Monthly Archives: December 2015

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Afzal Kahn has been commissioned to design a one-off bespoke version of the Land Rover Defender by the London Motor Show.

As one of the world’s most iconic cars edges toward retirement, the renowned British designer, famous for introducing tweed into Kahn vehicles, has set out to create the Ultimate Defender.

In line with Kahn’s successful track record in vehicle design, visual elements used in the Ultimate Defender capture subtle influences and recreate a resonant design with a contemporary feel, paying tribute to the impeccable history of this British icon.

Afzal Kahn explains: “I have designed a vehicle that celebrates the history and unique personality of the Defender.

“My designs are known for their attention to detail, so I didn’t want this Defender to be any different.

“This is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s best loved vehicles and I would welcome feedback from Defender owners and enthusiasts alike who are welcome to visit my Kings Road boutique in Chelsea.”

In a unique opportunity to collaborate on the final design Afzal Kahn will ask the British public to have their say on what additional features would complement the one-off vehicle.

Entries will be submitted on social media using the hashtag #UltimateDefender, with lucky fans being invited to see the Ultimate Defender, complete with the winning suggestions, when the vehicle is unveiled and offered for sale at The London Motor Show 2016.

The London Motor Show will be staged at the Evolution Centre in Battersea Park from the 5th to the 8th May 2016

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The SsangYong Tivoli is now available through the Motability Scheme which means disabled motorists can lease a new Tivoli using their higher rate mobility allowance.  The models available include the 1.6 litre petrol SE, EX manual and automatic and ELX manual.

The Tivoli is a B-segment SUV that offers a comprehensive specification with prices from just £12,950 – and from £99 Advance Payment for Motability Scheme customers.  There are three trim levels – SE, EX, ELX, and the petrol cars are powered by a 1.6 litre Euro 6 engine, with 6 speed manual or 6 speed Aisin automatic transmission.

There’s space for five adults to travel in comfort, a boot capacity of 423 – 1,115 cubic litres, a high level of safety with seven airbags across the range, and a wide choice of colours and stylish interior trims.  The Tivoli SE is finished in a grey cloth trim, and includes 16” alloy wheels, cruise control, a stop/go system, Smart steering (normal, comfort and sport modes), an RDS/Bluetooth radio and seven airbags.

The EX adds the option of automatic transmission, grey or beige leather upholstery, 18” alloy Spiral wheels, dual zone climate control, 7” touch screen smart audio system with rear view camera, heated front seats, front fog lights and a luggage load cover, while the ELX features Diamond cut alloy wheels, a smart instrument cluster, smart keyless starting, front & rear parking sensors, privacy glass, rear spoiler, automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers, full TomTom navigation system with 7” touch screen and rear view camera.

The Tivoli joins the Korando SUV, Rexton 4×4 and Turismo MPV already offered on the Scheme, and is available to those receiving the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment, the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement or the Armed Forces Independence Payment from participating SsangYong dealers.

he Motability Scheme has helped more than four million people into a new vehicle, with benefits that include insurance, servicing, maintenance and full breakdown assistance.

Regardless of which car is chosen, all Motability Scheme customers enjoy the same worry-free package including insurance, breakdown cover, servicing, tyres and windscreen replacement.

For more information about Ssangyong, go to ssangyonggb.co.uk and on leasing a SsangYong through the Motability Scheme, visit motability.co.uk or call 0800 953 7000.


Nissan is famous for being a top-selling car brand, but few people would realise it is fast becoming one of Europe’s biggest camera companies too. Having fitted over two million camera units to its range in less than two years it is now snapping at the heels of some of the world’s biggest camera makers.

Increased safety technology means that Nissan’s best-selling models now have up to five cameras per car. It means that the leading Crossover brand sells an astonishing 3,400* cameras per day, or more than two per minute.

Nissan’s multi-award winning Crossover range, which includes Qashqai, Juke and X-Trail, has accounted for over 1.9 million camera sales since the Qashqai went on sale in 2014. The top-selling versions of each have four wide-angle cameras attached to the front, back, left and right, which are the foundations of the Around View Monitor system.

The AVM system can display a 360-degree, bird’s-eye view which helps the driver to visually confirm the vehicle’s position relative to white lines and other vehicles, allowing the driver to manoeuvre into parking spots with more ease.

The Qashqai and X-Trail also have an additional camera mounted in the windscreen which is used for a variety of high-tech functions, such as traffic sign recognition and automatically dipping main beam headlamps.

112554_10_5The camera systems fitted to Qashqai and X-Trail provide the capability for self-parking, along with a package of functions which make up Safety Shield, including Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD), all of which will be critical in the future development of autonomous drive.

One of the smartest features within Safety Shield is the intelligent self-cleaning rear view camera system, which detects when it is dirty and automatically cleans itself.

The computer processes more than 15 mega pixels each second; mounted just above the rear number plate, the camera uses its in-built water and compressed air apparatus to clear the lens of debris ensuring the 7-inch NissanConnect screen receives a clear picture, providing optimum passenger and pedestrian safety.

And with Crossover sales going from strength to strength, Nissan is predicting demand for its camera units will reach over 10 million in the next five years.

Engineers are already working on the next generation of camera technology, such as that seen in the Nissan Gripz concept Crossover. Two cameras built into the headlamps allow live streaming of the car’s adventures – on and off road – to the internet.


* Based on average sales of new Qashqai, Juke, X-Trail, GT-R, LEAF, Pulsar, Note from new Qashqai start of sales at the end of January 2014 until end of November 2015, totaling 22 months.

