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DEFENDER IS BACK! 16 PACKED PAGES! isuzu d-max xtr

Jeep wrangler rubicon Citroën C5 Aircross Flair audi q8 50 28-33 Mercedes X-class 350D


Land Rover's Defender Returns

pages 40-55




DAMIAN TURNER Editor-in-Chief, Writer, Photographer, Reviewer

KAREN LEE TURNER (A.K.A. The Muddy Madam)

Creative Director, Layout Designer, Reviewer




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Click on the covers to read any of our past issues

TURNER’S TORQUE The other week my next door neighbour asked me to jump start her car, as it hadn’t been run for a while and subsequently had a flat battery. I rummaged through the shed to find my Clarke Jump Start 4000. No problem, done, then the following day another neighbour had the same problem, and the Clarke fired up his ageing Saab instantly. It cost me the best part of £200 and I’ve used it only three times in the last two years, during which it’s been invaluable.

That got me thinking, what else have I bought that was quite expensive that I’ve only used a couple of times? The first thing that came to mind was my proper Hi Lift Jack which I think it cost me £70 just over 30 years ago. Apart from straightening the front bumper on my old Lightweight, it came into its own when the steering box on my Series 1 fell apart just outside my backyard. Slotting the jack under the bumper, I raised and pushed her until I was able to reverse her straight into the yard again. I haven’t used it since.

On the opposite end of the scale, I use my Pentax K3-II camera pretty much daily, as 99% of the photos you see in The Mud Life Mag are taken with it. The body alone cost around £1,500 nearly 5 years ago, and it’s been more than tough and ultra reliable. I was reminded of this the other week when I was taking photos of the Mercedes X-Class. After positioning the Merc in a typical ‘off-road’ pose, I grabbed the Pentax, stepped out and promptlyI lost my footing and fell, resulting in myself and the K3-II landing on a rocky lane with quite a thud. Whilst I ended up bruised with quite a few cuts to my hands and a swollen elbow, my K3-II faired much better. Yes, it has another battle scar, but the tough stainless steel chassis and magnesium alloy body saved it, again. I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes that I like to say to Muddy Madam when explaining the large receipt she just discovered - 'The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.'





KIA e-NIRO wins CAR of the YEAR 2019 The all electric e-Niro, has been named 2019 Car of the Year by the Northern Group of Motoring Writers. This is Kia’s fourth Car of the Year award from the Northern Group, following wins in 2011 with the Picanto, 2012 for the cee’d and most recently, the Stinger picking up the award in 2018. Members of the Northern Group were asked to vote for their favourite vehicles from a long-list of newly launched models. The list was cut down to the top five vehicles, before members of the Northern Group met in Yorkshire earlier this month to determine which vehicle was worthy to win the title of ‘Northern Car of the Year’. The Kia e-Niro won with members awarding the car 52 votes. Commenting on the award, Andy Harris, Chairman of the Northern Group of Motoring Writers: “After much deliberation and a wellattended driving day, The Northern Group of Motoring Writers has chosen its Car of the Year. The Kia e-Niro scooped the top spot due I believe to its combination of class-leading electric range, everyday practicality and top notch build quality. Affordable pricing is the icing on the cake and a rapidly growing waiting list means the car buying public would seem to agree.” The Kia e-Niro has been designed to merge crossover-inspired design with a class leading driving range of 282 miles, zero-emissions driving and enjoyable performance. It achieves this with a next-generation electric powertrain, using new production technologies developed specifically for Kia electric vehicles. The 64kwh battery can be charged to 80% in as little as 54 minutes. More information on the e-Niro can be found here: 6






ASTON MARTIN's first SUV on its way With DBX’s unveil drawing closer, Aston Martin’s first SUV has entered the closing stages of the most comprehensive test regime of any Aston Martin to date. While conducting durability testing at the Nürburgring race circuit, DBX has delivered cornering speeds on par with the brand’s most focussed sports car, the Vantage, while achieving braking figures greater than the marque’s Super GT, DBS Superleggera. This brutal combination of performance for an SUV has already seen Aston Martin’s engineering team regularly achieve sub 8-minute Nordschleife lap times during their regular testing regime. DBX will feature a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, tuned to surpass the performance figures of the Vantage and DB11 delivering 550PS and 700Nm of torque. High speed testing has already proven DBX to repeatedly exceed 180mph, with final top speed and acceleration figures being set within the closing stages of the testing process. DBX’s testing programme continues apace, with Matt Becker, Aston Martin’s Chief Engineer commenting: “We have concentrated our work to ensure that the calibration and tune of this 4.0-litre twinturbo V8 delivers both the everyday usability and refinement expected by SUV owners. However, we have also focused heavily on matching that with the engaging driving dynamics that are commanded by our brand and inherent in every Aston Martin and early indications of the car’s overall performance have been incredibly promising. The next few months will be extremely important to us, as we continue to hone the powertrain credentials and a dynamic setup that will help make this the most exciting SUV on the market”. DBX is set to be unveiled this December. THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK





VOLVO XC40s on the Highways

The multi award-winning Volvo XC40 has been chosen by Highways England to play its part in keeping England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads moving. Investing in 41 vehicles, they will be used to assess the standards and integrity of the country’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads – travelling thousands of miles a year. The five-star Euro NCAP safety rating wasn’t the only draw. The Whole Life Costs of the XC40 appealed to Highways England too. The quality of build and technology, including the Sensus navigation and Volvo On Call app, meant only minor modifications to the off-the-production line model were needed for the government agency to put the XC40 into service. Fewer modifications mean a higher re-sale value and represent lower Whole Life Costs. The Volvo Car UK Special Vehicles division, which secured the contract, has over 50 years' experience developing purpose8


built vehicles for customers with special requirements including police, fire, ambulance paramedic and rapid response cars. It worked with Volvo’s preferred vehicle installation and conversion partner, Jack Hodson Limited, to make the necessary changes to the XC40 fleet for Highways England, including adding a rear bulk-head to increase storage capacity, as well as an amber light bar and livery. Run-lock technology was also fitted so that inspectors can leave the engine running with the amber lights flashing while the vehicle is locked. This ensures visibility and safety at the side of the road without the vehicle being at risk of theft. The exceptional value of the Volvo XC40 service and maintenance package also convinced Highways England that its aftersales needs could be met across its entire geographical network, while its efficiency means it meets the government agency’s emissions targets.

ALL PLAY & NO WORK... ...makes a Mud Lifer very happy Wales Rally GB 3-6 October

Liverpool to Llandudno (& lots of places inbetween) Wales Rally GB returns with 320km of competitive action, 22 thrilling stages, 4 unforgettable days and 1 World Championship event, with fans getting closer to the action than ever before. Get the spectator planner here.

BRSCC Fun Cup Race Day 12 October Oulton Park, Cheshire The British Racing and Sports Car Club are back at Oulton Park for a late season raceday on the International circuit, featuring the Fun Cup Championship with an endurance race, Avon Tyres Northern Formula Ford Championship, STXR Challenge, and Superkarting-UK.

Truckfest Original 5-6 October

Newark & Notts Showground, Nottinghamshire

Truckfest is the must-see show for enthusiasts, families and the road haulage industry. Proud of its heritage in presenting trucks from all over the world, Truckfest is Europe’s Premier trucking event, showcasing a huge variety of trucks from giant American trucks to jaw-dropping customised vehicles. See Monster Trucks, mini Super Trucks, Motorcycle Stunts and The Smokey and the Bandit Truck!




What is it?

Before I go into what it is, the more important and relevant question is, why is it? Not to get all existential, the XTR is Isuzus attempt to get a foothold into the lifestyle pickup market that appears to be making a resurgence. Isuzu have said that the XTR will sit firmly between the Blade and AT35 in their adventure range. Everyone knows that Isuzu makes a tough truck, after all, they’re the oldest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world and were the first company to offer diesel engines in commercial vehicles over 80 years ago. So, what do you get with the XTR? Well the most obvious difference is the unmistakable black cladding, which covers the bumper, bonnet and wheel arch extensions. There are proper heavy duty side steps too that are protected by a ‘Raptor’ coating.



At the rear there’s a tailgate spoiler and a new rear bumper with fake twin exhaust outlets. Although it looks good, it sits a bit too low for my liking. Flashes of green are dotted around on the wheel arches and the brake callipers, which hide behind 17” black alloy wheels and 32” (265-70-17) Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres. Isuzu incidentally are the first manufacturer to fit them as standard. Suspension wise, Isuzu have worked closely with Pedders who have furnished the XTR with its own suspension package which raises the frame by 25mm and provides an extra 250mm of ground clearance. Pedders have also improved the XTR’s stopping distances by including their new Kevlar ventilated discs and pads at the front.

On the road

Being 250mm taller that the normal D-Max and having 32” tyres you’d perhaps imagine the XTR being a bit top heavy and wallowy around corners, well Pedders have seen to that. Of course there’s a little lean, but that’s normal, no, the XTR handled itself well on the twisty Welsh roads, which included part of the famed EVO Triangle and overall felt well planted on tarmac.

Worthy of a mention is that the XTR retains its kerb weight of only 1970kg, meaning that you’re able to drive legally at 60 and 70mph on dual carriageways, unlike offerings from Ford with the Wildtrack and Raptor weighing in at over 2 tonnes and therefore classed as commercial vehicles with speed limitations.

Off road

The gruelling circuit was around an hour long and consisted of a lot of steep ascents and descent on slippery slate and lose stone, and not once did the XTR give cause for concern. I, on the other hand, looked at some of the inclines and desperately tried to remember what to do in the case of a failed hill climb! I needn’t have worried, the formidable D-Max proved once again why it has a top-knotch reputation in these kind of environments.

Credit where credit’s due, Isuzu have taken the crown from Jeep and arranged probably the best off-road circuit I’ve ever driven on a 4x4 launch. The brief, Isuzu told me afterwards, was to make the routes both as challenging and as scary as possible, and they succeeded! Driving through the forest tracks I was initially a tad concerned because the D-Max doesn’t have a rear diff-lock, but it was of no concern because it didn’t matter how slow and controlled I drove through the undergrowth and along side slopes, the XTR maintained traction throughout. The relatively new Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres coupled to Isuzu’s 4-wheel drive system did a remarkable job. If I was impressed by its performance through mud and streams, our next challenge was tackling purpose made tracks around Ffestiniog Slate Mine.

The huge approach angle helped considerably with some of the obstacles but I was always a bit concerned about catching the rear bumper. I never did. The XTR simply climbed all of the purpose built tracks, and as someone who’s been green-laning and trialling for over 30 years, I have never been more impressed by a standard vehicle, let alone an unladen pickup, to make less of a fuss and make everything appear easy. Bravo.




Along with a D shaped leather and suede hand finished steering wheel, which was a joy to feed through my sweaty palms, the XTR also gets its very own ‘sports seats’, which are padded and finished in mix of leather, suede and carbon fibre leather upholstery with green overstitching. As well as being quite snug they were very comfortable and offered exceptional support both on and off road.

What about infotainment you may ask, that’s provided by a Pioneer system which includes a 7” touchscreen display, eight speakers, steering-wheel mounted controls, USB ports front and rear and of course Bluetooth. The XTR Nav+ which costs £1,150 more than the standard XTR adds sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a DAB radio.

Pickup stuff

Engines ‘n’ transmissions

The XTR has a 3.5t towing capacity and one tonne payload, and although it has a load bed that’s wider and deeper than most of its competitors, at 1,485mm long it’s one of the smallest in the double-cab segment. Included as standard are the load bed liner, lashing points and the tailgate dampener.



As I’ve written previously, the D-Max only comes with their 1.9ltr diesel engine which doesn’t require the extra expense of AdBlue. It produces 162bhp (at 3,600rpm) and 360Nm (between 2,000 and 2,500rpm). On a personal level I much prefer the smooth 6-speed automatic ‘box over the manual, it just feels more relaxed.


OK, the body kit and wheel extensions may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no doubt it stands out, and my only problem with it seems rather petty, and that’s for such a stand-out vehicle it’s only available in either white, grey, black or silver - the dullest and most uninspiring colours ever! Thankfully though you can have a range of decals to liven it up a little. Fair play to Isuzu for letting us motoring writers put the XTR through two proper offroad routes, they taxed us and the vehicles to the extreme which shows just how much confidence Isuzu have in their vehicles. And on the subject of confidence, Professional 4x4 and Pickup conducted a survey recently with all of it’s readers, and for reliability and cost of ownership, the D-Max came out on top - clicky link I was so impressed with the XTR that I actually looked at financing one, but realistically I’ll have to wait a good few years when prices have fallen to my level of affordability. At that point I can see myself buying one, chucking on a rear cab, roof tent and a set of drawers in the back and I’ll be as happy as Larry! Availability wise, The Isuzu D-Max XTR has been for sale since April but the first deliveries only just taking place. The XTR starts at £33,999 plus VAT, rising to £34,999 for the automatic, the Nav+ is £1,150 more and available on both manual and automatic. The D-Max XTR has Isuzu’s reputable 5-year, 125,000-mile warranty. more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


Jeep Wrangler Rubicon What is it? It’s an off-road icon, it’s as simple as that really. But what exactly is an off-road icon? I guess a true 4x4 icon is a vehicle that is supremely capable off road first, then deals with tarmac afterwards, one that’s been around longer than I have and proven itself over and over again in a world full of harsh conditions. This niche collection of 4x4s would include the original Defender and Series vehicles, the Suzuki Jimny, Mercedes G-Wagen, and of course the Wrangler.

On the road I think I need to make an amendment to a previous review. When I drove the SWB Rubicon around Cumbria earlier on this year, I remember thinking that it felt taut and secure, I was genuinely quite surprised by its on-road manners. On reflection, I was driving quite sedately along narrow Cumbrian roads so it wasn’t much of a test. Getting behind the wheel of the 5-door for a whole week with a large dosage of road miles thrown in, and I’ve to revised my conclusion a little.

