Volkswagen’s new Amarok pick-up will be the centrepiece of a significant promotional campaign, which will be designed to push potential buyers towards You Tube where the pick-up has its own dedicated site www.vwamarok.co.uk. You can see the new pick-up demolish a 140 tonne steel tower – something that is usually the preserve of a 40 tonne excavator. Impressive and dramatic, that’s for sure. We have our first full driving experience with the Amarok reported in this issue (page 20) and we have to say that we have been impressed.
That said, the vehicle’s electronic ascent/decent controls do take some time to get used to, but you can find out more from Editor at Large, Hils Everitt’s full report in this issue. With on the road prices for the Amarok starting at £21,343, sales of the new pick-up are likely to be strong – regardless of You Tube stunts with large chimneys. The UK pick-up market is certainly hotting up at the moment, which makes the delay in Ford getting the new Ranger to our shores all the more disappointing.
UK order books for the new Audi Q3 are now open and, as expected, Audi’s new SUV will have an impressive specification list. Prices start at £24,560 on the road, and there are actually four engines available in the UK all directly injected and turbocharged and all with Audi’s stop-start and energy recuperation systems. In-car technology for the Q3 will include the options of the latest navigation system, online Bluetooth car phone integrated with Google Earth.
You will also have the option of selecting both parallel and perpendicular park assist. How soon, we wonder, before a manufacturer manages to produce a vehicle that makes the owner driver completely redundant. Order books open now and first deliveries will start in November – just in time for the snow.
Introducing TJ, this magazine’s new Project Jeep Wrangler. Great plans lie ahead for this vehicle, but here we explain how, and why, we have chosen this particular model.
Words and photography: Matt Carson
Welcome to our latest project vehicle, a 1998 Jeep TJ. We have chosen a Wrangler as our project because, along with the Land Rover, it has to be the iconic off-roader and therefore an ideal choice. As it happens, prices for this model have dropped to around the £3000 level for an early example, which is another incentive and there is plenty of choice in the market. Besides, I have always been a big Jeep fan, having previously owned two CJ-7s and two Grand Cherokees, so the choice of the Wrangler was an easy one! The Wrangler is rugged and fairly capable out the box and so with a few modifications, can be turned into something special with true off-road prowess.
Over the next six issues we will guide you through our journey starting with a stock example and finishing with a capable off-road machine that’s still driveable on the street. To help achieve our goal, we’ve enlisted the help of some well-known off-road companies and tapped into the knowledge of Jeep guru Steve Fagioli from FTE Engineering. Steve has a rich history of modifying Jeeps, particularly Wranglers and his advice will no doubt prove invaluable during the build up.
Over the course of the last month, Hils got the opportunity to drive some rather different vehicles that illustrated one extreme of 4WD to another
The first not-done-before 4×4 experience I had during the last month was driving a monster truck! I know, there will be many of you out there who think these American-style pick-up trucks, that have been lifted into the stratosphere, been fitted with ridiculously enormous booming V8/V10 engines and tyres that a small family could live in, are a waste of time and silly gimmicks and have no place in our 4×4 world. Well, you may well be right, but if given the chance to drive one, I bet most of you would have a crack.
My chance came courtesy of the lovely guys at Chevrolet while I was on the launch of the new Captiva – as you’ll read about on p26 – at Blackland Farm in East Sussex, where Leisure Pursuits operates its off-road driving days. One of the attractions is driving the ‘Monster Truck’; an America spec called ’Grizzly’. You may have spotted this very truck featured in the latest McDonalds ad on TV!
Kevin Baldwin – contributor
The one constant in the Defender’s lifespan has always been that the factory stereo is rubbish. Once upon a time you could forgive Land Rover for not even trying because the ‘wireless’ output was always going to lose the sonic battle as it tried to drown out the ambient noise from diesel clatter and transmission whine. These days the Ford Transit-engined Defender is a far more civilised place in which to spend time which ironically only serves to highlight the shortcomings of the standard stereo set up. I like music a lot and therefore have always felt the need to upgrade the sound system in every Land Rover I’ve ever owned. And this one was no exception.