For 2005 the Grand Cherokee began its transformation from rough-riding Yank to sophisticated European; fortunately there’s enough laid-back American character left to set it apart from blander rivals

 TARGET RANGE:  £3,000 – £15,000 

The alliance with Mercedes-Benz in the late ‘90s might have been the saviour of the Jeep brand, but it did mean compromising times for the Grand Cherokee. Sitting at the comfort end of the Jeep range with its spacious interior and lusty V8 power the original Grand had been as all-American as apple pie, but it was still too unrefined and thirsty for European tastes. For 1999 the Grand lost its separate chassis in favour of a lighter monocoque bodyshell and, a key advance for European customers, gained sensible Mercedes turbodiesel power. We had to wait until 2005, however, before the Grand also lost its beam front axle in favour of independent suspension, along with tauter steering courtesy of a rack and pinion system and more power from an uprated Mercedes 3.0-litre turbodiesel. Even with these changes the Grand Cherokee retained much of its American character, so compared with European and far eastern rivals it still has a rather brash appearance allied to a laid-back driving style that seems at odds with attempts to make it look and feel more in keeping with European expectations. Hence it was never going to be a best-seller, but it did find a following among folk wishing to be part of the undeniably charismatic Jeep legend, on the other hand, the many who saw the similarly undeniable value for money in a car that undercut key rivals while offering as much, if not more, in the way of luxury equipment.

For 2005 the Grand presented a bold new frontal appearance, with the not-quite-rectangular headlamps of the earlier model replaced by pairs of halogen lamps butting up into the bonnet line, straddling a bold seven-slot grill and underlined by a heavy, almost aggressively-thrusting bumper. Otherwise the body lines seemed unchanged, although closer inspection revealed that the windscreen has a more aerodynamic rake, the doors are bigger and squarer, there’s a higher belt line and the rear has bigger lamp clusters and a heavier rear bumper and tailgate design. The interior was also restyled, not necessarily for the better where the dashboard is concerned, since it has a particularly chunky look to it which we described as looking as if it had been carved out of granite, possibly in an attempt to give the whole car a solid American Rocky Mountain look, great if you like it, but a rather startling exception to the smoother and more organic shapes favoured by most European and Asian manufacturers. Other worthy features in the new model include a 60-40 split for the rear seat fold and a reversible boot-floor storage tray, not to mention the concert-quality sound system in top models linked via a colour display to the satnav.

For Europe the other significant improvement for the new model was the introduction of the 3.0-litre V6 CRD turbodiesel, as used in the Mercedes M-Class, replacing the 2.7-litre unit in the previous generation. The engine is a modern all-alloy quad-cam design with common rail injection, producing 218bhp, perhaps more importantly for heavy towing or off-road duties the peak torque is developed at a lowly 1600rpm. From the start the new model could also be specified with the stunning 325bhp 5.7-litre Hemi V8 engine, absolutely the right choice for anyone wanting to enjoy the all-American side of the car’s character. All those smokin’ cubic inches ought to translate into heady fuel consumption, but in fact the engine is relatively economical since it switches out four of its cylinders to use less fuel when it’s not being hammered to outpace a hot hatch, and uses little more fuel than the old faithful 4.0-litre six – expect 18mpg if you have a sensibly light right foot.


A short while after launch a 4.7-litre V8 was added to the range, with 230bhp on tap but also significantly heavier consumption than the turbodiesel so it has not proved particularly popular, one reason why the thirsty V8s were dropped a year or so later. All versions have five-speed automatic transmissions and low range.

For 2005 the Grand also switched from the Quadra Drive 4WD system to Quadra Drive II, the main difference being that the limited slip differentials on front and rear axles are electronically operated rather than by the oil pressure used to lock the Gerotor type diffs on the previous model – the advantage being that the electronics can keep the diffs locked until the car is well past the situation that called for them, whereas the Gerotor type would keep switching in and out in response to wheelspin.

 Our verdicts 

Looking back on it we were pretty harsh on the Grand Cherokee back in 2005 when we pitted the all-new third-generation model against nine competitors in one of our ‘World’s Best Off-Roader’ features. It came eighth out of 10, narrowly beating the Hyundai Terracan and giving ground to the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser as well as the Land Rover Discovery, but then the overall winner was the Santana PS10, so it’s obvious that our main interest in that confrontation was plain mud-plugging with no consideration for style and refinement. The previous generation Grand Cherokee had actually won the ‘Best Off-Roader’ accolade for 2004, so what had gone wrong? Our explanation, in the July 2005 issue, was straightforward: “In adapting the Jeep’s running gear for improved on-road ride comfort the engineers have compromised off-roading agility. The key factor is the switch from beam axle to independent front suspension, robbing the Jeep of the excellent articulation the previous model enjoyed.” We did at least heap praise on the new Quadra Drive II system, which effectively locks front and rear differentials in tortuous situations.

We had already experienced the Quadra Drive II system in action; it just so happened that our very first hands-on experience of the new Grand Cherokee, at its launch presentation, had taken place just a couple of weeks earlier, so the report appeared in the same July 2005 issue. That gave us the opportunity to give a more balanced overview of the new model, and we were impressed: “It’s been criticised for years for its lack of on-road finesse but finally Daimler Chrysler has bowed to pressure and delivered a new Grand Cherokee that’s a revelation to drive on the road. The new suspension has allowed Jeep to use rack and pinion steering, which has improved driver feel no end with a new found nimbleness. Electronic Stability Programme has been brought in, traction control and rollover mitigation are standard.”

We hailed the arrival of the more economical and powerful 3.0-litre turbodiesel, but naturally enthused over the 5.7 Hemi: “The combination of the Hemi V8 with the slick, smooth and delightful five-speed auto is spot on. Kickdown is superb and hits the driver with a pure adrenaline rush.” Fuel consumption at 18.3mpg meant it wasn’t for everybody.


We gave the high-specification Overland a cool reception when it appeared early in 2006. Our report in the June issue of that year praised some aspects of the well-equipped interior, but not others: “The Overland majors on soft two-tone leather and wood accents which look like they were once part of a tree. Shame they couldn’t improve on the silly ignition key location and the handbrake lever tucked down the side of the passenger seat.”

We liked the honeycomb grille, the 18-inch alloys and the platinum detailing that distinguishes the Overland from the rest of the range, but were more impressed by the turbodiesel engine: “The CRD engine is superbly refined with enough performance to leave a Discovery floundering in its wake. The Jeep is lighter than the Discovery but users will appreciate the Discovery-sized 3500kg tow rating.” We still weren’t sure about the car’s off-road ability: “The brilliant Quadra Drive II 4WD system will get you out of a muddy gymkhana field, but the downside to the Grand Cherokee’s estate-car stance is that any more taxing off-roading is probably best avoided.”

