Monthly Archives: March 2016

95958VeloceYes, that’s right – if you fancy getting creative why not build your own engine coffee table. There’s even a book to help you!

Gergely Bajzáth has made a good number of engine coffee tables, and constantly enjoys positive feedback and comments about his work. Now, in ‘How to Build your own Engine Coffee Table’, he has decided to share his methods and tips with you, so that you can make one of your very own!

Whether in your living room, workshop, den, man cave, or girl shed, an engine coffee table is a great talking point, and is almost guaranteed to become the main topic of conversation when friends visit.

This book shows you everything you need to know to create your very own furniture centrepiece. From the best choice of engine base, to instructions on design and fabrication for appearance and safety. Hand painted finishes are covered, and a dedicated section shows how to safely plan, prepare, and fit a glass top for a serviceable, and safe, end result.


ISBN: 9781845848842
UPC: 6-36847-04884-6



Flagship CayennePorsche is checking Cayenne models as a preventative measure

Porsche is recalling 409,477 Cayenne models worldwide from model years 2011 to 2016 to the workshop for a precautionary check, 14,600 thereof are in the UK. The reason for this is that a circlip could be loose on the bearing bracket for pedals. The correct assembly will be checked in the workshop.

The problem was found during internal inspections and remedied in the ongoing series. Vehicle owners will be contacted directly by the Porsche dealer responsible for them. A workshop appointment that will be free of charge will be arranged as quickly as possible and will take less than half an hour.

Cayenne model series: fuel consumption, combined: 11.5 – 6.6 l/100 km; CO2 emissions 267 – 173 g/km; efficiency class (Germany): F – B

95850vau_EH9A1241It seems you really can teach an old dog new tricks, as Vauxhall Motors put its all-new Vauxhall Corsa in the hands of a capable canine to test its latest Advanced Park Assist technology.

Step aside Jeremy Barkson and enter Gerty the Boxer, the star of Vauxhall’s new #ParallelBarking video. The minute-long clip features the daring dog execute the paw-fect parallel park, with no human assistance, leaving passers-by on Wimbledon High Street dumb-hounded.

Sitting in the driver’s seat of the red Vauxhall Corsa SE, Gerty shows off the advanced technology of the new easy parking feature – from how it detects a parking space to automatically computing the perfect manoeuvre into the slot – demonstrating that parallel parking can be a walk in the park.

Advanced Park Assist is now available as an optional extra in the all-new Vauxhall Corsa, available from £8,995.

To view #ParallelBarking, visit po.st/parallelbarking.

220316tomtom_TomTom Traffic Index UK mapTraffic congestion in the UK’s biggest cities is 14% worse than it was just five years ago, according to a major new report.  Across the rest of Europe, average congestion is actually 3% down over the same period.

The annual Traffic Index from TomTom shows average UK journeys in 2015 took 29%* longer than they would in free-flowing conditions – up from a 25% delay in 2010.

The analysis of 14 trillion pieces of traffic data worldwide showed that the morning rush hour is almost 10% more congested than in 2010, with the evening peak nearly a fifth (19%) worse – suggesting that people return home in a narrower time period in the evenings .

The average commuter driving to and from work in the UK’s top 25 cities wasted 127 hours (more than 5 whole days) stuck in traffic during 2015.

Congestion has got 4% worse in the past year alone. It’s risen in 17 of the 25 UK cities in the report, with a further 4 remaining about the same.  Only Nottingham, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Preston have shown slight decreases.

The TomTom Traffic Index analysed traffic patterns in 295 cities globally and found that Belfast was once again the most congested city in the UK – and 14th worst in the world.  Journey times in 2015 were 40% slower than free-flow traffic throughout the day – peaking at 86% longer in the evening rush hour.

London is the 20th most congested city worldwide – and second worst in the UK – with journey times 38% slower, rising to 66% in the evening peak.  The Northern Powerhouse of Manchester (37% slower) moves up into third place, overtaking Edinburgh (37%) and Brighton (34%).

The next five worst cities for congestion are Hull, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield.

Globally, Istanbul has been knocked off the top spot by Mexico City.  Commuters in the Mexican capital can expect to spend 59% extra travel time stuck in traffic during the day, rising to 94% in the evening peak period – a total of 219 wasted hours a year.

The next most congested big cities worldwide are Bangkok (57%), Istanbul (50%), Rio de Janeiro (47%) and Moscow (44%).


*  An overall congestion level of 29% means that an average trip takes 29% longer than it would under uncongested conditions, for example at night.


Main Image: Shutterstock.com

When Porsche decided to enter the lucrative SUV market it didn’t go half measures, even though it had to share the drivetrain with makers of more sedate vehicles. High performance versions of the Cayenne are as hot and spicy as the name suggests

 TARGET RANGE:  £10,000 – £20,000 

We weren’t the only 4×4 enthusiasts who thought there was something faintly ridiculous about a legendary sports car manufacturer deciding to produce an SUV, and our lack of awe was hardly budged by the realisation that the Porsche crossover would be based on a Volkswagen and assembled in Bratislava. That, of course, was before we drove one.

In fairness to us, we were already familiar with the Volkswagen Touareg, which hadn’t overly impressed us in spite of its build quality and opulent but rather sedate interior, it lacked off-road credibility, was a bit cumbersome to drive and we described it as looking like a bloated Passat; the only thing we liked about it was the superb V10 turbodiesel engine in the top model.

