January 2015 Issue of 4×4 Magazine
Time for a confession. I’m getting rather interested in tyres. When discussing with any of my non off-roading friends that I’m about to write a feature on 4×4 rubber, I regularly get the rather tedious, and not very funny, comment that tyres are ‘black and round – what more is there to say?’ Plenty as far as I am concerned, and a lot of it very interesting in my humble opinion. In this month’s issue is the report of my recent experience driving 250 miles through the Mexican Baja, testing the new 4×4 tyres from BFGoodrich. This was an illuminating, entertaining and at times alarming experience, driving Baja Challenge buggies over some of the most testing off-road tracks and rocky trails this writer has ever experienced in 30 odd years of motoring journalism. For once it was not driving with a bunch of fellow journos, some of whom may think they are hotshot aces when getting behind the wheel, my fellow drivers in Mexico included actual Baja 1000 winners, and professional off-road specialists, including Rod Hall – the only person to complete all 46 Baja 1000 events! Humbling? You had better believe it.
Christmas is a great excuse to buy someone something that you’d really like yourself, but feel you shouldn’t really! When it comes to radiocontrolled model off-roaders, then we are sure that any of the younger offspring in the family would just love one of these; and you’d be just the person to explain how to drive it off-road! This is a 10th scale Jeep Wrangler from Axial, fi tted with Falken tyres apparently. It’s claimed to be a fully functional rock-crawler and all you will need to buy are batteries. Looks great to us, and it will be on the list to Santa. Fully functional, the Axial model is not cheap at £314.99, but what better way to work off the Christmas turkey than running around the garden driving over the neighbour’s rockery? Available from model shops, call 0845 459 1966, email: [email protected] or visit the website… but beware, there are some fantastic models on there! Important legal bit: Jeep and related logos, vehicle model names and trade dresses are trademarks of Chrysler Group LLC and are used under license by Axial Inc. © Chrysler Group LLC 2014 Website: www.axialracing.com
The African safari experience is on many to-do lists, but few people consider the option to drive the vehicle yourself, plan your own route and camp in the wild. Shaw Safaris in Tanzania will hire you a bespoke Land Rover Defender 110 with an itinerary to suit your own pace. It doesn’t get much better.
We crept up along the track, inching forward as the Defender 110’s 300Tdi chugged happily away, keen not to disturb or agitate the wild animal basking in the warmth of the Tanzanian sunshine alongside us in the scrubland. A convoy of Toyota Land Cruisers ahead had previously halted when the huge male lion decided to investigate (and have a nibble at) the All Terrains, but moved on once the lion had lost interest in the unpalatable rubberwear. Now it was our turn to enjoy the beauty of this magnificent African beast up close. “Am I safe here?” came a rather nervous voice from the passenger seat as my other half leaned out of the Defender’s window to come almost face to face with the lion, slumped on the ground below just a metre away.
We have always been very positive about Fiat’s little Panda 4×4; it’s a competent and capable, road-biased, small SUV. With the introduction of the new Panda Cross, that view has now changed…
If you work in a quarry, then you are used to things that are pretty big. All the mechanical equipment used is big, the holes in the ground can certainly get big, and the piles of rock, rubble, sand and general geological detritus can quickly turn into small mountains as work progresses.