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Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

october news ssangyongFor a company that has not much of a heritage in the UK, it may surprise some to discover that SsangYong is now celebrating its 60th Anniversary. Established back in 1954, it is Korea’s oldest manufacturer and the only one making 4x4s and SUVs. The company is now majority owned by Indian manufacturing conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra, and its history even back in the Fifties has always involved collaborations, including Mercedes-Benz, Daewoo and the Chinese SAIC company. The first model to come to the UK was the Musso.

If you want to confirm the company’s 4x4 heritage, take a look at this jeep (right). Looks familiar? It’s hard to understand how companies managed to produce vehicles that shamelessly looked like someone else’s vehicle. This is the Shinjin Jeep of 1974, and yes we think it looks like a Wrangler.

Friday, 22 August 2014 00:00

FROM AFGHANISTAN BACK TO SUSSEXWe have a detailed feature this month (October 2014) on Overland Cruisers, the company that specialises in converting Toyota Land Cruisers for overland trips and expeditions. It is fitting, therefore, that we can report on one trip that fully endorses the tough character of the model. Domenic Senger-Schenk drove a 1993 model for a 4600 mile trip from Afghanistan to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and in the process raised a significant £22,000 for Mission Motorsport, a group that helps the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations by offering a chance to get involved in the business of racing cars and bikes. Domenic was joined on the trip by ex-Royal Marine Chris Short, who actually completed the route on a motorbike; between them they traversed 17 countries and some of the most demanding desert landscapes in central Asia. The Toyota did the job as Domenic explained: “The only issue was a radiator problem that we easily fixed. Although I had never driven on roads anything like as rough as those in the Afghan and Kazakh deserts, and despite the fact the car was top-heavy with its load, the Toyota coped with it fine.” Looking for an inexpensive machine for a planned expedition? Worth considering the good ol’ Toyota Land Cruiser it would seem.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 13:33

REVEALED; DISCOVERY SPORTWe recently received photographs of the new Discovery Sport. The team at JLR are becoming nearly as good at global publicity as they are at actually making vehicles, but this latest ‘reveal’ is simply out of this world as it is linked with the Virgin Galactic space programme. Earlier this year, when the initial Discovery Concept was unveiled in New York, it shared the stage with Virgin’s proposed Galactic commercial spacecraft. It seems that the two companies have been working together on the projects, including all the testing and development of the forthcoming Discovery Sport. No less than 181 protorypes have been used, covering some 750,000 miles and 9767 different tests. This has included driving in temperatures of minus 36degC in North America, and up to 42degC in the deserts of Dubai (two major markets for the proposed vehicle). It is also said to have been tested in water depths of 600mm, inclines of 40deg, and declines of 45deg. The camouflaged prototypes shown here give little away; a quick glance and you could be forgiven for thinking you are looking at a Range Rover Sport. The actual official global ‘reveal’ of the new Discovery Sport will take place on 3rd September, which planet that will be on has yet to be announced.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 13:25

WHEN A PANDA GETS CROSSIf good things come in small packages, then look no further than the Panda 4x4 if you are looking for a capable city supermini that doubles as a surprisingly capable off-roader. It’s such a good package that one could have forgiven Fiat from leaving it alone, apart from the odd ‘paint job’ allowing the company to create some daft named ‘specials’. The good news is that despite the bright yellow paint job shown here, the latest Panda 4x4 Cross is anything but daft; it’s a capable small off-roader that has just got serious.

Regular readers will know that we rate the Panda 4x4, and have done since its first incarnation back in the 1980s. It was unique in the 4x4 market back then, and the latest version continues that tradition. Indeed, we awarded the latest version our ‘Best Mini 4x4’ in our annual ‘4x4 Of The Year’ last year. It’s pleasing, therefore, to be able to say that the new model, available in the UK at the end of this year, has received some significant upgrades, specifically designed to improve the vehicle’s off-road abilities. And it’s not very often that we are able to report that, especially when talking about a small SUV.


THE FAREWELL DISCOVERYSThe 2015 MODEL year range of Discovery models has now been announced by Land Rover. Given the arrival next year of the new Discovery range, this could be the last revamp of the highly successful Discovery 4 range. It also marks the 25 years of Discovery, and as you might expect there’s a new XXV Special Edition anniversary model available. The XXV Special Edition notably gets the new InControl Apps Options.

All models in the range get updates. The entry level SE now has additional features as standard compared to the previous entry point GS specification, including cruise control, front fog lights, automatic headlamps and wipers, headlamp power wash, auto dimming rear view mirror and interior foot well and door puddle lamps.

Next up, the SE Tech replaces the previous XS specification and adds Xenon headlights with LED signature as standard. The HSE variants now have 20 inch alloy wheels as standard. HSE also has the Grand Black Lacquer wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel from the XXV Special Edition anniversary model as an optional extra. The colour range has also been extended with three new colours introduced; Aruba, Kaikora Stone and Montalcino Red replace Luxor, Ipanema Sand and Nara Bronze.

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