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You may have noticed that China has gone car crazy. The country is frequently appearing as the biggest market for many manufacturers, and they’re also producing an ever-increasing number of start-up brands themselves.

The latest SUV financed from China is the Karlmann King, and like the others it doesn’t pose clean, electric transportation and innovative ride sharing, or anything like it. It’s being dubbed the worlds most expensive SUV, which is justified given the fact that the rumoured price is well over £1million.

Underneath the unique bodywork, believe it or not you’d find the frame of a Ford F550, and a slightly fettled version of it’s 6.8-litre engine – but it still only has 398bhp. That isn’t a horrific figure, until you read that it’s top speed is 87mph because it weighs 6 tonnes in bulletproofed guise. It’s only four and a half without, but it was still brave to shoot the promo on sand at that weight.

But, outright speed isn’t what this exclusive SUV is all about. The party starts inside (not just because you don’t have to look at it any more). Diamond encrusted clocks, champagne fridges and, if you watch the touchscreen in the video below, there appears to be a coffee function, and that’s just half of it. The interior looks like something out of a video game or a movie, and is littered with touchscreens and tech. Laptops are integrated into the cabin that also houses a 40″ TV and a PlayStation. It’s essentially a vehicle for the oil-rich martians among us.

The production run will barely reach double figures, with only a dozen being made. That means only 12 people will be splashing out £1.52million on Karlmann Kings.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

BMW have revealed the latest addition to their X range – the X2. The small SUV will get the xDrive all-wheel drive system across the board, with one engine available at launch and more joining it throughout the year.

The X2 xDrive20d will be available with SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport X trim levels on the table. The initial engine produces 190bhp and 295lbf.ft, sprints from standstill to 62mph in 7.7 seconds and has a top speed of 137mph.

Order books are open, with prices starting at £33,890 for the X2 xDrive20d SE.

Following last year’s success for the Skoda Kodiaq, VW has decided to add a new seven-seater to their own line-up – Tiguan Allspace.

Essentially, this is a Tiguan with added flexibility. It’s 215mm longer than the regular Tiguan and the wheelbase has been stretched by 109mm. With your elongated Tiguan you get the privilege of ‘occasional seating’, which thankfully doesn’t mean you can only use them for birthdays and weddings.

What it does mean is that VW hasn’t tried to make out they’ve harnessed technology from the Tardis and applied it to the Allspace’s back row of seats. Instead, they freely admit these two pews are for the petite individual who is likely to be more interested in discussing with you the delights of Peppa Pig rather than available legroom.

There are a few other subtle differences between the Allspace and regular Tiguan, too. At the front, a taller grille and revised bonnet visually helps with raising the front in order to counter the extra bulk at the rear. The rear doors are longer and the shoulder line has been reworked, while off-road versions get amended bumpers and underbody protection. Even with the Tiguan’s growth spurt, it’s not an oversized vehicle and remains attractive.

The model we recently got our hands on was an SE Nav 2.0-litre TDI 4Motion 147bhp variant. Bit of a mouthful, but before we break it down for you, it’s worth knowing that this is the example VW estimates will be its top seller.

The ‘SE Nav’ denotes the starting point as you head up through the Allspace spectrum, past SEL and onto the R-Line derivatives. There’s a focus on providing high spec’d vehicles here, so all versions are generously equipped from the off. This base SE Nav, for instance, has the 8” colour touchscreen and Discover Navigation system.

VW estimates suggest that 95% of Allspace sales will be diesel, emphasising that TDI still pips TSI in this category – for now. You can get the 2.0 TDI unit in more powerful guises, and while initially sceptical about the 147bhp being able to haul the Allspace and seven people around, it will satisfy you completely, with a surprising amount of shove to serve up when prompted. Regarding the petrol units, the 1.4 TSI is only available in 2WD, leaving the thirstier 2.0 TSI. It may have 177bhp, but the TDIs can talk the torque.

There’s a mix of manual and autos on offer, but it’s the latter we’d advise you towards. Family life can tire you out, so why not let the car do the work for you? That is the idea after all. Plus you get paddles and a manual shift setting should you wish to take control and with the DSG ‘boxes being the best in the business, their slickness is difficult to play down.

Inside, it can look a little conservative – but as usual with Volkswagen, it’s all in the detail. The soft-touch plastics give an assuring feel of quality, while the cloth seats look up for a battle with the kids in the war of cleanliness. Controls are positioned well and easy to navigate.

