George Dove


Mercedes have released pricing and specification for the latest AMG model – the GLB 35 4Matic.

The GLB on steroids has a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol under the bonnet, producing 302bhp and 295lbf.ft – these resulting in a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.2 seconds. In terms of economy, the GLB 35 can be expected to get up to 32.5 mpg on the WLTP scale, whilst it emits 171g/km of carbon dioxide.

Helping utilise the engine output is the AMG Speedshift DCT 8G transmission paired to AMG-tuned 4Matic all-wheel drive plus AMG suspension and Adaptive Damping to add further sharpness to the handling.

As with all of the current Mercedes crop, the interior here has plenty of facets it brings to the table. As standard the MBUX multimedia systems, with voice activation, plus a 10.25-inch driver display screen and a central touchscreen of the same size. Augmented reality navigation is also part of the package, as is DAB radio, hard-disk navigation, smartphone integration and wireless charging, too. Only for compatible phones, obviously – the same goes for the Mercedes-Me mobile app. Connected service include a vehicle tracker, parked vehicle locator, remote locking and unlocking and a free 12-month subscription to Tidal music streaming services.

Gismos included in the standard package are smart auto LED headlights, with adaptive highbeam assist; a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch AMG five-twin spoke alloys (obviously in matt black); heated and electronically controlled front seats; a sound system from Burmester and an ambient lighting system with 64 different flavours to choose from.

You get a host of driving aids thrown in, too, as the Driving Assistance package is standard on all AMG GLB 35s. This means you’ll benefit from adaptive cruise, parking assist, active steer assist, an active speed limit assist and clever route-based speed control that slows you down for bends and toll stations. There’s an assist for evasive steering, an active lane aid, blind spot monitoring and an active braking assist.

Surprisingly, the model specific extras list is only a matter of paint. Metallic paint can be added for £595, with six options to choose from. The Patagonia red metallic is another 200 quid on top of that, whilst the exclusive designo mountain grey magno – exclusive to this model – is £1,795.

A Merc dealer will sell you one of these now, with the list price starting at £48,665 OTR and first deliveries are anticipated to take place this summer.

The Special Vehicle Operations branch at Jaguar Land Rover has purchased Bowler, the specialist Land Rover tuners, to complement its SV, Vehicle Personalisation and Classic divisions.

In acquiring the brand, JLR have secured the future of Bowler, whom they believe is a natural fit in their SVO family.

Having struck up a partnership in 2012 and the Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series running between 2014 and 2016, but since their inception by the legendary Drew Bowler in 1985 the brand has produced everything from off-road competition cars to performance improvements and all that lies between.

Jaguar Land Rover are looking to take from the expertise built up at Bowler’s Belper plant, valuing their knowledge in all-terrain vehicle dynamics, low-volume production techniques and ability in proving the durability of components under extreme conditions.


INEOS have announced that it will be broadening its standing partnership with Magna in the production of the upcoming Grenadier.

Magna are already part of the project, with their Magna Powertrain subsidiary responsible for the chassis and suspension development from the get go. The expansion comes with news that Magna Steyr will undertake the series development aspect for the all-new uncompromising 4×4.

Dirk Heilmann, CEO of  INEOS Automotive, is pleased with the development.

‘We are pleased to have Magna, with their long heritage and experience in 4×4 development, with us for the next stage of the journey. With our production plans recently confirmed, we now move into all-important series development and start to set our sights on the start of production.’

This follows the news that the Grenadier will be built at an all-new manufacturing plant in Bridgend, Wales, and that BMW will supply inline six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines to the Grenadier.

The INEOS Grenadier is expected to go into production in 2021.

Land Rover have released a new special edition of the Velar, specifically for the UK, featuring an extended list of features included as standard and a unique look.

Based on the D180 R-Dynamic SE model – a strong sales performer for the Velar – the Black limited edition is equipped with a host of features to elevate it beyond the spec on which it is based.

Among these, you’ll not be surprised that there is the Black Exterior Pack which ensures the exterior trimmings are all shadowed out. It sits on 21″ gloss black alloys and also has privacy glass and a fixed panoramic roof. It may shock you to hear that there are options for the bodywork, however the brightest of the two metallic options is the Eiger Grey, with the more congruous Santorini Black also on the table – both as standard.

Inside you’ll sit upon Ebony Perforated Grained Leather and grip a heated steering wheel, with a complimentary Ebony Morzine Headlining finishing off the specification.

Being based on the R-Dynamic SE, the Black limited edition will have Matrix LED headlights, an interactive driver display, a Meridian surround sound system plus the Park Pack, which brings 360º cameras, sensors and rear traffic monitoring. The D180 powertrain also packs 180bhp, 317lbf.ft and is the most frugal Velar model capable of up to 42mpg.

Available to order now, this suave limited edition is limited to 500 units with the Velar R-Dynamic Black costing from £56,995.

