Monthly Archives: January 2016


Land Rover celebrated 68 years of history as the last of the current Defenders was produced at its famous Solihull production facility.

To mark the occasion Land Rover invited more than 700 current and former Solihull employees involved in the production of Series Land Rover and Defender vehicles to see and drive some of the most important vehicles from its history, including the first pre-production ‘Huey’ Series I as well as the last vehicle off the production line, a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top.

At the same time, Land Rover announced a new Heritage Restoration Programme, which will be based on the site of the existing Solihull production line. A team of experts, including some long serving Defender employees, will oversee the restoration of a number of Series Land Rovers sourced from across the globe. The first vehicles will go on sale in July 2016.

Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Today we celebrate what generations of men and women have done since the outline for the Land Rover was originally drawn in the sand. The Series Land Rover, now Defender, is the origin of our legendary capability, a vehicle that makes the world a better place, often in some of the most extreme circumstances. There will always be a special place in our hearts for Defender, among all our employees, but this is not the end. We have a glorious past to champion, and a wonderful future to look forward to.”

The Defender Celebration in Solihull saw more than 25 unique vehicles from Land Rover’s history come together in a procession around the Solihull plant, featuring the final current Defender vehicle off the line. Land Rover associates were joined by a number of previous employees from the past 68 years to help celebrate this historic day. The last of the current Defender vehicles includes an original part that has been used on Soft Top specifications since 1948 – the hood cleat. The vehicle will be housed in the Jaguar Land Rover Collection.

Land Rover fans are invited to upload their most memorable journeys ever undertaken in Series Land Rover or Defender vehicles via an upcoming online ‘Defender Journeys’platform. Effectively a digital scrapbook, Land Rover aims to collate as many exciting adventures as possible into this online map, which users can view and share.

From 1948 to 2016 – Celebrating the Solihull Story

More than two million Series Land Rovers and Defenders have been built in Solihull, UK since 1948. What began as simply a line drawing in the sand has gone on to become one of the world’s most iconic 4x4s, earning the accolade of being the most versatile vehicle on the planet, capable of taking owners to the places other vehicles couldn’t reach. In 2015, a unique milestone Defender – the ‘Defender 2,000,000’ sold for a record £400,000 – a far cry from the original £450 the first Land Rover sold for at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.

In 1948, the Series I went into full production at Solihull. Post-war Britain was struggling with a shortage of steel, though aluminium was in plentiful supply for the bodyshells and the country had vast manufacturing capacity.  Inspiration came from Spencer and Maurice Wilks, two brothers who had helped return the Rover Company back into profitability during the 1930s. They had devised the Land Rover as a vehicle primarily for farming and agricultural use. They could not have predicted the global impact their vehicle would have.

Changes followed and in 1958 the Series II brought about a new design and engine updates, including an advanced diesel engine which remained in service until the mid-1980s. Sales had reached half a million by 1966, while annual production peaked in 1971 with 56,000 units. During the 1970s, the Series III continued to sell as well as its predecessor, a testament to its enduring appeal.

The vehicle earned a new name in 1990 – Defender. By this time, the Land Rover portfolio included the Range Rover and the newly-launched Discovery. A new name was fitting for a vehicle previously only referred to by its wheelbase length and Series number.

Part of the Land Rover’s appeal came from the endless variants that were created off the basic platform, including models as diverse as fire engines, lorry-like Forward Control vehicles, cherry pickers and even an amphibious car capable of floating on water. Over its 68 year history, it has been a vehicle driven by everyone from farmers and famous explorers, to royalty.

For many Defender owners the vehicle has become part of the family, just as on the Solihull production lines where that same family bond has been forged over the years by the workforce.

Tim Bickerton, aged 55, has 40 years’ service with Land Rover having started as an apprentice, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Charlie and father Peter, who clocked up 35 and 30 years respectively working on the same line, both progressing to foreman. Tim was followed by his daughter Jade, aged 25 who worked on logistics and materials for the Defender, before recently moving to another area within JLR. Then last year his 23 year old son Scott became the fifth member of the family to work on the Defender.

Tim, who worked on producing special limited edition Defender models, said: “I am hugely proud of our special family tradition working on this remarkable vehicle. The Defender has become part of our family. We’re like a stick of rock with Defender running through us. The Defender is the vehicle that everyone relates back to Land Rover; it may be seen as a workhorse but we think it has become a real thoroughbred.”

David Smith, aged 56, is another 37 year veteran of the current Defender production line who will be moving across to the Jaguar XE production area. A former butcher he joined Land Rover as a 20 year old because it doubled his wages to £80 a week and gave him a job with long term prospects. “The Defender is a special vehicle and very much hand built. You need to get a feel for it; we call it ‘the knack’ and it takes months to learn the knack. It’s about doing the job at speed, it’s an intense combination of skills. Working on the Defender is like being part of a big family,” he said.


Enthusiasts will now be able to undertake the full Defender production line tour via a new online 360 degree virtual tool, here: http://defendertour.landrover.com

6.9 million British drivers think that if they had to take their driving test again, they would be likely to fail.

New research shows that one in five qualified drivers (18 per cent), said they doubted their current driving skills would get them past an examiner – a figure which increased with age to peak at 24 per cent of over 65s.

Research conducted by Young Driver, which provides driving lessons for 10-17 year olds, questioned more than 1,000 UK drivers on skills relating to some of the best-known driving manoeuvres.

Twenty eight per cent of drivers said they struggled to parallel park, with a further one in four (25 per cent), admitting that reversing into a parking bay was a challenge they preferred to avoid. For female drivers these figures increased to 36 and 30 per cent respectively.