And what of this ‘occasional seating’? A tether either side of the middle row flips them down and the occasional two are simple to put up or down. You can have a very spacious five-seat Tiguan or a seven-seater that will cope with the capability of swallowing a decent shopping trip.

Bigger boot, more seats, and more eventualities covered – what’s not to like. VW has quietly gone on and added that extra flexibility without harming the goodness already established in the Tiguan.

Prices start at £29,370, with the one that impressed us costing £34,905.

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VW have launched a limited edition Amarok with a bad-boy image. The Dark Label pick-up is based on the top of the range Highline trim and, in true Lego Batman style, everything is black – or very, very dark grey.

Most exterior trimmings have been given a gothic makeover, including the 18” alloys and the rear bumper. Three shades of dark paint are on offer, along with three different finishes. Carbon Steel is the metallic option, alongside Deep Black pearl and matte Indium Grey.

It’s inside the Dark Label Amarok where it cements itself as one of the highest spec iterations of the pick-up, with alcantara seats, black headlining and floor mats connoting the design. VW’s Discover Media touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard, as does voice control functionality. Standard driver aids are aplenty, with automatic wipers and headlights, heated mirrors and safety features all fixed on the Dark Label.

Orders are now open, close in April and are limited to 200 units, with prices starting at £33,650.

Jeep Compass

We drove the new Jeep Compass on its European launch in the summer. But now we’ve tried it out where it matters – here in Blighty.

Again, we had a spin in the 2.0 Multijet II diesel, but this time we also tried out the 1.4 MultiAir II turbocharged petrol equivalent. In versions of the Compass with four-wheel drive, both produce the same figure of 170bhp when mated to Jeep’s nine-speed auto box (there’s also a 140bhp version of the 2.0-litre unit with a manual box, but that’s for another day).

So our test was really about the two engines. At cruising speeds, there’s nothing to choose between them. The gearbox transitions are smooth and both are similarly quiet and comfortable.

Inside, the cabin is cleanly laid out and the touch-screen infotainment system is simple to navigate. The vehicles driven here were both in range-topping Limited spec, which means seats trimmed in full leather and, at the front, both heated and vented.

Again, the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good and solid and the cruise control regulators are straightforward to operate. For taller drivers who require the seat further back, however, the restricted headroom that comes as a side product of the panoramic sunroof isn’t ideal.

We found the Compass’ ride to be notably informative over something as slight as cats’ eyes, and on uneven streets and B-roads this was amplified. It wasn’t uncomfortable by any means, but for something with off-road credentials in the wheelhouse we hoped for a smoother deal on everyday surfaces.

Talking of off-road credentials, we didn’t get to test these as the route set out for us to follow on the launch stuck exclusively to tarmac. There is, however, a Trailhawk version of the Compass coming during 2018 – and if you like the look of the vehicle as your next off-road giant-slayer, it will certainly be the one to wait for.

Back in the here and now, the biggest difference between the engines in driving terms is how they work with the automatic gearbox. Both may produce the same power, but the diesel has 258lbf.ft from 1750rpm while the petrol only gives you 184lbf.ft at 2500rpm – and the difference is very apparent.

The petrol engine doesn’t cover the auto box in a lot of glory. Unless it’s bullied, we found it sluggish when pulling away – bridging the gap between dangling yourself in front of traffic at roundabouts and steaming across them can be a frustrating task. A window of opportunity in between these extremes does exist – it’s just smaller than you might expect.

There are similar delays in power delivery when building up speed – and if you over-compensate, your wrists are slapped with torque steer. Downshifts on a decline caught it out a few times, too – we found it shifting down a gear too many and over-revving loudly as a result.

The diesel is a lot better behaved. The sooner the torque comes in, the happier the gearbox is. It doesn’t feel as if there are too many gear ratios in the mix, it copes better with downshifts and it’s less anxious and more refined in city centre traffic.

In every other way, the Compass is comfortable in urban environments, with light steering making it easy and untaxing to manoeuvre around town. Its contemporary styling makes it look like it belongs, too – which, trivial though it may sound, is no small concern on the school run.

Visibility is less than fantastic, however. There are blind spot indicators to help you out, but the C-pillars do dominate the view over your shoulder.12

On the whole, though, the Compass is a solid entrant for Jeep into the medium SUV market. We’d certainly choose the 2.0-litre diesel, however, whose extra torque works far better with the auto gearbox, making it much nicer to live with, and in Limited trim the cabin is a really nice, plush place to sit.

