DecNewsRangerFinally, Ford’s new Ranger pick-up is to go on sale in the UK, and it arrives with one simple objective; to be “best-in-class in every area important to customers”. Given the fact that the UK pick-up market is highly competitive, the battle – especially with VW’s Amarok and Toyota’s forthcoming new Hilux – is going to be hard fought, but there’s no denying that from the advance details we have seen and the photographs you can see here, the Ranger certainly looks like it has what it takes.

Prices look competitive, with the cheapest 4×4 model starting at £16,515, up to the top of the range on sale at £25,040 (plus VAT, but in many cases owners are able to reclaim the tax). As you would expect, there’s a very comprehensive model range between those two prices. There are three body styles; Double, Super and Regular, with trim levels of XL, XLT, Limited and the top of the range Wildtrak. There will be a two-wheel drive model, which is surely completely pointless for a working truck, so we’ll park that and ignore it.

DecNewsCajunPorsche’s proposed small off-roader, still called the ‘Cajun’ in quotation marks on all Porsche press releases, is certainly on its way as significant expansion work has started at the Leipzig factory. This is the production facility that already builds the Cayenne (since 2002) and the Panamera (since 2009), but building the Cajun, sorry ‘Cajun’, involves an additional 500 million Euro investment.

It will lead to a total of 1000 new jobs and it is expected that the first vehicles will roll off the line towards the end of 2013. This is a particularly important model for Porsche. It is planned to make this the ‘entry level’ Porsche 4×4 in much the same way that the Boxster is the entry model to the sports car range. If the sales success of the ‘Cajun’ gets anywhere close to that of the ubiquitous Boxster it will certainly be classed a ‘success’, without quotation marks. The latest diesel-engined Cayenne is included in our 4×4 Of The Year test in next month’s issue.

Diesel engine performance specialist tunit has got into the Christmas spirit and is offering a special gift giveaway to everyone who has a tunit conversion this December. Increased performance, and increased efficiency from tunit’s conversions are claimed to save up to 12% on fuel costs.

You get a three year warranty with all the work, which can either be dealer or self-fit, and the guys at tunit say that they have options suitable for over 2800 models. You also get a Christmas gift of a High Street voucher worth £50 if you have the work done on your diesel engine this December. That’s fuel saving and a great gift, so if you’ve been considering contacting tunit, there’s really no excuse for not picking up the phone, is there? Contact them on 0845 838 1405

DecNewsArbilAs we closed for press last month, news came through to us that renowned off-road product supplier Arbil 4×4 has been appointed the new exclusive importer and distributor of the quality Australian ARB 4×4 products for the UK and Ireland. Now, as many readers will be aware, ARB products are highly respected all around the globe, and making them accessible from the guys at Arbil 4×4 is really good news to the UK enthusiast.

So if you are looking for air lockers, Old Man Emu suspension, roof racks, fridges and recovery gear, things are now made a lot easier by going direct to Arbil. Check out the website at www.arbil4x4.co.uk or call the guys up at 0845 600 4556. You should call for both private orders or if you are interested in stocking ARB products. Our advice is to give them a call and get them to send the free ARB catalogue. The Editor has grabbed one, and the plans for his Toyota Hilux are now coming to fruition!

DecNewsCrossThis month’s issue (December 2011) has our group test of the best SUVs, or ‘crossover’ 4x4s on the market. Now while we fervently disapprove of the term ‘crossover’, you also have to ask whether Sports Utility Vehicle suits some of the models tested in this issue (see page 60). There’s little that is Utilitarian about them. Whatever the nomenclature, there’s a great model range on offer, to suit all tastes, from the impressive but somewhat sombre VW Tiguan, to the outrageously quirky Nissan Juke. Some love the weird, almost organic, bumps and bulges of Nissan’s tiny 4×4, others are, well… less complimentary. However, most will join us in complimenting Nissan for the latest development of the Juke: enter the Juke-R.

Adding the ‘R’ designation indicates Nissan’s sporting models. In the old days of this writer’s youth, people put GT on the end of the car’s name! In Nissan’s case, the ‘R’ has seemed, in the past, to be little more than a clever way of charging a lot more for a model with a bit more power and a bit of fancy trimming and go-faster stripes. Not so the Juke-R, this is a seriously crazy road 4×4, and will certainly create a stir.

DecNewsShohgunThe new model year Mitsubishi Shogun arrives in the UK this month. There will be a four model line-up, the SG2, SG3, SG4 and the popular Warrior version. All models will benefit from 18inch alloy wheels, new chrome grille and colour coded front bumper, black front skid plate and black roof rails.

Since its debut back in 1982, Mitsubishi has sold an impressive 104,328 models in the UK alone and there is significant brand loyalty with Mitsubishi claiming that seven in 10 customers remain with the Shogun when changing vehicles. A new 2012 model year Shogun is included in our massive 4×4 Of The Year test in next month’s issue. It’s up against some tough opposition…

DecNewsCaptivaChevrolet’s Captiva has become the fifth model in the American manufacturer’s range in the last two years to achieve a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating. This respected rating saw the Captiva achieving an 88 per cent rating overall for adult occupant protection in the event of a collision.

Add that to a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and the appeal of this SUV to potential owners with a large family is obvious. The new Captiva was introduced this summer, with a new 2.2-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine and seating for up to seven passengers. Prices start from £21,995.

DecNewsCalendarBesides writing the Club Focus pages in this magazine, and regularly bemoaning the cost of diesel when reporting on her beloved Grand Vitara for Our 4×4 pages, some readers may not be aware that Louise Limb is a rather talented artist, in particular, drawing Classic Land Rovers. To celebrate this, every year Louise produces a limited edition of Classic Land Rover calendars.

They are A4 sized, and the first 100 produced are signed and numbered by Louise. Something of a bargain at only £15 – especially when you consider this includes recorded delivery in the UK. An ideal Christmas present we think. You can buy this exclusively from Louise by going to her website at: www.louiselimb.com

DecNewsSpenA justifiably proud Sophie Wakeford has been awarded this year’s Spen King Sustainability Award. The Award, in honour of the man who was the mastermind behind the original Range Rover, is aimed to honour “to inspire and encourage the next generation of engineers.”

Sophie is studying Mechanical Engineering at Oxford University and according to the judges, “set herself apart from the others by demonstrating not only excellent technical engineering understanding but also for being the only applicant to address the moral issues associated with the hypothetical challenge.” It will be interesting to see if she follows in Spen King’s footsteps into the world of vehicle engineering. The £1000 award also gives her a summer work placement at JLR where she will be working in her area of interests of hybrids and environmentally sustainable transport.

DecNewsReliableJapanese manufacturers come out top with the Honda CRV (1998-2006) proving to be the most reliable, followed closely by the Suzuki Grand Vitara. Not so good news for Land Rover (2002-onwards), which is claimed, by Warranty Direct, to be the “most breakdown prone off-roader”. Despite this rather severe condemnation, the Freelander actually makes it into the top ten.

The bottom five include Range Rover (2002-onwards), Jeep Grand Cherokee (1999-2005), VW Touareg (2003-onwards), BMW X5 (2000-2007), with the ‘prize’ for bottom going to the Volvo XC90 (2002-onwards). Given the great number of different models included, a survey sample of 16,000 is perhaps a little small to draw any firm conclusions, and we would like to hear from readers about the reliability of their vehicles, send your comments through to us: [email protected]