But these days, with modern technology and electronic witchcraftery, do we really need a hardcore 4x4 when something like a Discovery 5 or Grand Cherokee will take you to unfordidden places in comfort? Is there a need for the Wrangler Rubicon is todays motoring world?

There was a certain vagueness in the steering, and compared to my 1996 Toyota Surf which is shod with the same BFG KM3 mud terrains, it’s noisier too, and not just tyre noise. I found the 200bhp 2.0ltr diesel a bit on the loud side, and it isn’t the slickest from start, but driving at around 50mph and accelerating



to 70mph, that’s where it’ll take you by surprise as the big Jeep picks up speed and momentum quite quickly for any overtaking manoeuvres. Like anything in life, when you live with it for an amount of time, you get used to it, and adjust your way of thinking. After a week with the 5-door Rubicon its handling didn’t seem as bad, especially along twisty country lanes, in fact, it’s ruddy good fun throwing it around, and it became predictable to the point of it being quite fun.

During our week I drove it up to Settle, then over to Scar House via various lanes and they didn’t trouble it at all. You’ve got anti-sway bar disconnect, you’ve got front and rear lockers and BFGoodrich KM3 Mud Terrain tyres, and to be honest, I didn’t find any lane worthy of the Jeep. I’ve driven, and seen Rubicons flex their way up of the most demanding green-lanes in Cumbria like they were negotiating an ASDA car park, so anything I could throw at it locally was a breeze.

Fuel wise, the onboard computer told me that after a motorway dash, fast B roads and a good couple of hours green-laning using both high and low ratios, it was returning between 27 and 30mpg, which I didn’t think was too bad.

Sliding the transfer lever into low box and I found the lowest first gear I think I’ve ever come across in a 4x4, in fact on some of the steepest inclines that the Yorkshire Dales had to offer I used third gear, first is too low for our gentle green lanes. I’d love to be clambering over the size of rocks and boulders that necessitate the need for the Rubicons ultra low first gear!

Off road I don’t think I’ve ever had a press car that I’ve taken greenlaning as much as I have the Rubicon, maybe the Defender, but that was so long ago that I can’t remember. This is where the Wrangler comes into its own.

Interior I really like it, the new facia and layout works well, and it's a huge improvement on the outgoing model, though it took me all week to stop reaching to the door for the electric window switches as they’re in the middle of the dash.



The only major problem I have is the transmission tunnel that encroaches the footwell far too much to the point you simply can’t extend your left leg as there’s nowhere for you’re foot, it does make driving long distances a tad awkward and painful. There’s plenty of legroom for back seat drivers, your luggage will get lost in the back, and that’s before you put the second row of seats down. Want the fresh air experience? Well that’s easy enough, simply undo 4 clips from each Freedom Panel above the front seats and



you have fresh air, then there are 8 screws to undo and two people can easily remove the rear section of the roof within minutes. The doors can be removed too. Essentially, the new JL Wrangler is a lot more user friendly than its predecessor. Engine ’n’ transmissions You have two engines to choose from, either the 2.0ltr 272bhp petrol or 2.2ltr 200bhp diesel and one automatic gearbox.

Conclusion The Wrangler Rubicon, with its locking front and rear diffs, dislocating anti roll bars, mud tyres and incredibly low low-range transfer ‘box is an off-roader that’s built for a purpose and therefore occupies a unique space in the market. Overall there’s a certain vagueness in the steering and it isn’t particularly quiet, but I still enjoyed it, and would buy one in a heartbeat. It reminds me of the new Suzuki Jimny in that it can be forgiven for a lot of its foibles, yes, I wrote foibles instead of faults! You have to remember, the Rubicon isn’t supposed to be a car you buy for the commute, you buy a Rubicon because you want its off-road ability and flexibility, subsequently this comes with certain amount of compromises, and as long as you remember that you and your Rubicon will get along just fine. 5-Door Rubicon prices start from £49,455 more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


Citroen C5 Aircross Flair

What is it?

The C5 Aircross is Citroen’s version of the familycrossover, and it’s proving to be quite a success as over 50,000 were sold within the first 6 months of being on sale in Europe.

On the road

Citroens have always been known for their comfortable cars, and the C5 Aircross is no exception. On long journeys I felt cocooned in its funkiness, it’s a lovely car to drive, both around town and on long motorway excursions. The manual 6-speed gearbox in this Flair+ was slick and well geared, but I have heard complaints that because



the centre console is quite tall this equates to the gearstick being quite lofty and uncomfortable. Maybe because I’m tall with ape-like arms I didn’t feel any of that, but I did make a note that the top of the gearstick is roughly the same height as my stomach, so that gives you an idea! Fuel wise, every journey I took, whether that was a long motorway excursion, a trip to the shops or a fun blast along country lanes, the 1.5ltr diesel didn’t drop below 52mpg, even after traversing the odd green-lane or two.

Off road

With Grip Control, these are remarkable in mud, snow and over rocks, very witch-craftery! However, this model didn’t have it fitted unfortunately. Did that stop me from exploring the odd green lane? Of course not. In standard form the C5 Aircross performed valiantly and clambered over dodgy terrain with ease, though I didn’t push it as much as I would if I'd had Grip Control, but it managed ok. I have to say, although the ride on tarmac and some uneven roads is typically Citroen, take the C5 Aircross along cobbled or stoney surfaces and you’re surrounded by the most uncomfortable sounding bangs and thuds you can imagine, I didn’t find the traditional Citroen cushioned ride here, sadly. I don’t think the standard 18” wheels helped much, but elsewhere they were fine.




I liked everything about the C5 Aircross’ interior, except the infotainment screen and lack of buttons, at times it was bloomin’ infuriating. Citroen, if you’re reading this, please get over your over-dependence on touchscreens, they’re frustrating and distracting. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t just Citroen I have a problem with, the Velar is just as distracting and Volvos, though not as complex, are still a nuisance when all you want to do is turn down the temperature a degree or two. I should start a campaign to bring back buttons and switches! Anyway, the positives. Where do I begin, there are so many. The seats are well positioned and very comfortable, though a little flattish. The dash layout is clear with a selection of digital layouts and overall visibility all-round is very good. I’ve already mentioned the centre console is tall ,wide and flat and there are large cubby holes aplenty. You get 3 individual rear seats of the same width, with 5 different reclining positions, as well as the ability to slide 150mm back and forth. There isn’t a lot of space in the back if you have long legged people sat up front. With the rear seats up you have 580ltrs of air in the back, and once folded down there’s 1640lts. The boot floor has two levels, so you can hide stuff beneath if you want to.



Engine & transmission

You have a choice of two petrol engines: the 128bhp 1.2ltr PureTech 130 and the 177bhp 1.6ltr Puretech 180. Both have automatic stop/start, but the 130 is only available with the 6-speed manual and the 180 with the 8-speed automatic. Diesel wise there’s the 1.5ltr 128bhp BlueHdi 130 that can be mated to a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic gearbox. You can also opt for a 2.0ltr 178bhp BlueHdi 180 engine that only comes with the 8-speed automatic.


Despite its off road ride, I really liked the C5, I found it relaxing to drive on road, it has a great amount of space and a comfortable cabin, despite the lack of proper knobs and switches. Although it isn’t exactly a driver's car, it’s comfortable, frugal and practical, which I reckon most drivers want these days, not something that can get you ’round the Nürburgring at breakneck speed. It looks great too, especially in Volcano red. Citroen should be applauded. price: £29,230 (£29,775 for the red metallic paint otion)

more at »



Audi Q8 50



What is it?

It’s quite a statement, that’s for sure. With huge, bulging arches, 21” wheels and over 2 metres wide, the Audi Q8 50 Quattro has presence too. As a range-topper for their Q-brand, Audi wanted to combine the elegance of a luxury coupé with the comfort, convenience and versatility of a large SUV. An odd mix, but does it work?

On the road

The big Q8 certainly eats up the miles. Whilst Muddy Madam tapped away on her laptop beside me during the 5 hour drive to Scotland, the quiet ambience and soft air suspension didn’t cause her to be nauseous once, a big thumbs up there. In comfort mode the huge Q8 wafts along nicely and is pretty much how I drove it all week, it suits it. Switching the driving mode to dynamic on the other hand drops the suspension 40mm and offers a firmer ride. I’m not going to say that it transforms the Q8 into an exciting drivers car, but it certainly livens things up. The Quattro system, which is standard throughout the range, gives you confidence around corners as does the optional (£1,950) All-Wheel steering. On an empty M74, 70mph felt too slow and the temptation to increase the speed to treble figures was at the back of my mind. Of course I didn’t, that would be silly and irresponsible of me, but I guess it would have handled it with consummate ease. Fuel wise, in ‘economical’ mode whilst driving at typical motorways speeds, the Q8 returned 35mpg on long motorway runs and the mid twenties and down to the high teens around town. Though on a leisurely drive along the M6 at 60mpg, the Q8 returned 41.8mpg. On the subject of performance, 0 to 60mph is completed in just 6.3 seconds and it will carry on all the way to a top speed of 152mph. Emissions wise you’re looking at around 178g/km.



Off road

As I mentioned, the Q8 comes with a Quattro transmission as standard, as well as an ‘off-road’ setting which raises the body just shy of 2”, or 50mm if you’re young and haven’t learnt imperial. The green lanes I took it down were quite damp after a few days of heavy rain and I did wonder how the huge tyres would cope in mud. I needn’t have, the clever all-wheel drive system kept us going forward, even after stopping on a hill to take photos didn’t prove a problem. When you look at the Q8 from side on you notice that Audi have planted a wheel at each corner almost, I dare say that this has something to do with handling characteristics, but it also offers decent approach and departure angles. Due to its overall size I was a bit doubtful about driving it along some of the green-lanes I did, and I doubt very much that new owners ever will, but just so you know, it did quite well.




There’s no doubt that it’s a lovely place to be, quiet and comfortable, but some of the functions on the double monitors aren’t easy to navigate, or find. Like most vehicles with touchscreens, they can be difficult to use whilst on the move, I mean, simply finding the heater controls was a task in itself whilst negotiating twisty roads. For me, this is where the Q8 is deducted a significant amount of points. Just because you have the means to make a flash interface doesn’t mean you should, just give me some knobs, dials and proper switches, they're easier to use and a damn sight safer. Now I’ve got that off my chest the rest of the Q8 feels as it should, there’s amble elbow and leg room for all passengers and a capacious 605ltrs of nothingness behind the 2nd row seats. Something to bear in mind is that the Q8 is only a 5 seater, if you want 7 seats then go for a Q7.


Despite my utter dislike for double touchscreens in cars these days, my overall impression of the Q8 is more than favourable, in fact I enjoyed it so much that it’s on my favourite car list for 2019, right next to the Dacia Duster. Price; £64,115, with options on test car, £72,150 more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


Mercedes X-Class 350d



WHAT IS IT? By now, I think we all know that the X-Class is based on the Nissan Navara (it shares a modified chassis, the same Renault engine and gearbox, albeit modified). The 350d is more Mercedes than the 250, because, with a 3.0ltr turbodiesel V6 and permanent 4wd, it’s now transformed into the X-Class it always should have been. ON THE ROAD Going back a couple years to the UK launch of the X-Class, the most prominent thing I can remember to this day was its on-road ride, and how comfy and accomplished it felt. The 350d simply adds to that feeling giving it the extra poke and smoothness it deserves. The first thing you notice as you drive off is just how weighty its steering is. I’m not going to say heavy, I think weighty is a better description, it gives the impression of strength and purpose, and it has a chunky steering wheel to match. The V6 power, with those 255 horses, get you there quicker than you think. As you sink your foot the floor there’s a slight delay which can be annoying if you’re about to dive into traffic, but once it gets going it does so in a quiet and comfortable manner. Reaching licence losing speeds is easily achieved, and planting your foot certainly puts a smile on your face. All I’m going to say about its pace is that it’s a good job it has a speed limiter, use it and you’ll keep your licence. The 350d produces 255bhp and 550Nm, which is enough to propel the near 2.3-tonne truck from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. After covering 350 miles driving to Yorkshire for the Jeepey Jamboree and then to the NEC the following day, both of which were 70mph motorway drives, fuel wise, the X-Class told me via the on-board computer it had guzzled 31.5mpg. On a cool July morning on a 5 mile commute it achieved just over 18mpg. THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


OFF ROAD Earlier on in the year a friend, and motoring writing colleague, drove quite a few green-lanes in Yorkshire, (check out issue 4). I was in Deux Smurf with large mud terrain tyres, Andy was in a standard 350d, and he managed to follow me everywhere on standard tyres. I was incredibly impressed at just how capable it was.

I took the 350d along some fairly decent green-lanes, and in low box with its £612 rear difflock option engaged it wasn’t perturbed in the least. Hidden under the heater controls is a manual dial that switches from permanent all-wheel drive to 4 high and low range. Next to it are a rear difflock and Hill Descent Control buttons.

INTERIOR It’s a nice and classy interior. It looks and feels great, but you’ll find plastic odds and ends, because at the end of the day it’s still a working pickup. If I was on the TV or radio, I’d be saying something like, ‘and a shout-out has to go the seats as they’re wonderfully comfortable, almost armchair-like. Another joy is that the sat-nav and infotainment are easy to navigate, and visibility all ‘round is good enough. Looking ahead you see the huge tall bonnet and behind there are three small windows, which aren’t as big in other pick ups. However, the 360º view camera system is very good at giving you a bird's eye view of your surroundings. It isn’t without its faults unfortunately, although the seats are bloomin’ comfortable, they sit slightly squashed against the centre console, making the handbrake difficult to engage as you scrape your knuckles on the hard plastic cutout. Then there’s the distinct lack of storage pockets for phones and other gubbins, oh, and the lack of height and reach adjustment on the steering column. That said, the X-Class still has a premium, high-end feel to it. On the subject of bells and whistles, amongst a host of other safety features, the 350d comes with Active Brake Assist (radar-based autonomous emergency braking), Lane Keeping Assist as well as 5* Euro NCAP safety rating.