The Grand Cherokee made regular appearances in our annual 4×4 Of The Year appraisals, but never impressed enough to win a major award, even though for 2006 we again had the pleasure of the 5.7 Hemi-engined version. By 2007 we’d decided that we didn’t like the heavy sculptured dash with its equally bulky door trim, but by 2008 we were beginning to recognise that, in spite of a firm ride quality, it was well worth considering as a value-for money luxury purchase. We firmed up that feeling for 2009: “This is a lot of car for the money. It’s the cheapest in the class and yet is still highly refined and comfortable.” By 2010, with a new model on the way and more competition than ever from sharper-styled rivals, our farewell comment was predictable: ‘We love the sublime Mercedes V6 engine and we’ve always been huge fans of the Quadra Drive II system, but that driveline brilliance comes packaged in something so bland that no amount of leather and wood can convince you that the Grand is anything more than a ‘really nice’ 4×4.”

 Which one to buy 

The mainstream specification level for the Grand Cherokee is the Limited, and these are most common secondhand. There is also a standard trim version, but they’re rare and not particularly cheap, although they have cloth upholstery they do have electric seat adjustment, air conditioning, electric windows, remote central locking and 17-inch alloy wheels, with driver, passenger and front side airbags, tyre pressure monitors and the electronic stability programme, as well as the off-road aids of hill descent control and hill start assist. We spotted a silver 2006 model with 96,000 miles on offer for £5985 at Ivybridge Motors in Devon (01752 892403), with the added bonus of an extended warranty and lifetime MOTs.

No matter if you can’t find one, the Limited is arguably a much better value purchase, since it has a higher equipment spec including leather upholstery and climate control. Satnav was a £1550 option. There is also a huge range of second-hand examples available, pay from £3000 for a high-mileage early example, more like £6000 for anything decent with less than 100,000 miles, though we have seen a few being offered privately at around £4500. Used Car of Doncaster (01427 875288) were offering a metallic blue 2006 Limited with 92,800 miles, full service history and MOT to April, for £5988. Caravan dealers County of Somerset (01823 413333) were advertising a silver 2009 example with 64,500 miles, good bodywork and tyres, for £9900, presumably a car with towing experience, something of a bargain compared with the similar-age 58,000 mile metallic silver example priced at £11,500 at Trade Price Cars of Essex (01286 766722) though this did have a service history, new MOT, six-month warranty and a year’s AA breakdown cover thrown in. From 2008 there was an S-Limited which included an in-car entertainment upgrade, parking aids, rain sensing wipers and 18-inch alloys, Hadleigh Garage of Leigh-on-Sea (01702 471003) were asking £13,999 for a pristine metallic silver 34,000-mile run-out example on a 60 plate, full service history and a 6-month warranty.


The Overland introduced in 2006 was hailed as the most luxurious Jeep yet, with detailed improvements to the interior, with additional leather trim on the steering wheel and door panels, high-end stereo and CD system with Bluetooth and satnav as standard, it also had a rear-view camera. Look out for versions that had the optional sunroof. Pay £5000 for a high-mileage example, Whitley Bay Motors in the north east (01914 153540) were asking £6995 for a blue 80,000 miler from 2006 with a new MOT. Acklam Car Centre of Middlesbrough (01642 966670) had a 46,000 miler on a 60 plate advertised for £15,990 (not a bad price considering it cost over £33,000 new), arguably there was better value to be had from Eddie Wright Car Supermarket in Lincolnshire (01724 245570) who were asking £13,000 for a metallic grey 70,000-miler of the same age. Look out for examples of the Overland Tech, which had a power sunroof as standard and xenon headlamps.

Petrol versions are also rare, but the 5.7 Hemi is a delight to drive. How’s this for a high-fun beast of a car for relatively chicken-feed money – Doshsavers of Mansfield (01623 652004) had a silver 2007 Hemi with a full service history but only 84,000 miles and priced at just £7795. Meanwhile if you like the sound and performance of a V8 but aren’t sure you’d be able to cope with the Hemi, there was a 4.7 Predator special edition from 2006 on sale at Central Car Sales of Northallerton (01609 773777) for £5995, still in top condition and with only 51,000 miles, full service history and sold with a warranty and long MOT.

There are no particular problems associated with any of the engines. The V8s are as bulletproof as you’d expect from an all-American product, and most we’ve seen for sale second-hand have well under 100,000 miles on them – a natural consequence of their thirst, but also something of a guarantee that they’ll still be in good condition. Nevertheless, as with any engine, make sure it starts easily, idles smoothly and revs progressively, and check that the exhaust is smoke-free. The diesel is a reputable Mercedes unit but as with any modern common-rail, high-efficiency turbodiesel it requires proper service attention with the correct quality of lubricants, so look for a full service history from a franchised dealer. Reject a car that doesn’t start easily, blows black smoke and feels lethargic, it might be a sign that the expensive injectors need replacing or the turbo is failing, also listen for screeching or squealing from under the bonnet that could point to a failing water pump.
These modern sophisticated transmissions are also susceptible to poor service attention, so reject any car that exhibits too much shunt when changing between first and reverse, fails to kick down responsively, jerks its changes or allows too much engine revving between shifts. Typical problems include a tendency to miss first gear when pulling away and a failure to select the overdrive top when cruising, so on a test drive make sure all the gears are engaging when they should. It’s quite likely that a car that’s had an easy life as a school run MPV may never have been in low range, so check that the transfer box hasn’t seized by selecting low range and making sure it engages. Reject any car that rumbles or whines when under way, the sophisticated auto-locking differentials can wear, as can wheel bearings.
Fortunately the suspension is refreshingly conventional, and problems are relatively easy to put right – higher-mileage cars, particularly ones that have been used for towing, might suffer from soggy dampers or even strained springs. Check that the car sits square and drives crisply, and doesn’t wobble about excessively in corners. The steering should feel crisp and reasonably direct, reject a car if it feels too vague, suggesting that bushes are worn. Make sure the steering works progressively from lock to lock, excessive groaning or squealing on full lock might indicate a failing power steering pump. Seized brake calipers could result in uneven braking or power-draining drag on the discs while driving; feel (without touching!) for excessive heat from one or both of the discs after a drive caused by a dragging brake pad.
Probably the most important point to make about the earlier versions of this car is that the ignition switch is positioned low to the right of the steering column – where the driver’s knee can come into contact with the key and, by brushing against it, turn off the engine which of course also means that steering and brake servos are lost. Jeep realised this problem quickly and moved the ignition switch on later models to a position higher and to the left of the steering column, well out of the way of swinging knees. On those earlier models, though, the only advice given – and we can only reinforce the point – is that it’s best not to have a fob on the key, and not to hang anything on it, like a bunch of house keys, to reduce the chance of that accidental contact taking place. Otherwise expect some signs of wear on the leather trim on the driver’s seat on higher mileage cars, and check that all the electric features work – make sure all the doors and tailgate respond to the remote, that all the electric windows work properly and that the stereo and the satnav operate as they should, as occasional failures are known. The heating and ventilation system, including the air conditioning, can glitch, so check that the air blows cold when it should and also that the heater is effective, repairs will require removal of the dashboard and the subsequent depletion of your bank account.


