Oct1stDriveStartVolkswagen’s baby 4×4, the Tiguan has been treated to a significant upgrade, and the
off-roading Escape model is a winner

Words: Hils Everitt

The SUV market is so competitive at the moment and no manufacturer can afford to sit on its laurels and watch the rest of the world go by with its updates and facelifts. Like the world of celebrity with which popular culture is so obsessed, the SUV market has to keep returning to the cosmetic surgeon and teccy guys to keep everything fresh-looking and keep their brand on the map and in the news.

SeptF1st32StartFinally we have had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the much-heralded Range Rover Evoque, off-road across some difficult tracks in Snowdonia National Park and under the streets of Liverpool. Yes, that’s right, under the streets…

Words: Nigel Fryatt

It became obvious as we descended the track at the end of our Snowdonian drive. The narrow route was steep and a number of uneven boulders poked through the damp sandy soil, just before a tight ‘S’ bend through some trees. Sensibly, the vehicle in front had slowed, the driver checking that Hill Descent was engaged, reduced the selected speed to the minimum and inched forward. It was then clear. The new Evoque is undoubtedly a Range Rover.

As the front wheels cleared the first boulder, the nose dipped into a deep rut and the Evoque’s – undoubtedly good-looking – rear, rose on the nearside to clear the mound. From our viewpoint the clearance and wheel articulation was obvious. Clear daylight could be seen underneath the car and it gently negotiated the tight twist, controlled and without fuss. When it was our turn everything happened much the same, the only difference being that it seemed far less dramatic. Had we not stopped to watch the other Evoque, conversation in the cabin would have continued about how superb the drive across the Snowdonian National Park had been – so competent was this new Range Rover, that you could sit back and enjoy the view.

July1stDrive22aIt’s finally here in the UK and VW’s highly anticipated foray into the highly-competitive pick-up sector with the Amarok has got the 4×4 pulses racing with its excellent  new 4MOTION system that simply rocks off-road. Oh, it’s not bad on-road either…

Words: Hils Everitt  Photos: VW and Hils Everitt

Let’s cut to the chase. No beating about the bush: Volkswagen’s new pick-up truck is brilliant off-road. Just forget the length of the thing for a moment and its mediocre departure angle when fitted with all sorts of chrome accessories, and those intrusive sidebars, we’re talking about VW’s new 4MOTION system.

The latest technology from VW has made this new foray into the fiercely-contested pick-up market the best of its genre in off-road ability. So far, the pick-up market has demonstrated good old-fashioned 4×4 credentials with the majority offering just part-time 4×4 with low ‘box operated by a transfer lever.

VW has upped the ante with the new version of 4MOTION. It allows the Amarok to tackle steep, greasy and nasty descents in neutral together with Hill Descent Control to make a mockery of the worst of slopes and treacherous wet gloop. It works on the off-road ABS and once you get used to inching down a steep slope in neutral with no driver input whatsoever, it’s damned impressive and reassuring.

JuneDriveSmAfter all the financial woes, the intervention of the US President, and the foresight of the headman at Fiat, Chrysler Jeep’s prospects look a lot healthier. Editor Nigel Fryatt has been to Italy to drive the new 2011 Jeep range coming to the UK. Things are still a bit rocky… but now in a good way!

Words: Nigel Fryatt

It is only a couple of years ago that any magazine article on the Chrysler Jeep group would have been prefixed by the words “struggling American car maker”. The situation for Chrysler in the US was similar to those financial institutions that were deemed ‘too big to fail’. Chrysler was struggling, and while it is not the biggest American car maker, it could not be allowed to fail.

So serious was the situation that US President Barak Obama was involved, recognising that Chrysler needed a partner, or indeed a completely new owner, and the company needed that quickly. Of course, Chrysler’s financial problems at the time were not unique, so the support and investment needed was unlikely to come from within America. For the many thousands of diehard Jeep enthusiasts, not just in the US, but spread across the globe, the future of one of the greatest 4×4 brands in the world, looked grim indeed. Yet few of those enthusiasts can have ever thought that Jeep’s saviour would come from Italy, in the form of Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne, who saw a significant opportunity, and made the deal, bringing two very different automotive companies together.