PICK UP STUFF Weighing in at 2,285kg, the V6 X-Class is 50kg heavier than its 2.3ltr sibling. Gross vehicle weights have increased to over 3.3 tonnes so it can still carry one tonne, and the towing capacity remains at 3.5 tonnes. The X-Class’ load bed measures 1,718mm long, 1,920mm width between its wheel arches and 2,113mm maximum width.

CONCLUSION A few months ago I drove the Navara for the first time, and I actually quite liked it. The X-Class embodies the same sense of solidity and ease, and adds more luxury to the experience. When it comes to pick ups we have a good choice here in the UK, from the SsangYong Musso which starts at £25,194 (incl VAT) up to the 350d which is £47,412. You could easily argue that they do the same job so why bother with a 350d. Of course there’s the brand snobbery value, but it’s slightly difficult to justify the extra cash. Heck, that £22k can buy a house in some places! That said, how many people will go into a dealership and buy an X-Class with cash, not many I suspect, so that leaves PCP and leasing, which makes it a more viable purchase I guess. Overall, the 350d, with its double wishbone front suspension, multilink rear, a 255bhp V6 and 7-speed 4MATIC gearbox with permanent 4wd, is a pick up to be reckoned with. It’s comfortable, classy and in my opinion, what the X-Class should have been from day one. more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


Land Rover's

DEFENDER RETURNS! I haven’t driven the new Defender yet, I haven’t even sat in one, never mind seen one in the flesh without its body kit on, like pretty much 99.9% of everyone who’s reading this, but what’s glaringly obvious is that it's already dividing opinion more than Brexit.



As a life long Land Rover fan, even I have to admit that the old Defender was outdated. Fuel consumption, security, safety, build quality and even practicality - all awful. I feel dirty even thinking that, never mind actually publishing it.

Let’s be honest for a moment or two, the traditional Series Land Rover, up until the last Defender, was never designed or built with the enthusiast in mind, it was for farmers, utility companies and the military.

I don’t believe it was ever meant to be a replacement for the old Defender.

Granted, clever marketing inspired the inner adventurer in us, and it was the hardened enthusiasts who brought them home, introduced them to their families and fitted wide tyres and decals. They made wonderful overlanders and green-laners, and that’s because they were built for a purpose.

The all-new Defender is the Defender for the masses, it isn’t agricultural, it won’t be noisy and if flipped on its roof, it certainly won’t be a death trap. The all-new Defender will be better in every way over the old one, better on road, better off road, improved build quality, fuel consumption, security, safer, and even more practical. Will it have charisma and charm? Hmmm…

Some owners have been desensitised to the original Defender's many faults (including myself when I had one), but despite them it became a part of the family, a bit like a problem child, bloody annoying, but you’ll protect it to the ends of the earth.

As a company, making the old Defender didn’t make economic sense, sales were never that good, especially when you compare them to the Evoque and Discovery Sport, let’s not even mention legislation and emissions.

Chatting to a friend the other day, we both agreed that a lot of people who are against the new Defender misunderstand the target market.

I can sit here and type away justifying the reasons why Land Rover have done what they’ve done all day long, but let’s get on and discuss the new one.



On the outside, Land Rover say it retains an unmistakable silhouette, I don’t see it, personally. However, the more you look at it in detail, the more you see certain design cues from the previous model, only more modern, and sleeker. It reminds me of when BMW reinvented the MINI - they took an old and outdated design and created a new vehicle for the new century and beyond. They made it safer, comfier, more practical and dare I say it, better. Ring any bells? The all-new Defender certainly looks purposeful, with its upright stance and Alpine light windows in the roof, while retaining the side-hinged rear tailgate and externally-mounted spare wheel which nods to the previous model. Then of course there’s the minimal front and rear overhangs providing what looks like pretty decent approach and departure angles. For strength and rigidity Land Rover’s new purpose-engineered D7x (for extreme) architecture is 95% new and based on a lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create the stiffest body structure Land Rover has ever produced. They say it’s three times stiffer than traditional body-on-frame designs, providing perfect foundations for the fully independent air or coil sprung suspension and supports the latest electrified powertrains. Personally, I think it’s a grower. 42









As a result, the Defender 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a loadspace behind the second-row seats of up to 1,075 litres, and as much as 2,380 litres when the second row is folded. The 90 on the other hand will be able to accommodate six people in a vehicle the length of a compact family hatchback.

Focusing on the practical side of things, the new Defender features a dash-mounted gear lever so to accommodate an optional central front third seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front, just like early Land Rovers.

For owners who will actually take their new Defenders greenlaning or on other off-road adventures have durable rubberised flooring and a brush or wipe clean interior. There’s an optional folding fabric roof which will allow passengers in the secondrow seats of the 110 to stand up (when parked, obviously), to provide the full safari experience.

Land Rover say that the stripped-back personality of the original Defender has been embraced inside with certain structural elements and fixings that are usually hidden from view are now exposed. I’d say they want to hark back to Series 1 and 2 days, that’s when you had a bare metal bulkhead, not Defenders.





What about technology? The new Defender is as technologically advanced as it is durable, they claim. With the new Pivi Pro infotainment system, the next generation touchscreen is more intuitive and user-friendly, requiring fewer inputs to perform frequently used tasks, while its always-on design guarantees almost instant responses. In addition, the new Defender takes SoftwareOver-The-Air (SOTA) technology to a new level, with 14 individual modules capable of receiving remote updates. By downloading data while customers are asleep at home or in far-flung locations, the new Defender will get better with age: as electronic updates cascade down to the vehicle immediately, without delay and with no need to visit a Land Rover retailer. I really hope that it stays reliable for JLR, they don’t have the best reputation for electronic reliability.

Been around the block a few times then?

Land Rover say that the new Defender has been through more than 62,000 tests for engineering sign-off, while the chassis and body architecture have been engineered to withstand Land Rover’s Extreme Event Test procedure – repeated and sustained impacts, above and beyond the normal standard for SUV and passenger cars. During development testing, prototype models have covered more than 800,000 miles across some of the harshest environments on earth, ranging from the 50º heat of the desert and sub 40º cold of the Arctic to altitudes of 10,000ft in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. 48


Off-road prowess

Configurable Terrain Response debuts on the new Defender, allowing experienced off-roaders to finetune individual vehicle settings to perfectly suit the conditions, while inexperienced drivers can let the system detect the most appropriate vehicle settings for the terrain, using the intelligent Auto function. The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38º, 28º and 40º whilst in off road height respectively. Its maximum wading depth of 900mm is supported by a new Wade programme in the Terrain Response 2 system, which ensures drivers can ford deep water with complete confidence. On dry land, Land Rover’s advanced ClearSight Ground View technology, which is really very good, helps drivers avoid obstacles by showing the area usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen.



Body styles

As most of us will know by now, the new Defender will be available in 90 and 110 body designs, and as I’ve mentioned earlier, with up to six seats in the 90 and the option of five, six or 5+2 seating in the 110. There will also be a pair of practical commercial models joining the line-up in 2020. The model range comprises Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition and top of the range Defender X models. If you have the budget, you can personalise your Defender with four Accessory Packs. The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs each give Defender a distinct character with a specially selected range of enhancements. The exclusive First Edition model features a unique specification and will be available throughout the first model year of production. I love the idea that customers will even be able to opt for a new satin protective film wrap to make the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fit option on certain colours. Just so you’re in no doubt what type of vehicle you’re buying, the new Defender is available with the widest choice of accessories ever assembled for a new Land Rover, with everything from a remote control electric winch, rooftop tent and inflatable waterproof awnings to more conventional tow bar systems and roof racks. 52




Let’s talk about the range of engines.

Currently you have a choice of 2 petrol and 2 diesel engines, while a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain will join the range next year. The petrol line-up comprises a 4-cylinder P300 and a more powerful 6-cylinder P400 featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle tech. The diesel line-up consists of a couple of 4-cylinder diesels – the D200 and powerful D240, both of which deliver fuel economy of 37.2mpg (7.6 l/100km) and CO2 emissions of 199g/km (NEDC equivalent).

Prices 2.0L SD4 200HP DIESEL D200 Defender 110


D200 S 110




D200 SE 110 D240 Defender 110


D240 S 110


D240 SE 110


D240 HSE 110


D240 First Edition 110


2.0L Si4 300HP PETROL P300 Defender 110


P300 S 110


P300 SE 110


3.0L i6 400HP PETROL P400 X 110


So there we are, the all new Defender, a Defender for the modern world. Like it or loathe it, there’s no doubt that it will sell and make Jaguar Land Rover plenty of money. It was never going to be an easy task for Land Rover and it was always going to divide opinions. In truth, as I wrote earlier, the old Defender was an outdated design, it was flawed, and no one can deny that, but it was also loved and revered by many. Will the same be said for the new Defender? I hope so, for Land Rovers sake. more at » 54




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SWOLE PANDA CORK & BAMBOO WATCH Featuring sustainable elements in a minimalist design, the Cork and Bamboo Watch offers a subtle touch of stand out style.


It's time to get the puffer jacket out of the back of your wardrobe and give it a rejuvenating wash ready for the winter onslaught, and this handy kit provides everything you'll need. price: £15 more at »

The face is made from eco-friendly bamboo enclosed in a stainless steel body while the strap features beautiful cork with a steel clasp. price: £59.95 more at »

New Stuff we've discovered this month ÜBER MOOSE T-SHIRTS Here at Muddy Towers we love fun designs, and we also like good quality clothing. Put those both together and we get Über Moose t-shirts.

ALPINE SLEEPSOFT EARPLUGS Perfect for camping, travelling and cancelling out your partner's snoring. These earplugs have an average damping (SNR) of 25 dB, which means that disturbing environmental noises are muffled, though you will still hear significantly louder noises such as your alarm clock, doorbell or children. They have extremely soft filters, especially designed for side sleepers and will ensure you, or your partner, will have a restful night's sleep.

Take a look at their designs you won't be disappointed, oh and the All Terrain 4x4x4 T-shirt is on sale (£15 at time of writing), so go a bag yourself a bargain. prices: £22.50 more at »

price: £10.99 more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


GOODS & GEAR F I R EPOD P ORTA B LE STON E B A K E D P I ZZ A OVEN AND GRI LL. A few years ago I was sent a portable stone baked pizza oven and grill to review, and after cooking our first two pizzas in it, the Firepod became an instant favourite. When it arrived my first impression was that no corners had been cut during manufacture, the Firepod oozes quality. At 20kgs it isn’t the lightest of grills, but it’s made from a strong 2mm steel casing which is double most standard BBQs, high-temperature enamel coating and eco-friendly hardwood. It’s sturdy and very robust. Cooking the perfect pizza in the Firepod couldn't be easier, simply attach the gas, light it using the built-in ignition switch and wait 6-10 minutes for it to reach the correct temperature. Once hot enough, slide in your pizza using the pizza peel that comes with the Firepod, close the child proof door to keep the heat in and open a bottle of your favourite tipple while you wait.  Although the heat rises up through the double pizza stones, it’s still worthwhile turning the pizza every couple of minutes or so just to keep it even, and depending on how much topping I've used, I have a tasty pizza ready within 5 minutes.



GOODS & GEAR The Firepod isn’t a one-trick-pony either as there’s also a range of accessories on which pretty much anything can be cooked, from a reversible griddle for breakfasts and BBQs, to a Hot Rock cooking set. (not on website) We have the former, the reversible BBQ and Griddle, which fits neatly into the same slots as the pizza stones and heats up super quick. The team at Firepod have sat down and really thought things through, as the skillet and griddle has double-sided stainless steel handles which, using heat-resistant gloves, you can lift it out to take to a table or drain the fat trough, if required, they can also double up as a stand.  Over the years we’ve really explored the flexibility of the Firepod; in the evening Muddy Madam and I can enjoy some great tasting pizzas and in the morning I use the smooth side of the griddle to create a great full English breakfast. And later, flipping it over to reveal the BBQ style ridged griddle plate, I can sear our steaks and burgers to striped perfection awesome! From making pizzas on the top of the Great Orme and Burghley Horse Trials, to a breakfast fry up on beaches and campsites, the Firepod has been an absolute star and has created some of the best meals we’ve ever had whilst out camping.  Wherever we've stayed it has been quite the talking point too, oozing jealousy from other campers with our perfectly cooked pizzas.

Your standard Firepod is great value, and includes a Firepod oven on short legs, 2 x pizza stones, Pizza peel (paddle), gas regulator and a pair of heat proof gloves, and I’d also recommend buying the Reversible BBQ and Griddle and the heavy duty cover to keep everything in place whilst driving. Firepod price: on sale at £299 (normally £399) more at » There is a big kit that includes everything you can see in the photo to the left, and a Hot Rock Set too! Set price : £488 (normally £708) more at » see the complete set page





GOODS & GEAR W IGWAM C Y P RE SS TRA I L SOCKS These socks are predominately made from cotton which for me (Muddy Madam), is a godsend. I have a big problem finding walking socks as most of them contain a good proportion of wool. Wool is fantastic, it's hard wearing and practical, but seeing as I start itching at the moment of contact with most wools, I need to find a great cotton based alternative. Wigwam themselves say that their Cypress socks deliver the ‘ragg wool look, without the ragg wool itch’. I would agree! I have been using these socks for over a year now, and I can honestly say that they are the most comfy socks I've ever had in my boots. They come in a variety of ordinary and fruity colours, and have cotton to make them soft and breathable, and nylon to make them stretchy and hold shape; exactly what you want from a pair of walking socks. sizes: UK 5-8 / 8-11.5 RRP: £13 buy in the UK at »

ST ORA C ELL B A TTE RY HOLD E RS This handy little product was something that I didn't know I needed, but has since become a vital piece of my travelling equipment, and also something that is in regular use in our house. Great for travelling - PowerPax Storacell Battery Management Systems, to use their Sunday name, came into being because of the FAA's strict flying regulations in the USA, which states that - 'Passengers can carry most consumer-type batteries and portable batterypowered electronic devices for their own personal use in carry-on baggage. Spare batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit.' Which essentially means that you can no longer have spare batteries floating around in your bags, and, in our current electronics-filled life, not having spare batteries can be a pain in the rear. These little plastic holders will save you the annoyance of having your spares confiscated at the airport, and the expense of having to buy more when you land.

