Grand CherokeeThe new upgrades to the Grand Cherokee have been announced earlier than many would have expected. They are significant, designed to make a positive impression

Words: Hils Everitt   Photography: Hils Everitt, Jeep

It was way back in 2011 that Jeep, under the auspices of Fiat, gave us the WK2, a remarkable and impressive improvement on the rather disappointing WK Jeep Grand Cherokee that ambled along in 2005.  The 70th anniversary year WK2 has done well, but Fiat is not content. Oh no, already it has decided that its flagship 4×4 born in the USA needs an upgrade, and not only that, to quote the big bosses in the US, has leaped a couple of upgrades in one go.

In other words… well, the way we read it, they feel it is a bit ahead of its time. Not sure we can concur with that, but it definitely has gone up a significant notch, and is even more ripe as a credible alternative to rival luxury SUVs when you look at the price you are now paying for a seriously well-equipped, capable and impressive off-roader. And now the revamp has been designed to make this serious off-roader a more impressive on-road drive.

THE LAST HUSSARDeciding he needed a second-hand 4×4, or rather, he needed a cheap second-hand 4×4, Paul Guinness went searching for a bargain buy. He ended up with a Lada Niva Hussar – here he explains the reasons why 

Photography: Paul Guinness

On paper at least, I had a simple requirement: a 4×4 workhorse. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive and certainly nothing complicated. It had to be a good old-fashioned 4×4, of the type that proved popular back in the days when only farmers and country folk bought all-wheel drive vehicles. Most certainly not the kind of 4×4 that would appeal to the school run brigade.

So why this sudden urge for a real four-wheel drive machine? In truth, a number of factors were coming into play, not least the fact that a cheap but capable 4×4 is a hugely entertaining thing to own. More seriously though, I needed a vehicle that could double-up as a van when the need arises (which it does regularly during the on-going redesign and revamp of my garden). And, with a farm in the family, it also had to be a genuinely capable off-roader that wouldn’t be embarrassed by any visiting Defenders.

Range Rover SportFirst impressions of the all-new Sport are that this is going to be the Range Rover that everyone wants, such are the options available – a real Sport for all. Even low range is an option…

Words: Nigel Fryatt

When you hear announced that the new Range Rover Sport is ‘one of the most road focussed vehicles we’ve ever produced’, there could be a tendency to worry. But then the Sport has always been the more road-biased of the range, which has, since its introduction in 2005, opened the model up to a new market segment. It’s been a great seller, with some 380,000 sold around the world, the majority of which have been in the US, with New York the model’s best-selling city. But as enthusiasts, are we to bemoan that the latest Sport is taking too big, and too fast, a step down US highways and turning its back on its true heritage?

Given those sales statistics, it’s no surprise that the new Range Rover Sport was unveiled in New York at the end of last month, in a particularly clever, hi-tech and glitzy fashion. If you always thought that the previous Sport was the brash younger brother in the range, not aimed at true enthusiasts, and too often fitted with big wheels and tasteless body kits – more a modified Range Rover for owners who don’t appreciate what they are driving – then there are some more surprises for you.

Polaris Ranger XP900For some years the Polaris Ranger has been the side-by-side ATV to beat. For 2013, it’s got a new chassis and engine. Is it still the best ATV on the market? We froze to death in January to find out. Boy, it was great fun!

Words and photography: Wayne Mitchelson

The terrain was harsh, heavily potholed and the pace was faster than I would have liked. My mind and body was expecting spine-jarring impacts as the Polaris XP900 skipped its way across the rough terrain of the Peckforton Castle Estate. But the impacts never materialised as the 10inch long-travel, adjustable suspension at the front, and fully independent at the rear, fitted to the all new chassis, seamlessly ironed out the challenging Cheshire Estate tracks.

It was sub-zero temperatures aboard the new Polaris Ranger XP900 ‘sideby- side’, my fingers were frozen and my face chilled by the passing cold air, but that didn’t seem to matter. Having used Rangers for many years and witnessed the moderate progression of the now iconic, ‘side-by-side’, this year’s improvements are more impressive, for one the power plant is all new. The British-designed Pro Star 900 engine is a parallel twin cylinder, four stroke, producing 60bhp and more importantly, a class leading 54lb ft of torque.

Pinzgauer 6x6If four-wheel drive is good, then does that mean six is better? We take a trip in a recently restored Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer 6×6 to find out. Now this is a real man’s off-roader!

Words and photographs by Robert Pepper

I’m standing halfway down a very rocky hill, one I’ve had to winch up in the wet before now, and even competition trucks take a second look in the dry. The line, shown by recent tyre marks, zigzags out to one side, around the worst of the rocks that protrude high from the track. I’m waiting for Peter “Professor Pinz” Farrer to come along in his Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer, and I reckon as he curves the vehicle around those rocks I’ve got my shot.

