Monthly Archives: May 2018

Refinement is a big part of what makes a Range Rover what it is. The Sport has always played up to that, but the SVR model has made a virtue of being, if not unrefined, then certainly unrestrained. It’s monstrous V8 shove and trademark boorish exhaust note leave you in no doubt as to the sort of people to whom it’s trying to appeal.

For the new year, the SVR gains yet more power, with 575bhp backed up by 516lbf.ft. Top speed is 176mph and it’ll leap from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. Yet it’s also more of a luxury SUV than ever – albeit a very showy one. The vehicle we tested had 22” rims, special paint and loads of carbon fibre on top of its in-yer-face body kit, and of course if you don’t see it coming, with that thundering exhaust you’ll certainly hear it.

Is it appreciably different to drive than last year’s model? No. It remains a big, loud handful whose willingness to erupt forward when provoked makes it endlessly entertaining but less than relaxing. Needless to say, it gathers pace more or less instantaneously, but on the way into corners it feels like you’re having to harness a large, tall, heavy weight. It doesn’t think much of big pot-holes, either.

We’ll acknowledge here that we only had a short drive of the SVR, which barely gave us time to get used to it – which, we’re confident, we would on a longer session. However, immediately afterwards we drove the same route in a Bentley Bentayga V8 – which, by comparison, felt like a hot hatch.

Perhaps that’s the difference another £35,000 makes – though at prices like these, that sort of money is probably irrelevant. Either way, various racing drivers have demonstrated that the SVR is incredibly capable through corners. But to everyday punters like us, it’s a beguiling speed machine and look-at-me device rather than an easily accessible driving tool.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport has been very popular ever since it was released in 2014, with more than 350,000 vehicles sold. Feel like you’ve seem more of them recently? You have. Last year, it sold more than 126,000 units, breaking the single-year sales record for any Land Rover model in the process.

To celebrate this, Land Rover have announced the Discovery Sport Landmark Edition. The options list for the limited-edition Disco Sport comes with a choice of two engines – the 178bhp Td4 and the 237bhp Si4 – and a trio of colour schemes. Bodywork can be painted in any of Narvik Black, Corris Grey or Yulong White – each in conjunction with a contrasting Carpathian Grey roof, and Gloss Dark Grey alloys of the 19-inch variety. Whatever shade you choose, the Landmark has a unique front bumper and sports graphite-coloured exterior accenting.

The interior is just as tonal, pairing Ebony grained leather seats with matching Ebony headliner, with dark grey aluminium finishers around the centre consoling.

Along with all other engines in the Discovery Sport range, those in the Landmark Edition will be fitted with particulate filters for cleaner running.

Prices for the Landmark Edition start at £40,400, with the celebratory model available to order from the Land Rover website.

SsangYong is on a roll. Buoyed by a steady stream of new, modern products to replace the staid vehicles it relied on for way too long, the Korean 4×4 specialist started this year by celebrating overall success in our 4×4 of the Year awards with the new Rexton.

Based on the same platform as the Rexton, with the same engine and choice of gearboxes and very similar cabin, the new Musso is a quantum leap forward from the model currently being sold under the same name.

We’ve had an early test, on British roads, of a Korean-spec Musso. Aside from the fact that it’s left-hand drive, the only difference between this and the one coming to Britain is in the details, so this is a good indication of what’s on the way.

Starting in the cabin, the Rexton’s influence is clear. There’s even a strip of leather across the dashboard, complete with contrasting stitching.

Elsewhere, materials remain high-quality by pick-up standards, with soft-touch surfaces on much of the dash and excellent leather seats which managed to be both soft and comfy yet impressively supportive. They put you in a good driving position, too, from which your view all around is particularly fine – even over your shoulder, thanks to a C-post that’s no bigger than it needs to be.

There’s plenty of headroom, too, and enough leg room to let a six-footer drive without needing to move his seat all the way back. This is handy if there’s another six-footer sat behind, because the seat-backs have no give in them at all – but the good news is that aside from the Ford Ranger, we think the Musso probably has the most rear knee room in the double-cab market. It’s possible for two tall adults to ride in tandem without either feeling the squeeze, and there’s not a lot of trucks we can say that about. All-round, few double-cabs can match it for accommodation.