Garry Stuart – contributor
Although the Terrano spends most of its time pounding up and down motorways and autoroutes, there are of course instances when I can take advantage of its off-road abilities. As long as deep water or mud is not involved (my tyres are just not suitable), I am happy to take it on rock and gravel trails especially when it saves me the effort of carrying the camera gear any distance. Although bog stock, the Terrano can cope with fairly rough ground without grounding out too badly.
Recently I had an assignment to shoot a story on the volunteers of the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team undergoing one of their regular training exercises. The site of the exercise was at an extensive quarry system high up above Bacup in Lancashire. It would make a fantastic site for 4×4 pay and play days but is reserved for the exclusive use of mountain bikers and walkers except for the times when the mountain rescue team need to take their Defender 110 and brand new Discovery Emergency vehicles on site for training. The Terrano was able to go on site in its official capacity of camera car.
Shion Scudamore – contributor
This month has again seen a bit of progress with the TM, I finally got the driver’s floor replaced with sections I had folded up by a local fabrication company. So far I have got through the best part of an 8ft x 4ft sheet of 1.6mm steel replacing all the rotted sections, I think it’s safe to say most of the cab below the doors seems to have been cut out and replaced. I have a mountain of lower cab panels for grit blasting so they can be sprayed up before reassembly, some final welding work needs to be completed first. The temptation to restore the cab to pristine condition is always nagging at me but I need to be pragmatic, as I want to get her back on the road for the summer.
Nigel Fryatt – editor
Greenlaning is well named! We took the Toyota down one of our local lanes the other day; just an undulating country lane, but boy had it changed. Spring had indeed sprung and the route was well overgrown. Good to see things growing like this but it does cause problems. OK, so it is a very easy route but when the weeds are now as high as the Toyota’s bonnet you do get a little concerned as to what they are hiding – even though you know the route doesn’t have any nasty surprises!
It led me to jump out on occasion and check that all was well. Plus some of the nice thorny bits that were overhanging the route had to be pushed out of the way for fear of it scratching the Rav’s paintwork – which, for a vehicle of this age is actually pretty good.
Louise Limb – contributor
When my Grand Vitara was shiny and new (well, new to me) I marvelled at its relatively quiet and torquey diesel rumble, the luxury of decent interior trim after the Spanish built crate that was my 4U2, and door pockets. The Vitara discouraged the casual thief. Anyone looking in would see nothing much on show, because there was nowhere to put anything, not even door pockets. It encouraged a degree of asceticism, which I now feel was probably good for my soul. This didn’t last and I did buy and eventually fill plastic storage boxes, which floated around the floor.
Now I have lived for a while with my sufficiency of drinks holders (which I use to store pens and art materials, chewing gum and other nameless stuff) and odd little nooks and shelves, I find my car has become a reasonably orderly extension of my workspace. Except of course, my home doesn’t have brakes and we don’t have much in the way of earth tremors round here, so when I have to pull in swiftly on a country verge for the inevitable youth in a Golf blatting around blind corners at inappropriate speeds, or death wish bunnies threatening to coat my wheels with guts, the carefully arranged sideboard of goodies always seems to end up in the passenger footwell – which is a beneficial if mystifying design point, as the contents of a paint box around your feet while driving is not to be recommended.
Bob Cooke – contributor
Slab Common is a military testing ground a feature of which is the interesting selection of redundant tanks lying around, lumps of seriously heavy metal that make the Cherokee feel like a lightweight city car rather than a beefy off-roader. Another feature that somehow seemed to back that feeling up was the inability of the Cherokee to haul a Land Rover out of the gloopy mud puddle into which it had sunk itself axle-deep. We naturally always carry a selection of recovery gear – straps, shackles, a kinetic rope and even a shovel, and when we spotted the Land Rover with its wheels churning uselessly against the mud we stopped, as all good off-roaders should, to offer assistance.