May1stDrive1The one-spec Nissan Murano with a thirsty V6 didn’t really catch the UK public’s imagination, but the introduction of a 2.5-litre turbodiesel version may entice crossover fans to delve into the Nissan luxury brand

Words: Hils Everitt; photos: Nissan

The problem we always had with Nissan’s flagship, luxury 4×4 was the fact that it was powered by a really thirsty, albeit lusty and responsive, V6 3.5-litre petrol engine.

Mated to an Xtronic CVT automatic transmission it pumped out a hearty 252bhp with 236lb ft of torque. Impressive figures, but it really was a lost soul in the 4×4 market. Big petrol engines like that were an endangered species back in 2008 when the last revamp appeared, and in these days of extortionate fuel costs the 3.5 V6 one-model-only Murano is even more obsolete in the UK.

April11FirstDrive1There is not much available these days in the 4×4 Commercial Van sector for a decent price, which makes Nissan’s Pathfinder Van a good choice, as long as you are under six feet tall!

Words: Kevin Baldwin; photos: Wayne Mitchelson

If a pick-up truck remains too down on the farm for you and you find the iconic appeal of the Defender a little too lacking in creature comforts, then the remaining choice of 4×4 ‘van’ for the commercial user comes down to a pretty restricted short list of potential purchases. The Nissan Patrol dropped off the list last year following Nissan’s decision to withdraw the model from sale in the UK, and the introduction of the latest upmarket model Land Cruiser killed off the commercial variant that has been an option on the previous model’s range. If you’re in a business where image is everything, then the Discovery 4 line-up will tick all the right boxes, but the two-seat Commercial version comes with an up-market £30k plus price tag to match the image. That leaves the ageing Mitsubishi Shogun and this, the Nissan Pathfinder Van, the latest 4×4 to ditch its back seats in an attempt to attract the VAT-registered buyer.

1stDrive1A wet Warwickshire woodland seemed the perfect place to try out the new Can-Am Commander ‘Side-By-Side’ – open up the 1000cc Rotax V Twin engine, see how good the Maxxis Bighorn tyres were and generally have some fun!

Words & photos: Toby Savage

When Joseph-Armand Bombardier formed Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) in Quebec, Canada, back in 1937, he launched a small tracked vehicle to cope with the deep winter snow. This grew to Snowmobile production, then Jet Skis and Quad Bikes. Along the way the company acquired Evinrude engines for the nautical range and the Austrian engine company, Rotax, for the Quads and ATVs. They have built up a formidable reputation over their 70-year history for both reliability and performance.

1stdrive1John Deere’s latest Gator all-terrain pick-up just got butcher styling, improved ride quality and best in class payload. A big improvement on the old canary yellow and green-only machine.

Words: Hils Everitt

One of the first improvements that is easily noticeable on John Deere’s latest revamped Gator, apart from the more aggressive styling, is the new colour option. The brash green and canary yellow scheme, so beloved by fans of the manufacturer, have often put off potential utility companies, giving it a rather toy town appearance.

top4x4sTo welcome the New Year in style we bring you our biggest and best test of the year. The top 4×4 vehicles, split into six groups tested on- and off-road, but which is the ultimate production 4×4 for 2011?

Words: Kevin Baldwin; photos: Wayne Mitchelsn

The past 12 months has been a funny old year within the car industry. Cars that had been set for launch have been put on the backburner while manufacturers get their finances in order, and low-volume sellers have been chopped from model ranges. With the industry tightening its collective belts, just getting 4x4s on loan from scaled-down press fleets has been a tricky business. In the case of Jeep, it had the added complication of a corporate buyout, which resulted in an almost no-show at this year’s event from the oldest manufacturer of 4x4s in the world.

Last year Jeep won three groups with its Patriot, Cherokee and Wrangler models. We managed to secure a Wrangler model this year – only just mind – but that was from new owners Fiat. One does have to worry about Jeep in the UK. It offers decent 4x4s, packaged at the right prices, but in spite of this the UK buyer seems reluctant to buy into the Jeep brand. There’s a new Grand Cherokee in the US this year:

ssanThe original was panned for its rather ugly looks but it was a credible offroader. SsangYong’s 2011 update of its Korando model is labelled a ‘Classy Utility Vehicle’, but how much class does the new crossover really have?

The SsangYong Korando – these are names that don’t mean too much to us in the West, but there’s been a Korando model around since 1974 and SsangYong claims it as the longest running brand in Korea; the SsangYong element has seen rather less continuity.