Worryingly, a quarter of all drivers (26 per cent) said they regularly parked some distance from where they needed to be in order to get an ‘easier’ car parking space which didn’t require as much skill. One in six drivers (16 per cent) admitted they often felt nervous when it came to parking – rising to one in four (26 per cent) 18-25 year olds.

And it seems it’s not just parking which causes issues – one in six (16 per cent) admitted they struggle to complete a turn in the road without needing to undertake significantly more manoeuvres than the traditional three point turn.

Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons, has produced a series of ‘How To’ videos to help drivers master everything from parallel parking to reversing round a corner. And although they were produced for the 10-17 year olds Young Driver teaches, the group’s research shows they are just as useful for parents needing a refresher too.1131128_A Young Driver gets motoring

Young Driver’s series of ‘how to’ videos are available free at www.youngdriver.eu/howto and include how to reverse park in a bay, parallel parking, reversing round a corner, emergency stops and a turn in the road.

For more information about Young Driver log on to www.youngdriver.eu


The all-new Kia Sportage – the fourth-generation of Kia’s compact SUV – features an attractive, all-new interior and exterior design, a host of advanced new technology features and greater quality.

Having made its global debut at the 2015 Frankfurt International Motor Show, the all-new Sportage will go on sale across European markets during Q1 2016.

Now in its fourth-generation, the new Kia Sportage compact SUV builds on the success of the outgoing model, offering an innovative and sophisticated package to buyers in an increasingly competitive market. The new-look interior features high quality materials and design integrity, as well as greater practicality and a range of technologies to improve comfort, convenience, connectivity and safety. A range of new and updated engines and transmissions will result in enhanced efficiency and performance, while ride, handling and refinement are all improved.

For the first time, a new ‘GT Line’ specification is available to Sportage customers. Designed and engineered to appeal to those looking for a sportier driving experience from their Sportage, the GT Line specification delivers all the versatility of the standard Sportage while adding greater visual and dynamic appeal to those customers that desire it.

The Kia Sportage is manufactured at Kia’s production facility in Žilina, Slovakia, and remains the brand’s bestselling model in Europe, with more than 105 000 sold across Europe in 2015, accounting for 27.4% of Kia sales.

The race is on to create the most refined, road-friendly SUV. Fortunately off-road enthusiasts are still able to lay hands on the one car that holds true to the original concept of the recreational off-roader, the spiritual successor to the charismatic CJ-7

 TARGET RANGE:  £2,000 – £10,000 

Some 4×4 enthusiasts might be excused for thinking that most manufacturers of four-wheel drive cars have lost the plot, putting the emphasis on sleek style, comfort and refined road manners at the expense of off-road capability. The truth is they’ve written a new script in which the SU of SUV stands for Significantly Upperclass rather than Sports Utility, with very profitable results. Even Jeep, the company that set the whole recreational off-road ball rolling 60 years ago, has succumbed to the lure of the mainstream big buck by aiming their new Cherokee squarely at socialite suburbia with none of the genuine utility of the original Cherokee.

Jeep has at least clung to one small element of its iconic past, in the form of the Wrangler. The Wrangler had a tough act to follow – it was the replacement for the CJ-7, which back in the 1970s in Renegade form with punchy V8 power, launched the whole concept of the high-fun Recreational Activity Vehicle. In reality the first Wrangler, developed and produced under AMC ownership, was a bit of a cost-cutting compromise, basically fitting CJ-lookalike panels to a shortened Cherokee uni-body frame and hanging the axles on leaf springs, so although the stated aim was to make it a more refined, driver-friendly car, it actually had little more refinement than the CJ-7 and significantly less off-road ability in its standard road-safe low-riding form.

Enthusiasts were therefore over the moon when in 1996 Chrysler upgraded the concept with the TJ Wrangler, reverting to a separate chassis, reinventing the iconic styling cues of the CJ-7 while also achieving the double-whammy of better on-road refinement and enhanced off-road performance by adopting long-travel coil springs all round. This car is, unquestionably, the true conceptual successor to the CJ-7.

It couldn’t last; by 2006 Chrysler couldn’t ignore the need to upgrade this historic but dated pattern with a more family-friendly body, including four-door format, along with more economical and environmentally friendly engines. The current Wrangler is still a very capable off-road vehicle, but no one can deny that it’s lost some of that soul-lifting fun for fun’s sake image of the CJ-7… and the TJ. The change had to happen, though, as evidenced by the worldwide sales figures; where the TJ sold at an average of 80,000 units a year through its 10 year lifespan, the new Wrangler instantly upped the ante to an average of 130,000 units a year. To put this in perspective, Land Rover proudly announced their millionth Discovery in 2012, after 23 years of production; Jeep sold nearly a quarter of a million Wranglers in 2013 alone. That popularity is being echoed in the UK; at a recent Jeep Owners’ Club meeting, Dean Stogdon, sales executive for a Surrey Jeep dealership, turned up to put the new Cherokee on display. He told us: “I sold seven Jeeps last week – six of them Wranglers.”

Desirable the new Wrangler may be, but anyone wishing to experience the emotional high of owning and off-roading in a car that more genuinely reflects the all-American panache of an iconic Jeep need look no further than a TJ Wrangler.

As a sop to the health and safety overlords the TJ in its basic form sits low on relatively small wheels to enhance on-road stability. However, the massive popular appeal of the TJ as a recreational off-roader has spurred many specialist companies to produce upgraded components to improve the off-road ability, mainly in the form of suspension lift kits allowing bigger wheels to be fitted, along with underbody protection, locking differentials, winch bumpers and the like. With a little lift and some grippy off-road tyres under its iconic flat fenders, the Wrangler is a truly uncompromising go-anywhere 4×4 that cannot help but provide total off-road satisfaction.