The Cayenne was different, even though from the rear the styling wasn’t far off the blandness of the VW. The front had a distinct aggressive Porsche look to it, but what really counted was the feeling from behind the wheel – this was, as you’d expect from a Porsche, a driver’s car with lusty performance from its 4.5-litre V8, even in non-turbo form, and crisp roadholding matched unusually to a superbly comfortable quality of ride. The Turbo was quite breathtaking, a car that in spite of its size had much of the feel of a two-seater roadster in the way it seemed to respond almost symbiotically to the thoughts of the driver.

Excited as we were about the Cayenne’s on-road behaviour, we remained skeptical about Porsche’s claims that the car was also an excellent off-roader, since the four-wheel drive system is similar to that used in the 911 Carrera 4 to enhance its on-road handling. It’s a permanent system, with 62 per cent of the drive going to the rear wheels and 38 per cent to the front, but with an electronically controlled clutch that can add drive to the front whenever necessary. Allied to this is a stability programme that takes control of engine power and braking on individual wheels to keep the car on track even through fast corners on a slippery surface, making this a true high-speed long distance sports cruiser. Off-road the basic four-wheel drive system is as good as any other modern traction-controlled 4×4, in that it allows controlled progress over slippery or undulating ground, the only limitation being ground clearance. Even that, however, ceases to be a problem in a car with the height-adjustable air suspension, allowing it to go places where it actually needs the low range gearing.

First cars into the UK had the 4.5-litre V8 engine, in normally-aspirated form producing 335bhp, enough to launch the Cayenne from 0-60mph in seven seconds, mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission; the Turbo upped the output to 443bhp, cut getaway acceleration to 5.4 seconds and boasted a top speed of 165mph, asking nigh on £70,000 for the privilege. For the less wealthy, Porsche introduced a 3.2-litre V6 ‘base’ model shortly afterwards, but the racy heritage was not forgotten; during 2006 the Turbo S burst on to the scene with 520bhp from its bi-turbo 4.5 V8, followed a year later by a facelift and the introduction of the more efficient 4.8-litre V8 in the GTS.

With a completely new model due in 2010, the run-out range for 2009 included a 3.0-litre turbodiesel. With only 240bhp this was the dullest-performing Cayenne but it could return better than 30mpg if driven carefully. This proved popular enough with sensible drivers and there is a good selection of used examples available, though we – being enthusiasts – can’t quite understand why anyone would want a dull-performing Porsche when for a mere £10,000 you could enjoy the full excitement of true Porsche lifestyle in a stonking 160mph Turbo. Whichever version you opt for, you’ll find it a comfortable, well-equipped five-seater family estate with good luggage capacity, though the rear seat fold is a bit fiddly and an electric opening tailgate was optional. Many will have the optional metallic paint and big alloy wheels, but even without these the first-generation Cayenne still has eye-catching style and muscular road presence.

 Our verdicts 

The first chance we had to sample the Cayenne in earnest came when Porsche chose to launch the 3.2 V6 version on the icy roads of a wintry Finland. We wrote: “The key to driving well in these conditions is a combination of concentration and smoothness – no sudden steering or accelerative inputs, seamless gear changes and forward planning. In the Cayenne, however, there feels to be lots of grip, much of the credit for which goes to the Porsche Traction Management system. Sensors measure forward speed, lateral acceleration, steering wheel angle and the position of the accelerator pedal, and the system calculates the optimum amount of drive delivered to each axle. It works in conjunction with the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) which intervenes when the vehicle is close to its limit of adhesion, preventing the onset of oversteer or understeer.” We were impressed by the Cayenne’s off-road ability, first trying it on a hillclimb designed to show the Porsche Drive-Off Assistant, more sophisticated than the usual hill-hold system in that it will apply the brakes automatically on a steep hill if the driver releases the clutch after pulling away. A later ditch-crossing exercise showed off not only the efficiency of the Cayenne’s traction control as it lifted wheels clear of the ground, but also the Advanced Off-road Technology Package consisting of side sill protection and a steel plate under the radiator, plus a locking rear differential and electronically demountable front and rear anti-roll bars.

Then it was on to an icy skid pan. We wrote: “With PSM activated, even a bootful of acceleration has the Cayenne obediently following its intended line, with only the occasional flash from the dashboard to show that the electronics are undertaking serious activity. The 350bhp S and 450bhp Turbo might have been more fun in this situation, but the V6 doesn’t disappoint. In fact it’s a thoroughly competent piece of kit.”

We put the Cayenne up against its key competitors in 2005. The report in the April issue of that year gave the Cayenne Turbo a clear win over its Touareg counterpart in 5-litre V10 form, the BMW X5 4.4i Sport and the Mercedes ML 500. Our verdict: “These German tourists flaunt the virtues of mechanical muscle and quality engineering, each seeking to establish itself as the master in its class. The Mercedes, even with big V8 power, is too mild-mannered to convince as a true iron-fist. In a straight duel between BMW and VW it’s usually the Bavarian that delivers the winning lunge, but in this case even the big V8 BMW takes a points bashing from the mighty V10 Touareg – its engine has to be experienced to be believed. Nothing, however, can match the sheer exhilaration of a flat-out country-road drive in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.”

