Monthly Archives: September 2012

junestaffianseabrookIan Seabrook

NovStaffIanThe Maverick came to me with an entire eight months of MOT, which made the £500 asking price seem all the more of a bargain. As it happens, it then needed a near-complete brake rebuild and I’d ended up fitting new calipers, discs, pads and rear wheel cylinders. Therefore when the MOT was looming at the end of August, I was quite confident of a pass and headed to Tsalta Motorsport (www.tsaltamotorsport.co.uk) in Aberystwyth with fairly high hopes.

As reported last month, I had concerns about corrosion at the rear of the sills. The Maverick and Nissan Terrano II sibling have a pretty good rust record, but the sills are a definite weak point. I was right to be concerned though, the separate chassis meant that the tester put their weak state on the advisory list. That was academic as I decided it was far better to patch them up now than let the rot spread into the entire sill and floors.

NigelFryattNigel Fryatt – editor

NovStaff1For anyone regularly enjoying off-roading, getting scratches on the bodywork goes with the territory. At least with the off-road, greenlane, territory. For those of us that use the 4×4 for a multitude of uses – daily driver, family saloon, and occasional mud-plugger – it’s a little more difficult. While you accept that there might be the odd scratch, you want the vehicle to look good.

Of course, as regular readers will know, scratching the bodywork extensively while it is sitting on your drive is pretty dumb! And as I tried to explain last month, it was all thanks to the hosepipe ban.

NovadvStartLast month in our Atlas Overland adventure to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, our 4×4 convoy explored the central wooded lowlands and scaled the heights of the magnificent Monte Cinto. Now the tour heads north towards the stunning coastline and glorious beaches

Words and photography: Hils Everitt

Having basked in the glory of an ascent up the magnificent Monte Cinto in the central region of the tiny island of Corsica the previous day, our tour then journeyed to the north of the island.

This meant, sadly, that we had reached the final two days of 4×4 adventure company Atlas Overland’s two-week tour of the lovely island that sits in the Mediterranean in between the south coast of France and west coast of Italy. Due to its position, Corsica has influences from both countries. Politically a province of France, its language, however, derives from its Genoese occupation and is very similar to Italian. Dialects do vary from area to area, even village to village, but if you speak some basic French you’ll get by. Luckily, Atlas’s Peter Girling is a good French speaker, so when we tried to get a replacement tyre for the Discovery 3, that had suffered a puncture the previous day up the mountain, he was able to discover that the required Pirelli 19in would not be available in time.

NovNews105It is appropriate that we should have a test of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class on this month’s front cover, as the company can rightly claim to celebrate its 105th anniversary of the very first commercially available 4×4 vehicle. Given the amount of celebrations that are recognised by other major players like Land Rover and Jeep, it’s worth remembering that the German company has a rightful place in the pantheon of 4×4 greats.

For those who don’t know (and that included your Editor, I have to admit – NF), the first commercially available 4×4 was the Dernberg-Wagen (top picture) and this not only had four-wheel drive, but also a centre diff and four-wheel steering – you can imagine how difficult it would have been to alter direction! It had a 32cm ground clearance and a monster 6.8-litre engine producing a modest 35bhp at a lackadaisical 800rpm. Mind you, it did weigh some 3.6 tons. It seems that Paul Daimler, son of Gottlieb Daimler, had a hand in the construction of this epoch starting machine, allowing Mercedes-Benz to ‘claim’ the vehicle for its own 4×4 heritage.

NovNewsSaudi2Jaguar Land Rover owner and Tata chairman, Ratan Tata gave an interesting interview in the Indian press this month. He was commenting on a deal for a new low-cost aluminium smelter, a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company and Alcoa (the world’s leading producer of primary aluminium), being built in Saudi Arabia. This new factory would make the production of aluminium highly competitive and which could, said Ratan Tata, offer an “interesting business case” for the company. Now, given that the new Range Rover is built using a comprehensive aluminium monocoque, is it too large a leap to consider that Tata might indeed look at some sort of JLR production in Saudi Arabia? The vehicles would be closer to an important market, that’s for sure. (Our full, detailed, technical insight into the new Range Rover starts on page 38 of the November issue).

NovNewsLeaderThe Land Rover range takes another significant step upmarket with the announcement that the previously more modest, Freelander 2, is to get a premium uplift. While we read, wide-eyed, that the new Range Rover could possibly top a six-figure on the road price, news has arrived about changes to the Freelander for the 2013 model year. This includes two completely new models, the ‘sporty’ Dynamic and the top of the range HSE Lux.

Exterior changes include three new colours, all new 17inch alloy wheels now standard for the XS derivative, plus Xenon LED technology for the front and rear lamps, with detailing changes to the front grille, insert bars and bumper vents.

NovProdTraedBluecol – probably best known for their antifreeze and de-icer products – has a great range of winter products. These include the Snow Treads studded mats. Made from tough Polymer they could help getting you moving when things get particularly icy. They also fold away and can be stored in the boot. Bluecol also has a Snow Mat, which is a similar option only more flexible and they fit the contours of the road a little better. Ideal to use on your drive, especially if it has an incline. Neither are suitable for serious off-road usage, but as a ‘get you home’ could be ideal. One useful item that everyone should keep in the rear of the car is a shovel, and the Bluecol version has an extendable shaft. They also do an excellent Magnetic Frost Protector which wraps around the windscreen and ‘attaches’ to the car’s bodywork. This, of course, works great for snow and ice and for those very occasional days when the sun’s up and therefore it stops cooking the interior. These products will be available from the usual motoring retail outlets or check out the main website at: www.tetrosyl.com

NovProdKitThe Automobile Association has produced a comprehensive selection of products that will help when the weather turns. Much of these are available through motor factor outlets like Halfords, but you can also get them direct from the AA’s website – where they could well be cheaper! There were special offers available when this was being written, including an impressive £20 off the ‘Ultimate Winter Car Kit’ which comprises of an emergency snow shovel, gloves, hat, foil blanket. Snow and ice shoe grips, towrope, high visibility vest, and a big bag of de-icing salt. All packed together in a canvass bag. To find out more, check out: www.theaa.co.uk

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.

OctNewsQuadWhile there are more and more electric vehicles coming to the market, having an electric quad seems a little unlikely because of the size of the chassis, matched with the size of the batteries. The guys at Electric Quad Bikes have had a two-wheel drive electric quad – the Eco Charger Dominator – on the market for a couple of years now, but the really interesting news is that they have now got a 4×4 version, called the Eco Charger 4×4 Eliminator. And very impressive it looks.