 Our verdicts 

We were fortunate indeed that one of our first contacts with the TJ Wrangler took the form of one of the most technical hard-core tests we could have hoped for – an opportunity to drive one on the famous Rubicon Trail, a 22-mile route that crosses the Sierra Nevada between Georgetown in northern California and Lake Tahoe. To call it a “trail” is an understatement – although it was once a made-up road it’s fallen into such disrepair that much of the route simply rides over the base rock of the mountain, with stretches of exposed boulders, sharp outcrops and loose rocks to be traversed. Our opening description, published in the December 1997 issue, said: “There was a rock the size of a double-decker bus off to the right, another the size of an elephant on the left and between them a gulley that looked deep enough to swallow a horse and cart. But there was an old Californian mountain man up ahead gesturing us to keep on moving, and the bright blue Wrangler squeezed through without a squeak from scraping underbody or a scratch from the gleaming paintwork.”

In spite of that completely standard car’s competence, we’d right from the start considered it to be too low-riding, badly in need of a suspension lift and taller tyres to give it an edge over the only other vehicle that could match it off-road, the Land Rover Defender. We didn’t have to wait long, because Jeep’s UK distributors, eager to emphasise the Wrangler’s off-road credentials, had engaged Surrey Off-Road to provide the necessary modifications. With a three-inch lift and running 35-inch tyres, Rubicon II was born, a car that has since inspired many copies. We took the car on the Milles Rivieres off-road event in France. Our account of the event in the January 1998 issue gives some idea of the treacherous nature of some of the sections, which had my navigator squealing in fear on more than one occasion, but notably we ended the report with: “Rubicon II was also a great car to drive home in. We cruised the French motorway at 10mph over the official limit, the bucket seats giving incredible long-distance support – after 20 hours of driving, with one brief lunch break and a few coffee stops we never felt fatigued.”

Our first serious comparison test of the Wrangler pitted it against a Suzuki GV2000 and a Land Rover Freelander. Our verdict was a no-brainer: “With the sun bleaching the sand and a cool breeze blowing over the dunes we weren’t in the mood for choosing the most practical or the most refined car of this group. It was sheer fun that mattered and ultimately only one of the threesome had the character to excite our senses. It wasn’t the Vitara; the Freelander at least looked the part; but with the roof tucked away so we could enjoy its fully-open configuration, the Jeep was just the business.”

The Wrangler appeared in our 1998 4×4 Of The Year extravaganza, vying for favour against Suzuki Vitara, SsangYong Korando, Nissan Terrano and Vauxhall Frontera Sport in our ‘funster’ class. Because we were taking practicality and refinement into account, the class winner was the Nissan Terrano, but in any case we weren’t that impressed with the Wrangler’s plasticky dash and old-fashioned switchgear. We’d got more used to it by the following year, when we gave it the ‘best funster’ award. If we’d had any reservations about it, it had to do with the low ride height of the standard car. As we said of the 60th Anniversary model featured in our 4×4 Of The Year for 2003: “With its big torquey engine and classic styling the Wrangler ought to be the best off-road funster money can buy. On paper it has all the right statistics, with its coil-sprung beam axles and selectable 4WD system, but in practice it runs out of ground clearance too readily when the terrain gets tortuous. The 60th Anniversary special we tried looked simply superb – all it needs is a four-inch suspension lift.” The story continued right up to the arrival of the replacement new Wrangler in 2007; each year the TJ Wrangler came second to the Defender (except for the 2007 edition, when both Jeep and Land Rover were trounced by the Hummer) and in each case the low ride height let it down in extreme conditions.

The only other significant report we carried on the TJ Wrangler was in the July 2005 issue, where we tried the new six-speed manual version. We said: “It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the switch to six speeds is more to enhance the on-road behaviour than off-road prowess. Where the five-speed had wide ratios with a long overdrive fifth, the six-speeder closes the ratios so it behaves more like a sports gearbox. Top is still an overdrive, but not as extreme as on the five-speed, so the Wrangler can now hold motorway cruising speeds more easily on long power-draining inclines.”

 Which one to buy 

There isn’t much of a choice, first toss-up being between 2.5-litre four-cylinder or 4.0-litre straight-six power. If you’re after something charismatic to use as a road-only car or aren’t going to do anything particularly exciting off-road, then the 2.5 might be a sensible choice only because of the marginally lower fuel consumption – in theory it should use a lot less fuel but it works hard in the heavy Wrangler. It doesn’t really have the torque to cope with more serious off-roading, especially if you’re planning to enhance the car with a high-riding suspension upgrade, winch bumpers and the like, all of which add weight. Check the power output of the 2.5-litre example you’re planning to buy – early examples had a softer 117bhp engine, during 2001 this was uprated to 140bhp. In spite of that improvement the 4.0-litre, in spite of its heavier consumption, remains the engine of choice since it has plenty of power and big torque delivered in a delightfully laid-back manner. Most 4.0-litre versions have automatic transmission – three speed on some early models, so look out for one with the more efficient four-speed – but a manual is a better bet since this will ultimately give better control in difficult off-road conditions as well as taking the edge off fuel consumption. Note that during 2005 the manual switched from a five-speed to a six-speed, though the advantage of the extra ratio off-road is difficult to quantify.

Equipment in all Wranglers is somewhat basic. Interestingly some of the base Sport models will have had tinted glass and a four-speaker stereo, some with CD player, while others made do with a simpler two-speaker radio. Hence it’s worth checking the specification of the ICE and also be prepared to find that previous owners have fitted aftermarket systems. All TJs have headlamp levelling and airbags for driver and front seat passenger.