Mercedes-Benz MLRange Rover SportToyota Amazon

You could say the ML is the most direct challenger to the Grand Cherokee since this generation of the Jeep was developed under Mercedes control and shares its 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine with the ML, both cars are luxurious five-seaters, the main difference being one of image – the ML is totally European, the Jeep is strongly American in character. High-specification versions of the ML have plenty of luxury equipment and a reasonably opulent air to their interiors; there may be a downside in that the ML just doesn’t have the same road-dominating presence as the bold-fronted Jeep and despite the high equipment levels the interiors are rather bland. Although the ML will generally have had a higher original purchase price you should still be able to get a later model for your money – pay £10,000 for an ’07 ML280 or 320 in Sport or SE form with under 100,000 miles, £15,000 should get you into a 320 Sport dating from 08 or 09. Want some fun? We spotted several of the lusty ML500 Sports on ’05 and ’06 plates on offer from £11,000 – £13,000.

In total contrast to the swaggering American character of the Jeep the Range Rover Sport oozes English Country Gentleman. There’s also a contrast in the way the cars drive, the Range Rover is both tauter in its handling and more comfortable in its ride. There’s a superb range of engines to choose from, from the economical 2.7 V6 TD to a choice of 4.4-litre petrol V8 or the stunning 385bhp supercharged 4.2; most sought-after has to be the later 270bhp twin-turbo 3.6 TD V8. All these drive through a modern slick-shifting six-speed automatic. Comfort and luxury equipment are on a par with the Grand Cherokee, better in the range-topping HSE, and it surpasses the American in its electronic wizardry both in on-road and off-road driving aids the latter including electronic air suspension with terrain response. The Sport was one of the new generation of Land Rovers that shrugged off earlier questions of reliability, with good reports from customer surveys. With  £14,000 – £15,000 to spend you should secure a 2009 2.7 TD V6 HSE with reasonable mileage, or a 2007 3.6 TD V8 HSE.

Where the Jeep may have softened its off-road character in favour of on-road comfort, the mighty Toyota manages dominating road presence while retaining excellent off-road ability. Like the Jeep this generation of Amazon had succumbed to the comforting allure of independent front suspension, but with long-term durability in mind it retains the separate steel chassis frame shunned by its mainstream rivals. The styling of the interior may be a little bland, but comfort and luxury equipment is as good as it gets, and though it does lag a little in some of the high-tech driving aids that feature in more leading-edge rivals, it’s still a good car to drive with excellent towing ability. The Toyota’s styling may seem dated, classic to others; either way it’s a handsome machine with good power from either the 4.2-litre turbodiesel or 4.7-litre V8. It’s also heavy, so it’s not as quick or as nimble as the Grand Cherokee, but it does have the bonus of seven-seats. The Amazon holds its value, so within our price range you can find examples dating as far back as 2003 and 2004.


This book is the mechanic in your glovebox, essential for troubleshooting, identifying issues and suggesting roadside fixes for 101 common problems associated with Series Land Rovers – both on and off-road.

The user-friendly layout incorporates extensive cross-referencing, helping you rapidly diagnose a problem. Remedies for everything from sudden engine failure through to unusual sounds and smells are provided in topic-specific chapters, and all standard petrol and diesel engines are covered, with the exception of the V8. Some Land Rover models have their own specific weaknesses and these are also addressed, with thorough advice provided for permanent and more expensive repairs, and tips on preventative maintenance.

Featuring innovative temporary fixes learnt from years of on and off-road driving, plus over 100 diagrams and photograph, this book can help get you and your Land Rover back on the tarmac – or save you a long walk through the countryside.

Land Rover Series I-III by Maurice Thurman

ISBN: 9781845849115

Print equivalent ISBN: 9781845840983

£9.49 – prices may vary between vendors


A one-of-a-kind Land Rover Defender sold for a record £400,000 at a prestigious charity auction at Bonhams, from which all proceeds are being donated to Land Rover’s humanitarian and conservation partners. This is the thought to be the most valuable production Land Rover ever to be sold at auction.

The unique vehicle, the two-millionth of the iconic Series Land Rover and Defender models manufactured at Land Rover’s Solihull plant since 1948, was sold to a bidder from Qatar. The vehicle was built in May 2015 by an all-star cast of brand ambassadors and people from Land Rover’s history including Bear Grylls, Virginia McKenna OBE and Stephen and Nick Wilks, sons of the founders of Land Rover.

All proceeds from the sale will be donated to Land Rover’s humanitarian and conservation partners: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), who will use the donation to help communities in South-East Nepal to improve how they tackle natural disasters, and the Born Free Foundation who plan to use the funds to support the ‘Project Lion Rover’ wildlife conservation initiative in Meru National Park, Kenya. The project provides critical equipment to help protect lions and other wildlife and establishes education and community involvement to tackle issues such as snaring and poaching.