Porsche caught us by surprise a few years later, as recorded in our April 2009 issue. We wrote: “No spark plugs in a Porsche? Well, I’ll be darned. The 2009 Cayenne is the first production Porsche to have diesel power.” We quickly figured out why: “Last year 86 per cent of premium SUV sales were diesels, making the Cayenne’s unleaded-only line-up sound thirsty and out of touch.” We didn’t mock the result. Using the same 3.0-litre V6 TDI used in the Audi Q7 and Touareg, tweaked with a variable geometry turbo, the Cayenne shows strong acceleration over a broad rev range and responds well driving through the six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. We did, however, note the fact that diesel wasn’t something Porsche wanted to shout about: “Don’t expect to spot any on UK roads – they’re in disguise. Porsche says customers want their frugal form of propulsion kept hush-hush; the only distinguishing feature – apart from the audible rattle from the TDI engine – is the 6000rpm rev counter over the usual 8000rpm version.”

 Which one to buy 

The choice of which Cayenne you want will depend largely on how much driving excitement you associate with the Porsche name. If you’re of a frugal nature and feel uncomfortable at anything over 70mph the 3.0 TDI V6 might well be the car for you, though like drinking decaff coffee and chewing sugar-free gum you just won’t know what you’re missing. However, if you are on an adrenaline-free automotive diet you might like to call Brookside of Hildenborough on 01732 838866 in case they still have the metallic blue example with just 63,000 miles and complete with satnav, black leather interior, park assist, roof rails and 20-inch wheels they were offering at a reasonable £18,890 including a new MOT and 6-month comprehensive warranty.

The price of a used Cayenne will vary not only depending on the mileage, but also on the level of equipment. They all have the basis of a luxury specification including a stereo, a high-end 14-speaker Bose system in the Turbo versions, electric windows, central locking and such like, but the options list is a long one ranging from cruise control, mobile phone preparation, leather-piped floor mats, roof rails and automatic climate control at a few hundred pounds apiece to panoramic sunroof, uprated leather interiors and 20-inch wheels at over £2000 each, so if one 10-year old Cayenne seems ridiculously more expensive than another, check the spec and you’ll find out why. Note that the 21-inch wheels could have cost over £4000 when new, you won’t want to go off-road with them since there’ll be very little flex in the low-profile tyres and you’ll easily wreck the alloys. It really pays to shop around to find a car that has the specification you prefer at the price you’re prepared to pay, check for that off-road package if you intend to do any mud-plugging.

If you’re a little more adventurous a 3.2 or later 3.6 V6 will provide more performance and significantly more refinement, you could pick up an early example for a little over £5000 though it will be a high-miler, closer to £18,000 for a pristine newer model, such as the 2008 Tiptronic S in black with full grey leather interior, satnav, electric tailgate, privacy glass and 20-inch Cayenne Design alloys, 65,000 miles and going for £17,450 at Saxton 4×4 of Chelmsford (01254 351234).

The least you should be looking for is a 4.5 S if you really want to boast about having a Porsche, though we’d be wary of picking up a £5000 high-miler, most will have well over 100,000 miles on them and several we’ve seen at that price have caveats about noisy tappets which could actually be a more serious problem like excess cylinder wear that would require a major overhaul or even a replacement engine. Better to pay from £10,000 for a well-maintained lower mileage example like the ’05 automatic one-owner black 70,000-miler with recently replaced Continental tyres and new timing chain, with cruise control, 18-inch wheels, satnav and stainless steel skid plates, £10,495 at Select Cars of Harrogate (01423 202882); for £20,000 you could get into a later 4.8 V8 S, Hills of Lymington (01590 670777) had a 60,000 miler from 2009 with over £7000 worth of upgrades including the metallic paint, parking sensors, power tailgate, satnav and 20-inch alloys asking £19,990.

The same money could secure a reasonable-mileage GTS though a year older, Castle 4×4 of Castle Donington (01332 391771) were selling a stunning red one-owner example at that price with full black leather interior, 88,000 miles with a full Porsche service history and new MOT, £14,000 worth of extras including Bose sound system upgrade with rear entertainment, cruise control, power tailgate and 21-inch alloys.
If you have red blood in those veins, or at least a can of Red Bull to knock back before getting behind the wheel, it will have to be a Turbo. Little bit of a pity. The same money could secure a reasonable-mileage GTS though a year older, Castle 4×4 of Castle Donington (01332 391771) were selling a stunning red one-owner example at that price with full black leather interior, 88,000 miles with a full Porsche service history and new MOT, £14,000 worth of extras including Bose sound system upgrade with rear entertainment, cruise control, power tailgate and 21-inch alloys.

If you have red blood in those veins, or at least a can of Red Bull to knock back before getting behind the wheel, it will have to be a Turbo. Little bit of a pity that for £20,000 the later 4.8 Turbo might be out of reach unless it’s a high miler, but our choice purchase would be the 4.5 Turbo S that ABC Cars of Ashton-Under-Lyne (01613 438211) had a £20,000 price tag on, a metallic blue 2006 model but with just 33,000 miles, in immaculate condition with new brakes front and rear, 20-inch alloys, satnav, sunroof, privacy glass and the Comfort Pack, forget the £500 road tax and 18mpg consumption, spur the 520bhp into five-second 0-60mph action and live the true hot ’n’ spicy Porsche legend.