Previewed earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, and now built Subaru’s Global Platform, the all-new fifth generation Forester is on sale in the UK – with the new e-Boxer powertrain. Alongside the fresh motor-assisted propulsion, the Forester also comes with advanced safety technology, a refreshed appearance, X-Mode off-road capabilities which, of course, uses permanent symmetrical all-wheel drive.

Utilising the Global Platform not only means the new Forester is very safe, but it has a 40% stiffer body than its predecessor and is also the reason it has been able to become hybridised. The 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed petrol boxer unit is assisted by an electric motor. A lithium-ion battery is mounted underneath the boot floor, and it allows for full EV driving at speeds below 25mph and can save up to 10% on fuel consumption. An updated Lineartronic gearbox also features, and there are three driving modes: EV, Motor Assisted and Engine driving.

When we briefly tried out the e-Boxer powertrain earlier this year, we found that the gearbox felt suited the powertrain rather well, and not only did it feel better than that in the outgoing model but it remained smooth when changing between driving modes and overall felt more usable.

Whilst EV mode is predominantly for urban surroundings with stop-start traffic, Motor Assisted driving is well-suited to off-road driving. It generates torque earlier in X-Mode and is also useful when towing – the capacity of which is 1,870kg.

Up at cruising speeds, the e-Boxer unit will rely solely on its engine. It will, however, take the opportunity to recharge the battery where possible, so it is always on hand when needed.

Subaru have designed the e-Boxer system with the same attention to detail that they give everything they do. In the symmetrical layout, the electric motor and battery pack are aligned longitudinally. with the heavy motor situated close to the vehicle’s centre of gravity. Other components are placed above the rear axle, meaning the Forester remains planted thanks to its favourable weight distribution.

Along with improved strength, the Global Platform also absorbs more energy in impact, whilst allowing for less intrusive road noise but more responsive steering.

With safety paramount in Subaru’s philosophy, the new Forest comes with EyeSight driver assistance as standard, which uses two cameras to monitor  the road. Monitoring for hazards up to 110 metres ahead, the suite includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Sway and Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and to work with the cruise control, Lead Vehicle Start Alert. Rear Vehicle Detection looks out for collisions from the rear with Blind spot Monitoring, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, whilst there is also Reverse Automatic Braking.

Brand new for Subaru is the Driver Monitoring System which debuts in the Forester e-Boxer, alerting the driver to place attention on the road with audile warnings. The system is able to identify when a driver is drowsy, but it will not action warnings when the vehicle is stopped nor when the indicator is on. The system can also be programmed to recognise the faces of up to five drivers and remember and set the positioning of the seat and door mirrors, plus preferences for air conditioning and infotainment settings.

For the Forester e-Boxer, X-Mode has two new settings: Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud for slippery road surfaces and situation where the tyres may become somewhat buried respectively. In X-Mode, Hill Descent Control is also activated.

On the outside, the Forester has got more contoured body panels and prominent wheel arches that display its rugged personality. New alloys are available for both the XE and XE Premium trims. Both have keyless entry, eight-way power adjustable front seats with driver memory function, LED headlights, and 8″ touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

XE Premium adds leather seats that are heated front and rear, a heated steering wheel, inbuilt sat-nav, privacy glass, bigger 18″ alloys, a sunroof and a power tailgate.

The new Subaru Forest e-Boxer is in showrooms now, with pricing for the new range starts at £33,995 for an XE model on the road.

The off-road scene in Britain is dominated by just a few makes and models of vehicle. Go to a typical 4×4 playday and almost everything you see will be Land Rovers, Jeeps and Suzukis – while on a construction site, it’ll be a few select brands of pick-up. But there’s a whole world of alternatives out there, too – some of them a common sight, others rare and hard to get, but all of them with lots to offer if you’re willing to think outside the box.

Whether it’s for work or play, here’s a selection of 20 off-road heroes worth thinking about for your next project. Some are very well known, but there are others that you’re unlikely ever to have thought about. As always, finding a good, solid truck on which to base your build is critical – but so long as you get that nailed, any of these vehicles here could be turned into an off-road machine to be truly proud of…

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep says the new model is the best Wrangler yet, but they’ve all been pretty good. The original YJ, with unpopular square headlights, only came to Britain in small numbers, but its combination of leaf springs and a cheerfully boorish 4.0-litre straight six engine made it pretty hilarious to drive.

It was in 1998, though, that Jeep hit the off-roading mainstream in the UK with the arrival of the coil-sprung TJ. This sold in much higher numbers, and plenty of people modified them – usually to a high standard, too. The good thing about all Wranglers is that with the combined output of America’s aftermarket on your side, there’s almost no limit to what an imaginative (and rich) owner can do with one.