There’s a decent amount of oddment stowage, too, and overall build quality appears close to that of the Rexton. As does the equipment you get for your money – we’ll leave the specifics out, as UK models will likely differ from this one, but there’ll be a range of three trim levels and at the top, you’ll get a truly premium level of kit. As an indication, the vehicle here had stuff like air-conditioned seats and a heated steering wheel.

It also had 20” polished rims, complete with 255/50R20 tyres, which are pretty much the exact opposite of what we like to see on pick-ups. But if the Musso range is going to mirror that of the Rexton, this is what top models will come with.

One definite difference to the Rexton is that whereas that vehicle comes with independent rear suspension on AWD models, all Mussos have a live rear axle. This is coil-sprung, which remains a rarity in the pick-up market.

You also get a part-time, dual-range transfer case as standard, mated to a choice of six-speed manual or auto gearboxes. This all goes together to make what looks on paper like a well sorted vehicle for on and off-road use.

Starting with the latter, we found that the limits were definitely set by the low-profile, road-pattern tyres. No surprise there – but what was very pleasing to note was that when pushed, the rear axle displays excellent articulation, particularly on the bump stroke. A rather low rear bumper, coupled with the inevitable long overhang, means there’s an element of vulnerability back there, but based on the limited amount we were able to do on this early drive the suspension is unusually good at following the terrain.

What the coil springs can’t do is hide the fact that they’re specced to hold up a tonne. Inevitably, this means the suspension is upset by all but the smoothest roads – though while there certainly is plenty of thumping, even in sharp-edged pot-holes the impacts are never harsh. The body does get jolted around a fair bit at lower speeds on uneven urban roads, but once you get it moving things are a lot more settled. We haven’t yet had the chance to drive the Musso at cruising speeds, but at this stage’s we’d say the results are promising for a composed motorway ride.

We haven’t been able to tow with the vehicle yet, but SsangYong advises us that it will be rated to haul 3500kg (3200 with the manual box) while also carrying 1050kg of cargo. At the time of writing, the testing and approval process was still underway, but the company believes this will give it the highest gross train weight in the market.

It certainly has the brakes for the job, as we found out when a driver in the employ of a very well known courier company lost control of his 7.5-tonner while coming towards us round a corner. And while an unladen test can only tell you so much, the engine does pull strongly – 181bhp is backed up by 295lbf.ft at 1400rpm in manual form, and 310lbf.ft at 1600rpm in autos. It raises its voice when your foot goes right down, but is quiet enough not to cause a disturbance at higher speeds. Again, though, we can’t yet comment on motorway cruising.

What we can say is that from this first, brief look, the Musso does appear to do a good job of taking the good stuff from the Rexton and applying it to the pick-up market. It’s solid, spacious inside and, without rewriting the rules, represents a quantum leap forward from the truck it will replace, vaulting SsangYong from the bottom of the one-tonne pile to a position in which it can compete on a level footing with the rest of the pack.

It also comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and with running costs mattering so much to most people that could go a long way to convincing some buyers. So too could prices which SsangYong says will start at less than £20,000 plus VAT – these are yet to be confirmed, as has the exact spec of the three-strong UK range. But it’s clear that value for money will continue to be a key part of the proposition.

Weigh all that up against fuel consumption and emissions of 35.8mpg and 211g/km (32.8 and 226 auto), and residuals which will likely be on the weak side, and you have a number of questions to ask yourself. By no means are they clear cut, though – and for the first time in the UK pick-up market, SsangYong certainly does have an answer.

Back in January, Land Rover kicked off a special year for its company with news that the much-loved Defender was alive and well. Sort of.

As part of the 70th anniversary celebrations, Land Rover decided it would be a good idea to ‘re-engineer’ a few Defenders by opening the bonnet, lobbing the Transit engine aside and squeezing the SVR’s thumping big heart under the hood instead – albeit without the supercharger.