The vehicle, built as part of a year of celebrations for the much loved 4×4 which will cease manufacturing in Solihull in January 2016, boasts a host of distinctive and bespoke finishing features including an engraved map of Red Wharf Bay – where the design for the original Land Rover was first drawn in the sand, and a unique ‘no 2,000,000’ badge. Inside, the leather seats also feature the ‘Red Wharf Bay’ graphic and ‘no 2,000,000’ logos have been stitched on the headrests. A bespoke aluminium plaque, signed by everyone who helped to assemble the vehicle is fitted to the driver’s seat. Special S90 HUE registration plates provide a fitting tribute to the first ever pre-production Land Rover, registration ‘HUE 166’.


Possibly the most desirable Land Rover product yet, the Evoque’s stunning styling remains concept-car fresh, it’s luxurious, a dynamic drive on and off the road – and becoming increasingly affordable

 TARGET RANGE:  £20,000 – £35,000 

The Evoque is a remarkable success story for Land Rover, which itself has enjoyed an almost fairly-tale level of success considering its agricultural beginnings. The avant-garde styling of the Evoque was a bold departure from the traditional Land Rover look, adding a more dynamic and youthful edge to a range that otherwise majored on a more conservative and elegant approach to express its dominance in the world of SUV luxury and technology.

Even in these days of quick-turnaround model development courtesy of CAD-CAM design systems, it’s rare for a visually-exciting motor show concept vehicle to go straight into full-scale production, but that’s pretty much what happened after the LRX concept first appeared at the North American Motor Show in Detroit in 2008. The concept was a three-door coupe, for production this design was tweaked so subtly to add a five-door model to the range that it’s hard to see where the modifications were made – the five-door is only about 10mm longer than the coupe, but it’s also around 50mm taller; in spite of the rearward-sloping roofline that seems to squeeze the rear window into a narrow slit, there’s still quite adequate headroom in the rear to accommodate three adults in comfort.

The Evoque’s edgily modern styling is matched by the leading-edge technology it embraces, and that’s not only the Terrain Response and Hill Descent controls pioneered by Land Rover but now common on all other premium SUVs. It borrows from the mainstream Range Rover such features as keyless entry, the touch-screen dual-view display and connectivity options including Bluetooth and USB, and auxiliary inputs for iPods and MP3 players, and can be specified with surround camera systems, automated parking feature and rear seat entertainment using eight-inch video screens, wireless headphones and a touch-screen remote control.

If there’s anything conventional about the Evoque it’s the basic drive train, which employs what has become the industry standard automatic 4×4 system, using a Haldex-type clutch to balance drive between the front and rear wheels; since there’s almost always some drive going to the rear wheels it qualifies as a permanent 4×4 system, with additional drive to the rear wheels when necessary being added so seamlessly that it’s impossible to notice from the driving seat. Back this up with Land Rover’s superbly smooth-acting traction control systems and you have a car with unquestionably class-leading off-road agility. Yet it’s also a delight to drive on the road, particularly in versions that have the optional MagneRide continuously variable adaptive dampers, which are soft enough to absorb potholes and other rough-road irregularities, but stiffen in corners to reduce body lean and help steering accuracy. Yet they’re also tuned to give an excellent quality of ride in more extremely variable off-road situations, making the Evoque a superb all-rounder.

Note that there is also a two-wheel drive variant, this using a lower-power version of the turbodiesel engine, aimed at low emissions and better fuel economy than the 4×4 versions. The mainstream 4×4 Evoques have a choice of the 2.2-litre turbodiesel producing either 147bhp in the TD4 or 187bhp in the SD4, or the turbocharged petrol Si4 developing 236bhp. The petrol engine is a direct-injection type with variable valve timing, powerful enough to provide 7.1second 0-60mph getaway acceleration, efficient enough to return a reasonable 36mpg and a CO2 figure of 181g/km. The turbodiesels are naturally more economical, though this is matched by lower performance. Base versions with the 147-horse unit should return 50mph with emissions of     145g/km, the punchier SD4 offers better performance with similar economy. Originally the transmission was a six-speed manual with a six-speed automatic available on SD4 and petrol models, from mid-2013 a nine-speed automatic became available, a technically advanced unit offering a lower first gear, for better off-road crawling and trailer-shifting capability, as well as slicker downshifts and smoother upshifts.

For the 2016 model year the Evoque gets a new turbodiesel engine, a high-tech new alloy-block 2.0-litre multivalve unit with 177bhp; this effectively replaces the nominally more powerful SD4, but higher peak torque and better flexibility result in a more positive mid-range driving experience. Efficiency is the main aim, showing up in 59mpg economy and CO2 emissions of 125g/km. If you’re thinking of buying a new Evoque, one of these will be the natural choice, though there might be worthy bargains available on run-out 2.2-litre models as dealers keen to clear remaining stock from their showrooms snip a grand or so off the list price, more if you have a half-tempting trade-in.

 Our verdicts 

We were thoroughly impressed with the Evoque from our first contact with the new model, and that was even before we had a chance to drive one. We’d been invited to view pre-production cars at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon test facility, where we were quickly convinced that the shapely new bearer of the Range Rover badge wasn’t just a styling exercise; just watching the cars being put through their off-road paces was enough to reassure us that this was a car worthy of the Land Rover all-terrain reputation. Editor Nigel Fryatt made the point in our June 2011 edition: “When it comes to 4x4s you should never judge until you have got behind the wheel both on, and off, the road. Rules are there to be broken, and the Evoque does just that… it’s a hugely impressive piece of kit, and if anything, its stunning looks do it an injustice. It’s better than it looks.”

Our first opportunity to drive the car came in time for the September issue of that year, and one incident in particular during a drive over some difficult tracks in the Snowdonia National Park confirmed our feelings about the car’s credentials as a true off-roader as well as a superb luxury estate. We wrote: “The route was steep and a number of uneven boulders poked through the damp sandy soil, just before a tight S bend through some trees. The vehicle in front had slowed, the driver checking that Hill Descent was engaged, reduced the selected speed to the minimum and inched forward.

“As the front wheels cleared the first boulder the nose dipped into a deep rut and the Evoque’s rear rose on the nearside to clear the mound. From our viewpoint the clearance and wheel articulation was obvious. Clear daylight could be seen underneath the car and it gently negotiated the tight twist, controlled and without fuss.