Another advantage the Wrangler has over the Land Rover Defender is that it commonly comes with kit like cruise, leather and air-con, and in some cases you can hear the stereo. But the real step forward came with the introduction of the JK model in 2007. As well as being far more refined than the TJ it replaced, this was the first Wrangler available in either diesel or five-door form, and as a result it out-sold all previous models several times over.

The JK was also available in Rubicon form, with a set of off-road enhancements making it probably the best factory-standard off-roader in the world. You could only get this with a petrol engine, but the new JL model has righted that wrong (if a wrong is what it was).

Every Wrangler has been cool, and people like them for that alone, but more than that there’s no other 4×4 that’s so well set-up for modifying. Their values have gone up strongly since the Defender went out of production, but the number of them you see being used off-road has spiralled upwards in recent years – whether you’re looking to buy new, old or really old, the Wrangler is a very good bet indeed.

Daihatsu Fourtrak

The Fourtrak was ugly, rough and boring, and any that are left now are likely now to be rusted half to death. But you could drive a stake through its heart and you still wouldn’t be able to kill it – its doughty unbreakability means you’ll still see ancient examples chuntering around playday sites and hill farms as reliably as the day they were born. There are almost none left for sale now, and those you do see are mainly the later Independent model whose front wishbones and low-slung gearbox meant it wasn’t a patch on the old leafer off-road, but anything with Daihatsu’s absolutely legendary 2.8 TD engine is going to have traction to spare. You almost never see a modified Fourtrak – just beaten-up ones, on no more than a set of mud tyres, still showing the rest of the world how it’s done.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Where do you even start with the Land Cruiser? It’s an entire family of different vehicles with many major differences – but with strength, mighty build quality and serious off-road skills common to all of them.
The Land Cruiser range can be divided roughly in two. Up top, there are the big ones – as exemplified by the 80-Series from back in the 1990s, which many people will tell you is the best car ever made. It had proper beam axles at both ends, each of them with a locking diff, as well as long-travel suspension that made it stunningly agile, and its built-in strength was such that you still see them for sale today with a quarter of a million miles or more under their belts.
The later 100 and 200-Series Cruisers are less popular with off-roaders due to their greater complexity and independent front ends, but both are still massively capable both on and off-road. There’s a rare 105-Series model, too, which wasn’t made for the UK but whose no-no-sense spec and front beam axle made it ideal for real work, and also in the realms of the grey import you might be tempted by the hefty 70-Series trucks which, again, don’t come here officially.
Smaller Land Cruisers, which have been sold under the Prado name elsewhere around the world, offer a more manageably sized option whose off-road abilities are scarcely less epic. Anything from before the 90-Series Colorado is now very rare indeed, but the 120-Series from 2002-on is a fantastic vehicle – and the current 150-Series, which has just become available in basic Utility form, is now one of the most attractively priced off-road vehicles you can buy new.
As with all Japanese vehicles, the supply of parts for modding Land Cruisers is limited. But the best specialists are exceptionally good – and with just a minimum of mods, any of these mighty Toyotas will tackle most terrain at a stroll.

Range Rover

The original Range Rover was the truck that launched a thousand jokes about panel gaps that were visible from space. It’s incredible off-road, though, and there’s no end of ways in which people have modified them – including taking the body off and replacing it with
something else altogether. The only problem is that there aren’t many Rangeys around now, and those that are still in one piece have normally either already been modded or restored.

Buying someone else’s old project is a massive leap of faith, but if you enjoy your workshop time it can yield a huge amount of truck for your money. Find an original one, meanwhile, and you’re far better treating it as a classic car.

Even the second-generation P38 model is lurching into classic territory now – though between its shocking build quality and a degree of complexity that more or less guarantees pain for people who own one in later life, you’ll soon come to understand why they cost so little to buy. For this reason, the P38 has never caught on among off-roaders, and nor have subsequent models – whose luxury levels, and running costs, have continued to climb almost exponentially.

Use one of these later Rangeys as a daily driver or towcar, and it will be imperious. But for a vehicle with soul, whether or not you’re going to off-road it, only the Classic will do.

Mercedes G-Wagen

The original G-Wagen was a fantastic off-roader, with proper axles, diff-locks every- where and the build quality of a tank. It also had the weight of a tank, and in recent times came to cost pretty much the same too, but with a set of the right tyres on board it would drive absolutely anywhere.

A new model with an independent front end was announced at the start of this year, but for anything close to modern you’ll need to be properly rich to own a G-Wagen, let alone off-road it. Find an early one, however, with one of Merc’s slow but unstoppable diesel engines, and aside from those tyres the only mod you’ll need to make is to strip out as much weight as possible.

Land Rover Defender

The Defender has been a dominant presence throughout the UK scene more or less forever, though the sky-high prices they command means more and more people are thinking twice before using them off-road. Values have kept on climbing since production ended just under three years ago, and most owners now think in terms of prettying them up and keeping them nice. rather than modding them into the mud-bashing warriors they’re meant to be.