That makes for a 400bhp Defender, effectively, with Land Rover branding it the fastest and most powerful iteration they’ve ever made. Given that it can do 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds, we’ve no reason to suggest otherwise. And if you’re feeling especially ballsy, it tops out at 106mph.

I say ‘could’, because embarking on such an experience is likely to leave you with some form of scarring: physically, because your eardrums may disintegrate from the noise, and mentally, because it feels as safe as strapping a jet engine to a shopping trolley.

Alongside the newly-fitted V8 furnace, this re-worked Defender gains the popular eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and a raft of other enhancements, including better brakes and a handling kit of uprated dampers, springs and anti-roll bars.

You may think that with this revised road-biased setup, that the Works V8 now prefers to find the racing line through a series of apexes rather than ruts – but don’t be fooled. Sure, they’ve given the Works V8 a handling kit, but that’s like fitting a handling kit to a Boeing 747.

When you plant your foot into the throttle, there’s a significant pause while the Defender reluctantly calls the ZF ‘box into action. A gear is eventually selected and then your ears become victimised by an onslaught of thunder, whilst the cabin seems to tremble in a manner akin to that of a launching space shuttle.

And after you’ve hurtled down the road and you’ve become aware of the fast-approaching bend, your thoughts quickly turn to the shedding of speed and the fact the brakes aren’t doing as much of it as you’d like.

Then you’ve got the corner itself. It’s like trying to thread the Defender through the eye of needle, only you seem to have all the precision of a half-canned Jackson Pollock. It really is quite a spectacular mode of travel.

With the Works V8 Defender, even though it has all the subtlety of a burning hammer, it’s a machine that is capable of stirring the emotions. Any Defender, whether it be this £150,000 collector’s item or a knackered Tdi from the nineties with several hundred thousand miles on the clock, every one of them has that ability to get under your skin.

This one has a stubbornness that makes it endearing and while it has the road manners of a JCB in a tracksuit, you can’t avoid getting sucked into the theatre of it all, even if the performance isn’t what you were expecting.

Sadly, only 150 people will get the ticket to own one of these special Defenders. They are, chiefly, for collectors – a select few who have the funds to buy up toys, even if it means they will rarely ever come out of their boxes.

It’s a wonderful thing, the Works V8, and a fitting limited edition to mark a special year for Land Rover. It’s just a shame that so few eyes will ever get to see them in the flesh. And so few of these Defenders will ever have flesh grappling their steering wheels in anger.

Fiat raised an eyebrow or two in the pick-up world when it decided to launch a badge-engineered version of the Mitsubishi L200. The Fullback could be described as a me-too model – or, more sensibly, as an expedient way of allowing fleet customers to address all their light commercial vehicle needs in one deal. Either way, though, the new Fullback Cross is more than just someone else’s truck with a Fiat badge on it.

Sitting at the top of the Fullback range, the Cross model is based on the already well-equipped LX, meaning it has full-tim four-wheel drive and a 180bhp version of the now-familiar 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine.

What it also has is a locking rear differential. Typically these make all the difference to a pick-up’s performance off-road. By nature they’re light at the tail, and lift wheels very easily – especially when unladen, and being able to lock the rear diff to prevent drive being lost this way is an important weapon in the driver’s arsenal. Many manufacturers use traction control as an alternative to this – some systems work better than others, but in our experience none at all as are effective as the traditional tech.

The L200 is available with a locking rear diff – but only with part-time four-wheel drive. Higher-spec models gain the full-time system that’s also used on the Fullback Cross – but lose the locker. This was frustrating when Mitsubishi first launched the full-time system in 2005, so it feels rather as if this new Fullback is a case of Fiat making the L200 into the vehicle we’ve always wished it would be.

To go with the off-road potential this offers, the Cross is lightly ruggedized, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. It gains toughened wheelarches and side steps with a matt black finish, as well as a satin-effect skid plate, and its 245/65R17 tyres are wrapped around black alloys.

