 2013, it did so using a special-edition model. Called the Premier Edition, this was limited to just 290 vehicles in the UK. It was powered by the 1.6 dCi diesel engine with four-wheel drive as standard. Developing 128bhp, this returned a quoted 64.2mpg – though of course these were the days of NEDC economy figures, and the most economical thing about those was their version of the truth. The Premier Edition was based on the otherwise range-topping Tekna model, which boasted things like 19” alloys, heated seats, sat-nav and a panoramic glass roof. On top of that, Nissan threw in a unique suede-and-leather interior with light grey seats, as well as special carpets and roof lining, chromed and badged sills and various bits of garnish on the bodywork. There’s also a numbered badge on the floor console. Ours is number 652 out of the 2007 that were sold across Europe (2007 was the year the original Qashqai went on sale). It was originally registered in March 2014, which suggests take-up wasn’t that hot – Nissan announced the Premier Edition on 20 November 2013, saying it would only be available to existing customers until the end of the year, so it doesn’t look that great only
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to be a third of the way through the model’s limited run more than a quarter of a year later. We’re not sure if there was an auto option on the Premier Edition, but every one we’ve found has had a six-speed manual box. They’ve all been black, too, for the very good reason that that’s the only colour Nissan did them in. This was also one of the earliest 4x4s to be equipped with autonomous emergency braking – one of several features fitted as part of Nissan’s Safety Shield package. It had matrix LED headlamps, too, so you can leave it on full beam and it’ll figure out for itself how not to dazzle people. When this was first invented, we reckoned it would be a recipe for horrors a few years down the line, but so far no-one coming the other way has flashed us angrily, so all good. What’s not all good is the fact that our Qashqai has a different brand of tyre on each wheel. It came to us on about 44,000 miles, so no surprise that the originals have gone to the great retreading factory in the sky, but it’s had four owners in its five and a half years on the road, and you can see that as being one tyre per pair of hands. For the record, it has a Dunlop SP Maxx on one corner, a Pirelli Scorpion Verde on another, a Yokohama BluEarth on another and a Nexen Nfera on the fourth. All nicely balanced there, we’re (very much not) sure you’ll agree. They’re all the same size, though. Which is nice. Since you ask, they’re 225/45R19s, which sounds to us like a recipe for a bone-jarring ride but
actually it’s surprisingly supple. We’re musing on the idea of renewing the shocks with a premium brand, though, to see what difference that makes, and obviously the tyres are going to be getting replaced with a matching set as a matter of priority. The biggest priority of the lot, though, was to get it valeted, because it smelt of cheap cleaning products inside. We can’t name names, but the first company we got along made it smell worse and it still wasn’t even clean, so we put that one down to experience and got a proper outfit along – and now the Qashqai looks and smells like new. Well, those low-profile tyres don’t do a lot to protect their alloys and sure enough, all four rims are showing a bit of damage, so it’s not looking as new as the day it was born. They’re not bad enough to warrant a refurb, though the rest of the vehicle is good enough to be worth it. Tricky. There’s the odd scratch in the paintwork, too, and one ragged bit on the tough plastic with which the lower bodywork is clad, but again it’s hardly the sort of thing you book one in for. Mainly, it’s got a very nice vibe to it, that of a classy vehicle which, tyre choice apart, has been looked after. And of course, it’s a real rarity on the road – which is saying something when you’re talking about a Nissan Qashqai. So much of a rarity, in fact, that the day after bringing it home, we were driving through the middle of town and… we pulled up alongside another one. Out of 290 sold in Britain, what were the odds against that?
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OUR 4X4S: JEEP CHEROKEE XJ
Back to life…
t’s hard to believe we’re actually writing these words, but our Cherokee has passed its MOT. Four years ago, when a visit to a tester who was also a mate yielded the sort of fail list that makes you want to give up, it felt like we’d never see the day. But the day has come. The Jeep’s salvation came in the workshop of Yorkshire-based specialist Jeepey, and we’ll be going into proper detail about that in a future issue. For now, though, as it’s about a year since it last appeared in these pages, we thought we’d recap on what happened to get it into such a state in the ﬁrst place. Basically, it used to be on a 3” lift, and it worked a treat. But then we were offered an 8” lift kit and it felt churlish not to. Churlish it may have been, but it would also have been wise. Not that the kit is anything other than excellent – it was made by Skyjacker, and these are guys who know what they’re doing – but the knock-on consequences have been a nightmare to deal with. There’s the prop angle, the diff nose angles, the effect on the sliding joints and handbrake cables, the mashed shock bushes… the list goes on. And on. The PAS wasn’t working, the water pump was only pumping it on to the ﬂoor… you know the kind of thing.