Either way, there’s a vast aftermarket in place to help you maintain, rebuild, restore, customise or modify a Defender into whatever sort of machine you want it to be. Even a reliable one… though one problem with them is that by now, the vast majority have been worked hard, abused, neglected, modified and/or hit with spanners by persons unknown. Buying a proper shed and using its identity to basically build yourself a new vehicle from scratch is a common approach, though even this will probably mean shelling out several grand on the donor vehicle.

Prior to its demise, Land Rover liked to say the Defender had been in continuous production since 1948. Taking it at its word, that means we need to include the old leaf-sprung Series models here; they’re completely different in character and these days fall squarely into the classic car category, though they’re incredibly willing off-road whether in standard or modded form.

For day-to-day use, though, it’s got to be a Defender. Many people go for the later ones from 2007 onwards, with the 2.4 or 2.2-litre Puma engine, but many others would sooner chew their own arm off. If DIY maintenance is your thing, the 200 or 300Tdi will suit you best, but the Td5 from 1998-2007 is very popular – even if later ones cost an eye-watering £535 a year in road tax. Whichever Defender you own, you need to expect it to require regular work, but the good news is that when you come to sell it, you’ll probably get your money back – and, if you’ve tidied it up, even turn a profit. This fact alone means the Defender is potentially the cheapest vehicle to own in the entire used car market.

Jeep Cherokee

There have been four iterations of the Cherokee, but for serious off-roading there might as well only ever have been the first. The XJ model, which came here from 1993 to 2002, was amazingly capable even in standard form. It only took a small lift and slightly bigger tyres to turn it into a proper boss off-roader, but with the colossal American aftermarket behind you there’s almost no limit to what can be done to one if you want to go the extra mile. Finding a Cherokee from this era will be your biggest challenge now – they sold in enormous numbers back in the nineties, but most of those vehicles have long since breathed their last – and of the ones that are still running, the majority have already been modified into off- road weapons.

Suzuki Jimny

Replacing the brilliant and vastly popular SJ wasn’t going to be easy, but somehow the Jimny managed it. Small but strong, agile but affordable, it retains all the virtues that have made Suzuki into one of the world’s favourite 4×4 makers. It wants a bit for ground clearance in standard form, but the breadth and depth of accessories and modifications available mean that whatever you want to do to one, from mild to wild, the only limits are your imagination and, of course, wallet.

There’s a new Jimny on the way, but the original was manufactured for two whole decades – and for a budget off-road project (as opposed to a cheap shed you’re going to wreck), there’s precious little that can touch it.

Toyota Hilux

It’s been around for more than half a century, and in that time the Hilux has sold more than 16 million units, carving itself a rock-solid reputation for hard-working indestructibility on the way. Early ones were leaf-sprung front and rear, which did nothing for their ride quality, but since 1997 they’ve gained an independent front end which transformed their refinement on the road without wrecking their abilities in the rough.

The most modern Hilux was designed to be more SUV-like inside, but it’s still a world-class truck whether for work or play. And the previous model was probably the best off-road one-tonner of its generation. In each case, there’s plenty of kit available for modifying a Hilux into something really special – but it says a great deal that when you go looking to buy one, there’s a notable dearth of cheap examples around.

Isuzu Trooper

For some reason, the Trooper hasn’t ever entered the mainstream for off-road modding. But there are some excellent examples out there which prove how much you can do with what is a stout, long-lasting truck with bags of potential. Whether you go short or long-wheel- base, you can get more height and flex from a Trooper with relative ease, and so long as you avoid the infamous 3.0 TD engine from the last few years of production its drivetrain is bomb-proof. There are still plenty around to choose from – and if you can’t find the Trooper you want, the little-known Vauxhall Monterey is basically exactly the same vehicle underneath.

Nissan Patrol

It’s not quite as famous as the Toyota Land Cruiser, but the Patrol has a similar history of popping up wherever there’s a war to be fought, a desert to be crossed or a natural disaster to be mopped up. It’s a rarity in Britain, which can make for some fairly excruciating parts prices, but if you want a truck that was built to last you can’t do much better.

As with the Land Cruiser, you can modify a Patrol – but the kit for doing so is rare and therefore expensive in the UK, and anyway it’s already so stout and capable that you don’t really need to bother. Unlike the Land Cruiser, on the other hand, the Patrol doesn’t hold its money nearly as strongly – meaning it could be an appealing alternative if you’re on a budget. It remained beam-axled all-round throughout the whole of its time in the UK, too, so if you do want to lift its suspension you’ll find it easy to work with.

Ford Ranger

Once a bit of an also-ran in the pick-up market, let alone the 4×4 market overall, the Ranger turned that on its head when the T6 model arrived in 2012. Big, imposing and roomy inside, this is also extremely capable both on and off-road – and you can get it with a 3.2-litre diesel engine that thumps out 200bhp and can easily be tuned for more.

