Sarah Kidd


There was a time when Subaru was just about the sexiest car brand in the world. It was a time of Richard
Burns and Colin McRae, of the SVX coupe showing Beemer lads what cool looked like and countless hot Imprezas
showing wide boys in Porsches and Ferraris what fast looked like.

But it was also a time of cool wagons. The Legacy and Forester were born from everyday cars but they had all-wheel drive and, oh God yes, low range. Low range! To know them was to love them. The Legacy spawned the Outback and it also became available, for all too short a time, with a glorious quad-cam turbo engine that turned it into one of the all-time great street sleepers. Subaru was riding the crest of a wave – its cars were so sexy, they even made practicality look cool.

Somewhere along the line, the fun factor disappeared. Subaru is no longer a brand young lads aspire to being seen in. But it still pretty much defined the crossover estate market, which has seen many other names come and go – and to know it is still to love it. The Outback and Forester are hugely popular among country dwellers, and once you’ve owned one you tend never to want anything else.

Read the full article in the June issue of Overlander 4×4 https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202406

What goes ZJ, WG, WK, WK2, WL? That’s a sequence with no apparent rhyme or reason,
to be sure; but if you know your Jeeps, you’ll recognise it as the five generations of Grand Cherokee.

You used to see loads of them on the road, but then the financial crash happened, the market caught a cold over big, traditional 4x4s and though there’s been a whole model cycle since then, the Grand has never recovered its old position as an up-for-it allrounder for the working man, with not much subtlety but swathes of leather, lots of kit
and a price real people could afford.

Cars like that don’t make big margins, and with the numbers taking an inevitable hit there was only one way for the Grand to stay profitable. So upmarket she goes. See also Land Rover Defender, Toyota Land Cruiser and Ineos Grenadier. The Grenadier was going to cost thirty-five grand, they said.

Read the full article in the June issue of Overlander 4×4 https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202406

What comes into your mind when you think of the Cotswolds? A traditional agricultural landscape of rolling hills and authentic villages of honey-coloured local sandstone, perhaps? A much loved escape from the city whose aesthetics border on perfection? A community lain waste by floods of pernicious money from outside? Farmhouses priced far beyond the means of farmers and now occupied, occasionally, by millionaires from London and abroad?

Behold the Range Rover SV Burford Edition which, ‘whether in the city or the idyllic Cotswolds landscape… represents the pinnacle of Range Rover personalisation.’ It’s based on the SV P615 V8 Long Wheelbase model and is limited to just 10 units, all of them offered exclusively in the UK to existing Range Rover Autobiography and SV owners.

Burford was chosen for the vehicle’s name because it’d known as the gateway to the Cotswolds and because it’s ‘synonymous with luxury rural lifestyle’ (and shop workers who have to travel in from Gloucester and Swindon every day to serve said luxury rural lifestyle, most of them presumably not in Range Rovers).

Read the full article in the June issue of Overlander 4×4 https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202406

Get ready for the Defender equivalent of the Range Rover Sport SV. Called Octa, it will go on sale later this year powered by the SV’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 and likely to be priced close to £200,000.

‘Original British adventure brand Defender will introduce a new high-performance, all-terrain hero in 2024,’ says
Land Rover. Actually it’s not Land Rover saying it any more, is it, because Land Rover is just a ‘trust mark’ now. But then
Defender isn’t just a car, it’s an ‘adventure brand,’ so that’s alright.

The same engine puts out 625bhp and 590lbf.ft in the Range Rover Sport SV, allowing it to dismantle the 0-62 sprint in a disarmingly cheerful 3.8 seconds. It might be expected to be down-tuned for use in the Defender – though as the two vehicles are now from completely different ‘manufacturers’ within JLR’s still fabulously pompous sounding House of Brands, why should it be?

Read the full article in the June issue of Overlander 4×4 https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202406

Elsewhere in this issue you’ll see that Toyota is moving the Land Cruiser a bit more towards its roots, but away from people who’d like to be able to afford one. The Japanese company is aware it needs to be careful since the heritage goes back to the first 20 Series of the 1950s. And here’s Mercedes making a lot of noise about its latest G-Wagen, which was first produced in 1979, when the Land Cruiser was already about 20 years old.

It’s not the only difference between the two either. Toyota may be going back to basics, but Mercedes is straight out of the box boasting of its ‘transparent bonnet’, digital user experience and electrification. It’s a long way from something for German soldiers to move around in.

Although they weren’t the first military to use the G-Wagen. We know this, he says slightly smugly, because the Argentinian army got them first and had them in 1981. When we captured one, hmmm, can’t remember where now, but it was an island with a lot of penguins.