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And then there was the steering. ‘Vague’ hardly begins to describe it. Incredibly, it never failed an MOT on that, but with a gruesome disparity between the drag link and panhard rod angles we were expecting bump steer – and boy, did we get it. There was also the small matter of the drag link angle being so steep that instead of shifting the tie rod from side to side, it tried to make it rotate instead. By about half a turn’s worth on the steering wheel before anything actually happened, which basically meant we had rendered the Jeep completely unroadworthy. As we said, that’s not what copped it an MOT fail. But after being sat for absolutely ages while nothing much happened, when we ﬁnally put it on the clock it took an absolute beating. It’s been at Jeepey for a long while since then, being helped along on an as-and-when basis in between proper jobs. Ironically, when they ﬁnally took it for a test, it failed on a patch of body rust, but a bit of welding sorted that and bingo, we got us a ticket. What else have we got us? Again, we’ll be going into that in more detail in a future issue. But the Cherokee has always run very well, with a ﬁne example of the famously bomb-proof 4.0-litre six-pot engine, and having tracked down a rogue O-ring they’ve got the front diff lock working
again. It’s a very, very capable truck, this – always was and, while the big lift has caused lots of knock-on hassle, it still is. It’ll be even better when we get a bigger set of tyres to replace the 31x10.50R15s it’s rolling on at the moment. They’ve always been brilliant – the original-pattern BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain is among the best off-road tyres ever made – but obviously they look a bit lost with so much air above them. Jeep experts in the US reckon an XJ can wear 35” tyres on an 8” lift. But then they also reckon the standard Dana 30 and 35c axles can’t hack the shock loads. That’s based on rock-crawling wisdom, though, and we’ve spoken to people who’ve used such big rubber in British conditions without ever trashing a shaft. We seem to remember having the same debate with ourselves before, a few years ago. Not long after ﬁtting the Skyjacker kit, actually. But they things all started turning a deep shade of brown for the Cherokee and next thing we knew, it was either off the road because it was knackered or off the road because its MOT had been turned into a smouldering wreck. It’s no longer knackered, and it’s no longer minus an MOT. But it is still our Project XJ. About 17 years on, the saga continues…
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COMMON SENSE PREVAILS IN LAKE DISTRICT AS ANTI-4X4 HYSTERIA FAILS TO CLOSE TILBERTHWAITE ROAD AND HIGH OXEN FELL
TWO MUCH-LOVED rights of way in the Lake District will remain open to motor vehicles, after the National Park Authority decided overwhelmingly to reject the case for closure. Tilberthwaite Road and High Oxen Fell have both been the subject of intense campaigning by anti-4x4 activists averse to sharing the countryside – however
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a meeting of the authority’s Rights of Way Committee on 8 October concluded that continued management was the correct way forward for both trails. Tilberthwaite Road, which was ‘repaired’ last year by grading it to a ﬂat surface in response to relentless manoeuvring by anti-4x4 factions, will in future be overseen by a
partnership management group. This kind of approach has proved successful in the past, in the Lakes and elsewhere, by allowing recreational users and other stakeholders to ﬁnd solutions together. It tends to be rejected only by rogue elements – on one side, irresponsible 4x4 drivers with no respect for the land or their fellow users, and on the
other, anti-vehicle fanatics unwilling to compromise in their determination to rid the countryside of everyone but themselves. At the LDNPA meeting on 8 October, the case for closure was supported by the National Trust, the Ramblers and a dedicated anti-vehicle organisation called Save the Lake District. The latter
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Campaigners say 4x4 use on tracks like High Oxen Fell (above) and Tilberthwaite Road (main picture) have made it impossible for farmers to use them described the authority’s report, which was approved by the committee, as ‘biased’ and ‘based on shoddy research.’ The National Trust was more balanced in its tone. ‘We think that this activity (motor vehicle use) is at odds with what people want from their national parks in the 21st century – to tackle climate change and champion sustainable transport.’ While tackling climate change and championing sustainable transport are laudable goals, no-one we’ve spoken to has identiﬁed them as something they speciﬁcally want from national parks. Similarly, it’s unclear how 4x4 use on public rights of way is at odds with either of these aims in anything other than the most superﬁcial of ways. Prior to the meeting, debate over the lanes’ future of took a bizarre turn when The Guardian published a story on the subject – which was so biased, the Chief Executive of the National Park Authority was moved to write an open letter to the paper’s editor criticising its ‘misleading and inﬂammatory’ language. Written by Guardian journalist Nazia Parveen, the report was remarkable not just for its sensationalist language but for the one-sided approach it took to covering a topic which has long been the subject of intense and complex debate. Titled ‘Lake District heritage at risk as thrill-seekers “chew up” idyllic trails’, it quoted various members of Save the Lake District, approvingly and apparently without question. These include a couple from Surrey who last year moved permanently into their holiday home near Tilberthwaite Road and have since