A well-used early Wrangler Sport shouldn’t cost more than £2000; a good value offer we spotted was a well-maintained bright blue 4.0-litre Sport manual dating from 1997 with under 80,000 miles going for £2695 at Datom Motors (07838 001134). Low mileage does enhance the asking price, we spotted a particularly desirable blue ’97 Sport with just 57,000 miles going for £4995 at Affordable Cars of Rochester (01634 649304).

The Sahara features enhanced equipment including air conditioning, cruise control and an uprated stereo, along with 15-inch or 16-inch alloy wheels, but needn’t cost much more than a similar-age Sport, for instance the ’97 Sahara 4.0 manual with 140,000 miles asking £2998 at Bucks Auto House of Chesham  (01494 783891).

Expect to pay around £8000 for something from 2002-2003, condition possibly more important than mileage. Different Class Cars of South Woodford (0208 989 0001) were asking £8495 for a gleaming black ‘02 4.0-litre Sport with 43,000 miles while GP Specialist Vehicles of Manchester (0161 797 7552) wanted £8285 for an ’03 Sahara with 39,000 miles. Look out also for an Extreme Sport from 2004 on, we spotted a Pacific Blue example going for £7000 at CCM Vehicle Sales of Bradford.

We’ve commented at length on the need to give the basic Wrangler a bit of a lift to get the best out of it as an extreme off-road funster, and it’s as well to be aware that many owners will already have gone that route. In consequence it may make sense to seek out one that’s already had some modifications, such as the 4.0 Extreme Sport, a 2004 model with four-inch lift and 35-inch tyres being offered at £9750 by Atlan Motors of Lancing, West Sussex (01903 765780) with a three-month warranty, just begging you to embark on a life of off-road adventure.

The 2.5-litre petrol engine is a reliable enough unit, but it’s likely to have been thrashed in this heavy car, so listen for rattling from the bottom end suggesting worn bearings and clattering from the top end hinting at excess cylinder wear, which might also show up as grey oil smoke in the exhaust. Squeaking or groaning could spell wear problems with the water pump or the power steering pump. However, the AMC 2.5-litre engine, which shares design elements with the 4.0-litre six, is good for well over 200,000 miles if treated with respect. The same can be said of the 4.0-litre straight six, which delivers its performance in a relaxed but quite muscular manner, and is generally considered to be ‘bulletproof’ – though with higher mileage examples, check under the oil filler cap for any sign of ‘mayonnaise’ that might hint at impending gasket failure. Oil leaks are not common, but water pump failure is always a possibility, so check for excessive front-end noise or any signs of water leakage.
Probably the first thing to check on any pristine-looking car is that the transfer box works properly, the mechanism has a tendency to seize if four-wheel drive isn’t used, as may well be the case in a car that’s been used purely for road transport. Check that manual shifts are smooth and positive, crunching changes suggesting excess synchromesh wear means a car to be avoided. Automatic transmissions do need to be serviced with the proper enhanced grade of fluid, reject any higher mileage car if the gears don’t shift slickly and quickly without allowing excessive revving in the process. Also check that the kickdown is not unduly hesitant. Listen for whining or groaning from the differentials, a car that’s been used off-road or towing boat trailers in and out of water might have contaminated fluids. Excessive shunt during gear changes could also be caused by worn universal joints.
Check that the ladder-frame chassis is in good condition; any excessive corrosion should have been noted at MOT time, all the more reason to buy a car with new or long MOT. Sagging springs or soggy dampers might actually be a welcome feature if it allows you to argue down the asking price, since the main reason for buying a Wrangler will be to replace these items with higher-riding replacements; by the same token if you’re looking at a car that’s already been modified satisfy yourself that the work has been done properly and professionally. Listen for groaning from the steering, particularly when on full lock, as this could be pointing to a failing power steering pump; squeaking on full lock might be no more than a slipping drive belt, but even that is something to have sorted before you buy. Vague steering, knocking or excessive kickback are all pointers to problems from worn ball joints to ineffective steering damper. The brakes are conventional with ventilated discs in front and drums at the rear, but overstretched cables can render the parking brake ineffective. Check for excess scoring of the discs that might indicate hard off-road use; not a problem in itself in this hard-core vehicle, especially if you mean to off-road it yourself, but something to have treated before you buy.
A TJ that’s had the doors removed looks really cool – but if that’s what attracts you to buy it make sure you do get the removable doors that should come with it. Even the hardtop TJ is designed to have its roof removed when the weather’s good, so if you’re buying one make sure that the roof is still properly seated and has all its securing fixtures in place, a badly-fitted roof can cause noise and water leakage issues. Also check the interior for signs of water staining on the seats and carpets, a sign that it’s been left out in the rain without its roof on. Naturally the same applies to the soft-top. Check that the soft-top roof fits properly – it’s a complex arrangement that needs strong fingers to clip neatly into place, the zipper securing the rear screen can snag or come adrift. That rear panel has to be unclipped and rolled up out of the way before you can open the tailgate, so make sure the grip rail is in good condition. Corrosion shouldn’t have affected the bodywork, again excessive rust ought to have been picked up at an MOT inspection, but it’s always worth checking for staining at seams or signs that paint has been sprayed over dodgy repairs. The alloy door mirror housings may show signs of corrosion, but this is generally no more than a cosmetic problem. Also make sure you have the stereo code.

 A little lift here and there works wonders! 

Old Man EmuTeraflexRubicon Express

This Australian kit takes its name from the flightless bird that runs across the outback, its powerful legs absorbing the impact while its body remains perfectly level. The OME suspension systems are individually designed and specified to suit each type of vehicle, giving an exceptionally good quality of ride as well as a superb blend of roadholding and articulation. Their replacement springs and dampers for the TJ gives the Wrangler a lift of around 2.5 inches, but there’s also a ‘Trailblazer’ kit giving a full 4-inch lift.