The Cayenne isn’t the only Porsche model to suffer from ticking, clattering and rattling V8 engine problems, the main cause seems to be excessive cylinder wear or scoring blamed on a whole raft of possibilities, from overheating caused by coolant loss through cracked plastic conduits or poor shielding from the turbo, to poor lubrication from missed service attention or low-grade oils, or even claims that the high-tech aluminium-silicon cylinder material just isn’t strong enough. Whatever the reason it’s not a cheap one to repair, the usual remedy seems to be a replacement engine, all the more reason to insist on a full service record, avoid higher-mileage cars and listen carefully on idle for ticking noises that shouldn’t be there. The turbodiesel may be the less exciting option but it’s less problematic, though check for excessive exhaust smoke that could signal worn injectors.
The gearboxes are reliable enough, however it’s always worth checking that a manual changes smoothly and that the clutch is progressive and doesn’t require excessive pedal movement before releasing. A Tiptronic transmission should shift almost seamlessly and kick down responsively, reject any car that shudders or jerks when switching between Drive and Reverse. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel were optional on most models, if they’re there, make sure they work. The main problem is the centre bearing on the propshaft carrying drive to the rear wheels, this has a habit of failing at around 80,000 miles so on a car of this age check to see if a replacement has been fitted, if not argue £1000 off the asking price because that’s what a Porsche main dealer could charge to do the job.
High-performance versions will almost certainly have the air suspension, check that the car sits level and that the height adjustment function works, since compressors have been known to fail. Wheel alignment can be critical, check the front tyres for uneven wear; if the car has new tyres keep an eye on them since scrubbing to the inside of the tread could show up after 1000 miles or so. On higher-mileage cars listen for knocking noises from the front suspension, which may simply be worn bushes, but ball joints may need replacement; check that the steering is positive and has no free play. Check the state of the brake discs, pitting is quite common on early examples leading not only to excessive pad wear but to the possibility of ‘grabbing’ the pad resulting in erratic braking.
Build quality isn’t always as good as you’d expect from a Porsche, so check that the door shut lines are as neat as they should be, that the bonnet opens and closes tidily, and that the tailgate operates snugly. It’s unlikely that any Cayenne has been heavily off-roaded, but it’s always worth checking the sills for signs that scratches have been hidden under paint or colour polish, and on a car with the ‘off road’ pack of steel skid plates, check that the steel remains scratchless and dentless as well as stainless. On the inside check the state of the leather, particularly on the rear seats, as seat belt buckles can snag the fabric when the seats fold down.

 Or you could consider… 

Volkswagen TouaregBMW X5Mercedes-Benz ML

It’s built on the same platform as the Cayenne, but with its soft and ultimately forgettable urban styling it’s a very different type of SUV from the racy Porsche. Blisteringly quick in 4.2-litre petrol V8 form, economical with the 3.0-litre turbodiesel, the Touareg is an ideal choice for anyone who wants a prestigious car with good road manners and good towing ability, but without the ‘look at me’ highway presence of the more charismatic Cayenne. It’s as good off-road as any other pretentious road-biased modern premium crossover. Latest models come only with turbodiesel power, even the base SE is leather-upholstered and features a fuel-saving coasting function on the eight-speed automatic. Best news is that £20,000 will get you into a reasonable-mileage 2011 model with the 240bhp 3.0 TDI, which is all you need in this luxurious Volkswagen.

In terms of practicality there’s nothing to set the BMW ahead of the Cayenne, so it may boil down to a simple matter of brand preference, with the BMW perhaps exuding a little less street cred simply because it hasn’t tried to lift itself stylistically above other road-only BMW products. The X5, unless in M Sport form, isn’t really the driver’s car it should be, so we were only enthused by the high-performance V8 versions. The 3.0d turbodiesel is an exceptionally smooth and pleasant engine, making it the sensible choice, and the xDrive 4×4 system is adequately competent on and off the road. There is a huge selection of reasonable-mileage examples on offer second-hand, £20,000 could get you into a Porsche-baiting 4.8i M Sport with 65,000 miles on it or a milder but still luxurious and very refined 2010 30d SE; there are also seven-seater versions.

We’ve always considered this to be the blandest of the luxury 4x4s, but not short of performance in V8 and particularly AMG versions; even so a high-power ML can’t excite the way a Cayenne does. The ML does have the advantage of being able to outperform both Cayenne and BMW off-road, so it’s a better bet if you do want a car for some rough-country adventuring. It’s a comfortable five or seven seater with a big boot, equipment is as luxurious as the first buyer’s choice of extras makes it – shop around for one with the features you’d prefer. A sensible buy would be an ML350 CDI Blue Efficiency, £20,000 should secure a 2010 Sport with reasonable mileage, but if you’re thinking of Porsche performance against Mercedes class and practicality there’s quite likely to be an ML63 AMG on offer at the same price with under 80,000 miles on it, though probably a 2007 model.

Korando_Sports_DMZ_2SsangYong is earning a solid reputation for value and quality, and nowhere is this more evident than with its Korando Sports 1 tonne pick-up.

Korean engineered and built, the Korando Sports is the only pick-up to come with a 5 year limitless mileage warranty.  The range now comprises three models, the S, SX and EX with prices from just £14,495 – £18,195 (ex VAT).

Limited edition DMZ

Based on the top of the range EX automatic, the new Korando Sports DMZ is a limited edition model featuring full camouflage paintwork, roof rails and 18” alloy wheels, and priced at £19,195 (ex VAT).

Korando Sports is powered by SsangYong’s e-XDi 2 litre diesel engine, and provides maximum power of 155PS and peak torque of 360Nm delivered between 1,500rpm and 2,800rpm providing ample performance both on and off road, and fuel economy of up to 37.7 mpg on the Combined Cycle*.  The vehicle has very good levels of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and comes with on-demand 4-wheel drive, a full 1 tonne payload and a towing capability of up to 2.7 tonnes.

A real workhorse, the pick-up features a large, flat rear deck giving a 2.04m2 load area to take a Euro pallet, and fitted with load deck liner and anchor points.  A range of optional rigid hard tops to provide weather protection and security to the load area is also available.