Great for the home - At Muddy Towers we use it to keep track of which batteries needs charging, and which we have already charged. Once they've been charged they are put straight in the holder on the desk, and as a bonus, no more batteries rolling around the desk. Available in a variety of battery sizes. prices: from £4.99 more at »

With the bright colours, and sturdy design, there's no more fumbling for batteries that elude you in the bottom of your dark cavernous bag - they even have a glow-in-the-dark version called Moonshine, that has up to 8 hours luminescence. THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


GOODS & GEAR S TAN L EY ADVEN TURE CAM P COOK SET After 12 months of full on use I can honestly say, hand on heart, that Stanley’s Adventure Camp Cook Set is one the best value for money pieces of kit I have. If you look at reviews in past issues you will see a lot of expensive gear, and generally they’re expensive for a good reason - quality. This cooking set comes in below the £20 mark, so it's a refreshing relief for the budget minded. It’s a cooking pot with two cups inside. Ok, it’s a bit more than that, but not much. Remove the vented lid and inside you get two small BPA free insulated cups that are quite thick and robust. Although they’re comfortable to hold and drink from, they only hold around 250ml each, so aren’t the largest. Some people replace them with a single stainless cup, and the saved space allows them to store a hiking stove, utensils, fire starters etc, all inside the pot. Measurements are stamped into the side of the pot, in both ounces (8, 12, 16, 20 oz) and millilitres (237, 355, 473, 591ml), which takes most of the guess work out of preparing freeze dried backpacker type meals and hot drinks. The handle is long enough to offer a good grip and locks into place which makes it safe when pouring hot liquid. It also extends long enough outwards so not to get caught by flames if your fire is a bit on the ferocious side. It can be used over an open fire (sitting on a piece of metal mesh), on a gas burner or alcohol stove, and the only only piece of plastic, apart from the cups, is the handle tag on the lid that locks upright enabling ease of use. If I’m preparing food I’ll usually cook everything in the pot and eat straight from it, but just remember that this is made from 18/8 stainless steel, which is great as it won't rust, but if you have metal cutlery you may get that nasty scraping shudder down your spine, so get yourself a bamboo or plastic spork to ease the pain. Once you’re done, simply put everything back in the pot, replace the lid and swivel the handle over the lid which then locks into place, securing everything inside. Overall I couldn’t be happier with this pot, it’s a really simple bit of kit, the quality and finish are great, and it has Stanley’s lifetime warranty. As I said earlier, for just less than £20 I reckon it’s a real bargain! price: £18-20 buy in the UK at »



GOODS & GEAR S TAN L EY TRIGGER-A CTION TRA VE L M U G After 3 months of constant use, my Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug, giving it its Sunday name, hasn’t disappointed me. With 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free and doublewall vacuum insulation, Stanley reckon it’ll keep fluids hot for 9 hours, cold for 12 hours and 40 hours when iced, all I know is when I’m taking my last gulp around an hour after it’s been filled, it’s kept it at a perfect temperature. So far, it hasn’t leaked once and apart from the Cupra Ateca, it’s slotted into every cup holder in every car I’ve driven since I’ve had it, and that’s around 12 4x4s. Another bonus is that because the lid separates into two pieces with just a slight turning action, it’s really easy to clean. Any problems? None so far, and it’s been in constant use for 3 months now. I will say this though, if you’re used to using a Contigo travel mug then you may find that the trigger that’s mounted on the lid a tad awkward to use, but you’ll soon get use to it. So far I’m struggling to know what else to write, it’s easy to use, easy to clean, it keeps my hot chocolate hot and my water cold and it’s tough as old nails, just as you would expect from Stanley. In fact, I like it so much that I got another one especially to give it away to one lucky reader… price: around £28 more at » buy in the UK »

WIN this Black Stanley Travel Mug Just click this red box, fill in your details and you'll be in with a chance to win, and as a bonus you'll also get the mag sent to your inbox each month



GOODS & GEAR A N EVA Y HOR I Z ON B OX B UN D L E If you’re not aware of Anevay Stoves, they’re the people who brought you the incredibly successful Frontier stove that a lot of other companies seem to be copying these days, and a few years ago they came up with another useful stove, the Horizon. I have so much positive stuff to say about Anevay’s Horizon Stove I could easily fill 4 or more pages, but Muddy Madam has laid down the law and told me I can only have two pages, so here goes… What is it? The Horizon stove is what can be described as a rocket stove in which you feed small pieces of wood through a side opening, and the fire and heat escapes through its central chimney. Running on just a handful of fuel, the Horizon uses gasifying technology to give a smokeless and complete burn with superlow carbon emissions. How does it work? Using the Horizon couldn’t be simpler, you simply set one of the Flamers fire lighters alight, drop it down the chimney and add wood either through the side opening or the chimney - as easy as that. The sturdy design means the Horizon can support very large pots and pans, so you can cook for large groups of people or just yourself. The great thing about the chimney being made from stainless steel is that all the heat is forced upwards and not radiated, thus the speed in which your kettle is boiled, meal cooked is increased. Another benefit is that the orange framework that surrounds it remains cool to the touch, so if you really need to handle the stove whilst cooking, you can. It goes without saying that carrying a lit stove is dangerous, so be careful! If I’m making a quick meal or boiling some water for a brew I guess it could be done quicker using an MSR Windburner Stove or a JetBoil, but then I would have to spend a fiver on gas cartridges that would only end up on a landfill site, and they aren’t as much fun! 64



What's in the bundle… The folks at Anevay have created a box bundle which contains an Horizon stove, obviously, a 10” spun iron frying pan from Netherton Foundry here in the UK, a box of Flamers fire starters and a bag of kindling. What really sells the package for me is that all items are contained in a sturdy wooden box that’s perfect for storing away in your 4x4 or trailer. Could it be improved? As brilliant the Horizon Box Bundle is, I had to make an improvement to the wooden box. The first thing I did was to buy a simple cam strap to keep the lid on whilst green-laning, I wouldn’t want it to topple over and everything to fall out. The second improvement was to fit two wood partitions in the box. This was because I don’t need to carry 100 pieces of kindling and a box full of firelighters with me all the time, so I found an old plastic box in which I filled with kindling and fire starters. This slots nicely at the opposite end to the Horizon, and in the centre there’s now space for cutlery, a kettle, plates an axe and small foldable saw. I’ve used the Horizon bundle for a couple of years now, and it continues to be an easy and practical kit to use. I love the idea that everything can fit into the one box, it’s made life so much easier when planning and packing for a day out on the lanes, or just to the beach. price: £185.00 more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


Head to our Mud Life shop for loads of great stuff.





For our trip to Marquenterre last month, Robens kindly sent us a pair of their Peta chairs to try out and review, and I’m rather glad they did, as after travelling for just over 7 hours I needed somewhere comfortable to sit whilst partaking in a pint of Guinness or two. The Peta features a sturdy aluminium frame that both opens and closes within seconds. The frame is wrapped with soft padding for comfort and insulation during cold evenings and a highly breathable centre fabric for warmer days. The material is 600D 100% polyester and is soft to the touch with reinforced fabric corners for long life. To compensate for uneven ground the Peta has individually adjustable legs and wide feet that adds to the stability on soft ground, whether that’s grass, soft sand or even a pebble beach. Peta also has a fully adjustable backrest which employs the typical mechanism you find on traditional deckchairs, lift up the armrests and either lean back or pull forward. Even with my 6ft 2” and 19 stone frame the Peta is wide enough and offers great back support whilst either in a laid back position or sat upright whilst eating at a table. At nearly 6kg the Peta isn’t the lightest of chairs, nor the smallest, as it does take up a 65.5 x 94 x 8cm space when packed down, but by ‘eck they’re comfy, and if you have a large car the size doesn’t matter at all. Being part of their luxurious Outback furniture range for 2019, Robens has paid close attention to detail and have created versatile, practical and very comfortable chair that feels like it’ll last a long, long time. Overall I love it! RRP: £109.99 (we recommend you shop around, as we've seen it at a much more competitive price)

more at »




hen Andrew from Ardent Off-Road asked if I would be interested in joining him on a weekends green-laning trip with a couple of other Jeep Renegade owners around Yorkshire, my obvious answer was yes, and within moments of that I was on the phone to Jeep UK for a Renegade Trailhawk to borrow. Meeting up in a carpark in Leyburn I was greeted by Libby and Andrew from Ardent Off-Road in their Defender 110. They would’ve been in their new JL Wrangler but it was loaned out to a couple who wanted to tour the Balkans. Next I was introduced to Paul in his red Renegade that’s been heavily breathed on Storm Jeeps (check out our Reader’s Rides for more details), and another Paul with his JK Wrangler, again breathed on by Storm. On the subject of Storm Jeeps, that’s who arrived next, Mike and wife Linda in their green customised Renegade and Andy in one of their heavily modified JKs, in fact it’s quite a rare Recon model that you can find for sale on their website. Looking at the collection of Jeeps that had been breathed on by Mike and Andy I couldn’t help but think the Trailhawk, albeit modified over the standard version, looked a little out of place!

Renegade Masters Lane 1 With Andrew and Libby in the lead we left Leyburn and made our way towards our first lane, TrailWise2 reference, SD9383-03 just on the south side of Semerwater. It’s an easy lane to drive with a solid stone base that takes you over to the B6160, however, we weren’t on it for long as within a couple of hundred yards we took a sharp right onto our second lane, SD9185-05, Bob Lane.

Lane 2 Although it’s quite easy going at the top, Bob Lane has a few rocky sections with steep steps around the middle. I say steep, Deux Smurf would’ve straddled them with ease, but the Renegade Trailhawk and I required expert guidance from Andrew who had jumped out of the 110 to keep a watchful eye on everyone. Careful on the braking and watching his hand signals I traversed the steps with ease. There was the odd crunch from underneath the Renegade as I couldn’t avoid some of the larger rocks that were strewn across the lane, but nothing too bad, besides, they always sounds worse that they actually are, don’t they? It’s at this point that I’m going to admit to a schoolboy error. Because Deux Smurf is a 1996 Toyota Surf she doesn’t have any of the fancy electrics that modern 4x4s have - like Hill Descent Control. In the Renegade I engaged low box, selected 1st and wondered why there was no engine braking, yeah, I’d forget to engage Hill Descent Control! 68


Lane 3 Driving through Stalling Busk we were heading towards Busk Lane, SD908602. This is another lane I haven’t driven before. The descent was quite narrow with branches encroaching the lane but the surface looks to have been graded recently with some demon ‘V’ shaped drainage steps. What makes Busk Lane interesting are the two water crossings that after heavy rainfall in winter can become quite swollen and dangerous, even washing away the normally rocky and solid base. However, despite the monsoon rainfall we had the day previous, both water runs were fairly shallow and driven with ease. It was only when I checked Trailwise 2 for it’s reference number that I learnt it passes through a Wildlife Trust Reserve, which is why it was teaming with birds, which was nice to see. The only thing to be aware of are the flies, there were thousands of them surrounding the vehicles, you couldn’t drive with the windows open, and if you’re driving a soft top, well don’t.



Lane 4 Driving from south to north, Busk Lane brings you out at Marsett and from there it was a short drive to our next lane, High Cam Road, or SD8685-02. Also known as Roman Road, and as you'd expect with a name like that it’s a very straight gravel and rock based track. there’s normally great views to be had, but as we climbed the rain and low clouds moved in to spoil everything. I’ve driven High Cam quite a few times, and although it’s been graded a little near the top, it remains a joy to drive and of course the Trailhawk Renegade behaved impeccably.

Lane 5 Our next lane was to be West Cam Road which covers both SD8283-03 and SD848601 references, but I remembered the last time I drove it, which was in January, there was one particular sloppy bit that a P38 Range Rover couldn’t manage to drive through due to deep ruts, so I decided not to bother and meet them at the bottom. It transpired that since my last visit the council had graded that section with lots of stone, so it was passable after all, hey ho. From Hawes we headed back towards Leyburn on the A684 and called into Fairhurst’s at Berry's Farm Shop & Cafe for a spot of lunch and a chat, and very nice it was too.



Lane 6

Lane 7

With our stomachs full we followed Libby and Andrew through Leyburn and headed out towards our next lane, SE0997-02. There aren’t any photos here due to how narrow it was and the amount of bloomin’ flies that surrounded the Renegade again, there was no chance I was getting out, or even opening the window!

NZ0603-02 was the most challenging lane so far. Heading from east to west we began our descent, and again I did my best at avoiding holes, steps and rocks. This time I pressed the Renegade’s Hill Descent Control button which made this section much, much easier to negotiate.

It became more overgrown the further along we drove, and eventually leading to a ford at the bottom, which was quite shallow. Exiting brought with it a few bumps from underneath the Renegade with football sized rocks strewn across the track, but as I said earlier, they always sound worse. To our left a little further along we had a great view of the Iron Age hill fort (which is a scheduled monument) which by all accounts is a rare thing in the north of England as most are found down south. Cordilleras Lane over Marske Moor, which would eventually take us to our penultimate green lane, was fun with lots of narrow bends with ups and downs, I couldn’t help but think it would be even better if I was driving a Caterham!