All this and an attractive purchase price has helped the Ranger muscle its way to the top of the one-tonne market. But its time truly came when Land Rover stopped making the Defender. Suddenly, well-heeled vehicle builders needed something else to invest in – and with very limited supplies of the Jeep Wrangler being available in the UK, they turned en masse to the Ranger.

Now, there’s a wealth of equipment available for them, and more and more specialists are turning them into street machines, off-roaders and everything else in between. Older models are worth some thought if you’re on a tighter budget, as they’re plentiful and a lot better than they tend to be given credit for – but rarely has there been a more dramatic example of a vehicle muscling in on a market where once it hardly even registered.

Suzuki Vitara

Photo: Steve Taylor/Total Off-Road.
Suzuki Vitara. (3″ suspension lift, 3″ Body lift)
Dave Sturmey (Blitz Midlands)

The original Vitara was a giant-killer par excellence – and a good laugh on the road, too. Amazingly capable off-road, cheap, more robust than it looked… and you could get it in pink. Stick with a three-door model, though, as the long-wheelbase version needs a lot of lift to overcome its low belly.

That’s if you can find one that hasn’t already been modded to within an inch of its life. Straight Vitaras are very rare now, but rather oddly no-one has ever done much with the Grand Vitara that replaced it, even though it was basically the same vehicle in a lot of ways.

A welcome bonus is that towards the end of the vehicle’s run, Suzuki fitted the SWB Grand Vitara with a diesel engine; find one of these, and you could have the makings of a left-field project par excellence. Just don’t go buying the later Mk2 Grand Vitara from 2005-onwards by accident, though, because it’s as much use off-road as a piece of cheese.

Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery has long since replaced the Range Rover as the thing you turn to if you want a Land Rover but can’t afford, or abide, the Defender. The original model, which was the purest in the traditional 4×4 sense, was basically a 100” Defender with some posher kit and a smarter set of clothes, and it was fantastically capable off-road.

It was also hilariously unreliable, but parts and know-how are in plentiful supply and neither costs too much so long as you shop around. There’s almost no end to what you can do with them in the workshop if you want to build a modified off-road machine, too.

The Discovery 2, which came along in 1999, is bigger and more complex than the D1, and it’s hilariously unreliable too. One difference is that while the original was infamous for body rust, particularly in the boot, floors, sills and footwells, the Disco 2 is more likely to suffer from a rotten back chassis.

In each case, the diesel engine is the one to go for. The Tdi in the D1 is best for DIY maintenance, while the Td5 in the D2 is one of the most reliable things Land Rover has ever made. Elsewhere, common sources of irritation on the Disco 2 include the rear air suspension, ‘active’ anti-roll bars and sunroofs (a vehicle without them is worth more if you can find one), while with the D1 your biggest problem will simply be finding one worth having.

In each case, whether it’s maintenance or full-house modding the aftermarket has come up with an answer to every question the Discovery asks. That’s the case with the later Discovery 3, too – though while this was a great leap forward as an all-rounder, its monumental complexity means it’s a risky one to take on, and it’s nothing like as naturally capable off-road and far less easy to modify compared to the earlier models.

Mitsubishi Shogun

The Shogun was once derided as a glam wagon – in fact, it still is by some. But while it was once at the soft end of the spectrum, it’s stayed true to its roots and is now one of the most truck-like 4x4s on the market. For off-roading, the 1990s’ Mk2 model is the one to go for as it still had a live rear axle and proper chassis, and the 2.8 TD engine is as strong as an ox. They’re all very capable in rough terrain – and in long-wheelbase form they’re brilliant tow barges.

The Shogun is much more moddable than you’d expect, too, even if the amount of stuff available for them is limited. And because they last well but don’t often tend to get used and abused off-road, there’s plenty around for you to choose from.

Volkswagen Amarok

The Amarok has always been positioned as a premium vehicle among pick-ups, and not all models have low range. Those that do, however, are astonishingly agile for their size in rough terrain, making this a seriously attractive alternative to the traditional Far Eastern double-cabs.

The Amarok’s timeline is a little odd in that the engine choice changed completely when it was facelifted. Initially, it came to the UK with a 2.0 TDI unit which was at the time the smallest in the market; now, it has a 3.0 TDI which is one of the biggest.

The engine is extremely strong and currently comes with a choice of four power outputs. If you want to use an Amarok for off-roading, however, you need to stick with one of the lower ones, as a dual-range transfer case is only fitted to models with a manual gearbox. Even the old 2.0 TDI didn’t always come with the right stuff for off-roading – but either way, there’s a good, if not normally cheap, choice of equipment available for modding the Amarok into an even better machine than it was in the first place.