Also and unusually for the segment, the SsangYong Korando Sports also features a live rear axle supported by a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension system with progressive coil springs to give a comfortable, car like ride, instead of the more dated leaf springs employed on many other pick-ups.

Three models – S, SX & EX

In addition to DMZ there are three models to choose from.  The S is the lowest priced double cab pick-up on the market at just £14,495 (ex VAT).  The SX is a step up with 18” alloy wheels, tinted glass, air conditioning, leather covered steering wheel, remote central locking, an MP3 CD & RDS radio with a USB & auxiliary port and Bluetooth connectivity as well as speed sensitive power assisted steering.  The Korando Sports SX costs £15,395 (ex VAT).

The EX also features 18” alloy wheels, and adds leather upholstery with heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, heated, electrically adjustable and power folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors.  A Mercedes-Benz 5 speed automatic transmission with cruise control is also available as an option.  The EX with manual transmission is £16,995 (ex VAT), and with automatic transmission, £18,195 (ex VAT).



Renault is extending its range of vehicles with the announcement of the eagerly awaited all-new Renault Kaptur 4×4 crossover for the Russian market. The new vehicle will be produced by the Renault Moscow plant.

It is no coincidence that the name of the new model starts with the letter “K”, in Russia: when Renault Kaptur was designed, the company conducted a survey among Russian customers that showed the “К” underscores the “Russian Touch” of the new model. In addition, “K” is associated, in Russian, with the key characteristics of the vehicle: Kaptur is a high quality, comfortable and good-looking crossover.

More detailed information about the New Renault Kaptur will be announced by the end of March 2016.

There are no plans for this vehicle to be sold in Europe.

95609jee-1Seven new, ultra-capable Jeep® concept vehicles – featuring an array of Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts available to consumers – will conquer the famous and challenging trails of Moab, Utah, at Easter Jeep Safari, 19-27 March.  Thousands of off-road enthusiasts are expected to descend upon Moab this year to celebrate what will likely be the most popular Jeep Safari ever, as the 50th annual event coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand.

“Every year the Jeep team looks forward to pushing the limits with new, exciting and capable concept vehicles for our most loyal enthusiasts at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, where we receive a tremendous amount of valuable feedback,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global.  “This year is extra special, as together with our biggest fans, we celebrate Jeep’s 75th anniversary – as well as the 50th running of the Jeep Safari.  We’re delighted to share seven of the most capable and eye-catching concept Jeep vehicles we’ve ever created at this year’s historic event.”

The 2016 crop of Easter Jeep Safari concept vehicles utilizes both production and prototype Jeep Performance Parts. The Mopar brand is responsible for developing, building and ensuring that all Jeep Performance Parts meet rigorous specifications and with 4×4 capabilities in mind, allowing Jeep owners to further enhance their stock vehicle.

“These seven vehicles have been modified with Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts to take on the toughest trails, to go beyond where the road ends,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “Mopar’s mission is to provide all FCA US vehicle owners with unique performance parts and accessories to tailor vehicles to their individual lifestyles. Nothing supports that more than demonstrating how we can equip Jeep owners to take on some of the more extreme trails in the world.”

The seven new Jeep concept vehicles built for Moab this year were created by a team of dedicated, passionate engineers, designers and fabricators that have been customizing production vehicles since 2002, and have introduced more than 50 concept vehicles for the enthusiasts who attend the popular Easter Jeep Safari.

  • Jeep® Crew Chief 715: a salute to legendary Jeep military service vehicles
  • Jeep Shortcut: inspired by the classic CJ-5 to handle tight, winding trails
  • Jeep Renegade Commander: built to blaze a trail deep into the secluded wilderness
  • Jeep Comanche: designed to be off-road ready with practical utility
  • Jeep FC 150:  heritage cab-over design, rich in history and capable of tackling any terrain
  • Jeep Trailcat: Hellcat-powered off-roader capable of crawling or high-speed runs
  • Jeep Trailstorm: added capability with 2-inch lift kit, 37-inch tyres and Dana 44 axles

Easter Jeep Safari

Easter Jeep Safari consists of trail rides, mostly day long trips, departing from Moab, Utah, throughout the nine-day-long event. The Jeep Safari was started in 1967 by the Moab Chamber of Commerce as a one-day trail ride. Over the years, as participation grew, the Safari expanded until it finally reached the current nine-day event. “Big Saturday” still remains the culmination of the event on the Saturday of Easter weekend.

jimnySince first launched in 1998, the Suzuki Jimny has accumulated a major following of loyal owners around the world and with its practical look Jimny owners can really enjoy a quirky alternative to a supermini or crossover SUV.  To add further customer appeal for 2016, the new Jimny Adventure Special Edition is now on sale with a very limited production run of just 200 units for the UK.

Jimny Adventure is based on the popular high specification SZ4 model which includes Dark Silver 15-inch alloy wheels, synthetic leather seats, air conditioning and rear privacy glass as standard and then adds unique features including full screen satellite navigation with Bluetooth connectivity, hard spare wheel cover with ‘Adventure’ logo as well as individual Pearl White Metallic / Quasar Grey 2-Tone paint finish.

Jimny Adventure offers strong customer value and is priced at £14,949 including metallic paint, just £1,000 more than an SZ4 model before optional metallic at £430 is added.

Jimny is equipped with an all-alloy 16 valve 1.3-litre engine that benefits from Variable Valve Timing (VVT) for lively performance and strong fuel economy from its light kerb weight of just 1,090 kg. The Adventure is available with manual transmission that returns an official 39.8mpg in combined cycle driving and CO2 emissions are 162g/km.

