Monthly Archives: April 2014

Explorer roof racksThe heavy-duty steel roof rack range from Safety Devices is now available direct from Britpart. Explorer roof racks are fitted using a system of detachable roof cross rails to the vehicle’s rainwater gutters. Grit blasted, and primed with zinc enriched powder undercoat, they are finished with a durable black powder coat. Seriously tough, they are available for Land Rover 90 Hard Top and Station Wagon, 110 Hard Top and Station Wagon, 110 and 130 Double Cab/Crew Cab pick-ups. Call Britpart, or check the website for more details.

Website: www.britpart.com  

Downloadable LR manualsHaving a technical manual in the garage that you try to follow while doing a service repair is all very well, but you know it’s going to get ruined, covered in grease and tea stains probably! The team at Britpart has a great answer to this in that they can provide original technical publications as digital downloads. This means that the manual is very easily searchable, but more importantly, you can print just the pages you need and use without worrying about ruining the book itself. (You can view but not print using Mac OS X. To print you will need to be running Windows on a PC. Do call first if unsure). The manuals cover early Land Rovers, Discovery 1 and 2, Freelander 1, Range Rover Classic, P38 and L322. Check the website for more details.

Website: www.britpart.com 

June 2014 Issue of 4×4 Magazine

june cover So there we have it then. You no longer need to be in your 4×4 to go off-roading. Thanks to the boffins at Land Rover, it is going to be possible to remotely control your machine while you stand out of harm’s way. That’s just one of the amazing new technical achievements that was announced this month by JLR at the New York Auto Show, where the Discovery Vision Concept was unveiled. Remote Control Drive ‘enables the driver to manoeuvre the car at low speed while not actually seated inside it.’ Can you truly be described as the driver, if that’s the case? Interesting legal point should your vehicle then run over the neighbour’s cat. Useful though should you need to hitch up a trailer on your own.

At present this is a Discovery Concept, so whether we are going to see all this in a production machine in the near future is still in question, but you get the idea that it won’t be long. Some of it does appear somewhat unnerving, however. Apparently there’s the ‘next generation’ of HMI, which – and I kid you not – is the Human-Machine Interface, which allows video calls between passengers. Talking to each other is obviously so passé. Any grumpy old man mockery from me does cause concern and head scratching when you learn that the Discovery’s Smart Glass has ‘the power of augmented reality’. Emails have been sent to Stephen Hawkings and Brian Cox to check this one out, but my understanding of the English language means that it’s not possible to augment reality. Surely you cannot make something ‘more real’? Perhaps this is due to the company’s new commercial link with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft project; Land Rover Discovery bravely goes where no off-roader has gone before…

The Ford BroncoThe Ford Bronco was originally launched to compete with Jeep, Land Rover, and even Toyota’s Land Cruiser. If you love 4x4s, you have to enjoy this retrospective of this great Stateside off-roader. Such is the Bronco’s following, you can even buy a new one, if you’ve got a healthy wallet!

Words: James Maxwell

The US product planners at Ford Motor Company had been eyeing the growing light-duty four-wheel drive off-road sport utility market in the 1960s and in August 1965, the company debuted its answer. The Ford Bronco was a small and nimble 4×4, designed to compete with the Jeep CJ, as well as the International Harvester Scout, Toyota Land Cruiser and even the Land Rover. The new 4×4 from Ford was called ‘Bronco’ as a second horse in their product stable, to sit alongside the famous Mustang sportscar range.

During the launch of the Bronco, Ford General Manager Donald Frey characterised the vehicle as: “Neither a car nor a truck, but as a vehicle that combines the best of both worlds. The Bronco can serve as a family sedan, sports roadster, snow plough, or farm and civil defence vehicle. It has been designed to go nearly anywhere and do nearly anything.”  Snow plough, eh?

The small, lightweight contender ran on a 92inch wheelbase and was highly versatile, both off-road and on tarmac. Featuring a boxy, steel body on a separate chassis design, the front suspension was known at the time as the ‘Mono-Beam’ anti-dive system, based on coil springs and forged radius rods located from the transmission area, forward to the solid front axle. Tubular shocks located rearward of the coils were used and a tubular track bar was incorporated into the design to maintain axle alignment. Turning radius was a tight 34ft circle. 

Two cars of very different character striving to achieve the same end – the Subaru struggling to shake off its dowdy image, the Yeti crashing the SUV party with bold styling and gimmicky features. But which is the most sensible second-hand buy?

Buyers' Guide: Subaru Forester V Skoda YetiTARGET RANGE: £10,000 – £23,000

There’s something about the combination of keen pricing, the promise of legendary reliability, impressive practicality and unconventional styling that makes the Skoda Yeti hard to resist, a situation backed up by its maker’s boast that it’s become one of the most successful vehicles in its class worldwide, and one of the best-selling compact SUVs in Europe. How is it, then, that we were hardly aware of its existence for several years before its first appearance in our magazine as a contender in our 4×4 Of The Year comparison for 2012? Almost certainly because of its rather oddball appearance, a design exercise that exhibits a total lack of any of the 4×4 or off-road styling cues that would more immediately have brought it to our attention. However, when we did sample the car we couldn’t have been more impressed, awarding it the winner’s spot in the mid-range class with the comment: “Looks, and slightly odd names, can be deceptive; the Yeti seems to have passed us by, which it is now obvious is our loss.”