Read the full article in the June issue of Overlander 4×4 https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202406

I remember the look of horror on my son’s face. Late teens, slim, fit, enjoying wearing tight-fitting clothes. And the realisation as our conversation went on that there was an awful inevitability that at some point there would be a return of flared trousers. Because there are only so many things you can do in terms of cut of trouser and it just goes round and round.

And behold, two years later flares are back and my son is so upset by it we still can’t discuss it. Because what he is seeing is something sculpted and slim giving way to something baggy and floppy. And he’s not yet reassured that the only way this can go is to go back towards slim or some sort of cut fit.

Yes, obviously you’re ahead of me. The Toyota Land Cruiser. Only we’re at a different part of the cycle and boy is it a
welcome one. The last one was indeed the equivalent of flares. Big, rather bulbous, complex, expensive and sort of saggy. We’re talking loon pants.

Read the full article in the June issue https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202406

Do you like your job? Do you go to work with a smile? Are you eager for Monday morning? Alright alright, I was just asking. Because it’s hard not to imagine that that is exactly the life of some of Jeep’s engineers and stylists.

So here’s your job brief. We want you to come up with eye-catching, nay, outlandish concept vehicles. No, not just on your screen, you then get a hand in actually making real, working versions. Do they have to be sensible and production-ready? No, but if you could keep it halfway realistic that would be great. Oh yes, and there’s another
thing too.

Every Easter we want you to take them to Moab in Utah and show them in their natural surroundings to a wildly enthusiastic audience. Then you can drive them around the stunning rocks, and then stop for some food and drink in the early year sunshine while you chat to the public, most of whom own Jeeps.

Read the full article in the May issue –


Ironman 4×4 is well known among off-road enthusiasts in the UK, with a wide range of accessories allowing customers to enhance their vehicles and prep them for work, play, camping and expeditions. The Australian company has long been seen as one of the go to suppliers for Japanese vehicles, in particular Toyota – and its importer in the USA recently built a trio of concepts designed to demonstrate its wares, with two of them being from the world’s highest-selling 4×4 maker.

We’ll look at the more obvious choice, a Tundra full-size double-cab, in a future issue. But here’s a Toyota that’s very familiar back home – albeit not in this form. ‘More and more people are using crossovers and CUVs to take them on adventures,’ explains Ironman. ‘Because of this, Ironman 4×4 has outfitted a Toyota RAV4 with numerous parts and
accessories to show the vehicle’s potential as an adventure platform.

In America, the RAV4 comes with 2.5-litre petrol engine which can be a specced to drive either the front or all four wheels and, in the latter form, combined with an electric motor to create the RAV4 Hybrid. It’s fundamentally the same vehicle we know and love over here.

Read the full article in the May issue –


Lifeless eyes stared back at me from the other side of the glass, their hollowed and blackened recesses screaming out in anguish. A web of fissures radiated from a dime-sized hole in their stained and hairless temporal lobe.

A second pair of empty sockets to the left, another to the right, another above, another below. Stepping back revealed thousands of soiled skulls, each defaced in similar fashion – the remains of entire villages. Beneath my feet, bone fragments, teeth and clothes leached up through the muddy soil, gruesome evidence of a horrific chapter in the annals of a small country in South-East Asia. This was Choeung Ek, the most notorious killing field of the Khmer Rouge and the final resting place of 8895 innocent Cambodian souls.

No story about Cambodia would be complete without mention of Pol Pot and his genocidal regime which, in the second half of the 1970s, murdered as many as two million of its own citizens. But I had come to embrace where it is today, absorb its vibrant and animated culture and delve into what its future holds – while exploring its rich back-country aboard a fleet of Land Rover Defenders.

Read the full article in the May issue –


We test drove the Mustang Mach-E a couple of years ago and weren’t hugely impressed
by it. So a second opportunity to try an example from the current model year, over the same roads as last time, was
very welcome.

So too was the vehicle’s cabin – which was much nicer than we remembered, especially the dash. The upper surface is still all hard plastic, but then there are fabric, carbon and leather effect elements with full-width heating and air-con outlets sandwiched between them. Then there’s an enormous tablet-style screen in the middle of it all – actually, it’s more like an upright laptop than a tablet – with a rather cool multi-function dial housed within it. You can’t help but feel that it’s a bit of an ‘anything you can do’ pop at Tesla, but whatever it is it looks the business.

There’s a comparatively small digital dash along from it, visible through the steering wheel, and between these and a
couple of buttons on the steering wheel that’s your lot. It’s very minimalist in this way – but then you’re surveying it from a big, comfy driver’s seat with soft, supple leather trim and plenty of leg, elbow and head room, so it’s not short on old-school luxuries either.

Read the full article in the May issue –