Except he doesn’t. The Pinny comes straight down the track. Right over those rocks, under complete control, with just the barest of scrapes. I quickly reposition myself and shoot anyway. As the Pinny passes, I turn back to what it just drove over and take another look. Yep, it really did just drive over rocks that Jeeps and Nissans on 37inch tyres couldn’t handle. Takes a bit to impress me after all the years of off-roading, but I’m standing here in appreciation. And you know what? This is a completely standard vehicle.

Land Rover Freelander 2Land Rover’s Freelander had never been a 4×4 to excite the Editor’s interest. However, after a few days of freezing rain, heavy snow, ice roads and dropping temperatures, he’s ready to reconsider…               

Words: Nigel Fryatt 

It was not something that you do everyday. Edging out to overtake, the road ahead was completely clear; that wasn’t the issue. Edging out we moved across to a section of the road where the surface looked different. Was there more ice on the far side, under the snow covering? Pulling alongside the thunderous snowplough wasn’t the time to find out. Up close and personal to the massive machine’s enormous front blade, now was not the time for our vehicle to start snaking, wheels scrabbling with different levels of grip and traction. Heaven help a sideways slide into the unforgiving metal of the Canadian snowplough…

4x4 Pick-Up of the YearThe UK’s pick-up market is varied, and highly competitive – from bargain basement, to high tech, high end. But which represents the best option? Our comprehensive group test offers some answers 

Words: Nigel Fryatt Photography: Wayne Mitchelson

For anyone in the market for a new pick-up, the choice is truly global. We have seven models on test here, models built in China, Korea and Japan. We have another Japanese model built with heavy US influence, and then we have an Australian designed, South African built model for an American host manufacturer. And for the eagle-eyed regular reader, you may even notice that there’s a German competitor missing from the party. The 2013 UK pick-up market is a multi-national affair, that’s for sure.

Last year’s 4×4 Pick-up Of The Year had Volkswagen’s Amarok as our overall winner. Disappointingly, VW was unable to supply an Amarok for this year’s test. The timing of our test was too early for the new automatic version of the Amarok, which is a shame, but we have included the new model’s details into our spec tables so you can see how it compares.

Range roverThe original Range Rover was to originally have its launch in Morocco but it was scuppered due to some ‘logistical issues’. Fast-forward 42 years and the all-new model has arrived in Africa for a recreation of that original unveiling. Is the new L405 model good enough to live up to its iconic forebears?

Words: Phil Weeden | Photos: Phil Weeden and Land Rover

The new Range Rover is the most capable Land Rover yet,” so says the literature released from the Solihull SUV maker. Quite a lofty claim, but then confidence in the marque is high right now. The Discovery 4 is one the most accomplished 4x4s in the world; the Freelander 2 is an established all-rounder and recently refreshed for 2013; the Evoque has become the best-selling LR model to date with 85 per cent of its sales coming from conquest customers; while the outgoing Range Rover has consistently sold well, with a peak of 32,000 units in 2010, thereby cementing its reputation as one of the world’s best luxury SUVs. And therein lay the dilemma: how do you replace a car like the Range Rover, which has sold consistently well in its 11-year reign and ultimately has no real direct competitors? The engineers in charge of plotting Range Rover’s future were very clear, following feedback from focus groups, which said: ‘Don’t change it, just make it better’…

DecFirstStartWith the new Range Rover reputedly going to have a potential £100,000 price tag, how does the prestigious German competitor Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG stack up? It’s a snip at only £94,255… 

Words: Nigel Fryatt

The expression ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ has always appeared to me to being somewhat crass. There’s far more class when you ignore the need to flaunt, keeping the knowledge to yourself. In the case of motor vehicles, the German trend to offer cars without the full model name badges on the rear bootlids has always impressed. And you have to say that there’s little overtly flash about most of the Mercedes-Benz 4×4 range. Of course, the utilitarian shape of the G-Class is in itself a kind of reverse flaunting. I mean, how could something that looks like a builder’s van be on the market at that price? But for the more fundamental ML-Class, there’s little that’s flash at all. Indeed, for many, it’s a design that is, well, somewhat bland. Functional, efficient, prestige and certainly exceedingly well built, but still, somehow, just plain dull.

Nov1ststartSSThe rejuvanted South Korean carmaker has already impressed with its Korando SUV. Now it’s ready to tackle the burgeoning pick-up market.   

Words: Phil Weeden

Gone are the days when the Japanese had the pick-up sector all to themselves. Mitsubishi, Nissan, Isuzu and Toyota all battled it out for supremacy, but arguably the two best load luggers in the market today are Ford’s new Ranger and VW’s Amarok. Is there really room for more? Well, Ssangyong certainly hope so as it has recently announced that its Korando Sports pick-up will go on sale next month in the UK, having been announced at the Geneva Motor Show back in the Spring. We had a chance for a quick play both on- and off-road to see if it can truly offer something the others can’t.

First impressions are positive: it looks distinctive, with its sharply sculpted styling. The exterior is chunky, purposeful but also sleek, appealing to those wanting a cross between utilitarian pick-up and leisure-derived SUV. There will be two models available – SX and EX – both powered by a 155PS 2.0-litre turbo diesel with selectable four-wheel drive including high and low ranges. There’s a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.