“When it was our turn everything happened much the same, the only difference being that it seemed far less dramatic. Had we not stopped to watch the other Evoque, conversation in the cabin would have continued… so competent was this new Range Rover that you could sit back and enjoy the view.”

For anyone who thinks it might just have been the shock of the ‘new’ that so excited us about the Evoque, crunch time came later in 2011 when we pitted the new Range Rover against six other premium SUVs in our 4×4 Of The Year contest. The dated Mitsubishi Shogun, Toyota Land Cruiser and road-biased BMW X5 were quickly sidelined. The Volkswagen Touareg fared a little better, but lost out against the sheer value-for-money – not to mention better off-road agility – of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which left only the Land Rover Discovery 4 as anything like competent competition, and it could have won for its more focused 4×4 system, towing capacity and seven-seater capability, but being a run-out design, heavy, thirsty and expensive it was just outpointed by the eye-catching, lightweight and more nimble Evoque, which nevertheless reflected the full monte of Range Rover luxury fittings and fixtures. Enough to win the best in class award, but the overall winner that year? Stupidly expensive but completely unbeatable, it could be nothing other than the Range Rover itself, in Autobiography form.


The theme was repeated in our next 4×4 Of The Year extravaganza, featured in the Winter 2013 issue. On that occasion the Evoque was again a clear class winner, with the Range Rover Sport taking overall top spot.

Time did little to change our opinion, reflected in our most recent 4×4 Of The Year shoot-out ending with the same results, and that was even taking the eye-watering price into account. We said of the Evoque, tested in Dynamic form: “The trouble we have is the price at over £40,000 without the Lux Pack at £4650. You do, however, get a lot of top class performance for that amount of cash, and you can get into the Evoque at entry level at a more palatable £39,000.

“Whatever model you buy, it looks superb as a cut above the rest of the pack and offers a level of leather comfort and ICE prestige that rivals envy. The dash is beautifully sculpted, on the road it’s like driving a light sports car… most Evoques won’t ever test their incredible off-road ability, which is a crying shame.”

 Which one to buy 

There’s a seemingly bewildering variety of Evoques to choose from, and whichever trim level you’re looking at, the car will probably have had optional extras included – for instance, some 60 per cent of purchasers choose the panoramic sunroof. That’s because most Evoques will have been built to order, so although the basic styling differences between Pure, Prestige and Dynamic are clear-cut, second-hand pricing could vary significantly depending on the actual equipment fitted, so it’s worth shopping around to find one that has your own preferred features. Pure is theoretically the base trim level, featuring black detailing across the tailgate and along the waistline, dark-finish grille and, on the coupe, bonnet louvres.

Wheels are 18inch ‘sparkle silver’ alloys with 235/60 tyres. There’s no shortage of luxury since the upholstery is leather and the dash has brushed aluminium trim. Front seats are heated, there’s climate control, an 11-speaker Meridian audio system and an eight-inch colour touch-screen display. Terrain Response, Hill Descent and Hill Start Assist are standard, but look out for versions with the Tech pack, excellent value initially since for under £2000 to the original list price it added HDD satnav, front parking sensors, heated windscreen, headlamp washers and the auto headlamp and windscreen wiper system.

You could be asked to pay over £25,000 for a well-maintained low mileage Pure – at least make sure it has the Tech pack at that price – but there is a good selection available from £20,000. There’s little difference between three-door and five-door prices, these again depending very much on mileage and condition rather than the number of doors. CarShop of Northampton (0800 458 2732) were offering a 61-plated five-door in grey metallic with 88,000 miles and a full service history for £21,600, while Monty’s of Sheffield (01143 320156) had a pristine ‘pre-loved’ SD4 Pure Tech with 86,000 miles going for £21,995, a metallic silver car with black leather interior.

The Prestige trim level focuses on luxury and has Oxford leather upholstery and real wood trim, carpet mats and chrome tread plates. There’s an HDD satnav system, rear-view camera and front parking sensors. The headlamps are xenon with LED running lights, backed up by driving lights. Ivybridge Motors in Devon (01752 892403) were asking £23,485 for a 60,000-mile white three-door 61-plated SD4, boosted by the offer of an extended warranty and free lifetime MOTs, while Car Select of Coventry (024 7511 9883) had a 75,000-mile five-door of similar age in black with the panoramic sunroof at a headier £25,223, but they had thrown in their own 12-month warranty.

The Dynamic is a more sports-oriented set-up, starting with 20inch alloys on 245/45 tyres giving it racy street cred and sharper handling, backed up by the MagneRide suspension, which is a £1000 extra on Prestige with the SD4 engine. The interior is livened with aluminium pedal covers, perforated leather on the steering wheel and metallic trim on the centre console. Caffyns of Lewes (01273 283951) had a manufacturer-approved three-door SD4 in Orkney Grey, 60,000 miles with the Tech pack at £25,995, Stratstone of Milton Keynes (01908 518117) had a 12-plated Fuji White 2012 five-door SD4 with just 46,000 miles on their approved scheme for £26,991.

Prestige and Dynamic models could also be specified with the Lux pack, which for an extra £4500 added the panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, 825 Watt surround sound audio, television reception, surround-view cameras, blind spot monitoring, park assist system and advanced climate control with air quality sensor. R Symons of Bournemouth (01202 060398) is offering a self-parking Dynamic Lux with 80,000 miles, just serviced, for £27,750.


For the 2013 model year the Dynamic could be specified with the Black Design Pack, adding extra visual impact to an already striking car – it includes a rear sports spoiler, dark-look headlamps and driving lamps, 20inch gloss black wheels and a roof in Santorini Black, the colour repeated on the bumpers and exhaust finishers. Good examples won’t be cheap, Ongar Bridge in Essex (01277 366661) had a stunning Dynamic in Firenze Red metallic, just 16,000 miles on a 63 plate with the nine-speed automatic, panoramic roof and power tailgate, for £36,950. This pack first appeared on the Sicilian Yellow special edition, which could be specified either with yellow body and black roof, or black body with yellow roof, Marshall of Melton (0844 334 9045) had a 35,000-miler, black with the yellow roof, priced at £37,800. If buying an automatic dating from 2013 it’s worth paying a little extra for one with the nine-speed gearbox rather than the six-speeder, not just for its better efficiency but also theoretically better long-term reliability.