It is, however, on the expensive side. The 2.0 MultiJet II auto 4×4 lists at £34,295, and the vehicle we drove on the launch had options on it which would have taken that to £39,645. How that will look alongside the best of the Compass’ many excellent competitors in the medium SUV market is open to question – though taken on its own merits, this new Jeep certainly does have a lot to recommend it.

tioysChristmas is a great excuse to buy someone something that you’d really like yourself, but feel you shouldn’t really! When it comes to radiocontrolled model off-roaders, then we are sure that any of the younger offspring in the family would just love one of these; and you’d be just the person to explain how to drive it off-road! This is a 10th scale Jeep Wrangler from Axial, fi tted with Falken tyres apparently. It’s claimed to be a fully functional rock-crawler and all you will need to buy are batteries. Looks great to us, and it will be on the list to Santa. Fully functional, the Axial model is not cheap at £314.99, but what better way to work off the Christmas turkey than running around the garden driving over the neighbour’s rockery? Available from model shops, call 0845 459 1966, email: [email protected] or visit the website… but beware, there are some fantastic models on there! Important legal bit: Jeep and related logos, vehicle model names and trade dresses are trademarks of Chrysler Group LLC and are used under license by Axial Inc. © Chrysler Group LLC 2014 Website: www.axialracing.com

chaorOK, so this isn’t technically a product that has a specific ‘off-road’ application, but it is certainly ‘out there’. This new offi ce seat is a replica of the seats fi tted to the Millennium Falcon spaceship, made famous in the Star Wars franchise. It is actually designed and built by Geoff Dunsford, the man who designed the originals. Besides looking rather cool, and we assume very comfortable since you can travel to another Galaxy while seated, each seat comes numbered and authenticated; this is a strictly limited production run. Geoff is obviously in the seat business and he is, with his son Mark, ‘the force’ behind Cobra seats. (That pun was in the release sent to us, so we make no excuses, but it did make us smile!). As a limited edition, it’s not a cheap seat but if you are a Star Wars fan, or just want something a little different in your offi ce, then you’ll probably be OK with the £690 price (inc VAT). Website: www.cobraseats.com

WINTER IS COMINGThis is being written during August and Surrey’s second day of continuous rain! Summer appears to most definitely be over. This means that temperatures will drop and thoughts ought to turn to weather you should consider a winter tyre for your SUV. Regular readers will know that we are particularly evangelical about the winter tyre and highly recommend it. The guys at Toyo think similarly and have announced the new Open Country W/T tyre. In case you are new to this, the point of a winter tyre is that the compound is different to a summer option and as such offers considerably more grip once the temperature drops below 7degC – and that is the average temperature in the UK during morning and afternoon rush hours for SIX MONTHS of the year. So please don’t think about a winter tyre as a snow tyre, although when the white stuff does fall the winter compound and the tyre’s tread design, which includes deeper side grooves, or sipes, will give you a lot better grip and traction. Indeed, once you fit winter tyres, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to decide to swop each year. The Toyo options are available from 15 to 20 inch sizes, with prices starting at around £80 a tyre.

Website: www.toyo.co.uk

BELIEVE IN MAGIC?We are always a little wary of fuel treatment potions. If these things all ‘worked’ then wouldn’t we all be using them? For vehicles with older engines, however, it is certainly the case that today’s modern emission regulations can be difficult to achieve when the time comes for the MOT. It may make sense, therefore, to at least try these new Magic Bullet options available from Euro Car Parts as they are aimed at reducing emissions. The range also includes two options to clean catalytic convertors for both diesel and petrol engine vehicles.

Website: www.eurocarparts.com 

KEEP COVEREDThis new awning from Rhino-Jack, the Foxwing Eco 2.1 is ideal for small and medium SUVs. It is simple to mount and then swings out from the rear and side of your vehicle, offering no less than 270degs of shade. Given that it was originally designed for Australia, that makes a lot of sense, for those of us living in the soggy UK, you’ll be pleased to know that it is also waterproof so works well to allow you to sit outside when the weather turns. Made from lightweight polyester, with a UV protective polyutherene coating, the extension poles are anodised aluminium and therefore rustproof. Rhino-Jack has a great range of off-road accessories and all are available from the guys at TBR Accessories, so give them a call on 0800 169 9946 / 01832 275396 or check out the website for more details.

Website: www.tbruk.com