Nissan Terrano

When it came out in 1993, nobody thought the Terrano would ever be seen as a serious proposition for off-roading. But after almost 15 years on the market, it was one of the few trucks left with a proper chassis, low box and live rear axle. Better still, while there’s next to no off-the-shelf modding kit available for it, the Terrano can easily be turned into an even more capable performer than it already was as standard. They’re not as cheap to buy as you might expect, but a good one is a real investment. The 3.0 TD engine from towards the end of production is the most attention-grabbing engine option, but it’s been known to suffer oil pressure problems; at the other end of the scale, the very earliest 2.7 TD is as simple, and therefore reliable, as it’s possible for a diesel engine to be.

Mitsubishi L200

The L200 was at the forefront of the double-cab revolution in the UK. It’s been overtaken by the Ford Ranger now, but the sales success it achieved during the noughties means there’s loads of choice on the used market. Most of these are higher-spec models, as this was the original lifestyle truck, but that’s no bad thing as it means you get the option of full-time four-wheel drive – even if you need to stay at the bottom end of the range if you want a locking back axle.

As with the rest of the pick-ups on the market, there’s a good range of equipment available for the L200. If you want to build a one-off project, on the other hand, the wide availability and low prices of older trucks means you can cut one up without spending big bucks in the process.

Vauxhall Frontera

Early Fronteras had shocking build quality, and late ones rode like a giraffe on a trampoline, but you can modify a Frontera into a very willing off-roader. There’s not a lot available in the way of off-the-shelf mods, but people have done effective suspension lifts for next to no money – and for a few quid more, there are some exceptionally tidy ones out there. There’s not exactly a lot of choice on the used market these days, as so many have been broken, but if you can find one a SWB 2.8TD Sport from just after the arrival of coil springs is the ideal base for an off-road project.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

As with the smaller Cherokee, the Grand has come to the UK in various forms but there’s only one worth thinking about in terms of modding. The 1999-2005 WJ is strong, plentiful and ideal for modifying, with beam axles front and rear and no end of kit available. The 2.7 CRD diesel is the one to get, and if you choose an Overland model Jeep will already have done some of the modding work for you – but whatever you start with, and wherever you take it, there’ll be no end of American specialists ready to help you.

For a daily driver that’s still very able off-road in standard form, the more modern WK from 2005-2012 is extremely good value too. Its independent front end means it’s not so appealing to modify, but unless you want to go really hardcore there’s no such thing as a bad Grand Cherokee.


Are there any vehicles that you’d put on the list instead? Let us know!



Article first featured in 4×4 Magazine, November 2018.

Tesla have revealed their all-electric pick-up, you know, the one that is set to be as fast as a supercar.

But, the reveal of the Cybertruck has been striking for a different reason – the way it looks.

On first glance you may well think that the image is still loading, but rest assured that the Cybertruck actually is that pointy. Its wedge shaped design is arguably reminiscent, very vaguely, of things such as the Countach or the DeLorean. These are good looking supercars, but they’d be ridiculous pick-ups.

This does look more utilitarian, though – a notion which is cemented with the revelation that is has an exoskeleton. The outermost of the body is made from ultra-hard 30X cold-rolled stainless steel, whilst the windows are Tesla armoured glass. Its (literally) straight-edged appearance is functional, though, as it is supposed to protect against dings and dents.

With the peak of the harsh wedge shape above the drivers head, the roofline then slopes backward all the way to the tailgate. This means that beneath the tonneau cover there is plenty of room – including storage space under the bed, the frunk and sail pillars, total storage is 2,831-litres. To maintain a comfortable ride when laden, the air suspension is capable of levelling itself and can be manually adjusted four-inches in either direction. Plus, it has a quoted payload of 3,500lbs and towing capacity 14,000lbs, aka 1,587kg and 6.35-tonnes.

Inside there is room for six across two banks of three, and beneath the second row lies additional storage. With a seemingly flat floor and no transmission controls between the driver and usual second front passenger, there is room for a sizeable seat in the middle that looks to be much more than a jump seat – the same goes for the back, too. In typical Tesla fashion there is a huge 17″ touchscreen sitting centrally on the dash, in what is largely a fairly simple cabin.

With three powertrains on offer – single motor rear-wheel drive, Dual Motor all-wheel drive and new Tri Motor all-wheel drive, there are a range of performance specs to digest. The entry model will have a range stated as over 250 miles and towing capacity of 3.4-tonnes and 00-60 in 6.5-seconds. Dual Motor models are upgraded to over 300 miles of range, 4.5-tonnes of towing ability and a 2 second saving on sprint time, whereas the Tr-Motor trumps them both in all stakes with 500 miles of range, the ludicrous 6.35-tonne towing limit and the figure Elon Musk earmarked – 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds.