For an ultimate driving experience, though it comes at a price, look out for one of the Autobiography Dynamic models released last year, unmissable in their unique Pheonix Orange colour with the Santorini Black roof and satin ‘technical grey’ 20inch wheels; of more interest to the driving enthusiast is the upgraded engine – petrol only, unfortunately, but tuned up to deliver 281 horsepower, 40 more than the standard engine – and the ‘command-shift’ wheel-mounted gearshift paddles to control the nine-speed auto, which has been retuned to deliver livelier mid-range performance. Marshall of Cambridge (0844 334 9015) had one in Corris Grey with 4000 miles on it at £45,000.

However, if you’ve got this much to spend you’re well into new and nearly-new territory, so shop around for offers from the many Land Rover and other specialist dealers around the country; Lookers of Bishop Stortford (0844 659 4283) for example had a 2015 SD4 Pure Tech in Corris Grey with just 10 miles at £32,995, and a 64-reg Dynamic with 3000 miles at £36,995.
For the current range the Prestige badging has been dropped, the range becoming more complicated with the introduction instead of familiar SE and HSE trim levels which can also be specified with Pure or Dynamic, making it even more difficult – or interesting – to shop around for a used example that offers the exact specification you’d prefer.

Reliability appears good for the updated engines used in the Evoque, units shared with Jaguar models. Though the turbodiesels have belt-driven camshafts the belts are rated to last over 140,000 miles, so there’s no need to worry on that score unless you’re looking at a well-used high-mileage example. Check for signs of oil leaks from the engine or transmission, and make sure the engine starts cleanly from cold and all the dashboard warning lights go out. On higher-mileage cars check the exhaust for any sign of white smoke indicating worn bores or valve train, or black smoke suggesting worn injectors or a dodgy turbocharger.
The manual six-speeder is a reliable enough unit, but it is dealing with quite high torque outputs in the SD4 so make sure changes are smooth and silent. The six-speed automatic suffered some problems in the Freelander, so check for responsive changes and kickdown, reject any car exhibiting lazy changes, excessive whine or shunt during changes. The later nine-speed automatic hasn’t thrown up any problems in this application, check that shifts are clean and silent and that the car doesn’t roll on when the transmission is set to Park. It’s quite likely that most Evoques will never have been off-road, one way to check that the Haldex coupling and traction controls are working properly is to park the car at a grassy roadside with the nearside wheels on the grass, then pull away sharply to ensure that those wheels don’t spin.
Even older Evoques shouldn’t be suffering from worn bushings or dampers, but make sure a test drive includes some pot-holes or rippled road surfaces and reject any car that exhibits excessive knocking or rattling or vibration through the steering wheel. Don’t confuse the noisy ride of a worn suspension system with the potentially quite hard and uncomfortable ride from a car with the 20inch wheels and 45-section tyres – this will commonly be the case with a Dynamic which has been tuned for sporty on-road behaviour and the ride will naturally be firm. If it feels too harsh for your tastes try another example – it could be a fault with the MagneRide dampers.
Though the days of shoddy build quality are far behind the current Land Rover production, there have been a few cases of cars that exhibit unexpected rattling and creaking from ill-fitting doors or dashboards. Again a drive over some less than perfect surfaces will show up such problems, in which case find another Evoque that doesn’t rattle – there’s a big enough selection to choose from. With so much electronic gimmickry on even the ‘base’ versions it’s hard to know where to start a checklist, but at least make sure all the key electric systems such as window winders, stereo, seat adjustment, air conditioning and satnav work, and that a powered tailgate, if fitted, does what it’s supposed to do


BMW X4Volkswagen TouaregJeep Grand Cherokee

It does rather look as if BMW, annoyed at the success of the Evoque, immediately started work on a sleek low-roof coupe of their own – and while the X4 doesn’t have quite the same instant eye-catching quality of the Evoque, it’s undoubtedly an attractive proposition. It’s not an off-roader, though – it’s described as a ‘sports activity coupe’ and although it has four-wheel drive it’s the xDrive system that’s tuned for high performance on-road driving rather than for mudplugging. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel matches the Evoque with 187bhp and betters it with 54mpg consumption, and if you want more on-road driving excitement there’s the range-topping 35d with the 3.0-litre straight-six with over 300bhp and 5.2-second 0-60mph acceleration. Equipment is as good as it gets, all versions have powered tailgate, satnav, Xenon headlamps and heated front seats. Check dealerships for keenly priced nearly new examples.

Okay, so if you’re attracted by the sheer road presence and evocative styling of the Evoque you’re not even going to look at a Touareg with its bulbous and conservative style, but if on second thoughts you start worrying about value for money and practicality in a comfortable luxurious family SUV, the Touareg is a good alternative, and there’s a huge selection of good used models available. Pay under £30,000 for a low-mileage 2013 3.0TDI V6 SE with leather interior, climate control, driver alert cruise control, touch-screen satnav, voice-activation feature, auto headlamp and wiper function – and 240bhp engine output good for a 135mph top speed and 7.8-second 0-60mph acceleration. It’s also got a massive boot and excellent interior space for five adults, and it does have quite acceptable off-road agility, as long as you don’t mind the rather unrefined off-road traction control.

This may not have the youthful appeal of the Evoque or the solid feel of the Touareg, but a Grand Cherokee does offer a lot of car for the money, one of the better-value premium SUVs around, particularly second-hand. For around £25,000 you could secure a two-year-old 3.0 CRD Overland with a huge luxury specification including active cruise control and blind spot assist, parking sensors and rear view camera, hard-drive satnav, Alpine premium sound system, bi-xenon headlamps and power tailgate, packaged in a conservative but nevertheless appealing body capacious enough to accommodate five adults in comfort. There’s another advantage over both the BMW X4 and the Touareg – the Grand Cherokee retains excellent off-road capability, boasting all the electronic aids for modern off-roading, as well as the QuadraDrive system that emulates front and rear diff locks.