A full range of well-engineered upgrades for the TJ Wrangler, including the most basic of lifts – raising the body an inch above the chassis makes space for taller tyres. Products include two-inch, three-inch and four-inch suspension lifts involving replacement springs and dampers, with longer control arms for higher lifts, with all the necessary bracketry and bushings. Consider anti roll bar disconnects, steering and braking upgrades, the soft-ride Speed Bump bump stops and underbody protection plates.

The first company to offer a long-arm suspension system for the TJ – to the uninitiated ‘long-arm’ is a means of allowing more than usual axle articulation, which in conjunction with the 5.5-inch lift kit they offer makes the Wrangler as unstoppable as it’s possible to get. Happily for less extreme types they offer a whole variety of lifts starting at a moderate 2.5-inches. They also offer a range of other enhancements such as sway bar disconnects, replacement track bars and transfer case lowering kits.


An extraordinary number of motorists in the UK are driving with 12 points or more on their driving licenses.

Motoring.co.uk can reveal via a Freedom of Information request from the DVLA and highlighted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) that 7,621 people are still driving with 12 points or more on their licence.

These motorists have reached the threshold to be banned yet are still driving on UK roads. Not only could this endanger other road users as the motorists are proven to be a danger but it also brings the penalty point system into disrepute.

Normally, under the ‘totting up’ system, drivers are banned if they accumulate 12 points on their licence over a three-year period.

In addition, a staggering 15 drivers have 30 or more points on their licence, with a male motorist from Liverpool totting up 45 points for speeding and failing to give information.

Seven of the top 15 penalty point holders are male, whilst two drivers have been caught for using a vehicle uninsured six times.

A female driver with 38 points has been caught speeding on ten occasions.

The IAM has blamed a breakdown in communication between the courts and the DVLA for these figures.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “The IAM has been highlighting this issue for several years now and we appreciate that the flow of information between the DVLA and the courts is slowly improving, which will allow the courts to make better decisions while armed with the full facts.”

“However these improvements cannot come quickly enough to deliver a truly joined-up approach to the judicial process. Individual courts making decision on prosecutions can lead to inconsistency in how the law is applied which risks devaluing the simple ‘12 points and you’re out’ road safety message. If the public sees that persistent offenders are getting away with it, they may believe that road traffic rules – which let not us not forget, are designed for their safety – are ineffective or unimportant.”

A further 36,000 motorists are on the brink of losing their driving license.

All of the 36,000 motorists that have been pin pointed from the data are currently on 9,10 and 11 points – one more offence could see them lose their license as an offence usually carries at least 3 penalty points.

This is a startling figure given the government’s work on road safety and the education courses that are now available on speeding.



Honda (UK) will use the Triathlon Show: London 2016 (ExCel London from 11th – 14th February 2016) to introduce its cycling special ‘Active Life Concept’ to the UK public for the first time.

The Concept aims to demonstrate both Honda’s customer-centric innovative thinking and the versatility and load space of the Honda Civic Tourer, proving that utility and style can work together hand in hand for customers living an active lifestyle.

Making the very most of the Tourer’s class-leading cargo space and its low loading height, the Active Life Concept features an integrated smart loading rack capable of transporting two bicycles, with a retractable arm which can be extended for easy bike repair and maintenance. Further storage solutions for the touring cyclist include a toolbox, bottle holder, water tank and front wheel holder, all integrated within the boot’s side lining; as well as a special aero shape roof box to accommodate essentials such as shoes and helmets. Other maintenance essentials include a built-in air pump, a large light and extendable shade over the tailgate, and a retractable bench.

This accessorised interior is complemented by a sporty exterior, further reflecting the active lifestyle of the target customer. A custom blue paint finish with a lower gun-metallic gradation and silver roofline help accentuate the Tourer’s sleek styling and aerodynamic design, while new 18-inch alloy wheels and a custom design rear bumper further highlight its sporty character.

Phil Crossman, Managing Director for Honda (UK) comments: “This amazing Concept takes the Civic Tourer’s already incredible practicality and versatility to another level, with several extremely clever solutions to make the very most of its tardis-like interior space. While just a design study with no plans for mass production at this stage, it does go to show how our cars are ideal for customers with an active lifestyle, and we’re looking forward to hearing what visitors to the show think of it.”

Honda will also be offering younger visitors to the show the chance to try motorcycling for the first time, with the ‘My First Licence’ experience. Designed for 5-11 year olds, and always very popular, budding young riders will hop on to a restricted 50cc motorcycle under the guidance of highly-experienced trainers to learn the basics in a safe and controlled environment. All equipment required will be provided, and once proficient each trainee will take away their very first license – a replica of that received by an adult when they pass their test.



Isuzu UK has an exciting year of activity planned to mark 100 years since laying down its foundations in Japan. A range of celebratory events and new models will recognise the rich heritage of the company.

2016’s centenary activities come in the wake of a sustained period of strong growth for Isuzu. Last year saw the sixth year of sales growth and the third consecutive annual sales record for the brand.

In spring, a UK-only special edition will join the Isuzu D-Max line-up complete with premium accessories and extensive upgrades to further widen its appeal among an ever growing spectrum of customers. The team at Isuzu UK is also working on a one-off development vehicle based on the standard D-Max, which will show-off the versatile pick-up’s key strengths like never before. Further details will be revealed about the project later in the year.

30 years in the UK

It will be a double-header of celebrations, as 2016 also marks 30 years since International Motors began importing Isuzu vehicles, seizing an opportunity to capitalise on the growing affinity for reliable Japanese vehicles amongst British motorists. While the D-Max has proved the best seller, among the varied range of vehicles it has brought to these shores, it was the Trooper that really set Isuzu UK on its way.