Jimny has built up an established, tough and capable reputation amongst its 24,000 loyal owners in the UK with many now on their third or even fourth car in succession. Durability was certainly put to the test back in 2014 when long standing Suzuki fan Les Carvall and three friends drove two Jimnys around the world on their ‘Heaven can wait I’m busy’ charity expedition. Starting in Southampton, the four month long Global tour clocked up over 18,500 miles across some very challenging terrain and both cars returned unscathed with no reliability faults to report.

What does the Toyota Land Cruiser have in common with veteran actress Maggie Smith? Dated chassis dressed to kill, basically long in the tooth, but still magnificent and totally reliable. Worth considering, obviously

 TARGET RANGE:  £18,000 – £50,000 

The updated Toyota Land Cruiser for the 2010 model year was in fact little more than a facelift and a rationalisation of the range, the significant improvements being the addition of all the leading edge electronic driving and off-road traction aids, necessary features to counter the advanced technology appearing on Land Rovers. Hence the structure of the car is the same as the predecessor in that it remains a body-on-chassis design with independent front suspension and a rigid rear axle, a dated design for a modern luxury 4×4. One improvement was the fitting of enhanced body-to-frame bushings to reduce the transmission of road and mechanical noise, but these can’t quite match the refinement of a modern all-independent monocoque design, so even with coil springs all round or the air springs of the top model, the Toyota has a rather agricultural feel that’s rather at odds with the sleek styling and the luxurious equipment specification. Toyota’s thinking is that they want their Land Cruiser to remain a hard-core off-roader to satisfy demand in key markets such as Australia, where off-roading is a necessity rather than a pastime. Discerning buyers in more fashion-conscious countries will be happy to trade off this heavy-duty approach against long-term reliability, an area where the Toyota undoubtedly succeeds.

The base LC3 is a five-seater, but LC4 and LC5 are seven-seaters, with a neatly-designed Easy Flat feature that drops the rearmost seats down to floor level at the touch of a button – one set just inside the tailgate, another just behind the second row of seats. One significant advantage over the previous model is the amount of rearward adjustment available on the second row of seats, which can be shifted back to provide almost twice the legroom in the previous generation.

The key innovation for many will be the uprated engine, the 3.0-litre D-4D turbodiesel modified to meet Euro 4 emissions requirements, but at the same time offering 12bhp more and better fuel consumption, claimed at 34.9mpg for the combined cycle in the range-topping LC5. This is mated to a six-speed manual or, more commonly, a five-speed automatic.

Four-wheel drive credentials are good throughout the range, all versions have permanent four-wheel drive with a driver-selectable centre diff lock, the LC5 also has a rear axle diff lock.

All versions have a good selection of electronic driving aids including traction, stability and hill descent controls plus hill start assist, but the LC5 includes the Multi-Terrain Select system, which adjusts engine torque output and transmission settings to suit a range of conditions. It can be set to mud and sand, loose rocks, mogul or rocks – the ‘mogul’ option presumably referring to awkward humps and ruts. There’s also a ‘crawl’ function whereby you can set a suitable speed for traversing difficult terrain, which the car will maintain regardless of climbs, descents or rocky outcrops that it may encounter. One of the features that allows the multi-terrain system to work is the Adaptive Variable Suspension with three height settings, while LC4 and LC5 also have the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System which works to limit body roll in fast corners, resulting in more positive steering feel in general driving as well as more stable cornering.

During 2011 a three-door version joined the range, this was only available in base LC3 trim with manual transmission and although it lacks the clever air suspension and trick electronic driving aids it still seems like the best bet as a more dedicated off-road plaything for anyone who prefers to apply personal skill to off-roading rather than letting the car do all the work – not every mud-plugging enthusiast will appreciate Toyota’s claims for their LC5 that, “all you have to worry about is the steering.”

The Land Cruiser was facelifted for the 2014 model year, the most significant outward changes being a more aggressive frontal treatment with a deeper bumper and sharper light clusters, and the engine was developed to meet Euro 5 requirements with a power increase to 188bhp. Electronic gadgetry was also updated to include – on top models – a new touch-screen media centre, lane change and blind-spot monitors and surround-view cameras.

 Our verdicts 

We were suitably impressed with the new Land Cruiser for 2010. Our debut report in the January 2010 edition commented: “Following in the Land Rover style of featuring a plethora of electronic wizardry the Land Cruiser, already a highly capable off-roader, just got even better. The interior is plusher and sports the aircraft console-type layout that is de rigeur these days. Exterior tweaks have created a more muscular stance, characterised by an oversize bumper, and the rear wheel arches flare towards the rear. This truly is an off-road machine that is vying with the Discovery 4 for on- and off-road dynamics.”

With that last comment in mind, we had to pit the new Land Cruiser against a Discovery 4. The head-to-head twin test appeared in our May 2010 issue, and although the Toyota lost out to the Land Rover it was a close call. One of the factors that chipped some of the gloss from the equipment-packed Toyota was the complexity of its off-road features compared with the very intuitive set-up in the Land Rover. We wrote of the Land Cruiser’s Multi Terrain System: “Without reading the instruction manual – a very handy separate off-roading guide – you would never know how to access the Multi Terrain Select. It is all rather fiddly in comparison. It was quite a faff to select low range – in Neutral – then if you want the impressive crawl function the selector has to be in anything other than Park or Neutral. To select all the extreme off-road functions, such as the manually locking centre and rear differentials takes a while and involves quite a number of different operations and switches.” Nevertheless, once we’d managed to work out how it all operates we found the Land Cruiser well up to the extreme off-road task: “Engine braking in first low was perfectly adequate for the slippery steep descents on our test route. On really steep terrain it’s advisable to use the crawl settings, although they are accompanied by the usual teeth-sucking graunching noises that these systems produce.