After a 100 yards or so the rocky lane suddenly veers left as we head down towards another water crossing. I ease the Renegade down another steep step and there’s a scrape from underneath, but it’s fine, what I’ve learnt so far about this diminutive 4x4 is that with its Trailhawk badge it really is trail tested and has certainly proven that it can punch above it’s weight. I check my mirror and watch as Paul tackles the same step in his Renegade, but all is fine due to the extra lift and rock-sliders. We all paused for a moment to take a few photos as Libby drove the 110 through the ford and up the other side. Our instructions were to hang on for a bit as Libby made her way back down by foot as she would direct us all around the hairpin bend just above the water crossing. As I was the first vehicle behind Libby and Andrew I eased



the Renegade through the ford and towards the hairpin which also included a couple of gnarly steps, you know, just to make life interesting. With a small shunt the little Renegade made it round, and with Libby’s advice of keep to the right as I scrambled up the other side I did just that until I lost traction. Knowing about modern 4x4s I kept on the throttle until the mighty Renegade found traction and inched forward over the wet protruding rocks. There were a few more crunches from underneath and I did my best to ignore them! Looking further up the lane my heart suddenly sank as I noticed the rocks were much taller and sporadically placed along the narrow lane, and with the realisation that I was in a press car which I didn’t want to damage. So far the Renegade Trailhawk had done a remarkable job of keeping up with the modified Jeeps, but was this a lane too far? Speed and momentum at this point was steady as I lurched from side to side with crunches coming from all manner of places. The Renegade slid sideways, found traction, lifted a wheel, and another one, I was, if I’m honest, bricking it, but I had no option to drive on. As the lane narrowed and the rocks protruding from the wet dirt became taller and more aggressive, in front of me was a step, quite a steep one. Because I wasn’t sure whether the front bib would clear it I slowed down a tad, and as the front wheels drove over the step I lost



momentum and as the rears failed to follow they scrambled for grip and began sliding to the left away from the banking. It was then when I head another clunk, this time I was grounded on the rear section of the sill, just in front of the rear near-side wheel. I told everyone via the radio that I was stuck, got out and proceeded to do some road building. Fortunately I noticed a large slab of stone which, after I placed it behind the rear near-side tyre which when reversed over would lift the Jeep up and off the sill. I then scrambled around looking of decent sized stones to then build up the step. Satisfied with my work I reversed around a foot backwards onto the large slab which lifted us off the sill, as I predicted, and drove forward carrying a little more speed than I would have liked, but I needed the momentum. With a bit more scrambling the Renegade made it to a safer spot where I stopped for a breather and to watch the rest of the convoy. Sorry, no photos of this either as I was a bit busy to say the least! It was Paul’s turn next in his red Storm Jeep logo’d Renegade and with a steady throttle, suspension lift and a few other goodies he made it without too much drama. Mike and Linda in the green Renegade were next, but had reported earlier that they were having issues with their low box, but under Libby’s watchful eye, and again better ground clearance and more aggressive tyres, they managed just fine. Andy and Paul took up the rear in their modified Wranglers and made it look like a walk in the park as they simply crawled and flexed up the section of the lane that nearly gave me a bloomin’ coronary!



Lane 8 Our final lane of the day was the famous Fremmington Edge, NZ040002. Driving from north to south was easy on wide open gravel track which appeared to have had some work done on it recently, I’m guessing to fill in some of the holes. By the time we reached the next gate which signals the steep descent, the weather had cleared up and gave us a spectacular view across the valley for which the lane is famous for. Heading down, 4x4s without much ground clearance, such as me, need to be vigilant as there’s some more large rocks and tall water run-off sections which can make the going tough. Again, if I was in Deux Smurf I wouldn’t be even mentioning it. Not far down there’s quite a number sharp jagged rocks protruding from the lane which need to be taken seriously as I think it’s where I damaged both near-side wheels and tyres on the Renegade, which I only noticed the following morning. I got out a few times to move the odd boulder to the side so I could continue driving, ok, large rocks, but boulders sound more dramatic.

As the lane turned to tarmac it signalled the end of a fantastic days green-laning, and the only other drama was along the very narrow lane heading down towards Reeth, Andy in the heavily modified JK Wrangler succumbed to a side-wall puncture. As part of the off-roading weekend offered by Ardent off-Road, we stayed the night in the lovely Black Swan hotel in the centre of Helmsley, though at extra cost. After a great nights sleep and a hearty breakfast, the plan was to leave at 9.00am and continue green-laning until around 4.00pm, or when the planned route is completed. 74


Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, during my morning check over of the Renegade I noticed that I had damaged both nearside wheels and had taken chunks out of both tyres, so I reckoned it would be a whole lot safer if I didn’t join them, especially as the Trailhawk didn’t come with a spare tyre of any sort, so I waved my farewells as the group drove off without me.



Three things worthy of a mention... First up, the Renegade Trailhawk did an absolutely amazing job on some fairly gnarly green lanes, only being let down by the standard tyres and the buffoon behind the wheel. If I had a Renegade there would be no doubt at all that I would drive it over to Mike and Andy at Storm Jeeps in Hull and get them to give it a lift, side bars and a set of new wheels and tyres. Which links seamlessly onto Storm Jeeps. What a fantastic job they’ve done, creating not only some awesome looking Jeeps, but they also put their money where their mouth is and use them regularly for off-road adventures, both in the UK and abroad. They also look after Ardent’s JL Wrangler that is used pretty much full-time on 4x4 tours. Last, but not least, Ardent Off-Road, I have to say a massive thank you to Andrew for inviting me along on this well organised 4x4 weekend adventure. If you’re uncertain of where to drive legally and want to venture to different parts of the UK, an organised tour with Ardent Off-Road is a perfect way to explore safely and in great company. For more details of up and coming adventures, check out their website -

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When it comes to the UK Jeep scene there’s one name that stands above the rest, and that’s, and for good reason too.

That was back in 1997 and Mike freely admits that it was purely intended for summer fun, but lurking in the background in their workshop they still have it.

I first met Mike and son Andy during their 12th annual Jeepey Jamboree at Carlton Towers, Yorkshire, which was featured in last month's issue. We met for the second time during a 4x4 tour organised by Ardent Off-Road. On both occasions they were keen to show off their highly modified range of Jeeps, from the Renegade to both JK and JL Wranglers, so I popped over to their workshop in Hull to learn more about them.

A few years later in 2000, after Andy had began his engineering degree in the aerospace industry, him and his Dad began going to local Jeep events and Andy started to spend all of his apprenticeship wages on parts and mods for the little red TJ. They then bought an old 2-door Range Rover, then an old Series 3 and began trailing at their local off-road site. At this point Andy saw the advantages of the Jeep over the over the Series 3 with its straight six engine and removable roof, and it was then that Mike and Andy decided to set up their own club, Jeepey. com (Jeep East Yorkshire).

Their foray into the Jeep business began back in the late 1990s when Linda, Mike’s wife sent him out to buy either a Ford Galaxy or a Chrysler Voyager to tow their caravan, but after visiting his local Jeep dealer he arrived home with a Jeep Cherokee. Not long after, as a family they visited a caravan park that had a 4x4 pay and play site attached, Andy, who was 15 at the time, encouraged his Dad to ‘have a go’! So after paying for some tuition and driving around the 4x4 course the off-road bug sunk it’s teeth deeply and firmly into both both Mike and Andy. In fact, it bit so hard that Mike returned to the Jeep dealership and traded the Cherokee in for a little red TJ Jeep and a Volkswagen Polo for Linda. 78


It didn’t take long for to gain a strong and faithful following, and as well as a forum they began organising 4x4 tours all over the UK and even Europe. Whilst exhibiting at the Indoor 4x4 Show they were approached by Crown Automotive who supply replacement parts for Jeep and asked if they would be interested in selling Jeep parts to group members.


They did, and quite quickly the list of products they were selling started to grow, from serviceable parts to suspension kits. It transpired that there was a need in the UK for quality Jeep parts, and consequently grew from strength to strength supplying replacement and aftermarket parts for the Jeep range via both the club and Ebay.

Throughout those 18 years, Andy continued to modify and drive his red TJ and establish himself as a well respected driver within the Jeep fraternity. He also bought and modified Jeeps to sell on, and because of his reputation he was regularly commissioned by owners to modify their own vehicles.




In 2016 Andy left his job to work full time within the business, and due to more customers requesting modified JKs, they decided to separate the business, and in 2017 Storm Jeeps was launched to capitalise on the modifications and custom builds they were frequently being asked to produce.



JEEPEY / STORM JEEPS It was important for Andy to be one of the first, if not the first company in the UK to get a handle on the new Wrangler JL that came out earlier this year. With this in mind he went to the SEMA show in America, not only to immerse himself in the American Jeep modification industry, but also to create new contacts and experience what the new Wrangler can tackle in extreme off-road conditions. Consequently Storm Jeeps where the first company in the UK to very quickly get into the JL market and pride themselves as the UK market leaders as far as JL modifications are concerned. Offering Jeep Wrangler and Renegade Custom Conversions and Vehicle Sales: 01482 666491

Not only will you see Storm Jeeps scattered around the UK in one form or another, but Mike and Andy have also exported their builds to Italy, Cyrus, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In fact quite a few of their overseas customers will deliver their to pride and joys to them for modification and collect them when they’re completed. It isn’t all about the Wrangler either, Storm Jeeps are a dab-hand at modifying other Jeeps, especially the Renegade. Ardent Off-Road have used one their modified Renegades for years until they sold it to one of their customers (See Paul - Reader’s Rides). Ardent Off-Road now run a Storm Jeep JL which doesn’t have an easy life having done 20k miles within 6 months. Not only that, Russ from Ard Ventures uses a Storm JK for his tours and training days, Mike and Andy couldn’t wish for a better test of their vehicles. In fact, not only are their Renegades and Wranglers built to handle the worst off-road conditions, but they pride themselves on their excellent on-road manners too. So what does the future hold for Storm Jeeps and Jeepey? Watch this space, soon they’ll be branching out to modifying Ford Rangers and the new Suzuki Jimny. It makes sense really, they have great relationships with aftermarket manufacturers and of course the knowledge and skill to create reliable and competent modified 4x4s. Let’s not forget the Jeep Renegade, there are lots coming on to the 2nd and 3rd hand market which are just begging for a Storm Jeep makeover! Mike and Andy are also looking to create tailor made Jeepey tours in 2020 for new and existing Storm Jeep owners as well as their organising their annual Jeepey Jamboree which has so far raised over £20k for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

One-stop shop for Jeep parts, spares and accessories. Jeepey supply market-leading parts, spares and accessories for all Jeep models from 1942 onwards

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Is it all rosy with the Jimny? I was going to write this as a normal vehicle review, but if you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’ve already written one in our very first issue of The Mud Life, so instead I’ll simply tell you about our week together. Before I do that, let me first explain that during the Suzuki Jimny’s launch last year I only got to drive the manual 5-speed Jimny, and although overall I concluded that it was a great little 4x4 with amazing off-road ability, it was only let down by two things, its lack of a 6-speed gearbox for better on-road performance and better tyres. When I say performance by the way, I don’t mean speed and acceleration, I mean comfort and cruisability. How does the SZ5 automatic compare? For the first couple of days we meandered around Bolton, a bit of shopping here, some commuting there, and overall the automatic gearbox worked really well. It wasn’t the smoothest of gear changes, but it was good enough, and around town the automatic is quite nippy and works very well. However, to give it a proper test I decided to load it up with some bits and pieces and set forth to t'hills, as we say in Lancashire. Our first proper day out comprised of a trip to Holmfirth and explore some of the lanes



that I’ve driven previously, but to get there I had to negotiate the A6024, or Woodhead Pass. If you aren’t aware of the Woodhead Pass, it’s a doozy of a road that connects Manchester and Sheffield in the Peak District and reaches a maximum altitude of 1486ft. This means that in Winter it can be closed due to snow

or high winds, it also means that it’s a very steep, narrow and twisty road is not only fun to drive, when there’s no other traffic around, but a great test for the little Zook. The lil’ Jimny did well considering the steepness, though on occasions it would hold onto its gear a little too long, and when it dropped down a cog or two it did so without subtly and was quite vocal!

Lane 1

Arriving at our first green-lane, The Old Gate Track, or if you’re a GLASS member with access to Trailwise 2, SE1005-05. It’s challenging and narrow with deep diagonal holes that test the Zook’s suspension. Engaging low box first gear we eased the Jimny down on tick-over and it managed the holes with ease, its coils springs flexing as they should, but diminutive wheels and tyres were left hanging in the air. Sometime auto boxes and down hill sections don’t work well together, but this did just fine.



Lane 2

When you reach the bottom turn right and you’re on Rake Head Road and KilnBent Road, SE1005-06. A dirt track with wide puddles in places, it can be driven easily enough in a ’normal’ 2wd car as it allows access to a fishing club and eventually Ramsden Road. The Jimny’s supple suspension worked well here and doesn’t pitch half as much as you think it would.



Lane 3

As you drive over the dam, turn left and you see a house, opposite that is the western side of Ramsden Road which begins with a narrow rocky climb between the stone walls, and in low box Drive the Jimny soaked it all up. We stopped for a moment as the road opens up just before the first right hand bend as a young lady wrestled with around 8 or 9 dogs she was walking. Remaining in low box and staying in Drive we negotiated the first rocky bit, and with the high driving position and short, flat and stubby bonnet I was able to place the Zook exactly where I wanted. Apart from being lurched from side to side on a couple of occasions we managed fine, and without any wheel spin. On the subject of wheel spin, the next section is what makes Ramsden Lane famous, a tight 90 degree turn with quite a deep water channel that’s deep enough to swallow most things. I needn’t have worried, as I threaded the Jimny into the hole there was that initial rocking sensation you get when one or more wheels are in the air. Jumping out to take the obligatory photo we were passed by around 5 trial bikes and a mountain biker, it’s a popular road. Going back to the beginning of the year, the local council put an experimental TRO on it, but it was soon revoked due to user pressure. If you’re driving it please be careful as it’s still a sensitive route so please drive with care and restraint.