Volvo’s XC90 SUV has received further recognition – this time in the familiar Volvo territory of safety – receiving the 2015 Euro NCAP Best in Class award for both Large Off-Road and Overall Performance categories.

The Volvo XC90 achieved overall top performance in the 2015 Euro NCAP ratings, scoring 100 per cent in the Safety Assist category, and 97 per cent in adult occupant protection.

“We are always happy to receive further recognition for the work we do. The XC90 embodies everything that Volvo Cars stands for, and this is further proof of our continuing leadership in the field of both active and passive safety systems. Our vision is that by 2020 no-one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car. With the latest safety and semi-autonomous drive functionalities in the XC90, we are well on our way to fulfilling that vision,” said Jan Ivarsson, Acting Director, Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

The Euro NCAP announcement, which celebrates the “outstanding performance” of the XC90 comes hot on the heels of a host of prestigious awards the new SUV has collected in recent months, including the What Car? Safety Award, Motor Trend Car of the Year, North American Truck of the Year and the Auto Express Car of the Year to name but a few.

Sales of the XC90, which continue to outpace production capacity, have had a seismic effect on the Swedish premium car maker’s transformation journey. 2015 saw sales reach an all-time high, with more than 503,000 cars sold.

This was the car that dragged the Discovery from its cheekily chic origins into the world of true luxury SUVs. It was bigger, bolder and packed with new technology – and it was also more reliable

 TARGET RANGE:  £5,000 – £18,000 

The Range Stormer concept car that wowed visitors to the North American International Auto Show in 2004 was a clear indication of the way Land Rover was planning to distance their premium products from the company’s agricultural roots. That concept was eventually developed into the Range Rover Sport, but many of the design cues were used to hoist the already popular and stylish Discovery to new heights of elegance and road presence, with sharper styling and new technologies aimed at reasserting its 4×4 pre-eminence among the new generation of luxury 4x4s from other premium car-makers such as BMW, Lexus and Porsche.

The crisper frontal design of the new Discovery 3, with its designer headlamps, inset foglamps and the clamshell bonnet came straight from the Range Stormer, along with the newly patented Terrain Response system; so did the body-on-frame construction resulting in a stronger all-in-one bodyshell. The Discovery 3 was designed from the start as a seven-seater, the stepped-roof design allowing the three rows of seats to get progressively higher towards the rear, which combined with the large rear glass area makes for a light and airy atmosphere for all seven passengers, the seats being quite comfortable enough to accommodate seven adults.

Observers might find it amusing that Land Rover, which traditionally used aluminium panels for its vehicles, dropped aluminium for the all-steel Discovery 3, only to revert to the lightweight metal for the entire body-frame construction of the new Range Rover. In consequence the Discovery is a relatively heavy vehicle, but performance isn’t disappointing because the engine line-up was taken from the Jaguar range, in the form of a 2.7-litre turbodiesel developing 187bhp – significantly more than the 3.5-litre petrol V8 of the original Discovery – and a lusty 4.4-litre V8 with 296bhp on tap. The V8 drives through an adaptive six-speed automatic, the turbodiesel was offered with a six-speed manual as standard but the six-speed automatic was optional.

Also new for the Discovery 3 was all-independent suspension, coil-sprung on the base model but using height-adjustable air springs on higher-specification vehicles, which also allows the Terrain Response system to apply. A technology now adopted by many other premium off-roaders, the Terrain Response was a startlingly effective innovation at the time, the five separate settings altering the accelerator, transmission and suspension response to suit conditions varying from snow to rock crawling and sand driving. While electronic traction control ought to take care of most slippery off-road conditions, the Discovery 3 could also be specified with a locking rear axle differential, a feature worth looking for in any second-hand car you’re thinking of buying with some serious off-roading in mind. Naturally the Discovery 3 retains low range gearing, though selectable by switch rather than gearstick, leaving the driver with little more to do than watch the moving graphics on the touch-screen display showing which way the wheels are pointing and what the suspension is doing.

The perceived quality of the interior also took a leap forwards from the original Discovery, with less cheap plastic and more of a Range Rover look, along with a more comfortable driving position and wider doors making access easier for back-seat passengers.

 Our verdicts 

Our first hands-on experience of the Discovery 3 was with a range-topping Td V6 HSE, and our first impression was the vastly improved driving experience over the earlier 2.5 Td5-powered model. We wrote: “The ‘Sport’ button on the Td5 was clearly just Land Rover showing its sense of humour, but at least in the new car things do actually happen when you kick it down.”  Not that we were all that impressed with the ‘adaptive’ six-speed automatic when allied to the turbodiesel: “Just when we were thinking that Land Rover has perfected the diesel-auto marriage a trip round a twisting single track road reveals a flaw. On an empty sweeping road that ducked and dived around hairpins and sweeping curves the transmission that’s supposed to adapt to suit driving style didn’t adapt; exit a bend and put your foot down and you wait patiently for something to happen. If you fancy the auto, make sure you ‘try before you buy’.”

