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Sarah Kidd

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The antiquated and overloaded electricity grid in the UK received a tiny piece of good news lately. Which is that we’ve got one fewer electric vehicle to keep powered up. Or, to put it another way, hurrah! The very first all-electric Series IIA Land Rover has been shipped off to the USA, showcasing as it does Britain’s determination to honour classic vehicles while being environmentally responsible.


The two key players here are Everrati, rom Oxfordshire, and ‘Craig’ who owns a corporate and equestrian law practice
which allows him to collect classic cars to drive around his polo fields in Florida. Symbolically, the handover of the vehicle took place at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. And it’s not at all symbolic that the venue is referred to as ‘The Disneyland of Polo’.

Craig talked about protecting the environment and sustainability, which is presumably why he bought an old Land Rover, had it totally rebuilt with electric drivetrain and then had it shipped or indeed
flown across the Atlantic Ocean.

Read the full article the May issue

https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202405

On 3 August 1887, lawmakers in the El Dorado County, California passed a decree which classified the mountain trail between Georgetown and Lake Tahoe as a public road. Little did they know it at the time, but the right of way they had created was to become possibly the world’s most famous 4×4 trails.


The ‘road,’ which at the time was used only by stagecoaches, passed through Rubicon Springs – where, twenty years previously, John and George Hunsucker had built a riverside log cabin at the foot of a towering granite cliff. They went on to develop the site into a productive livestock and hunting ranch, before setting up a thriving business bottling the spring water.


Just under two decades had passed when Vade Phillips Clark, the daughter of landowner Joseph Phillips, approached the Hunsucker brothers and made them a successful offer for their holding in Rubicon Springs. She also bought a
second parcel of land at Potter’s Springs, around a mile away on the trail – which, less than half a century after the first white man ever laid eyes on Lake Tahoe, was now home to a fully fledged tourist resort.

Read the full article in the April Issue of Overlander 4×4

There’s not a lot to put the wind up you like the words ‘frozen lake.’ If you’re from Scandinavia, or Alaska, or no doubt large parts of Russia, driving on seasonal ice is about as remarkable as going to the toilet. But to us flimsy Brits, who see half an inch of snow and lose the capacity to think, a sniff of the idea is enough to send us into a swivel-eyed
funk.


Have the Health and Safety people been informed? Has someone done a risk assessment? Who checked the depth of
the ice? What if it breaks? How can they be so blasé about it? Is it frozen all the way to the bottom? Is this all a sick joke and we’re about to be plunged to a shivery end? Oh yes, and look at all this snow! Everything must grind to a halt and everyone must unleash their inner crap driver upon each other. It’s the law! Forgive me. We’re British and it’s what
we do.


So here’s the first thing I learned aboard a convoy of Nissan Ariyas and X-Trails amid the extremely white landscape of
late February in Finland. You can drive a car on just 15cm of lake ice. A bit more is better, but that’s enough. A cheerful former rally driver told me this, with the patient demeanour of someone who’s used to talking to idiots.


Right now, he explains, we’ve got more like 60cm below us. Someone’s been out there in a nine-tonne tractor and they didn’t cause even a crack, so stop being so lame about it. He didn’t say the last bit, I said it to myself.

Read the full article in the April issue of Overlander 4×4.

Isuzu is on a mission to enhance the D-Max’s image as a lifestyle vehicle in this country. And, as usual, it’s doing a good job of it, with the range-topping V-Cross building an ever-stronger presence in the sales charts.


A pick-up range needs to be built on a solid foundation, though, and that’s where the likes of the DL20 come in. A couple of years ago, Isuzu widened the options in its line-up allowing this model to be ordered with an automatic gearbox – and that’s what we have here.


The D-Max has also had a mild facelift in the relatively recent past. This amounts to a more aggressive looking grille, as well as a revised design of alloy wheels and, in the case of the DL20, new premium woven fabric upholstery. Oh, and some of the paint options have been updated.

Not exactly big stuff, then. But it makes a surprising difference, especially the grille. The vehicle is mechanically identical to the model from before the facelift, but the new look really does stand out. Climbing in, the new seat fabric feels stout and robust. It’s dark grey, with contrasting light grey stitching, but more to the point you’d expect that it’s going to last a good long time. The seats themselves as well shaped to hold you, too – we did a couple of lengthy trips in our DL20 and never got fatigued. Heartily unimpressed by the state of the traffic (they were lengthy trips in more than just distance), but not fatigued.

Read the full article in this month’s issue of Overlander 4×4.

A vehicle with one of the longest running names in the market, the Suzuki Vitara has been coming to the UK since 1991. It’s changed a lot in that time, of course – from the Vitara to the Grand Vitara and back again, through various sizes, shapes, body configurations and chassis set-ups and, notably, in and thankfully back out of a deep trough
immediately after turning its back on old-school off-road tech.

What it has become is a very sound choice at the budget end of the SUV market – and it became sounder than ever a couple of years ago with the introduction of a full hybrid engine. This mates a 1.5-litre petrol unit to a 140-volt electric system. Not the biggest beast on the market, but the motor adds 33bhp and 44lbf.ft to the engine’s 115bhp and 101lbf.ft – not creating a huge total, but that’s something like 25% of the vehicle’s output so it’s not to be sniffed at. Especially as part of its job is to smooth out the gearchanges in an automated manual box.