If prepping vehicles for off-road work is your thing, you’ll immediately write all this off as mere styling, all of which would be unbolted and replaced with proper heavy-duty stuff from the aftermarket the moment you got your hands on it. That would be rather a harsh verdict, all the same, as Fiat is honest about the Cross being pitched as an eye-catching lifestyle truck fit for work and play alike, but there is indeed an element of show-not-go to its spec. In particular, the design of the six-spoke alloys means their faces are close to being flush with the tyres’ sidewall, which is a recipe for scratches when you’re churning your way through ruts.

Nonetheless, the Fullback Cross proves very competent off-road. Even on standard tyres, it deals well with the wet, sloppy conditions many will encounter frequently in day-to-day working life, following the ground confidently without any sign of wanting to go sideways. With 317lbf.ft, there’s plenty of torque for slugging away through mud or heaving itself up hills, though with this version of the engine you pay for the higher output by needing to rev it to 2500rpm before it’ll give you all it’s got – but despite this, it’ll scale very decent climbs at little more than tickover, and the gearing in the six-speed manual box never feels high.

You’d need more aggressive tyres for the diff-lock to make an appreciable difference in muddy conditions. However, at a crawl over uneven terrain, it comes into its own. The ground does need to be very rough – much more so than most owners will attempt to tackle in their expensive new trucks – but where two wheels lighten up at once, the locker allows you to keep on taking it gently rather than using extra speed to get through. And that’s good for the vehicle, its passengers, its load and the ground beneath it.

On the road, the Fullback is a fine performer, with a smooth, quiet ride on the motorway which makes it very agreeable indeed. The engine hauls it up to speed without any problem at all and feels as if it has plenty more to give, even when you’re keeping up with the traffic in the fast lane, and with the cruise control set it’ll rumble along all day without skipping a beat. You don’t need to fidget with the steering to keep it in its lane, either.

On A and B-roads, the steering is engaging, with plenty of feel and response as you chuck it into corners. Of course, there’s body roll, but it’s well controlled and doesn’t prevent you from enjoying yourself. As always with off-road vehicles, the trick is to drive with its foibles, not against them – accept it for what it is, and it’s a big, cheerful bundle of laughs.

Ride-wise, poorer road surfaces do set up a bit of fuss at the back, at least when there’s not a load of pea shingle in there to damp it down. But even when running unladen you can clobber it into an alloy-trasher of a pot-hole without feeling like the world’s coming to an end. Refinement is perfectly good by general pick-up standards, though the gearchange from the six-speed manual box is a bit mechanical.

Last time we drove a Fullback, we noted that the clutch had an oddly high biting point. No such trouble this time, however – it’s as easy to drive as you want it to be, with the option of full-time four-wheel drive adding an extra element of stability in wet conditions – and one which no other pick-up currently offers in combination with a rear locker.

Something else we grumbled about last time we drove a Fullback was its multimedia system, which defeated our every attempt to pair it with an iPhone and struggled to hold on to a DAB signal. This time, again no problem. We’d still like to know who it was that decided digital radio had to be so complicated to operate, but the sound and reception in the Cross were just fine – and having plugged our iPhone in to the USB port, it registered within seconds.

Elsewhere inside there’s heated leather seats and so on giving you the full luxury treatment. The leather feels tough rather than sumptuous – as always, we’d sooner see good fabric than so-so hide – but the seats are perfectly supportive and despite no adjustable lumbar support are comfortable over longer distances.

Similarly, the dash and floor console, though they’re finished in a hard plastic that is scratchy, are extremely well made – there’s almost no creaking from any part of them. It’s tough and rugged rather than luxurious, but all the top-spec kit does add something. It can’t work magic on the amount of space in the back, of course, but so long as you’re not carrying tall adults or bulky car seats, there’s enough space there to get by.

One other complaint we’d have relates to the pick-up bed. This is dominated by a model-unique textured sports bar, which looks cool and, we found, is capable of protecting the cab roof if you’re carrying very long items, but the bed itself is protected by a liner which, tough though it may be, offers nowhere to lash down your load. We had to run ratchet straps around the sports bar itself, which we’re pretty sure is not the idea.

