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For many city folk the lure of 4x4 ownership is such that a car only has to look like a 4x4 to succeed. Nissan’s prescience in tapping that resource has made their ‘urbanproof’ Qashqai a best seller
TARGET RANGE: £5000 – £23,000
We have to admit to being somewhat baffled by the mass appeal of the Nissan Qashqai. It certainly seems to be a good-value package as a family hatchback, with sensible pricing and good equipment throughout the range, but that has nothing to do with any four-wheel drive pretensions it may have, and we’ve always considered the interior to be somewhat featureless and unexciting. The Qashqai has smart enough modern exterior styling, if you like that very Eastern rather startled bug-eyed expression on the bluff front and can live with the swept-down roofline and rising waistline that starves rear occupants of headroom and visibility, but it’s hardly a design that stands out among a dozen other modern mid-range SUV-type hatchbacks. Still, it’s good news that the Qashqai is doing so well, because it shows that the British automotive industry is still a force to be reckoned with.
The Yeti has proved an impressive sales success for Skoda and the latest revised version is likely to gain more converts, thanks to the fifth generation Haldex clutch
Words: Nigel Fryatt
It seems Yeti sightings are becoming a lot more common. Indeed, unlike the fabled ‘big foot’ itself, it’s now quite common to spot one, since a quarter of a million Yetis have been built since the launch in 2009. And after sightings in China, Russia and Germany, the UK is the Yeti’s most popular home with just under 30,000 having been sold. That makes it a popular SUV, and in its 4x4 mode it has achieved our Highly Recommended Award in its class for the last two 4x4 Of The Year group tests. It’s a very popular machine, and owners tend to be extremely enthusiastic, this is one SUV that you make a decisive decision to buy. In looks alone, this is not another ‘copycat’ SUV design and for 2014 the Skoda Yeti has received a facelift, which actually goes a lot further than just tarting up the somewhat idiosyncratic exterior. It’s the changes underneath that interest us.
No need to keep the family standing around in the rain waiting for a bus to come along when you can have an all-weather people carrier parked right outside the house. We look at the Top Ten seven-seaters…
With fuel prices and the cost of public transport rising to ever more ridiculous heights with every passing day, the lure of the seven-seater SUV seems more attractive than ever. Who, after all, would board a bus or take a train when there’s a comfortable minibus parked right there on the driveway? How many families will be considering a single seven-seater as an alternative to two five-seater family cars, thereby saving on insurance and maintenance costs as well?
The car manufacturers have anticipated this surge of interest with the result that more and more have been offering seven-seater versions of their family estates. Four-wheel drives are no exception, seemingly offering the best all-round all-weather solution for the active family. There’s a good selection of seven-seater SUVs available; here we’ve chosen to feature our top ten, ranging from the patently old-fashioned to the hi-tech trend leaders, from affordable yet still well equipped budget models to prestige limousines reflecting the heights of luxury. We’ve chosen to look at cars not more than seven years old, settling on a lower price limit of £5000; naturally much of what we have to say about these lower-end models will apply to earlier examples that could be available – albeit with more signs of wear and higher mileages – for much less. At the other extreme the sky’s the limit, epitomised by the £60,000 being asked for a nearly new Mercedes-Benz GL with all the luxury trimmings.
As we all know, 4x4s come in all shapes and sizes, but few can actually float. We meet with Tim Dutton, an endearing character, and founding father of the this country’s kit car industry, with his latest 4x4 creation. Let’s go off-road Surf-ing in the UK…
Words and photography: Nigel Fryatt
For most people, an amphibious car answers a question that never gets asked. Surely you only ever want one or the other; a road vehicle, or a boat. Strange, therefore, that when Tim Dutton asks the simple question, “Would you like a coffee?” the only answer is an amphibious four-wheel drive.
When the cappuccino in question awaits you on the other side of the River Arun in Littlehampton, logic says you take the road away from the river to search out the nearest bridge. Not so, of course, when you have a Dutton Surf, since the journey to the local barista merely involves negotiating the gluttonous mud of the river bank, before ploughing into the water, deselecting the four-wheel drive, initiating the jet motor and powering across the fast flowing river to the somewhat slippery slipway, where four-wheel drive is re-engaged for the effortless, and remarkably drama free, exit from the water up to the café.
Now we don’t usually cover classic military Jeeps… but then this amazing vehicle is nothing of the kind! For one Polish 4x4 enthusiast, the Jeep ‘look’ was what he wanted, but with reliable running gear, in this case, from standard Nissan parts! Yes, that’s right, this is a Jeep CJ7 Nissan. Sort of….
Words: Jakub Chelmicki Photography: Igor Kohutnicki
The idea for this car came about by chance while I was doing an engine replacement in a friend’s passenger car. My colleague Michael was helping me and he casually mentioned that he’d give me one of his four (!) Jeep CJ7s, along with all the documents and suggested I rebuild it. Now I had a set of axles from a Nissan Patrol 260, a Nissan Patrol 160 gearbox with a transfer box, together with some other junk, so since I had the axles and gearbox, the engine was not going to be a problem, and I could do the wiring by myself. This would mean that working at my own pace, I could build a car in the shape of a classic Jeep, but based on my favourite Nissan mechanics. Michael is known for really outlandish ideas, so this one was no surprise. But the more I thought about it, the more I became hooked, and the project got under way.