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taken up campaigning against motor vehicles (and by extension the business they bring to people who live and work in the Lake District). Responding to the article, LDNPA Chief Executive Richard Leafe commented that in addition to its inﬂammatory language, parts of it were factually incorrect. He pointed out that ‘the decision to restrict anyone’s right to use these roads must not be taken lightly,’ and that ‘in line with government guidance, legal intervention through a TRO is a last resort and we should explore other management options ﬁrst.’ Undeterred, the Guardian revisited the subject on 13 October, a few days after the committee had voted against closing the lanes. This time, the focus of its article was a no-conﬁdence vote passed by Keswick town council against the LDNPA over its decision to resurface a cycle path using tarmac rather than natural materials – however it also reported that ‘senior leaders at the park authority voted against a ban on recreational off-road vehicles which devastate farm tracks, churning up soil and exposing the bedrock beneath, leaving them impassable to farm trafﬁc.’ Inﬂammatory language has always been a problem on both sides of the green lane debate, and this magazine (probably even this article) is as guilty as anyone. In journalism, however, as in green lane management, facts are sacred – and it’s heartening to see that the Lake District National Park has kept sight of that in the face of such never-ending pressure from organisations determined to rid the countryside of everyone but themselves.
4x4 Without a Club
4x4 Without a Club
Harbour Hill,West Berkshire
Harbour Hill,West Berkshire
Essex, Rochford and District 4x4 Club
Essex, Rochford and District 4x4 Club
Frickley, South Yorkshire
Frickley, South Yorkshire
Protrax Tixover, Northamptonshire
Hilll N Ditch Mouldsworth, Cheshire
Slindon Safari Slindon,West Sussex
Explore Off Road Silverdale, Stoke-on-Trent
Hilll N Ditch Mouldsworth, Cheshire
Explore Off Road Silverdale, Stoke-on-Trent
East Grinstead,West Sussex
23 November Kirton Off Road Centre Kirton Lindsey, North Lincs
24 November Bures Pit Bures, Suffolk
East Grinstead,West Sussex
Protrax Tixover, Northamptonshire
22 December Frickley 4x4 Frickley, South Yorkshire
Slindon Safari Slindon,West Sussex
Burnham Off-Roaders Tring, Hertfordshire
Harbour Hill,West Berkshire
Frickley 4x4 Frickley, South Yorkshire
4x4 Without a Club Protrax Tixover, Northamptonshire
Cowm Leisure Whitworth, Lancashire
1 December Muddy Bottom Minstead, Hampshire Picadilly Wood Bolney,West Sussex
Hilll N Ditch Mouldsworth, Cheshire Kirton Off Road Centre Kirton Lindsey, North Lincs
Thames Valley 4x4 Broxhead, Hampshire
DECEMBER 2019 | 69
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PRAISE FOR POWYS COUNTY COUNCIL AS STRATA FLORIDA CLOSURE KEPT AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE
STRATA FLORIDA, considered by many to be the ﬁnest green lane left in Britain, has been closed. But there’s no need to panic – the celebrated mountain trail between Pontrhydfendigaid and Tywi Forest in Powys will only be shut for a matter of weeks while repairs are carried out to a number of culverts and parts of the lane surface.
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Strata Florida follows the course of the Nant Gwinau and Afon Tywi rivers for much of its length. In fact, at one point (pictured above) it fords the conﬂuence of the two rivers – the largest of several water crossings which, after heavy or prolonged periods of rain, become treacherous to the point of making it impassable.
Thus it’s especially important for culverts to be kept in good condition, as drainage clearly has the potential to be a major issue. With a ﬁrm surface composed mainly of bedrock, however, the section of the lane where the work is taking place has little problem with erosion – so long as people stay on the right of way and don’t stray on to the adjoining land, something which has been a problem here in the recent past. Despite this, what the closure illustrates is the intelligent approach Powys County Council takes to managing its rights of way. Whereas some local authorities and national parks would leap on the need for work as an excuse to close a lane for six months or more (indeed, permanent closures have put put in place for less), Powys is well known for
recognising that 4x4 drivers have as much right as anyone else to enjoy the countryside. Advising the Green Lane Association of the closure, Powys County Council commented: ‘The works involve complete replacement of one culvert and repairs to another, plus general surface repairs, drainage works and improvements to passing places. The culvert works are estimated to take 3-5 weeks but this is dependent on weather conditions and stream water levels. ‘It will be necessary to close the byway to all trafﬁc to enable works to be undertaken. Due to its popularity, the route will be closed for the shortest possible time and PBUG (Powys Byway Users Group) members will be informed when the closure is lifted.’ Strata Florida was closed as of 14 October, with the last 4x4 trafﬁc passing through the day before. With work now well underway, it’s understood that the lane will be open again by the end of November.