Just eight months after the successful UK launch of the new Vitara, Suzuki is introducing the S model in January 2016.

Standard equipment for all Vitara models in the range is comprehensive and includes seven airbags, alloy wheels, DAB Radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter, auto air conditioning and front and rear electric windows.

The S model is equipped with 17-inch Gloss black alloy wheels, unique grille design, satin silver door mirrors, LED Headlamps with red projector covers, rear upper spoiler and black side body mouldings. For the interior the sporting theme continues with red interior stitching, red accents for air conditioning vent and instruments and aluminium alloy pedals.

The new S model is the first Suzuki to be launched that utilises the new BOOSTERJET technology engine which in Vitara is a 140PS 1.4-litre Direct Injection turbocharged unit (DITC). This new engine has compact dimensions and offers 220Nm of torque available from just 1,500rpm through to 4,000rpm.

Historically, power and torque delivery from a turbocharged engine would not have been available until much higher engine speeds, offering less flexibility to the driver.

The 1.4-litre engine offers strong benefits in performance too with a 0-62mph acceleration time of 10.2 seconds for both manual and automatic transmissions and a maximum speed, where permitted, of 124mph.

A six-speed manual transmission is fitted as standard for the new 1.4-litre BOOSTERJET engine with optimised gear ratios to help provide a good combination of performance and fuel economy. Additional measures include a shift lever counterweight to help provide a smooth, positive shift action.

The Vitara is rated one of Europe‘s safest cars according to independent crash testing results from Euro NCAP, and received the maximum 5-star rating. Vitara was also the first compact SUV to earn five stars in the more rigorous 2015 Euro NCAP testing programme which reinforces the exemplary level of safety of the model.


The all-new Kia Optima and Kia Sportage have both been awarded the maximum five-star crash safety rating by Euro NCAP in the latest round of safety testing.

Both the Optima and Sportage scored particularly highly for adult protection, scoring 89 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, with child occupant protection also rated highly at 86 per cent for younger Optima passengers and 83 per cent for those in the Sportage.

The Optima was praised in particular for its ability to offer uniformly high levels of protection to all occupants during the frontal offset test and in the event of a side barrier impact, no matter the size of passenger or where they were sitting in the car. The Sportage – Kia’s European best-selling compact crossover – was also commended for its ability to protect passengers of different statures in all seats, scoring particularly highly in the demanding side pole test.

As a means of offering the best possible protection to occupants, active safety assist technologies are key features in new Kia models, resulting in both cars scoring 71 per cent in the ‘Safety Assist’ category – an increasingly important part of NCAP’s independent testing process.

High-tech active safety features

Standard-fit Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) in each car ensures stability in a wide variety of conditions, particularly if the driver needs to brake while cornering, through careful control of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and electric motor-driven power steering. VSM and ESC are activated as soon as the car’s sensors detect a loss of traction, helping the driver remain safely in control of their vehicle.

The all-new Optima is available with Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which automatically adjusts the car’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicles in front.

Stronger bodyshell design ensures greater passive safety

The structures of the all-new Optima and Sportage are significantly stronger than the models that they replace, largely due to the more widespread use of stronger Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS).

50 per cent of the bodyshell of the all-new Optima is now made up of AHSS – representing a 150 per cent increase over that of the previous car (20 per cent) – and boasts a 450 per cent increase in the amount of structural adhesive used. The result is that torsional rigidity has been improved by 50 per cent over the model that it replaces, while the body shell is also 8.6 kg lighter. The Sportage boasts an even more extensive application of AHSS, rising from 18 per cent of the bodyshell in the third-generation model to 51 per cent in the new fourth-generation Sportage. By dramatically strengthening the core structure of the new Sportage, torsional rigidity has been improved by 39 per cent from one generation to the next.

Passive safety is further ensured with airbag protection for all passengers and the standard fitment of ISOFIX child-seat tether and anchor points in the second row, to safely secure younger passengers.

The all-new Kia Optima is on sale from 5 January in the United Kingdom. The all-new Sportage – manufactured at Kia’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Žilina, Slovakia – is due on sale during Q1 2016. Every model in Kia’s line-up is sold with the brand’s unique 7-Year, 100,000 mile warranty.


The Rexton is SsangYong’s flagship SUV and is enhanced for 2016 with the addition of an upgraded Euro 6 compliant powertrain.

In addition to the new 2.2 litre Euro 6 diesel engine, Rexton also gets the choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or new Mercedes-Benz 7-speed automatic.

Diesel power

The newly developed e-XDi220 diesel engine meets the demand for a more powerful performance and lower CO2 emissions at the same time.  Maximum power is increased to 178ps and torque to 400Nm – up by 15% and 11% respectively over the previous Euro 5 diesel 2.0 litre engine.  Maximum torque is delivered from a low of 1,400rpm and maintained through a wide range up to 2,800rpm for smooth, progressive driving.

Big strides have also been made with CO2 emissions which have been reduced to 184g/km, down from 196g/km on the previous manual transmission model, while fuel economy is considerably improved and now up to 40mpg (Combined cycle) compared with 38.2mpg on the model it replaces.

Built on a steel ladder chassis and with a 3 tonne towing capacity*, the 2016 SsangYong Rexton is a serious off-roader and tow-car, yet with all the equipment and creature comforts expected of an urban cruiser.

Noted for being extremely capable off-road, the Rexton uses a body on frame construction for maximum strength. It features double wishbone and coil spring suspension to the front, and a five link rigid axle with coil springs at the rear, while the EX automatic and ELX models feature multi-link rear suspension for an even more comfortable ride.

With either the 6-speed manual or 7-speed Mercedes-Benz automatic transmission, the driver can select low range when going off road which splits the torque equally between the front and rear axles to provide all round traction, and ensures optimum grip across the most challenging terrain.

Available with either five or seven seats, the Rexton range is comprehensively equipped with the range topping ELX featuring a luxurious beige/grey leather interior, new multi-function leather covered steering wheel, distinctive 18” Diamond cut alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dipping rear view mirror, heated rear seats and Sat Nav.

With prices starting from only £22,995, the 2016 Rexton 2.2 has an almost unrivalled position in the 4×4 sector, and is now available.