“In the axle-twisting rocky section we noticed that the Land Cruiser picked up a wheel quicker than the Discovery, and in deep, wet, greasy ruts it needed a bit more work to pull itself out of the mire. Not quite as smooth in operation as the D4, but still very effective.” We felt the on-road ride was noticeably more wallowy than the Discovery, and we criticised the protruding rear bumper, which makes it difficult to load heavy objects.

Our 4×4 Of The Year comparison for 2011 gave us a chance to pit the Land Cruiser against all its key rivals. We wrote: “The LC5 is impressive, packed with enough toys and luxuries to keep gadget fans happy. It’s certainly in a different league to the Mitsubishi Shogun, Nissan Pathfinder and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but when pitched against the Discovery it’s not quite good enough.

“The Toyota is a great off-roader and its systems are superbly effective once deployed, but the 4×4 selection procedure is complicated. There’s a protracted system involving dials, buttons and scrolling menus. Some are dash-mounted, some are on the steering wheel and some are by your kneecap. In short it’s a bit of an ergonomic mess that we hope someone at Toyota is fixing right now.”

Someone did just that, on the facelifted range for the 2014 model year, which features a restyled dashboard with all the 4×4 controls grouped on a panel in the central console. We recorded that mid-term facelift in our 4×4 Of The Year for 2013, but weren’t overawed, commenting: “The Land Cruiser reinvented itself last year and there has been no change.” That was meant in general terms; one coincidental change was the shift to the more emotive Active, Icon and range-topping Invincible nomenclature, but in spite of the stronger styling and enhanced electronic gadgetry our experience with the car did no more than reinforce our overall feeling: “Reliable and conservative are words that tend to sum up Toyota’s approach to their iconic off-roaders, values that may well excuse the reluctance to drag the Land Cruiser into the 21st Century. It’s the last of the big players to cling to the concept of a separate steel chassis and while the engine has been tweaked to meet current emissions regulations it’s an ageing design linked to a conventional five-speed automatic. It can’t be helped, then, that the Land Cruiser feels like a bit of a lumbering brute in comparison with its more advanced rivals.”

 Which one to buy 

LC3 is nominally the entry level and lacks the third row of seats, but nevertheless has the key electronic aids including hill descent, hill start and traction control, plus vehicle stability, Bluetooth, electric windows and mirrors, six-speaker stereo with CD player, front, side and curtain airbags, smart entry and smart start. The wheels are 17-inch alloys but no spare was included, just a tyre inflation kit – check, because some owners paid the extra for a full-size spare. Buy a high-mileage early example for £18,000, if it’s in good condition, more like £20,000 for anything with no more than 50,000 miles. One of the keener deals we spotted was Arnold Clark of Ayr (01292 518703) asking £19,000 for a blue one-owner 2010 example with 57,000 miles; a clean low-mileage 2012 model will command at least £25,000 in mint condition.

Three-door versions might be a good choice for more serious off-roading, these haven’t sold in great numbers so are rare second-hand but reasonably priced, Robinsons of Hillsborough (0289 221 0808) had a smart metallic grey 2011 example with 45,400 miles priced at £17,950 and a pearlescent white 2013 Active with just 11,000 miles at £25,950. There are quite a few nearly new examples around, as well as new stock with around £1000 knocked off the new list price – the same dealer was asking £32,900 for a new 2014 metallic silver one with 50 miles on it and £34,900 for a 2015 example with 100 miles on it.

The LC4 gets leather upholstery and three-zone climate control, with additional convenience features such as rain sensors and automatic lights, cruise control and an HDD sat nav. The stereo is upgraded to a 14-speaker JBL Synthesis Premium Surround Sound System with storage for 2000 CD tracks. The suspension includes the self-levelling TEMS system and the wheels are18-inch alloys – including a full size spare. Pay £24,000 for an early example with reasonable mileage, like the 60-plated metallic black 62,000 miler, with power sunroof, at Braidwood Motor Company in Livingston, West Lothian (01505 321910), though you could be asked £29,000 for a five-year old car with low mileage and perfect service record. Expect to pay around £35,000 for a low-mileage three-year old car with some of the original five-year warranty intact.

The LC5 is so luxurious as to be the least likely car to go off-road, yet it’s the one that has the multi terrain select system with the four-camera multiview monitor; good news is that prices aren’t stupidly higher than for the already well-appointed LC4. Lodge Motors of Yateley (01252 860900), for instance, were asking £28,990 for a 60-plated 49,000-miler, two-owner car in dark blue metallic with beige leather interior, while Stebbings Car Superstore of Kings Lynn (01553 387911) put a £35,500 tag on a 27,000-mile example in black on a 13 plate with up-to-date service history and clear HPI check. Look around for low-mileage nearly-new cars, Motorline of Horsham (01293 976737) were asking £39,995 for a 190-horse 2013 example in Astral Black with 13,000 miles, or keen price cuts on 2014 unregistered new cars, like the £49,975 being asked by Boss Performance of Bury, Lancashire (0161 763 3000) for a white Invincible with panoramic sunroof, remarkable since the listed new price for an Invincible is over £53,000.