As is the Tesla way, the Cybertruck has chosen its mantle and stuck to it. In making a tough truck, Telsa gone all out. Made with the toughest materials (Tesla say that if they found anything tougher than 30X cold-rolled steel they would’ve used it), ruthlessly rapid and, if the claimed figures are accurate, it will be as crazy as it looks.

We’re living in a time where SUVs rule supreme. And this will certainly be one of the more superlative options out there.

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC takes the rather impressive base of the usual GLS with a three-pointed star on the front, and adds new levels of luxury and prestige that few other names muster.

Some of the touches that achieve this are sun blinds for rear passengers (a.k.a. the buyers in this case), top-level sound deadening, standard air suspension and a Maybach driving program that prioritises rear comfort. There are also additonal chrome touches about the exterior, whilst the Maybach insignia sits proudly on the D-pillar. The underguard of the front bumper is also chrome, whilst accents around the edge of the side windows and the rear lights are also finished in the polished metal.

Under the bonnet, the Maybach GLS features a 4.0-litre V8 worthy of 550bhp and 538lbf.ft – a configuration brought into existence for Maybach only.

It features Maybach styled alloys of either 22 or 23″ in diameter, which are exclusively for this model, with the bigger boots featuring a pinstripe design. There are also eight different options of two-tone paint schemes.

Getting in and out of the vehicle is made easier by both a lower ride height and illuminated running boards that appear in a second when the doors are opened.

To ensure maximum comfort for passengers, this version of the GLS is only available with two rows of seating. Outer seats in the rear can be turned, electronically, into recliners, allowing their occupants to stare into the sky through the standard panoramic sunroof. This has an opaque roller too, which again is operated by electronics, as are the massage and climate settings of the seats. The middle seat can be removed altogether and be replaced by a centre console with extendable folding tables and a champagne refrigerator, for those trips that are not for business. But, whether you choose these or not, there will be a MBUX infotainment tablet in the rear as standard.

There are, rather believably, some rather interesting accessories on offer. The most tweaking of which may well be that the Maybach GLS has its own fragrance to be circulated.

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS will be available in the second half of 2020. Whilst there is no word on pricing as of yet, we’ve a feeling it won’t massively effect the decision of potential customers…

Audi have revealed their flagship fast SUV. The RS Q8 is looking to take inspiration from its RS-badged wagon relatives, and cement a place for itself in the world of the super-fast premium SUV-coupé.

And fast it most certainly is.

Under the bonnet, there lies a bi-turb0 4.0-litre V8 with 592bhp and 590lbf.ft – which is available between 2,200 and 4,500rpm – the RS Q8 will go from stationary to 62mph in 3.8-seconds. It will hit double that speed in just 13.7 seconds, too. Which is very useful for a school run indeed. The TFSI 8-cylinder unit will also take the SUV-coupé all the way to a limited 155mph top speed, and thanks to a 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 ignition sequence and a sports exhaust setup it sounds fruity too.

It uses a mild-hybrid system that draws on a 48v electric belt alternator-starter connected to the crankshaft. It recovers up to 12kW of power under deceleration and braking, and between speeds of 34 and 99mph, the engine can coast under deceleration for up to 40 seconds, after which the electric starter motor restarts the engine when the accelerator is applied. The stop/start functionality is also on the table at speeds of up to 13mph whilst a front camera informs the engine to start up when it detects movement from the car in front. Another measure used to keep things as green as possible in appropriate circumstances is cylinder deactivation at higher speeds in conjunction with a pause in fuel injection and closing the intake and exhaust valves.

Regardless of how many cylinders it is running, the engine translates its power to the roads via a quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with an eight-speed tiptronic ‘box the middleman. A central diff splits the power 40:60 with a rear bias, whilst when it detects a loss of traction up to 70-percent can be sent to the axle in need.

The RS Q8 sits on on a five-link front setup whilst rear axles manage longitudinal and lateral forces independently. Largely made of aluminium subframes, the track at the front is 4mm narrower than that of 1,696mm at the back. Coming as standard there is RS specific air-suspension, with settings for circumstances ranging from the track to off-road driving, with a 90mm ride-height range between them.

Also standard is all-wheel steering, with up to 5 degrees of movement in the rears – opposite to the front – at low speed, and 1.5 degrees of mimicry at high speed.

There are eight driver modes, with comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, offroad and the configurable RS1 and RS2 options. The characteristics managed by these settings are engine and transmission behaviour, steering boost, air-suspension, all-wheel steering, engine sound and even the characteristic of the automatic air conditioning.

As standard, 22″ rims adorn the RS Q8, whilst there are 23″ options – both of which allow plenty of room for the 10-inch piston calipers, which work with the 420mm front and 370mm rear internally vented composite brake discs.

A few unique RS signature touches single this out from the regular Q8, such as the RS-specific radiator grille plus several RS trim strips around the vehicle. The wheel arches are wider both front and back, by 10 and 5mm respectively, whilst there is a roof-edge spoiler and an RS-spec rear skirt, diffuser clip and oval exhaust outlets.