Our June 2005 issue featured a comparison test in which we pitted the Discovery 3 against a Volkswagen Touareg and a Volvo X90, both notably more expensive than the Land Rover. The Td V6 HSE was priced at the time at £41,995, the VW – admittedly in stonking V10 TDi form – cost a heady £53,635 and the Volvo D5 SE had a £43,966 price tag. Of the Discovery 3 we said: “This V6 is still a relatively small capacity engine, but it makes light work of shifting the Discovery’s 2.7-tonne bulk. Much fuss has been made of the Discovery’s weight problem, but it is a lot of fuss about nothing. The extra weight means the Discovery drives great, and on our 1000-mile round trip to Scotland we managed to return a very creditable 27mpg.” In the end the Discovery 3 outclassed the VW and the Volvo in its style and practicality as well as its impressive off-road agility, so while the more powerful Touareg had better on-road manners the Land Rover was still the easy winner. Our verdict explained: “The Touareg doesn’t have enough going for it to make it a convincing alternative – it may have all the off-road switches and buttons but it makes such hard work of it, highlighting the fact that it is happiest with empty tarmac in front of it. The XC90 with its quality fittings and fixtures and variable seat layout is tailored to create the ultimate family mini-bus, but with its extra size, more luggage room and second and third row seats capable of providing comfortable accommodation for adults, the Discovery 3 has upstaged the Volvo’s party piece. Not only will the Discovery 3 carry seven in comfort, it will take them places the Volvo daren’t even look at.”

With all this going for it the Discovery 3 had every chance of winning our 4×4 Of The Year comparison for 2006 – but for the hard fact that it had to share the Luxury class with the Range Rover in 4.2 Supercharged form and the stunning new Range Rover Sport, also with the supercharged V8. The Discovery shared second place with the Range Rover, just three points behind the also-new Range Rover Sport, which not only took class honours but won the overall 4×4 Of The Year accolade as well. We said of the Discovery 3: “Call it a gimmick, but the Terrain Response feature is a key element in positioning the Discovery so far ahead of its non-Land Rover rivals, for the simple reason that it emphasises its unbeatable off-road capability.” Others may have adopted this feature, but few have since managed to outclass the Discovery in its blend of off-road capability, on-road competence and elegant SUV styling.

 Which one to buy 

All versions of the Discovery have an opulent look about their interiors, though many will have been specified with optional extras, so you’ll find mid-range versions with satnav and leather upholstery while some top models may lack the items you’d expect in a premium car, such as high-end stereo or mobile phone integration. The base version has electric windows front and rear, electronic stability and traction controls including the hill descent control, and a six-speaker stereo with CD player but air conditioning was optional, along with the extra row of seats, air suspension and the terrain response system. There aren’t many base models around, most buyers having opted for the mid-range GS or top-end HSE versions, but you could expect to pay £5000 to £7000 for an early example in reasonable condition, though most will have well more than 100,000 miles on them. Most used examples of Discovery 3 have the 2.7-litre turbodiesel engine, most with the 4.4-litre petrol V8 are range-topping HSE variants.

The GS has automatic climate control as standard plus the air suspension with terrain response, pay anything from £8000 for a high-mileage early example to £13,000 for a well-maintained late model, for instance the immaculate metallic silver ’08 Td V6 with 80,000 miles going for £12,495 at Leicester Auto Sales (07718 077915) complete with a six-month warranty; New Barn Cars of Cheltenham (01242 228197) were offering a higher-mileage one but with full service history and grey full leather interior for £11,000.

The S gets cruise control, parking sensors and bi-xenon headlamps, the enhancements for the XS are mainly cosmetic along with a choice of ICE systems and a convenience pack, but the SE also has front and rear parking sensors and a chiller box. On these look out for worthy extras such as satnav, sunroof, rear DVD system (over £2000 when new), adaptive lighting, phone integration and heated steering wheel. Pay £11,000 for an early SE with under 100,000 miles, closer to £15,000 for a lower-mileage late example.

On the range-topping HSE look out for examples with privacy glass, hybrid TV and, especially if you are planning to take it off-road, the active locking rear differential. There are lots of these around, with prices for the Td V6 ranging from £12,000 to £18,000 depending on condition and mileage. Rylee James Specialist Autos of Nazeing, Essex (07795 111111) had a smart metallic blue example with cream leather, full service history and convenience pack. If you prefer the power of the V8 and can live with the heavy fuel consumption an early 4.4 V8 HSE with under 100,000 miles could be yours for around £8000.

The V8 is rare and thirsty but generally trouble-free so should need only general checks such as ensuring that the exhaust doesn’t blow grey smoke under hard acceleration, making sure that it idles smoothly and accelerates without hesitation. The turbodiesel isn’t particularly prone to failures of any sort, but there have been odd cases of seized water pumps and breaking or slackening of drive belt tensioner pulleys causing major breakdowns, so it’s worth listening out for unexpected squeaks, screeches or grinding noises from under the bonnet. Otherwise problems are typical of any turbodiesel engine, such as erratic running caused by clogged exhaust gas recirculation valves and failed turbocharger seals. On a test drive ensure that the engine revs smoothly, pulls strongly and progressively without hesitation and doesn’t blow grey or excessive black smoke from the exhaust.
The manual gearbox is a reliable item, but clutch problems have been known, such as the failure of the dual-mass flywheel, so ensure that gear changes are smooth and the clutch engages without shudder. Reject a car that crunches its gear change, suggesting worn synchromesh, a problem that could affect a car that’s been used extensively for towing a heavy trailer. The automatic is potentially more troublesome, with several users complaining about a tendency to shudder under acceleration. One source of trouble is the transmission lubricant heat exchanger, which shares space with the engine coolant radiator so that leakages or corrosion can lead to corruption of the fluid. Check that the transmission changes smoothly, kicks down responsively – it will take a little while in the Td V6 but it should still be shudder-free and smoothly executed. Also reject any car where the automatic allows the engine to rev excessively before taking up drive. Make sure low range engages when you expect it to, because it’s done remotely at the flick of a switch there’s no reassuring crunch of gears to inform you that low has, indeed, been selected.
Here’s a case where the base car is the least likely to cause trouble because it’s sat on good old-fashioned coil springs. The air suspension on higher-specification models is great while it works, and while it doesn’t have a reputation for going wrong, as with any air suspension system the individual suspension units can fail leaving the car with a list, but also making a nonsense of the height adjustment feature. Compressors are also known to fail, so when considering an air-suspended car make sure it sits square and adjusts its various heights as it should – not only in its easy-access and highway cruising modes, but in response to the requirements of the Terrain Response system.
Vagueness in the steering or clonking noises from the front could point to failure of the sophisticated hydraulic suspension bushes, possibly as the result of driving aggressively over traffic-calming humps; some cars will have had equally effective but longer-lasting aftermarket polyurethane bushes installed. Check that the electric parking brake works properly. This applies the brakes remotely at the flick of a switch, but accumulated dirt and corrosion can reduce its effectiveness, and component failure can also render it useless. It’s expensive to repair, so reject any car where the mechanism screeches as it engages or doesn’t hold the car on a slope.
Build quality isn’t a major problem with this generation of Discovery, but it’s worth checking that all the doors and windows open and close properly, and that the tailgate doesn’t sag – it shouldn’t because it was designed as a load-bearing platform. Early versions suffered from excessive creasing of the front seat upholstery, but a potentially more troublesome feature is the sunroof, which in some cases has been known to leak – check for signs that seat covers and carpets have been scrubbed or covered to disguise water stains. Fiddly electronic problems aren’t unknown, check that the touch-screen display illuminates properly and responds as it should, and check that the satnav is still functional. Naturally look out for examples with the high-end Harmon Kardon concert-quality stereo system, but also makes sure it works properly without distortion at high volumes because speakers can wear out.