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WINCH ACES DON FANCY DRESS FOR CHARITY FINALE TO 2019 ODYSSEY CHALLENGE
Words: Pip Evans Pictures: Tomasz Jarecki
THE FINAL ROUND of the 2019 Odyssey Batteries Winch Challenge series brought competitors back to the traditional home of the Viking 4x4 Club – Weekley Woods, near Kettering. As is now traditional, the event was run as a charity fundraiser – and as normal, the competitors were invited to show their support by turning up in fancy dress. With the previous years’ events having raised funds to support the ﬁght against ﬁrst breast cancer and then prostate cancer, this year the chosen beneﬁciary was Wishes 4 Kids. This charity was created to ‘grant a wish for children and youngsters in Leicestershire who are life limited, terminally ill, have
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experienced life-changing physical or emotional traumas or have suffered major abuse.’ With the theme of cartoon characters having been chosen for the fancy dress, Viking 4x4 Club member Steve King worked tirelessly to get various companies with links to the off-roading scene to donate items which could be either auctioned or rafﬂed in order to raise funds. It’s a long list, and there were many other competitors and individuals too who donated items, but the roll of honour includes Spedeworth Motorsports; Georgie Smith of Meat Matters farm; Damar
Webbing Solutions; Goodwinch; LRS’ Hybrid4x4; Terraﬁrma; Gigglepin; Marrion 4x4; LOF Clutches; GO Racing; Raptor 4x4; WKD; 4x4 Overland; Edd Cobley at Land Rover Experience East of England; Red Winch; Bearmach; Carrick Engineering; Midland OffRoad Club; and of course the Viking 4x4 Club itself.
Having received such overwhelming support from these companies and more, all that was left was for the club to put on a great show. The weather didn’t help much here, though, with several days of torrential rain in the lead-up
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to the event meaning the paddock area was a quagmire. Probably best to start off with a photoshoot to capture everyone’s fancy dress efforts, then, before the mud turned everyone into brown blobs… There was a prize for the best fancy dress, which was won by Kevin Bates and Joby Hooley for their loose interpretation of Beauty and the Beast. Quite how Kevin planned to drive in that dress was a question on the minds of many. Needless to say, it didn’t make it to lunch time (the dress, not Kevin). By then, the saturated ground had already made its presence felt. The weather plays a major role in the character of an event and the stresses and strains imposed on challenge trucks – a bone-dry site means loads of grip, thus more strain on drivetrains and less on winches, and also makes for a greater chance of rolling over as tyres will grip instead of sliding. On this occasion, on the other hand, slipping and sliding was very much the order of the day – with absolutely no grip, all the strain was on the winches and ropes. This also necessitated more imaginative rigging of winch lines
when approaching punches, as changing direction was very difﬁcult with no tyre traction. Surprisingly, there were very few vehicle issues – but understandably there was a smattering of winch problems. Challenge events normally run for six straight hours with no break, but for this one there was a mandatory lunch stop so that the club could run the auction and rafﬂe. There was a lateness penalty for anyone not returning to the paddock by midday, to make sure no-one was still collecting punches while the rest of the ﬁeld was doing what they were told… Typically, everyone headed straight for the catering wagon as soon as they got to the paddock, so the start of the auction was delayed until there was no-one left without a bacon roll in their hands. The competitors demonstrated their charitable nature by bidding generously at the auction, and the book of rafﬂe tickets was completely sold out. The end result was a whopping £3000 raised in just under an hour – an achievement to be proud of. Fortunately for a couple of competitors, the lots in the auction included a couple of winch lines.