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Lane 4

When you reach the end of Ramsden Lane you end up at a crossroad, and carrying straight on takes you onto Cartworth Moor Road, SE1305-02, which is wide open dirt track that can be driven in a normal car. Reaching the end brings with it another crossroad, be careful here as it’s a bit of a blind exit.

Lane 5

Again, carrying straight on leads you onto Ward Bank Road or SE1306-02 which offers some some great views as you pass the farm on the left. The base is quite solid, but the further north you drive the surface turns into loose rocks then after a kink in the lane returns to hard packed dirt.



Lane 6

Our next lane, Scar End Lane was around a 10 minute drive away through Holmfirth and is accessed off Scar Hole Lane. I’ve driven this lane a few times, but only from east to west, which is downhill. Driving upwards in the Jimny wasn’t a problem, it was a lovely day and the dirt base was dry and therefore traction was never an issue. Around half way up we came across the occasional small rock to negotiate, and although it’s tempting to peer at the stunning views to your left over to New Mill and beyond, keep a watchful eye on the lane as it can get a bit narrow at times.

And that was it, time to head back to Muddy Towers via Huddersfield and a bite to eat. The little Jimny excelled at everything I pointed it at, and the auto box was a joy to use whilst green-laning, all I did was select D and concentrate on avoiding holes and boulders.

However, my testing wasn’t finished there as the following day I had planned to drive up to the Lake District and explore few more lanes. And for that dear readers, you’ll have to wait for next month's issue.




Burghley Horse Trials 2019 2019 marks our sixth visit to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on the trot (not sorry, more of these to come), and I always feel a sense of occasion when we arrive. In case you aren’t aware, it’s one of only six 3-day eventing competitions in the world that includes dressage, cross country and show jumping. which attracts some of the most influential riders and followers in the world of eventing, you could say it has a ‘colt’ following - sorry, again. Today's Burghley Horse Trials is a far cry from the inaugural event which took place more than 50 years ago with just 19 competitors in front of a mere 12,000 people. These days, throughout the four days, over 160,000 people visit more than 600 carefully selected exhibitors and watch an average of 80 of the world’s top competitors competing to win a prize fund of £250,000; how time moves on! Land Rover Burghley is not solely a sporting occasion, which suits me, as it’s the outdoor and 4x4 theme that I’m interested in. My theory is, if a product can survive the horsey environment, then it can stand up to ours, so with that in mind, after Muddy Madam and Muddy Madam senior ‘bolted’ off to watch the horses, I 'trotted' off to gander around the 600 stalls. The first thing I spotted was the huge Land Rover stand, which makes sense really as they are the main sponsor, but what made it more interesting was that they had the all-new Defender on show. As it was before the official launch it was up on a pedestal under the watchful eye of a couple of security men. After chatting to a few of the stall holders, some of who you may see soon in our product review pages, I 90


made my way down to the Land Rover Experience Terrapod which seems to become more elaborate every year wowing the spectators and participants alike. I’ve seen this at many shows in the past, and I always smile when people in the queue are aghast at what these vehicles are capable of. The likes of you and me would be like, "Pah, that’s nowt, you should’ve seen the angle I was at last week." It always amuses me to listen to people who are either queueing or walking past, "Look, it’s going to tip over!" "You’ll never get me on that!" I actually heard one Dad walk past saying that it was too dangerous and scary - please! The weather remained ‘stable’, and I was I was ‘spurred’ on by the thought of walking around the food village to see, and sample, the many tasty morsels that were on offer. Seriously, I could’ve spent a fortune. Later on in the afternoon I thought I’d better make my way into the main arena for some horsey action, well it was the final event after all! If I’m completely honest, horse jumping is a bit like football for me, I have absolutely no interest in it. However, I’m happy to watch skilled sports people do what they do best, and at Burghley, these guys and gals are the best of the best, and their horses are amazing too. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I felt enriched just watching them, the experience is quite amazing.



Muddy Madam's Trials Report As someone who had the good fortune to have a pony who loved to jump when I was younger, the show jumping aspect of Burghley is the part of the 3 days that really floats my boat. The chance to watch the best riders in the world, on beautiful horses, negotiating the difficult fences and tricky stride lengths, all to a limited time is one of the highlights of my year. Each year I cheer on the Brits, but the home advantage doesn't always help. Since 2010 only 2 British riders have won Burghley, with New Zealanders topping the bill with a whopping 5 wins between 3 riders, and out of them only one woman, so when I arrived on the Sunday morning and saw that 7 out of the top 10 on day 2 were Brits, and that Pippa Funnell and Piggy French were leading the pack, I was ecstatic. Ahead of the final show jumping session there was an emotional standing ovation as one of the horse world's great names, Sir Mark Todd, chose Burghley to officially retire from eventing. He rode into the arena on his London 2012 team bronze medal-winning ride, NZB Campino. I won't go into all the details as this is a car based magazine, not Horse and Hound, but I will say that the final was the most gripping end to the competition that I've seen. The final show jumping round goes in reverse with the event leader going last which means it can be won or lost by the final rider. If you don't know how show jumping works, there are 3 ways to get faults - knock a fence down or refuse a fence and you get 4 faults, and you can get time faults for going over the the allocated time, so when I tell you there was only half a point between the final 3 riders (scoring for the other 2 days is done differently), only one mistake can cause an upset. The top three riders were so far ahead of the others that they could afford to topple 3 fences each, and still stay 1st, 2nd & 3rd, but between them there was no leeway as there was only hals a point between first and third. As Brit, and 2017 winner, Oliver Townend and his horse Ballaghmor Class headed into the ring in third place the tension was high, and when the 92


second fence toppled an audible gasp rang through the crowd. Next up another British favourite Piggy French, riding Vanir Kamira, the same horse on who she won the Badminton Horse Trials earlier in the year. Piggy, who has never won Burghley, had to keep her cool, and going in she knew that, with Oliver's mistake, she had one fence in hand. The hush descended again, only to be immediately broken when a pole dropped on the first fence. She managed to keep it together for the rest of the jumps, and finished knowing that she definitely had second place in the bag, and that first was still a possibility. In rode Pippa Funnell, who last won Burghley back in 2003. She had led the 2019 event from day one, and the win was hers to take as long as she got no more than 4 faults. All was fine until her horse MGH Grafton decided to take down fence 8 in dramatic style. The sound of dismay that rose from the spectators was just as dramatic. With my own fingers crossed, and my heart pounding through my chest, I watched the final few jumps. Utilising her years of experience, Pippa helped her horse recompose, and faultlessly jump the remaining fences, matching both Oliver and Piggy with 4 faults, and win the event. The crowd roared with applause. She received her trophy, and prize money from The Countess of Wessex. In defeat Piggy kindly said of Pippa: "Such a legend and nobody deserves this more. She's my hero." After the mad frenzy of interviews and official photographs of the winners and runners up was over, Muddy Madam and Muddy Madam senior and I wandered back to the Volvo V60 that I had on test. Overlooked by Burghley House, we basked in the evening warmth and reflected on what was another ‘event-full’ day at Burghley. As we watched the exodus from the car park, we set up the Firepod, and began cooking our pizzas, much to the admiration of the passing onlookers. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have much interest in horses or eventing, and horses always remind me of something that’s probably more expensive to keep than a fleet of 4.6 P38 Range Rovers, but you don’t have to like horses to enjoy Burghley, it’s the atmosphere, the people, the occasion, it’s such a nice show to visit that I’m already looking forward to next year's offering. Soon it was time to pack up and head off home before it was ‘pasture’ bedtimes (last one, I promise!) more at » THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


acebook Page of the Month Once, not so long ago, if you wanted to catch up with like minded enthusiasts, you’d join a forum. It appears these days however that Facebook has taken over the mantle for the place to go for information. So, in the aptly titled ‘Facebook Page of the Month’ every month I will invest hours of time, effort and energy searching Facebook for interesting and relevant groups so you don’t have to. It’s serious work, or so I tell Muddy Madam!


If you, or your group, would like to be featured as FB Page of the Month send us a quick email to: The Mud Life is on Facebook too: 94


WHO STARTED IT & WHY? The group was started about a year ago now by the three of us (Harvey, Thomas and James) whilst at an overland show that just didn't check all the boxes for us. Sort of said "hey we could do some meet ups better". We decided it would be dedicated to overland travel, wild camping and just getting outside. We made this group so

everyone we know, or meet, can share photos, ideas or join in on our outings. We also map our routes and upload them to the wikiloc for anybody to use and follow in our adventures. It's encouraged for our members to share their best loved tracks and routes with us, in order for our wikiloc to become the 'go to’ for the best, beautiful and most exciting routes around the UK and Europe.



HOW MANY MEMBERS SO FAR? An average meet brings about 20 or so trucks, sometimes more sometimes less, depending on weather. Overall membership is at around 760 and growing.

CAN MEMBERS ORGANISE THEIR OWN TRIPS? We actually actively encourage members to host their own trips, and use the group to invite others on their outings. It is kind of the core focus of it all, a Collective of Adventurers.

AREA? Everywhere!

If you’re ever going out or have a weekend free, the goal is to be able to put up a post on the group, and find some folks to come along!

ARE THERE PUB MEETINGS? We have done a pub meeting at Caffeine & Machine, Ettington, it was actually their first club meet, but it turned out rather bland, still was a good time for those who managed to make it out.



Worldwide overlanders telling adventure stories around a fire and planning long adventures with each other, thats the focus, with the added excuse to show off each other's vehicles and gear.



Sentimental Scenic

by Richard Myers


he Renault Scenic RX4 is a funny old creature,

falling firmly into the bracket of ‘just too darned crazy for the time’. Along with the likes of the Fiat Multipla, Rover Streetwise and the Isuzu Vehicross, it was either way too early for the buying public at the time, or was such a weird concept that nobody really got it! All of the above were actually pretty decent cars, but unloved and often ridiculed at the time. The Multipla’s crazy bug eyes and 3 seats up front design is now a firm cult favourite, and the Rover Streetwise was a decade too early, after all who now hasn’t got a soft roader in their line up? The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a hugely successful Streetwise clone. Renault can be credited with starting the whole family MPV thing, with the original Espace back in 1985, which is a rare beast these days, and can change hands for eye wateringly huge sums, especially the Quadra 4x4 version. Always pushing boundaries, Renault came up with the Megane Scenic. Again a car designed from the ground up with families in mind, rather than a van with windows and extra seats. The early Scenics were marketed as a trim level of the Megane saloon/ hatch range, not as a model in it’s own right. Even on this 2003 RX4, Megane badging can still be seen faintly on the rear C pillars. The Scenic was an instant hit, selling zillions across Europe 98


and the UK. It kick started the MPV revolution and prompted Citroën to jump on the bandwagon with the Picasso, closely followed by every other major manufacturer. By the late 90s, 4x4s were the in thing. Even Mondeo 4x4s were available, and Renault needed to keep up. Hence the RX4 was born as a pumped up Scenic, with a permanent 4 wheel drive system by Austrian company Steyr-Daimler Puch. Unfortunately Puch used quite new technology available at the time, the viscous centre coupling with rubber propshaft donuts to transfer drive to all 4 wheels; not dissimilar to the system in the first Freelanders, and, as per the Freelander, it was rushed into production to meet the rapidly rising demand. We all know how well that turned out for the Freelander! The two cars, while intrinsically decent vehicles, suffered from temperamental drivetrains that were so sensitive to minute outside factors, such as different makes of tyre, or millimetres of difference in tread depth, that could ultimately lead to catastrophic 4x4 system failure. RX4 sales never set the world on fire, in any country, resulting in a very short production run between 2000 and 2003. Was it too soon? Was it too complex? Was it too unreliable? Was the world ready for it’s moon buggy look’s? In reality it was probably a combination of all these factors.

These days it is getting increasingly rare to find a Mk1 Freelander still in it’s original 4x4 configuration. Most adverts state ‘rear propshaft removed for economy’ - rubbish, it’s due to the viscous coupling failing. It’s exactly the same with the RX4, and parts, as they get scarce, are getting expensive. I’ve had a few over the years, and when looking for this one, went to see 5 others, all advertised as 4x4, but as soon as I looked underneath, every one without exception, had no rear propshaft. The majority of sellers were genuinely unaware but I wanted a working 4x4 system. Eventually this one turned up at the opposite end of the country, obviously, but a deal was agreed over the phone and a train duly hopped on. What appealed about this particular one was that the owner had a big pile of receipts, including a main dealer one, for a new replacement rear drive system. A quick test drive and shufty underneath confirmed everything was OK. It was nearly as described, yes it did have loads of tread on the tyres, but I didn’t think to ask how old they were; tuWrns out they were originals and had cracks the size of the Grand Canyon! Still, the deal was done and I headed home, slowly! The 300 miles on the motorway quickly showed up the u/s front wheelbearings which were screaming by the time I got back. Eventually new tyres, cambelt, service and both wheelbearings cost nearly twice as much as the whole car, but all in all it’s still very cheap and all working, for now!



As a family bus, it feels little more than a lifted Scenic. Everything from the driver’s perspective is identical, even the 4x4 system (when it’s there) is totally autonomous, needing zero driver input. Having run one side by side with a Freelander Mk1, I can conclusively say it actually outperforms the little Land Rover. Sorry fans of the green oval, but it’s simply down to the slightly better ground clearance of the RX4. The rest of the system is virtually identical, but when the Freelander gets hung up on ruts, the RX4 has that little bit more clearance to keep going. Approach and departure angle are better on the RX4, and axle articulation look’s to be the same on both cars. Tyre sizes are the same as well. There was obviously some copying going on somewhere. Where the Freelander wins these days is the enthusiast and spares back up network. The RX4 will never have the same following in the UK, and certain RX4 only parts are getting very expensive.