Volkswagen TouaregToyota Land CruiserVolvo X90

That road test back in 2005 said it all – the Touareg is happiest with an expanse of tarmac ahead of it. Yes, it has all the off-road facilities but the plain truth is the Volkswagen isn’t as smooth and refined off-road as the Discovery, and in spite of its traction controls and height-adjustable suspension it can’t cope with the same off-road extremes that the Discovery can tackle with consummate ease. The VW doesn’t offer seven seats, which is no inconvenience if you don’t need the extra accommodation because it’s a superbly crafted five-seater highway-gobbling estate. As for its style and image, all we have to say on the subject is that we can’t see the sense of owning anything other than the 5.0-litre V10 with its 300-plus horsepower, because at least you have the driving excitement to counter the visual blandness of a car that we’ve more than once described as looking like a swollen Passat – beautifully built, luxurious inside, laudably efficient in its 2.5 and 3.0-litre TD form, but not exciting.

In a sense the Land Cruiser from 2003 upstages the Land Rover in providing seating for up to eight people, so it does well as a mini-bus for the big family. It also rivals the Land Rover as an off-road vehicle, even if only because it’s of a slightly more old-tech design with a separate chassis and rigid back axle – some enthusiasts might even prefer it since it also retains a proper driver-operated gear lever to select low range. It also has electronic traction aids that can’t quite match the levels boasted by the Land Rover, but it’s a combination that gives it excellent off-road agility, at the expense of on-road refinement, which isn’t quite up to the levels of competence displayed by the all-independent Land Rover. It’s also an SUV that’s held on to its off-road styling heritage, so it has a more adventurous appearance than other premium rivals. Good choice of punchy 3.0-litre turbodiesel or V6 petrol engines rivals the Discovery for pace and economy, with high levels of equipment.

As you might expect it’s family values rather than off-road capability that feature most strongly in this sound, solid, safety-conscious Swede, so there’s little in the styling to hint at an adventurous lifestyle. It even has a built-in gyro system that can predict the possibility that the car might roll over and activates stability and traction controls. Not only is it a seven-seater, but the centre seat of the rear bench can be quickly transformed into a booster seat for a younger passenger. The environment is also catered for, with the 2.5-litre petrol engine being turbocharged not for power but for efficient combustion and clean exhaust. The interior in the high-specification SE is as luxurious as you can get, with stitched leather upholstery and dual-zone air conditioning; items like satnav and Bluetooth are options worth looking out for in second-hand examples.


A new Mitsubishi dealership has opened in Worcester as the brand continues to expand in the UK.

Mitsubishi Motors in the UK was the fastest-growing mainstream car brand in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and Startin Mitsubishi is one of 12 new Mitsubishi dealerships to open in the past 12 months.

The dealership, which is part of the family-owned Startin Group, will be run from a temporary showroom at the company’s Bowling Green Garage in Powick before moving into a newly renovated showroom on the same site later in the year. The new partnership means Startin Group now runs eight different franchises across three locations in Worcester and they will be recruiting more sales staff in the coming weeks.

Dealer Principal Ben Winslow said: ‘We are very pleased to be opening a new Mitsubishi dealership in Worcester. This is an exciting time for Mitsubishi, which has seen fantastic growth, and an exciting time for us. There are a number of new models in the pipeline and we are delighted to be part of this ongoing success story.’

Lance Bradley, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Startin Mitsubishi to the Mitsubishi family at this exciting time. As a group, they are renowned for their excellent customer service and that is something that’s very important to us. I am confident Startin Mitsubishi will be a fantastic addition to the network and I wish everyone there success for the future.’

Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show Mitsubishi Motors in the UK has been the fastest-growing mainstream car manufacturer for the past three years. The company saw sales growth in passenger cars of 44 per cent in 2015 compared with the previous year, against an overall market up by six per cent.

Leading the charge is the multi-award-winning Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). It can travel 32½ miles in electric mode alone – more than enough to accommodate most daily average journey distances – and has an official combined fuel consumption figure of 156mpg, while CO2 emissions are just 42g/km.

To find out more about the range of vehicles at Startin Mitsubishi, phone 01905 830361 or visit the showroom at Bowling Green Garage, Powick, Worcester, WR2 4SF.