The Fullback Cross isn’t unique in having full-time four-wheel drive, nor in having a rear diff-lock. But no other truck currently offers both in tandem, which gives it genuine off-road potential. It’s a good all-rounder, clearly the best option in the Fullback range, and its styling accessories certainly stand out – though in places we’d like to see a little more practicality to go with the eyeball-pleasing design.

No, you didn’t mis-read that headline.

Honda have revealed a concept this morning of a Civic Type R with a pick-up bed instead of rear seats and a boot.

Codenamed ‘Project P’, the Civic was worked on by Honda’s Product Engineering department at their factory in Swindon, with an eye on creating what is possibly the fastest pick-up in the UK.

A standard Type R from the C-pillar forwards, Project P is only front-wheel drive, which sadly rules out much off-roading. However, it drives the production 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol unit that gives out 316bhp and 295lbf.ft – so it still packs a punch. Behind the C-Pillar, the Civic has been cut, stripped and then lined to transform it into a pick-up.

It retains the spoiler from the road car, and the boot still opens and closes. To be honest, little description is needed – a picture speaks a thousand words. And what a picture…

There are – shockingly – no plans to take the vehicle into production, but an attempt at a Nurburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive pick-up is potentially on the cards…

Ford will be appearing at the 4×4 & Pick-Up Show on 15th and 16th of June.

The ever-popular Ranger Wildtrak and the Kuga ST Line X will be present on their stand at the show, plus Ford will be offering test drives of two vehicles – the EcoSport Titanium and Edge Vignale – around the grounds at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, on both the trade day on Friday and the public day on Saturday.

4×4 Magazine will be at the show, as will headline sponsors Terrafirma, plus show partners Subaru, Isuzu and BFGoodrich. SsangYong – winners of our 4×4 of The Year award – will be at the show, as will bespoke manufacturers Deranged and DV8 Works, and there will be a wide variety of aftermarket specialists in attendance, too.

Whether your interest in pick-ups and 4x4s is for professional or recreational purposes, the 4×4 and Pick-up Show will have something for you with dedicated days for both the trade and public.

With headline sponsor Terrafirma and show partners Isuzu, Subaru and BFGoodrich, the show boasts expertise and quality in the off-road and pick-up field.

The show offers a complete showroom experience, bringing together leading manufacturers – like SsangYong, Subaru, Ford and Isuzu – and bespoke builders – such as Deranged, Arctic Trucks and DV8 Works – all in the same place, presenting the opportunity to browse the newest and most exciting vehicles on the market.

Ford, Subaru, Isuzu, SsangYong, Deranged and DV8 will run test drives on the day, plus suspension specialists SuperPro, making the most of the road network on the Stoneleigh grounds, giving you the chance to get to know the vehicles on show. For those who like to get dirty, Isuzu are taking over the on-site off-road course to showcase the abilities of their D-Max pick-up.

Not just about new vehicles, the 4x4and Pick-up Show will also bring you a diverse aftermarket offering, with two halls filled with everything from headlights to caravans. Brands such as Rhino Linings and Speedliner offer linings that protect your truck bed and ready it for work; Dynamat offer soundproofing expertise; tyres courtesy of Davanti and 4site 4×4 Tyres; OTS Truck Systems and Gearmate offer organisation solutions for pick-up beds and Terrafirma, Ironman 4×4 and Superpro offer serious hardware to ensure your suspension is up to standard.

It won’t be all work and no play, however, as a breadth of exhibitors offer lifestyle accessories and means to customise your vehicle. Ruskin bring bespoke interiors; 4x4overlander specialise in everything for vehicle-dependent adventures; Raptor 4×4, Front Runner and APB Trading Ltd stock off-roading accessories and equipment and Apollo Motorhomes, K2 Off-Road Caravans and Northstar have off-road accommodation covered.