Engine wise they only ever came in 1.9 DCi & 2.0i petrol. Both engines feel a little underwhelming in the RX4; the diesel being particularly sluggish. This has been the case in everyone I’ve owned, and makes me wonder if Renault detuned it for some reason, or that maybe the 4x4 system drains an awful lot of power. Side by side the 2.0 petrol is marginally more nippy, and during normal day to day driving, slightly better mpg. The Diesel wins on torque though, and is a top choice for towing. There’s a handful of trim levels, including full leather interior and twin electric sunroofs. The rear tailgate is a another one of those crazy French designs, with an upwards opening rear window and side hinged main door. The parcel shelf doesn’t lift up with the rear window, so you have to open the main door anyway! There’s a lot of plastic on the back end, and with the spare wheel sticking out so far, they often get bashed, cracking various bits of the surrounding mouldings. The spare wheel itself is usually a steel one as, again weirdly, the plastic cover doesn’t fit over any of the standard Renault alloy wheels, so it’s a case of alloy wheel and no cover, or steel and wheel cover. Must’ve seemed a wizard idea at the time! With such a short production run, and the temperamental 4x4 system killing off so many so quickly, the RX4 is rapidly going the way of the dodo, not only in the UK, but across Europe. As it heads towards extinction, the enthusiast movement is starting to take more and more notice of them. There’s already a very active UK Facebook enthusiast page plus a couple more for international fans. This time last year there were a couple of dozen for sale on Ebay, Gumtree and Autotrader, but as I write this, there’s only one, and it’s for spares or repair, with no rear propshaft! 100


If quirky cars make you smile, this has to be near the top of the list. When they do work, they are comfy, fun and incredibly versatile family buses. An RX4 was the car my newborn twins came home from hospital in l those years ago, so can vouch for their family credentials.

Sentimental reasons are why I sought out this particular car recently. Our original one coped superbly with Lake District winters and muddy fields, plus the school run for years. Nowadays it will be used sparingly and subject to a mild makeover fixing a few bits of broken trim and refreshing the paintwork.

If you want a robust 4x4 for everyday use I’d be a bit hesitant to recommend an RX4, knowing how fragile they can be, but just for the sheer pleasure of owning a very different and rare 4x4, with a bit of mild green-laning thrown in, not many things raise as much of a smile.



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In last month's issue, Richard wrote about how he collected an M-Sport Ford Ranger from Belfast and delivered it to Guernsey, and that got me thinking.


oing back a few years I was asked to visit M-Sport, who are just outside Cockermouth in the Lake District, to have a look at their new Ford Ranger project and write an article about it for Performance Ford magazine. I figured that there was no point in driving the 5 hour round trip without enjoying a couple of green-lanes whilst I’m up there in our latest press car, which happened to be an Evoque.

As I’ve mentioned previously, being a member of GLASS(Green Lane Association), I get to use Trailwise, which way of locating green lanes throughout the UK. After an hour or so I had collated quite a few potential lanes, and quick question on the Cumbrian GLASS facebook page confirmed which lanes were suitable for both the Evoque and lone driving. With my route planned I made a quick sketch of the lanes on a piece of paper and had an early night.



The following morning, after packing my Ghillie kettle and the odd bit of recovery equipment the Evoque carried me in comfort up the M6, there was drizzle, there was heavy rain and there was a 10 minute monsoon of biblical proportions, then the sun came out.

Promoting the legal and sustainable use of the countryside, campaigning against irresponsible use with the aim to ensure every green road is open for all to use.

• Regular digital bulletins • 2 printed magazines per year • Members website and forum • TW2, the essential green lane route planning tool • • Access to area reps for route planning and advice • Member discounts from selected suppliers • Legal challenges • Extensive knowledge base •

At junction 40 I turned left onto the A66 towards Keswick then off onto the B5292 which, using the Evoque's flappy paddles gave the car a totally different character. Soon enough I was heading towards Low Lorton for the start of the first greenlane, NY1125-01. 

Passing the 'Unsuitable For Motor Vehicles' sign, the lane quickly becomes quite steep, and once you pass the last house the lane narrows a little more with foliage on either side, but the surface remains solid.



Although quite cloudy, the views were still spectacular, and according to Andrew from M-Sport, on a clear day you can actually see the Isle of Man in the distance. NY1125-01 continued to go higher but remained straight forward, though a little tight in some places due to the overgrown bushes. In truth, Muddy Madam’s Skoda Fabia could have easily traversed this lane, but that isn't the point, it was a pleasure to tootle along whilst enjoying the great views. Upon reaching the end I had a choice, turn left and try another green-lane that emerges at Loweswater, or right towards the main road.  I decided on the latter as I was told that it gets quite narrow and consequently very scratchy, so I gave it a miss. The next lane on my list was about 10 minutes away and leads out of the small village of Eaglesfield - NY0826-01.  Again, it started off quite solid underfoot, but the high hedges meant the view was pretty much non-existent. Unfortunately the second section of the lane, NY0826-02 looked as though it hadn't been driven for a while, as you can with the photos below.  I had a quick recce on foot and it didn't look too bad, but walking back to the Evoque I was reminded that it was a brand new £51,000 car with less than 8K on the clock and I didn't want it going back to the JLR press team looking like a scratched-up banger, so I turned around.



The 2 other lanes I had planned to drive had locked gates at both entrances, so, feeling a little miffed I decided to find somewhere to eat before it was time to visit M-Sport. What about the M-Sport Ford Ranger? Well I liked it a lot, and sometime soon, once I’ve found the rest of the photos, I’ll do a little write up.



Glenisla Classic Vehicle Club

We headed up to Scotland to visit Muddy Madam's best friend Caroline and her family. Obviously we like cars, so whilst we were there her chap, Lee, took us to a local car club meet up in Glenisla. It transpired that it was their annual BBQ, raffle and classic vehicle meet which is held on the first Sunday in August. For us a field full of classics is always fun to wander around. Considering Glenisla isn't a huge place, the field was full of old and interesting vehicles, and there were plenty of attendees (which could be something to do with the large amounts of whisky and other alcoholic drinks on offer in the raffle!). The club also organise an on-road run for cars and motorcycles, and an off-road run for tractors and 4x4s, so if you’re up in the east coast of Scotland, check out their website at, and see what they have going on.







Discover historic Normandy and the D-Day landings on our family friendly, self-drive tours. We explore important battlefield sites and locations, linked by greenlanes, or traveling at a leisurely pace through the beautiful French countryside. Cost: ÂŁ750 (based on 2 people sharing, with B&B, museum entries and guides included) Find us on facebook: Normandy 1944 D-Day Tours website: email: mob: 07888 060099

Half Term dates: October 20th-22nd October 23rd-25th Intro to D-Day & Greenlanes 2020 dates coming soon along with exciting new destinations including Poland, Ukraine, Estonia and Italy







Dusting off the cobwebs A while back I posted a list on our Facebook page of the press cars that we were due over a 2 month period, one of being the new Dacia Duster 4x4. Then, a few days later I received an email from Mathew suggesting that when I had the Duster we should go out for the day and drive a few local lanes. What a good I deal I thought. Fast forward a few weeks and with yellow weather warnings all over the north west, I met Mathew just off the A6 near a village called Brock, not far from our first lane. As it was raining quite heavily we quickly exchanged pleasantries, as we hadn’t met before, and headed for our first lane.

Lane 1

Gardners Lane (SD5243-01 if you’re GLASS member and have Trailwise) which is a relatively easy lane that in the dry can easily be driven in a 2wd SUV type vehicle, like an MG GS. The day before I drove the big Audi Q8 along it and had to avoid a large fallen branch, so with that in mind I brought along a pair of loppers to cut it back. The weather was still grim with sporadic heavy downpours, but that’s fine, we’re Northerners, a bit of water doesn’t bother us. Mathew in his modified Duster took Gardners Lane in his stride and the standard Duster did alright too. I stopped as we passed Snape Rake Lane, a lane that was featured in last month’s issue which a few northern 4x4 groups helped to maintain. I wanted to show Mathew the entrance so he could drive it when he’s passing next. I had no doubt Mathew would’ve enjoyed driving it, but I reckoned it would be a bit too gnarly for a standard Duster. 114


Lane 2

Our next lane, SD6245-01 is just north of Chipping which I’ve driven twice in the past, once in Deux Smurf and then last year in the remarkably capable SsangYong Rexton. As we drove through the first gate the road climbs gradually with spectacular views emerging on the right hand side, and once plateaued you can make out Pendle Hill in the distance. Well, usually you can, but the rain was pretty much constant. With varying sized ruts I found myself having to straddle them as the crunches from underneath were becoming a little painful to listen too, even Mathew with Insa Turbo Dakar mud terrain tyres and a 40mm lift from Eibach cringed as his Duster scraped over stones and rocks. After a five minutes of carful driving we made our descent towards Dobson’s Brook which is when the lane becomes quite narrow with steep embankments on either sides. I really took my time here as there were some large stones to negotiate. The Brook wasn’t particularly deep, despite the rainfall and both Mathew and I made it through easily enough. Next is a fairly steep climb, and the last time I



drove it I was quite aware of a few steps a created by water erosion, and using a break in the rain we jumped out to take a look. At this point I made a mental note that I need to spend more time off my backside doing some sort of physical activity as I was out of puff! After placing a few large stones strategically around to try and make the ascent easier for the standard Duster we made our way back down the hill. On our descent the heavens opened again, and just within two minutes we were absolutely soaked to the skin. But at least I didn’t leave the drivers side window open like Mathew did! With Mathew in the lead he set off up the hill and scrambled a fair bit near the top, personally I reckoned it was due to his aggressive mud tyres on the soaked and slippery rocks, where as the standard Duster made it look easy by comparison. I say easy, I certainly made the 4wd system work for its money as at one point forward motion was lost as the electrics tried to figure things out, but a steady throttle saw traction gained and I continued up the hill. Within ten or some yards the lane levelled out and took a turn to the left, and it wasn’t long before we arrived at another water section, this time it’s a flooded section of the lane. The first time drove this, the only stick I had was an umbrella, and I remember walking alongside the lane prodding it in the water checking its depth. We were good, the water level was only around 18” and the base is quite solid. Mathew went first and his bow wave barely reached the bottom of his bumper, then it was me and the standard Duster made it look all too easy. A little further along we began a long descent towards the end, there were a couple of steps and a few rocks to negotiate, though nothing that would concern a pick up and the likes, and again I gingerly crept forward managing to avoid the worst of the scrapes.



Lane 3

The final lane was SD6543-02 & 03 which, as you leave the previous lane is on the other side of the Bowland Wild Boar Park, not far from Whitewell. The first time I drove this lane I was in a Kia Sportage, then a Skoda Octavia Scout and more recently an MG ZS (2wd), so you get the idea. Basically, if you’re heading from south to north and you’ve turned at the sharp 90% bend, it’s a long muddy track with a solid base and the odd overgrown hedge, I wouldn’t hesitate driving Muddy Madam’s Skoda Fabia along it if I’m honest, so it’s quite mild. And that was it, a cracking couple of hours driving a few local green-lanes with two Dacia Dusters. Of course, as we headed

back towards the A6 we couldn’t help but drive the first lane again, only in reverse. Not actually in reverse, you know what I mean! You can read all about Mathew and his modified Duster, which looks amazing I might add, in Reader’s Rides later in the mag. A final comment on the standard Duster - I have to say it did a valiant job of keeping up and was only let down by its ground clearance, which incidentally is pretty decent, it was just the second lane that was fairly gnarly in places. A full review of the Duster will be in next month's issue, so don’t forget to sign up and as soon as it’s out you’ll find it in your in-box.



Each month we give you an easy menu that any buffoon can make whilst out in the great outdoors, and when I say ‘any buffoon’, I obviously mean me. I was walking past the fridge this morning when I thought I heard the Bee Gees singing. When I opened the door it turned out to be two 'chives talkin’. Yeah, sorry about that. This is a tasty one pot recipe based on a random receipe I saw whilst browsing the cook book section in TK Maxx many years ago. I have no idea what the book was, or who wrote it, but since then I've experimented with ingredients and adapted it to my own taste, so here it is.



Serves 1 hungry mouth or 2 as a snack Equipment Hob or Ring Stove (I used a MSR Windburner stove) Frying pan Chopping board - (if you haven't bought pre-cut chicken strips then you'll need 2 boards, 1 for the uncooked chicken, 1 for the veg) Sharp knife

Ingredients 1 tablespoon of butter Large handful of spinach 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 chicken breast, sliced into strips 1/4 courgette sliced and diced 30g mascarpone 10g grated parmesan Handful of chives, finely chopped Handful of parsley, roughly chopped Juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions 1. Melt the butter in the frying pan over a medium heat. 2. When it begins to bubble drop in the spinach and cook for around 4 minutes until it wilts down, making sure to stir it regularly. 3. Change to a higher heat and add the garlic, chicken and courgette, and cook for a further 4 minutes making sure the chicken is fully cooked (cut a large piece in half , and if the meat is pink inside, cook until there isn’t.) 4. Reduce the heat and add the mascarpone. Stir gently until it melts and becomes a creamy sauce. (Depending on the mascarpone and the water content of the spinach, I’ve found that instead of creamy it can become a bit watery, if it does add a bit of cornflour to thicken.) 5. Crank up the heat, bring to the boil and then stir in some grated parmesan. 6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chives and parsley, and squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. 7. Devour… THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK


es d i R s ' r e Read

Who are you and what do you do? I’m Sam Morris, and I’m a contract excavator driver. History of cars leading up your present 4x4 I’ve had a Ford Escort RS2000, a Morris Minor and a Land Rover Series II 109.  Present 4x4(s) I now have a Land Rover 1964 Series IIA 88”  Modifications done So far I’ve had the cylinder head polish and ported, and as well as a Mayflower winch, I’ve added a set of wheels and brakes from a long wheelbase Land Rover. I’ve also fitted a set of free wheeling hubs, 12v compressor running for a train horn, and for extra comfort there’s parabolic springs parabolic springs and a set of Subaru Legacy seats. For the 4x4 tours there’s also CB radio which is essential. Of, and let’s not forget the added oil leaks!