For 2011 Toyota celebrated its long Land Cruiser history with a 60th Anniversary special edition, the upgrades being mainly cosmetic with carpet mats, walnut trim, chrome exhaust finisher and clear-finish rear light clusters, but still desirable. Saxton 4×4 of Chelmsford (01245 351234) had a 49,000-mile 2011 example in Astral Black priced at £31,950. Handpicked Cars were a bit over the top asking £44,495 for a 2012 example, but it is a pristine one-owner car, 28,000 miles with two main dealer services, sold with new tyres and a year’s MOT, plus an additional three months warranty on the engine and gearbox.

The latest generation of the 3.0-litre common rail engine seems to be as reliable as it should be, nevertheless it’s worth checking the quality of the oil in higher-mileage cars for signs of the sludging that seems to have been a problem in the earlier model. Otherwise look for general signs of neglect, squeaks or even water stains hinting at possible water pump failure, excessive black exhaust smoke and erratic running under acceleration which could point to a failing turbocharger or worn injectors.
Chances are you won’t be able to check that the four-wheel drive systems are all working because they don’t really come into play until you’re all crossed up off-road. Nevertheless, play with the switches and satisfy yourself that nothing untoward appears to be happening. Transmissions are generally fault-free, though if you find a rare manual make sure the shift quality is smooth and engagement is positive and silent, reject any car where the shift feels baulky. This could be a wearing clutch, but even that’s a costly repair; the clutch should release and come in smoothly without requiring heavy pressure or overlong travel before releasing. Reject any automatic that shunts on gearchanges, allows too many engine revs during shifts or refuses to kick down responsively. Even on an automatic that behaves well, it’s always worth checking the level and condition of the fluid.
Higher-specification models can suffer suspension problems such as failed air struts and malfunctioning of the self-levelling system. Check that the height adjustment feature works properly, if it doesn’t it could just as easily be a fault with the sensors rather than the air struts, but either way it will be an expensive fix. Check that the car corners steadily without too much body lean, you should be able to feel the active suspension units jacking the car level, if there’s too much wallow and the steering feels vague reject the car. There shouldn’t be any problems with the steering and suspension bushes, reject any car that clonks or rattles when driven over potholes. Check the power steering works smoothly and silently from lock to lock, groans or hisses could point to a failing pump.
Corrosion shouldn’t be a problem in cars of this age, if the car’s been used for towing check the tow bar mountings and the state of the rear section of the chassis for signs that it’s been used to back a boat into sea water. The main thing to check is that all the electronic gadgetry is working properly, the downside being that there’s so much of it, even in the LC3, that you’ll need to work your way through the handbook to find out how everything works. If nothing else, check that the air conditioning works, rotting pipework can lead to failure that’s costly to put right. Check carpets for signs of water ingress from the sunroof and in seven-seaters make sure the electric seat operation is working properly.

 Or you could consider… 

Land Rover Discovery 4Mitsubishi ShogunJeep Grand Cherokee

The brand value of the Toyota is such that it’s unlikely that anyone considering a Land Cruiser would even look at a Discovery 4, especially since there’s still a lot of “Japanese is better than British” feeling about, not helped by Land Rover’s hardly pristine reputation for reliability. The Discovery 4 has shown itself to be a far more reliable product, however, and an enthusiast seeking a sort of ultimate refined on and off-road driving experience should really try a Discovery 4 because it might surprise. There’s a good reason why it’s proved to be such a popular premium SUV with its powerful 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, superb on-road ride and handling, class-leading electronics and virtually unstoppable off-road agility, not to mention the clever stadium seating arrangement that seats seven adults in comfort yet folds flat to give van-like carrying capacity. For some users, of course, the Discovery’s impressive 3500kg towing ability alone might give it the edge over the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is rated to tow half a tonne less.

Another car that, like the Land Cruiser, is an uneasy mixture of old and new. Probably the nicest thing we could find to say about the Shogun is that it’s a perfect example of the old adage, that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It can even (metaphorically) smirk at the complexity – and cost – of the electronic self-actuating four-wheel drive systems of its rivals, since Mitsubishi’s tried and trusted Super Select system is as effective offering the full range of rear drive, four-wheel drive, low range and locking diffs at the simple shift of a lever. The modern Shogun has embraced keyless entry, parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and traction controls, but it hasn’t yet reached the pinnacle of adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation systems. What’s left is a reasonably-priced, reliable alternative with moderate power and a dated five-speed automatic, but good ride and handling from its monocoque all-independent construction, good towing credentials, child-friendly third row of seats and quite good off-road ability, which is all many SUV drivers actually want.

The bold American (though built in Austria until 2010) is still something of an outsider in a marketplace dominated by Eastern and European players, yet offers excellent luxury equipment in a good value package with good performance and more than adequate ride comfort and handling crispness. The range-topping Overland has a leather-wrapped dash as well as leather upholstery, concert-quality stereo and latest versions have all the important electronic driving aids. The Grand Cherokee lacks the seven-seater facility of the other rivals referred to here, but it has the advantage in having exceptional off-road ability courtesy of the Quadra Drive system which effectively gives it auto-locking front and rear differentials. So how is it better than the Discovery off-road? It isn’t, but it’s cheaper and less complicated, not to mention being less precious, so a better choice as a luxury family car that really is going to be used quite seriously off-road. Also, if you really don’t care about fuel costs or keeping your driver’s licence, there’s the manic 5.7-litre hemi or 6.1-litre SRT-8 street racers to consider.