June 2011 Issue of 4×4 Magazine
It’s probably Roger Crathorne’s fault for doing such a good job instructing me in a Land Rover Ninety at Eastnor Castle. Or maybe it was the year I was lucky enough to join the British Team for the Camel Trophy in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Then again, it could have been earlier this year when our suburban Surrey road was gridlocked by sliding, wheel-spinning cars, pirouetting on the snow as I drove imperiously passed in our winter tyre-shod Rav4. Once you get the 4×4 bug, it doesn’t leave.
So, being invited to return to the Editor’s chair of this gritty, mud-loving publication was an offer that couldn’t feasibly be refused. Like that drunk that will always have just one more, the opportunity to return to the world of 4×4 merely fed my addiction; the itch that has never been successfully scratched.
As a brief resume: I was the Editor of this magazine when originally known as Off Road & 4 Wheel Driver. Never liking the ‘r’ on the end of the title, I removed it one month, much to the furious annoyance of the suits in the boardroom of the magazine’s then owners. Apparently doing such a radical thing had to be a board decision. Phah, it was always too long a title, boardroom politics or not, and 4×4 is so much better.
Always having been involved in specialist motoring magazines for more years than it is comfortable to admit, I return with a lot less hair, a few more pounds around the middle, but no less enthusiasm for the product, the subject matter and the whole 4×4 market. Much has changed, and even more remains the same. It will be great to get to know old friends and meet new ones over the coming months.
One old friend (she’ll hate me for calling her that, but heh, I’m the Editor) is Hils Everitt and it’s great that she will still remain heavily involved with this title. As our new Editor at Large, Hils will be out and about getting all the best off-roading stories. Hils can mix it with the best of them, so we can all look forward to her features in the magazine. Indeed, when you look at the names in the contributors list, it’s one hell of a 4×4 team, probably better than it’s ever been.
One thing that has changed, however, saw me driving new American Jeep models around the rice paddy fields of northern Italy. Who saw that one coming? The iconic 4×4 manufacturer is now in alliance with Fiat. Fiat? Come on, the Italians are famous for doing a lot of things extremely well; pasta, sports cars, opera, frantic arm-waving, but build 4x4s? Hardly. The Fiat Panda 4×4 was a great little car – that’s the original one, not the latest asthmatic version – but now the Italian manufacturer is involved in the Premier League of 4x4s through the alliance with Chrysler. It’s going to be a fantastic story to follow and stereotypical joking apart, Fiat has a lot to bring to the party with the impressive MultiJet engine technology which will provide Jeep with efficiency and emission regulation levels most good ol’ boys in the States could only burp into their beers about. In our 4×4 world, this association could be highly significant, but they are setting themselves big sales targets, so only time – and a couple more brand new models – will tell if it works.
Add to that development the new Range Rover Evoque, and grabbing the Editor’s chair in the spring of 2011 seems like perfect timing. The Evoque may not be hardcore 4×4, despite the protestations of Land Rover brand managers who insist of telling us about something called “Range Rover DNA”, but it is an impressive beast and the sales projections will take it to parts of the globe that the original ‘Solihull Land Rover’ manufacturer could have never dreamt of. OK so the publicity used to talk of a Land Rover in every country in the world, but we are no longer talking about single models, now it is selling Land Rovers in big numbers. Freelanders are now produced in India, that’s like, well, like the Italians building American 4x4s…
Exciting, this 4×4 world! Here’s hoping that you will enjoy reading what we have on offer for you this month. More importantly, we would like to hear from you, we want to know about “Your 4×4 Life”. What 4x4s do you own? Why did you make that choice, what do you use them for? We strive to bring you the very best professional 4x4s from all around the world, but we want to hear about what happens in your 4×4 household; old, new, standard, modified. What have you got? Send me some details, email pictures of “Your 4×4 Life” and we will see if we can get your 4×4 into this magazine. Email me direct on 4×[email protected].
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Nigel Fryatt, Editor
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