From a practicality point of view the Yeti scores in being a more estate-like design than most other crossovers, which gives it a significant advantage not only in luggage carrying capacity but also the extra headroom and, thanks to its wrap-around rear window design, better visibility for rear seat passengers.

Thinking of going camping this summer? Paul Guinness explains what’s involved and offers some useful advice for first-timers

Camping with your 4x4The whole image of camping has changed immeasurably over the last few years, as increasing numbers of people look to the great outdoors for fun and adventure – and realise that camping is no longer the back-to-basics activity that it once was. These days there’s no shortage of fantastically well-equipped campsites offering clean and pleasant facilities. And, of course, the tents themselves are also vastly improved.

For many of us who own 4x4s, camping is an even more logical way to enjoy our leisure time. We own vehicles that can head off-road when necessary, and can carry more ‘stuff’ than your average family saloon. So why not make the most of the sheer usefulness of our 4x4s and get to enjoy some holidays (or weekend breaks) under canvas?


Most first-time campers still opt for a ground tent rather than a roof tent, often with good reason. But as even the biggest camping novice knows, ground tents come in many different shapes and sizes – so how do you choose the tent that’s ideal for your needs, and what are the advantages of a ground tent over a roof tent?

jeep cherokeeThe new Jeep Cherokee is a vital model for the Fiat/Chrysler partnership. It needs to sell in significant numbers, but to do that, has the Jeep DNA been diluted? Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case

Words: Nigel Fryatt

“We invented this segment, it’s great to be back in it with this vehicle.” Despite the comment being made at the new Cherokee’s launch in Italy, there was no mistaking the Stateside accent of Mitch Clauw, chief engineer for Chrysler’s C and D segment vehicles. Indeed, Mitch looked as you would expect a Jeep engineer; stocky, tight-fitting khaki workingman’s shirt, faded denim jeans and serious boots. Not for him the slick black designer hoodies worn by other assorted promotional and PR personal at the launch. Mitch is a Jeep man.

The invention he was referring to goes back to the 1984 Cherokee and what Jeep proudly claim to be the first ever SUV; a comfortable, family sedan, with four-wheel drive and confident off-road pretensions. It was the first such 4×4 that was built using a unibody frame, and not what was then the more traditional chassis + body construction. Times have changed, motor vehicles particularly so, but the new Cherokee is certainly back with a plan to underline all that is great about Jeep products, yet now has the target of serious success in a global market, not just in hometown USA. At present, the new Cherokee is being produced in Toledo, Ohio, and exported, but the company confirms that it has been designed with “more emphasis on the European customer,” and the sales targets for this vehicle reflect that.

Audi conceptThe Audi TT offroad concept breaks the mould, combining the visual and dynamic appeal of a coupe with the practicality and adaptability of a compact SUV. The four-door model, which Audi is presenting at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition, adds an entirely new dimension to the Audi design language. Its plug-in hybrid drive with two electric motors and a system output of 408PS ensures that it can deliver in performance terms while also potentially returning in excess of 148mpg.

SPOT ON!It’s one thing going into the wilderness on a fabulous overlanding trip, with the intention of ‘getting away from it all’ but there could we a time when you want someone to know exactly where you are for a safety point of view. Of course, in many cases the ubiquitous mobile phone will solve your problems, but what happens when you travel to an area with no mobile phone signal? Globalstar Inc is a leader in satellite and emergency notification technologies and the new SPOT Gen 3 device makes that very clever technology and affordable and simple option for overlanders. This is a small tracking device that you can fit to your vehicle, which allows for your journey to be tracked and regularly update your position on Google Maps. Most importantly, it is also able to immediately transmit an SOS notification, and allows you to confirm your arrival or send messages to friends and family regardless of mobile coverage. SPOT satellite coverage is impressive as it covers Europe, Canada, continental United States, Mexico, Australia, Northern and Central Africa, and much of South America and North-Eastern Asia.  For such a tiny unit, it offers an amazing amount of security for any serious 4×4 adventurer. It’s not expensive either, with the RRP in the UK of £150, with annual subscription services starting at £118 per year.

Website: www.findmespot.com 

CHARGE ITExide has launched a new battery charger. Called the 12/7 Battery Charger, it has been designed to achieve 100 per cent charge, regardless of the weather. It works for all types and sizes of 12v batteries, including cars, motorcycles, boats and caravans. Temperature has an important effect on charging and this new Exide charger will offer full charging between temperatures of minus 40degC to plus 50 degC – so they probably have most situations covered. As you would expect the charger has ‘robust overcharge protection’ and also has anti-spark technology in place to protect against faulty batteries and connections. For more details check out the Exide website.

Website: www.exide.com