How well does it do this? Quite effectively, in fact. Normally, we hate automated manuals, but the Vitara doesn’t jolt and bump its way through the gears and whether you’re taking it easy around town or asking for more on the open road it’s smooth enough not to cause any upsets.


The engine is pretty loud, however, with an ever-present background note that rises to become quite raucous under load. It’s not short of zest, with better performance than the raw figures would give you to expect, but it sounds as if it’s straining to move the vehicle around. You do get used to it after a while, but t would be so much better if you didn’t have to in the first place.

Read the full article in the April issue of Overlander 4×4.

How many hobbies should a person have? The answer appears infinite. Certainly in my own case,
in addition to green lane activities.


I birdwatch, help run a charity and do a load of other, sometimes questionable things. The most questionable of all is a love of fact checking. You know the kind of stuff – using Facebook to sensitively correct misunderstandings about stuff like immigration, electric vehicles and especially the flat earthers. And in that latter case I have a particular speciality, having spent many happy hours arguing with many Americans about the nature of our planet.


One thing I have learnt (although I don’t actually seem to have really learnt it as I’m still banging my head against the wall) is that arguing with fanatics is entirely pointless. They simply are not interested in facts and truth and common sense, or even the evidence of their own eyes. The have an opinion, however mad it might be, and all they are interested in is shouting about it, regardless of how unrelated to reality it might be.

Read the full article in this month’s issue of Overlander 4×4.

Little more than a day’s drive from Britain, the Alps of northern Italy combine a sublime landscape with a rich military history that dates back to Napoleonic times – and has provided a network of rough
mountain trails that are perfect for exploring by 4×4.

When it comes to adventure, I consider myself genre-fluid (yes genre…). My adventures have thus far consisted
of climbing mountains, hunting, scuba diving, getting up close and personal with dangerous animals and most recently
riding across the Sahara Desert on top of a freight train carrying iron ore – so I certainly don’t consider myself a specialist in any adventuring discipline. However I will put my hand to anything in the name of
expanding my comfort zones and visiting places most would consider inaccessible – and 4×4 driving has always been a means to an end for this.

When I was looking for an adventure for last summer, I considered the usual options – and a few unusual ones.
Eventually. I decided that I would take my dogs to explore the military trails and instalments in the Alps, which date back as far as the Napoleonic era.

Read the full article in the March issue https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4X4202403

It’s a strange name isn’t it? Anyone who has watched real-world giant pandas for any length of time will come away
astonished that they’re not extinct. Sure they look all cute and cuddly but they’re also clumsy, often helpless and have a ridiculous diet.


They’re bears, for heaven’s sake, with a digestion set up for eating meat, yet they eat only bamboo shoots, which have low nutritional value and the pandas aren’t good at extracting even that. So they have to eat up to 38kg of bamboo shoots and leaves a day. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for personal development or musings on the meaning of life. Plus they have a lot of bulk to keep fed, about the same size as an American black bear. Standing on its back feet it would loom over you, weighing in at around 250lb (113kg ). And it’s the national symbol of China. There, it’s known as ‘GuoBao’ or ‘national heirloom’, something that’s usually priceless and fragile.


So when Fiat launched its cute little new vehicle you have to wonder what thought process led to the name Panda. And yet here we are, celebrating 40 years of the Fiat Panda 4×4. That’s slightly longer, by the way, than any panda has lived, in the wild or in captivity.

Read the full article in the March issue https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4X4202403

There’s a facelifted version of the Jeep Wrangler on the way in the next few months. It has a new take on the famous seven-slot grille, additional safety features, revised wheel designs and a more upmarket cabin with 12-way power adjustable front seats and a 12.3” touch-screen running the company’s latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system, and
the Dana rear axle on the Rubicon model gains strength by becoming fully-floating for the first time.

Worth waiting for? Quite possibly, yes, given that pricing remains unchanged – and since that means a Wrangler will cost from £60,785 OTR in Sahara form and £62,785 for the Rubicon, you’re going to want everything you can get to ease the pain. It remains hard to believe that the previous model to this one started in the teens.


Anyway, facelift incoming or not Jeep can sell every Wrangler they can get their hands on in the UK, as those prices
illustrate. So between now and when those first deliveries these shores, you’re going to get the chance to buy one of the soon-to become-old-shape examples at a discount of precisely zero.

Read the full article in the March issue https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4X4202403

Carlos Sainz made history in the 2024 Dakar Rally – by becoming the first driver to take overall victory in an electric vehicle. The Spanish veteran has now won the legendary event four times for four different, having triumphed with
Volkswagen in 2010, Peugeot in 2018 and Mini in 2020 prior to taking the wheel of Audi’s revolutionary RS Q e-tron.

Sainz was aided in his run to the title by team-mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekström, who were going well before dropping out of contention with technical issues on the sixth and seventh stages respectively. With victory out of their reach, both crews got to helping their colleague, Peterhansel stopping for six minutes on Stage 9 to wait for Sainz to pass, so that he could run behind him as a support car.

The value of this could never have been better illustrated than on Stage 10, when Sainz suffered not one but two punctures – a misfortune that would have cost him any chance of the title had it not been for Ekström coming to his rescue and getting him back on his way within a few minutes.

Read the full article in the March issue https://shop.assignmentmedia.co.uk/issue/4×4202403