Land Rover’s biggest modern-day overland expedition, the Journey of Discovery, has reached the finish line with the one millionth Discovery arriving in perfect time to appear at the Beijing Motor Show.
The Journey, which saw four vehicles travel more than 10,000 miles from Birmingham to Beijing, aims to raise £1million for the company’s Global Humanitarian Partner, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
It began on February 29, at the Solihull manufacturing plant where the one millionth Discovery was built, and since its ceremonial send-off at the Geneva Motor Show it has passed through 13 countries over challenging terrain ranging from snow in the Alps to sun-baked sand dunes in the Taklimakan Desert.
Good news from the West Midlands this month from Auto Styling Truckman. The company produces and distributes hard tops for pick-up trucks, and sales (both in the UK and export) has seen turnover increase from £3.5m to £5m in the last 12 months, an increase of 40 per cent.
Auto Styling UK was founded in 2002 by Mike Wheeler, and has grown to be one of the UK’s major distributor of accessories for 4x4s. The company now manufacturers the Truckman hard tops after rescuing the company from administration back in 2008 – at the time, Truckman had a 25 year heritage, but found itself in difficulty during the ‘credit crunch’.
Back in the mid-1980s, the Editor of this magazine had an interesting experience driving a Maruti Gypsy in India. The Maruti was an Indian-built Suzuki SJ jeep and something of a liability if truth be told. Intriguing, therefore, to discover nearly 30 years later, that Suzuki is celebrating no less than 10 million domestic car sales across India – giving the Japanese company a massive 50 per cent of the entire passenger and light commercial market. The numbers are equally impressive when you consider that means 1000 new car dealerships and just under 3000 service workshops, serving 1406 cities… It is a safe bet that the Jimny, which is built and sold in India as the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy is somewhat better constructed these days!
Four new Land Rover cycle response units (that’s bikes to you and I) have been donated to the British Red Cross. This brings the total number of Land Rover bikes donated to 30. They work in tandem (that’s two bikes together, not a tandem…) with a Land Rover vehicle and aim to have more potential accessibility to get to vulnerable people in difficult locations. Each bike is equipped with a defibrillator, advanced First Aid kit and resuscitation equipment. The benefit of the bikes is they can navigate through urban and crowded areas and have already worked at events like the Great North Run and the Burghley Horse Trials. The programme is part of a collaboration between Land Rover and the British Red Cross in a global partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and currently covers some 15 countries.
It seems the new Subaru XV has made a good start in the UK. This new crossover 4×4 is vital for the UK importer to re-establish its financial fortune in the UK, after a dreadful 2011 (see First Drive, page 22). First signs are good with February 2012 registrations up a staggering 86 per cent – but then last year was so bad, percentages can be a little misleading. However, the new XV was only available in the 60-strong Subaru dealer network at the beginning of February, and interest has proved very strong. As we discovered when testing the vehicle, the XV should prove to be a strong contender in the crossover market, especially when linked with the company’s highly comprehensive aftercare package being offered to all new owners. It is thought a new Forrester is on the way to the UK to further restore Subaru’s position in the UK.
EXMOOR IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE, BUT, SADLY, ITS TRACKS ARE CLOSED TO VEHICULAR TRAFFIC. BUT YOU CAN ENJOY SOME OF THEM IN YOUR 4X4 ON A FOREST DRIVE, COURTESY OF A GENEROUS AND, WE THINK, FANTASTIC LANDOWNER
Words and photography: Hils Everitt
These days, Devon is not known for its abundance of off-roading adventures as most of its routes were reclassified under the NERC bill back in 2006. Exmoor was full of brilliant routes which are now closed to the off-tarmac fraternity, but there is a way that you can explore a beautiful corner of Devon, and perfectly legally.
Thanks to a local landowner, Mr William Theed, giving his permission after a request from Lanes, Tracks and Trails Greenlane Adventures, there are now around 100 miles of Exmoor Forest available to you and your 4×4 on a guided Forest Drive. The idea came to Jim Hancock, boss at LTTGA, and his fellow competitors, after taking part in the Annual Exmoor Jaunt and Challenge. Run in aid of the Wooden Spoon Charity, the ‘Jaunt’ is based in Wheddon Cross and offers two-day family 4×4 fun in the Exmoor Countryside with special off-road sections in Exmoor National Park; the ‘Challenge’ is a bit more technical, requiring good off-roading skills and at least one winch per team…say no more.
After receiving a good response at the recent Geneva Show, the new Volkswagen Passat Alltrack will be available in UK showrooms at the end of May. The Alltrack has VW’s 4MOTION four-wheel drive system, and a raised ride height, which VW claims will give it ‘greater agility off-road’. The UK will have two available models; a 2.0-litre TDI 138bhp with six-speed manual gearbox, which is priced at £28,475, and a 2.0-litre TDI 168bhp with six-speed DSG transmission, priced at £31,025.
Pictures of the third generation of the very popular Hyundai Sante Fe have been released. Code-named the DM in Korea, the new model will make its world premiere at the New York International Auto Show this April. Despite the code-name, Hyundai will be keeping the Sante Fe name for the new model, which was first seen in 2000. Impressively, the total sales of the 4×4 is around 2.56 million units. The new look, which from these pre-release pictures looks very conservative, follows Hyundai’s design concept with the much more dynamic title of ‘Storm Edge’. The company talks about “sophisticated and refined lines, which are in harmony with bold and voluminous surfaces, completing a more aggressive and classic look than its predecessor.” It would appear that the third generation is going to be ‘softer’ than the original design concept, but will again offer good value for money and good carrying capacity – both for people and their luggage.
Agreement has been reached between bespoke Land Rover modifying specialists Twisted and Silverline 4×4, to have the exclusive arrangement to supply the famous black and silver Sport range of wheels. Presently available in 16, 17 and 18inch sizes, Silverline’s Chris Dawson told us he was, “delighted that Twisted has chosen Silverline to work with them on their new wheel program and to further develop the range, the range will continue to grow with Twisted already asking for us to develop a 20inch version without delay.” For more details on these Land Rovers, go to: www.twistedperformance.co.uk. For more wheel details, go to: www.silverline4x4.com