Favourite Modifications My favourite has been the Subaru seats because they offer a much better ride during long distances. Modifications to do I would like station wagon top. Favourite green-laning trip When I got my Series 2a I went exploring the Lake District green lanes and since then they’ve all be my favourite. Lottery win 4x4 Mercedes Unimog.  Favourite car related film Gone in 60 seconds.  Favourite biscuits Bourbons. Where can we find more details?



es d i R s ' r e Read


Who are you and what do you do? Hi, I’m Mat and I have all ways been an engineer in one way or another, currently working for a international chemical logistics company on a permanent night shift.

and now my 2015 Dacia Duster 4x4. Also still owning a 2003 Suzuki GS500.

History of cars leading up your present 4x4 Spent a lot of my younger days on motorcycles, think I got my first one when I was about 6. When I turned 17 though my parents thought I would be safer in a car so I had a 2000 Nissan Almera for a short time, then a 2007 Ford Ka (no one dared get in the passenger seat) then a 2010 Vauxhall Astra

Modifications done As soon as I got the car home from the dealer I ordered the bonnet bra, red rally mud flaps and Team Heko wind deflectors. Then I wanted a roof rack, just so I could fit a light bar and then also 2 grill lights. I then decided I wanted an awning but didn’t want it to over hang my roof rack, so that came off


Present 4x4(s) Just the one and that’s the Dacia Duster 4x4

and was extended to 2M in length. The drawer system in the boot came next with a leisure battery, 2000 watt inverter, duel stove, 120w solar panel and storage for kitchen equipment and recovery gear etc. Next was the Tuff Torque wheels with Insa Turbo Dakar mud terrain tyres and a 40mm lift from Eibach. Favourite Modifications This is a tough one as I like all the modifications as it looks well as a package but the wheels and tyres made a big difference to the image of the car.

Modifications to do Raised air intake next, then I’ll be tweaking the mods I have done already such as upgrading the leisure battery and other components such as the fridge and a DC to DC charger fitting. Favourite green-laning trip I did enjoy a green landing trip with NW Overlander’s last November in the Peak District. Great fun. Lottery win 4x4 I’ve always said I’d keep the Duster and make it exactly how I imagined it 3 years ago but I would also have to get something bigger, Toyota have always caught my eye and something like a Land Cruiser or Hilux would fit the bill for me. Favourite car related film If it’s got a car in it I’m willing to watch it, the original fast and furious films were good but now they have gone stupid, I’m also a horror film

fan so the combination of both in the film Christine was a great watch for me. Favourite biscuits Don’t really eat biscuits but if I was to plan ahead I would definitely pack some rich tea biscuits for my next trip. Where can we find more details? Instagram is probably where I post most of my car related antics



es d i R s ' r e Read

Who are you and what do you do? I’m Paul Robinson, and I’m an Optical Lab Technician for the SpecSaver group, which is a posh way of saying I make glasses! History of cars leading up your present 4x4 At 17 years old I bought my first car which was a MkII Vauxhall Astra Merit. I originally wanted a Vauxhall Nova, but they were too small and I couldn’t fit into one! 12 months later I outgrew the Astra, and bought myself a Renault 19RT. It was a comfy car, and I had it for 3 years, but after some major work at a Renault garage it just didn’t feel the same, so I sold it and bought one of my favourite cars, a 1996 MkIII Golf GTi. I had that for 7 years, and again outgrew it, then I bought an ST diesel 55 Mondeo, and after 2 years I swapped it for my parents Mondeo Titanium X, as it had less mileage. My 5th car was a Mazda 6 Sport, a 60 plate and was fantastic for money, but after a while I fancied a change, not only a change of car, but hobby, too. I fancied a Nissan 300zx twin turbo, but instead I bought 2006 HSE facelift Freelander. I think if I’d bought the Nissan I would’ve probably ended up losing my licence or killing myself!



On reflection, I wish I had done my homework when it came to buying a 4x4, as although it was a competent green-laner, if I’d known what I know now I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Present 4x4(s) My current 4x4 is the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk which was initially built by Storm Jeeps in Hull and used by Ardent Off-Road. After spending time with Ardent OffRoad learning how to drive off-road they told me that it was up for sale, there was absolutely no doubt that it was going to be mine, so at the end of January 2019 I bought it. Modifications done It has a Daystar 1.5” suspension lift, black 16” XD127 Bully alloy wheels with BFGoodricch KO2 all terrain tyres. There’s a KC HiLiTES C-Series 40” LED Light Bar on the roof and a smaller one in front of the grill. Along with that it has a Vision X xenon H4 bulb upgrade and a fog light upgrade. There’s also a snorkel, rock sliders, a Storm decal pack and to top things off it’s also had a re-map.

Favourite Modifications This make sound weird (no it doesn’t - Damian), but I love the sound the snorkel makes, it’s like an induction kit! Modifications to do Although my Renegade is already well modified, I quite fancy fitting a Avid front bumper, and if I did that I would have to buy a winch… Favourite green-laning trip I don’t go green-laning by myself, instead I trust Ardent Off-Road to honest there isn’t one specific trip that has stood out as every adventure I embark on with them has been well run and memorable. Lottery win 4x4 A few years ago I would have said a supercharged Range Rover, but after seeing the work Mike and Andy do at Storm Jeeps I reckon my name would be on one of their highly modified JK Rubicons. Favourite car related film As you can probably tell by my car history, the Fast & Furious franchise. Favourite biscuits Chocolate Hob Nobs, no doubt. Where can we find more details? I don’t really do much on social media, but my Instagram account is paulrobinson296, but don’t get excited as there aren’t many photos!




Travelling Smurf

Glancing over a friends ageing 2nd Generation Toyota Surf the other day got me thinking about my own first Surf that we bought all the way back in 2004. It was round about the time when Top Gear couldn’t destroy their Hilux, so Toyota’s toughness was at the forefront of everyones mind. Being honest, I was searching for a Classic Range Rover, but every one I went to look at was a rotten, rusty heap, so when my friend Chris suggested I looked at a Surf I asked why on earth I’d want to do such a thing, they’re Japanese! Now before you turn the page in disgust, let me qualify that statement. Up until then all I had driven was Land Rovers, all my friends drove Land Rovers, my local 4x4 club was Red Rose Land Rover Club, the only show we frequented was the ARC National rally (Association of Rover Clubs), and so on, so you could say that I was slightly brainwashed. 126


After watching the Top Gear and surfing around on (a brilliant web site, and a font of all UK Toyota Surf knowledge, I agreed to expand my 4x4 horizons. Not long after that, Muddy Madam, Chris and I were at Liverpool docks bidding on a black SSR Surf that had just come off a boat from Japan. Long story short, we bought a 1994 2nd Generation Surf which we called Smurf, ‘cos it rhymes with Surf. There was an air of excitement, she was different, a little younger than what I’m used to and yet she still had character. She was a joy to look at with just the right amount of chrome. She looked kinda squat with 15” Mk1 Hilux Surf alloy wheels with huge offset, yet unaggressive with only 30 x 9.50 R15 Bridgestone Winter Duelers. From the back the Smurf looked slightly American with her plain tailgate. Then there’s the exhaust, big enough that cats and possibly even small children can get trapped

PAST JALOPIES in, and could prove a hindrance when playing off road, but what the hell, it made the 3ltr diesel sound fantastic! After getting her home my first job was to get her insured, unfortunately at the time NFU wouldn’t insure imports so I had to scout around for another. The other issue I had was that she wasn’t registered, not a problem for Footman & James, they insured her on the chassis number - great. Next job was to arrange to get it SVA’d, this entailed filling out an application form, writing a cheque, sending them off to Swansea and waiting for an appointment for a test. With the assistance from the friendly folk on, I began to prepare our Smurf, a mph speedo was sourced and fitted whilst Chris did his magic with the fog lamp. Anything to do with electrics is witchcraft to me, nuts and bolts fine, but electrics... nah. I checked all around the vehicle for sharp objects, a SVA failure point, and all seemed fine. I then changed the tinted headlamp bulbs for a standard set. Once satisfied that everything was fine I booked her in for a MOT. Hmmm, it failed, but only on an steering idler arm and CV boots, which seemed to be a common failure on Surfs. Luckily Milners had a special offer on for these

very parts so they were ordered and fitted quickly. The morning finally arrived for the SVA test and armed with much optimism and excitement we set of to Chadderton confident and sure that we had checked and double checked everything....... she failed! The tyres didn’t have a speed rating printed on them, the wires for the fog lamp need to be secured every 300mm, a rubber bung was missing from the rear bumper, and the fog lamp switch disappeared into the dash when the examiner pressed it far too hard. A retest was booked straightaway for the following week. Not wasting any time, as soon as I returned home I phoned Bridgestone UK for tyre details, Chris spent some more time under the Smurf securing the fog light wire to something solid whilst I glued the switch into place and fitted a bung made from an old weightlifting belt to the bumper - sorted! This time she passed. Next on the agenda was a trip to our local DVLA registration office to get her registered which only took around 5 minutes, then wait a couple of days or so for her documents to arrive so that I could buy some number plates.




My first proper drive was an hours drive to work which was pleasantly uneventful, she went forward, left, right and even stopped on request, I was a happy man. I was even happier when I replaced the simple AM radio that she came with new Clarion system and Cat 1 alarm.

Tape measure out and the Witter bar wouldn't fit ‘cos of said large bore exhaust. More investigations on the internet found that a Towsure bar would fit, after a quick phone call they sent me a towbar and electrics for a very reasonable £107.

After a fortnight of driving around with a big cheesy grin on my face I decided that her side steps had to go, every time I got in and out of her I had to stretch my leg over the damned things, so off they came. The result was surprising, it made her look a whole lot better, well that’s my opinion anyway.

Whilst I lay underneath with a couple of spanners fitting the towbar, Chris set about sorting the wiring out for me, he makes it look so easy.

Next on the list was a towbar. Muddy Madam’s mum and partner, Maurice, had a caravan that they had lived in for a couple of years whilst building a house and was now surplus to requirements. This was ideal as both Muddy Madam and I both needed a break, and had had enough of sleeping under tent canvas. My only problem was her exhaust, as mentioned, it was a bit on the large side. On the internet again and back on the Surf forum I found Gaz, he lived in Bolton too, more importantly he had a Witter tow bar fitted to his Surf. 128


The following weekend Muddy Madam and I set forth to North Wales to collect a caravan, and again the journey was uneventful, in fact I only realised much later on how comfy her factory option Recaro seats, actually are. Usually I’d get out of a vehicle after a 3 hours drive with back ache, this time however I was fine. After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast it was time to leave, so Maurice hitched the caravan to the back of the Smurf, we checked the electrics and waved our goodbyes, I must admit to feeling a teeny bit nervous at towing a caravan for the first time, don’t know why reflecting back, that big 3 litre took everything in it’s stride so there’s nothing really exciting to write about

PAST JALOPIES here unfortunately. Oh hang on, we stopped for fuel in Bangor and I bought a Mars bar. Our first challenging trip off road occurred with other Surf owners, I was sure the tyres were going let us down as the weather had been damp and moist, but to my surprise they were very surefooted. Though we, sorry I, managed to lose the fog lamp and bend the plug thing next to the tow bar. I was also quite concerned about the rear overhang as the bumper is quite long, I was sure that I’d see it through the rear view mirror after a particular steep decent, but it was still intact.

Reflecting back, I only had a few dislikes about the vehicle, one was the automatic gearbox which worked perfectly fine, it’s just that I preferred manuals at the time. The other thing was her fuel consumption, she was a bit thirsty. I seem to remember that I was getting around 24mpg around town and early 30’s on a long drive. And that’s it, on the whole she was great, I bought an 8 year old rust free vehicle for the price of a well worn Ninety, I can cruise comfortably to off road events, get muddy with the rest of ‘em and cruise home again in comfort. So, was I glad I took my ‘green oval tinted glasses’ off? Hell yeah!






War of the

Roses, 2002 Can you spot you or your motor in these photos from bygone mud adventures?



Fancy an off-road challenge? Want to get your 4x4 filthy?

Don’t ruin our ancient byways, try out your local P&P site instead… A few pointers…It’s important that you check the site’s requirements before you visit, such as: Does your 4x4 need to be road legal? Do you need to show proof of age, vehicle MOT and insurance documents? Are your recovery points secure? Do you even have any recovery points? To avoid disappointment, always check with the individual site before you set off. Also remember that, as well as a good quality tow rope, it’s always useful to bring along some rags and a bottle of water to clean your lights and reg plates so you can stay legal whilst driving home!

Pay & Play Directory NORTH

Avalanche Adventures

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Activities: Pay & Play 07974 398201

Explore Off Road

Activities: Pay & Play, Off Road Driver Training, 4x4 Experiences 07970 286881

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SOUTH Essex Rochford & District 4x4 Club Activities: Pay & Play

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Activities: Pay & Play / 4x4 driver training 01978 358 444

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R 132

emember, motorsport is dangerous, and it can also be a lot of fun, so be sensible out there.


4x4 Tours D-Day Tours

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Off Road Driver Training & Experiences NORTH



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WALES Bala 4x4

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The Mud Life - Issue #7