For those working in farming, agriculture, the building industry that use a 4×4 or pick-up as a working vehicle – or even a buyer of vehicles for the trade – the 4×4 and Pick-Up Show is an ideal and easy way to take in the current market.

Whether you’re looking for a new vehicle, are looking to upgrade your own or simply want to see what the market has to offer then the show has you covered.

With the trade day on Friday 15th and public day Saturday 16th June, tickets can be pre-booked at £10 in advance with prices more on the day and under 14s going free.

In the June issue of 4×4 Magazine – out today – we put the Fiat Fullback Cross to the test, feature a jaw-dropping Land Rover-Suzuki hybrid, drive the hybrid Range Rover P400e and peer into the Ford Ranger aftermarket.

We also have first drives of the Jaguar E-Pace, the brand-new SsangYong Musso pick-up and have a preview for the upcoming 4×4 and Pick-Up Show. There’s a recap of the flurry of pick-ups released at the CV Show from Toyota, Arctic Trucks, Isuzu, Nissan and Ford. Plus we tell the tale of two Series Land Rovers that had a remarkable adventure, and we experience the new rubber on the block – Davanti’s Terratoura all-terrains.

We have an update on our long-term Skoda Kodiaq Scout, our Project 90 gets a thorough once-over in the workshop and there’s the usual Trail Guides – this month for Cambridgeshire, Wales and East Yorkshire.

You can pick up your copy from WHSmiths, independent news agents and in selected Sainsburys, order it online with free P&P or subscribe and get the next twelve issues for £12.

After three years of rumours, camo’d prototypes and being battered by the slogan Effortless, Everywhere, Rolls Royce have revealed their entrant into the SUV sector.

The Cullinan – named after the famous diamond, of course – comes with plenty of plush furnishing, pampering tech and tagline enforcing all-wheel drive.

As was clear from the first time we saw a prototype, the front end is unmistakably Roller. The grille, the lights and the bonnet ornament are textbook. The rear is unusual to see, as there’s no design language for a Rolls Royce of this shape, i.e. a wagon or an estate. The Cullinan incorporates the hips of it’s siblings and similar rectangular tail lights into a tidy rear end with a two-part tailgate entitled ‘The Clasp’.

When someone reaches for the door handle, the vehicle drops by 40mm to ensure they embark smoothly, and  it readjusts itself back to usual height upon ignition.

Needless to say the interior has wooden inserts, leather upholstery, champagne flute holders and everything else you’d expect in a Rolls Royce. Rear Pavilion seating, in both four and five seat variants, sits passengers in the back higher up to enjoy the views and make the most of the massive panoramic sunroof, and almost every surface of the interior is heated – seats, armrests, door sills and even the lower C-pillar. The infotainment is the first touch-screen system to be installed by the marque, and it isn’t the only new addition.

Unsurprisingly, the Cullinan is the first Rolls to feature an off-road mode and hill descent control, whilst the air suspension can be raised and lowered from the centre console. Presumably the development of these was when the vehicle was ‘tested to destruction’.

Powering the 2.6-tonne luxury SUV is a 6.75-litre, twin turbo V12 petrol unit, redeveloped to produce 563bhp and, most importantly, 627lbf.ft of torque at just 1,600rpm – making it easily accessible off-road. This gives a top speed of 155mph.

Electronic sensors adjust the shock absorbers, to push wheels short of traction into the ground, and the suspension set-up consists of a double-wishbone arrangement at the front and a five-link rear axle and the Cullinan has a wading depth of 540mm in the tallest suspension setting, plus four-wheel steering.

Possibly the least surprising stat here is that the Rolls Royce Cullinan is big. From nose to tail is 5.34m, it stands 1.83m tall and 2.16m wide, with a wheelbase marginally shy of 3.3m. This results in a 13-metre turning circle, so maybe nothing too technical. It won’t be cheap either, duh, with prices expected to rival the Bentley Bentayga at over £200,000.

The Cullinan certainly enters the luxury SUV sector with a dignified stroll, but whether it gets Rolls Royce customers down their local green lanes remains to be seen. Not that there are many in Mayfair…