The interior has a higher standard specification than Q8 underlings, with leather RS sports seats, aluminium trimmings, black cloth headlining, illuminated door sills, an RS branded leather steering wheel – with quick access RS driver mode button – plus over 30-safety systems and top of the range infotainment  and Wi-Fi hotspot. Driver aids include adaptive cruise control, efficiency assist, lane change warning and 360º parking cameras.

It isn’t all about speed and style though, as the RS Q8 can hold up to 1,755 litres with the seats down and even has a sliding rear bench, so all five seats can be used with 655 litres of boot space.

There are also, being an Audi, Vorsprung and Carbon Black versions available, with yet more kit available, such as a healthy dose of alcantara in the cabin, or heated and ventilated seats with a massage function.

The super fast SUV-coupé will go on sale in Q1 next year, so expect more details on pricing at some point in the interim.

The latest entrant into the high-powered, luxury sports SUV sector has been fully revealed, with Aston Martin taking the covers off the DBX, after recently giving us a sneak preview of its interior and told us the starting price.

Shown in full for the first time in China, the Aston SUV looks distinctively AM from the front, with design cues from the rest of the family, but being an SUV there isn’t too much it can take in terms of its profile.

From the front you’re greeted with an elegantly creased bonnet with twin vents, typical family headlights and that hallmark wide Aston grille below. The first hint that you’re looking at an SUV is spotting the roof rails, but in many ways it looks as though it’s a shooting brake on unbelievably oversized wheels – they are 22″ standards, so they aren’t small…

Moving back, the roofline swoops to a spoiler above the rear window, beneath which there’s a set of very sportily haunched hips. These then merge into a lip spoiler below the rear window, mimicking that of the Vantage coupe, and ultimately creating a double pointed rear-end in side profile. Like the lip, the rear lights maintain a very similar design language to that of the Vantage, as they follow the contours of the bodywork.

As confirmed a few weeks ago, the DBX will have the most powerful V8 in the current Aston range, with 542bhp and 516lbf.ft, meaning that it’s spritely to say the least. This is helped by the fact that the DBX will weigh just 2,245kg, which isn’t as much as a number of its rivals.

The DBX is equipped to be both comfortable off-road, but also as an outright SUV. To help in these stakes, it sits on triple volume air-suspension, which is adaptive, and is paired to a 48v anti-roll system. Ride height can be adjusted by 45mm upwards and 50mm below the standard setting,

Transmission wise, the DBX utilises an automatic nine-speed torque converter ‘box. It is paired to an all-wheel drive system with an active central differentials, and an electric limited slip diff at the rear.

Being an SUV, practicality was fairly high on the DBX’s list of priorities. It’s Aston’s first full-sized five-seater, with 632-litres of boot space and a driving position to stretch from the 5th percentile female proportions to those of the 99th percentile male. The rear seats can fold flat and are split individually in a 40:20:40 ratio whilst the boot lip is narrow across a broad aperture, so this actually is a practical Aston.

Were anybody to take it off-road, then they’ll find it useful to know that at various heights, the DBX can pose 22.2º approach angle, 24.3º departure and 15.1º brake over angles. Although at maximum ride-height they read 25.7º, 27.1º and 18.8º. Standard ride-height gives 190mm ground clearance, but at the highest setting you’ll have 235mm. Wading depth is 500mm, whilst towing capacity is 2.7-tonnes.

Inside, there is a high level of kit and high-quality materials. A handcrafted interior is lit via a full-length panoramic roof, but takes inspiration from a sports car setup in the front, which means there is more knee and leg room for those in the rear.

Seating is plushly upholstered in full-grain leather, with both headlining and electronic sunroof cover available in alcantara. The majority of the swooping dashboard and cabin is kitted out in leather, wood and metal, so not only will the DBX interior look the part it should feel it, too.

Of course there is a 10.25″ touchscreen in the mix, whilst the driver information comes from a 12.3″ TFT display. Apple CarPlay comes as standard on the system, as does a 360º camera system and ambient lighting that offers 64 different shades.

Safety equipment is also present on the DBX, with adaptive cruise, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Change Warning, Rear Cross Traffic warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Warning, Door Opening Warning, Emergency call and then the usual ISOFIX fittings, airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. Pretty well-specced, then.

Several accessory packs are available to enhance the SUVs capability and suitability to family life. These include the Pet Package and a Snow package for those winter ski trips.

So, there it is. all of the ingredients which Aston Martin will make an SUV that does for the marque what the Cayenne has done for Porsche and the Levante for Maserati, the X5 for BMW and so on and so forth. On paper it sounds compelling, it’s looks will be divisive and at £158-grand it is expensive. But it is a very competitive sector, so only time will tell of its success.