9-13 March 2020
Tracks and Trails Night Drive (venue TBC)
Ardent Off Road Coast to Coast
14-15 March 2020
UK Landrover Events North York Moors (night drive)
Ardventures Yorkshire Moors and Dales
Atlas Overland Wessex
Ardventures Lake District
Ardventures North/Mid Wales
Tracks and Trails Yorkshire Dales
Atlas Overland Wessex
18-19 July 2020
UK Landrover Events Dales and Eden
Atlas Overland Wessex
5-6 September 2020
UK Landrover Events Durham Dales
Ardventures Yorkshire Wolds and Moors
Atlas Overland Wessex
4x4 Adventure Tours South Devon and Dartmoor
18-19 January 2020 Protrax Wales
1-2 February 2020 Ardventures Lake District
2-6 March 2020 Ardventures Coast to Coast
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2-3 May 2020
7-8 ~November 2020 Atlas Overland Wessex
9-13 November 2020 Ardventures Coast to Coast
29-30 December 2020 Ardventures Lake District
DECEMBER 2019 | 73
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Very handy when you’ve just broken one! The winners rushed off to ﬁt their new ropes so they could get back out after the launch break and carry on competing. There were to be no further dramas in the afternoon, and the teams slithered back to base for the ﬁnal deadline of the season. With the scores thus ﬁnalised, it transpired that in Class 1, this was one of the tightest results the club had ever seen. Zak Dambrauskas and Mark Johnson came third on 3399 points – with Rhys Hutchinson and Dan Mann just ahead of them on 4030 and Will Baker and Georgie Smith taking ﬁrst on 4085. A hard-fought victory, but an extra sweet one for
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Will and Georgie as it was their ﬁrst of the series. Things were also close in Class 2, with Tom Sharp and Tom Jolliffe taking third on 4791 points. Second place went to James Mathews and Colin Worsley on 4985 – then, also taking their ﬁrst win of the series, came Johnny Johnson and Tracey Stafford on 5373. Class 3 was a bit clearer cut, Luke Wakelen and Elliott Nielly taking third on 4740 points and Alan and Daniel Willcocks second on 5812. This was the latter team’s ﬁrst ever Odyssey outing, which makes their result even more impressive. But no-one was catching Scott Haines and James Watts, who
ended the day on 6065 points. Scott and James have really come of age this year, with three event wins in the series and overall victory in the six-round series. Thus the 2019 season reached its conclusion, and plans starting
being made for 2020. This has been a mixed year, starting very badly when the ﬁrst event of the season was abandoned following a serious injury to a competitor, but it progressed to become yet another ﬁne advert for the winching game. The Viking 4x4 Club extends its thanks to everyone who helped make it happen – and to all those through whose generosity Wishes 4 Kids will be able to put a smile on the faces of some children who truly deserve it.
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22 June – 7 July 2020
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16-30 May 2020
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Trailmasters Morocco (extreme expedition)
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4x4 23/10/2019 23:18
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Join our Facebook page for all the latest news about the show
Great British Land Rover Show
Sunday 24th November 2019, 10am to 4pm
➤ Adventure and Outdoor Leisure Zone ➤ 2.4m off-road course to check out with your
own vehicle in association with the AWDC
➤ Land Rover only parking areas ➤ Paddock Spares Club Section
+ further features to be announced...
HALF-PRICE TICKETS IN ADVANCE! £7.50 in advance, £15 on the door. Under 14s go free OFF-ROAD COURSE TICKETS £10 in advance, £15 on the day (limited availability) See website for more details and to buy tickets!
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DOUBLE-CAB OF THE YEAR Will the new Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 or Nissan Navara take the title – or can the Volkswagen Amarok make it two years in a row at the head of the UK pick-up pack?
ON SALE… 14th Dec Tested: Hottest Volkswagen Touareg and new Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Brought home from Japan, galvanised down below and rebuilt from the chassis up… we delve into the mysteries behind this ordinary looking but totally unique Discovery Fill in your name and address and give this form to your newsagent ●
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CALL 03303 335126 OR VISIT ISUZU.CO.UK/XTR TO FIND OUT MORE #Over 40 MPG figure applies to manual transmission models. MPG figures are official EU test figures for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results. Official fuel figures for the Isuzu D-Max range in MPG (l/100km): Urban 30.4 - 38.7 (9.3 - 7.3). Extra Urban 40.9 - 50.4 (6.9 - 5.6). Combined 36.2 - 45.6 (7.8 6.2). CO2 emissions 163 - 205g/km. For full details please contact your local Isuzu dealer or visit isuzu.co.uk Features and specification may vary in appearance and/or availability. *3.5 tonne towing applies to all 4x4 models. **125,000 mile/5 year (whichever comes first) warranty applies to all new Isuzu D-Max models. Terms and conditions apply. Visit isuzu.co.uk
In this month’s issue of 4x4, we’ve got some big first drives, big builds and tales of some big adventures. We’ve been behind the wheel of t...
Published on Nov 8, 2019
In this month’s issue of 4x4, we’ve got some big first drives, big builds and tales of some big adventures. We’ve been behind the wheel of t...