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Browsing: Off-road tests

Words and pictures by Grant Spolander GRANDULAR FEVER As a Jeep fan and himself a proud owner of an ’00 XJ Cherokee, Grant Spolander eagerly climbs behind the wheel of the all-new Grand Cherokee, a vehicle that’s now equipped with air suspension. Can this game-changing feature restore the Grand Cherokee’s former glory? I own a Jeep but that doesn’t mean I’m biased. To prove my objectivity I’m going to quickly share my views on the Jeeps I’ve tested to date. ’09 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: Hugely capable off -road, compromised on-road, fun for a weekend getaway but not really suited for

Words by Grant Spolander Pictures by Grant Spolander and Craig Fox PIED PIPER In our March ’08 issue we tested the Freelander 2 and declared it the best vehicle in its class. Late last year Land Rover released their second-generation Freelander 2. Does this newly upgraded model retain its sector-leading reputation? Let me start by saying, “I love the Freelander 2,” to the point that I often use this little Landy as the benchmark against which I compare all other softroaders. Why am I telling you this? Well, before I begin this road test I want you to know exactly

Words by Grant Spolander Pictures by Grant Spolander and Craig Fox GAME CHANGER At first glance the Touareg appears to offer great value for money, but once you total its long list of optional extras this high-end SUV leaps from budget to big-ticket rather quickly. Are VW trying to pull the wool over our eyes, or are they actually giving us overlanders exactly what we want? I used to be VW verskrik. In my early 20s, I owned a ’91 GTI MK2 that in turn owned my soul. In fact, I was so besotted over my Golf and the VW

Words and pictures by Grant Spolander PULLING PUNCHES Since the launch of the new Sorento, buyers have come up in favour of its radical lines. While the previous model wasn’t much of a looker, it offered practical off-road performance. The question is, has the new Kia got both beauty and brawn? The automotive industry’s clients are fickle fellas; besides price, a vehicle’s popularity is oft en determined by just four factors: performance, features, after-sales support and aesthetics. Not many years back, the car-building chaps in Korea battled with the last-mentioned, but things have changed. Especially for brands like Kia and

Words and pictures by Grant Spolander BLAST FROM THE PAST By today’s sophisticated standards, the Isuzu KB300 is starting to show its age. Is this back-to-basics bakkie holding its own against the sector’s feature-filled thoroughbreds, or is it last out of the gates? When my editor suggested that we test an Isuzu KB300 DC I wasn’t helluva enthusiastic – in my mind this brand was basic, dated and as boring as brown bread. But then I drove the Isuzu off-road and realised there’s more to bread than just the ingredients – a lot depends on the recipe. EXTERIOR The Isuzu

Words and pictures by Grant Spolander CROSS DRESSER We test the Lexus LX570, a vehicle that bears a striking resemblance to the Land Cruiser 200 Series, but costs a fair bit more. Are buyers paying a premium for badge status, or is the LX570 truly worth the extra money? When we compare 4x4s in our off-road tests, as we often do, it’s not purely to determine which is best, but also to highlight a vehicle’s particular strengths and weaknesses relative to those of its competitors. Ordinarily, we’d compare the LX570 with luxury SUVs in the Range Rover / Merc GL500

Words and pictures by Grant Spolander GREAT EXPECTATIONS Volkswagen’s new Amarok is stirring the double-cab pot, re-writing the sector’s value propositions while introducing technology never seen before in a bakkie. But has this much-anticipated double-cab made the most of its late arrival? When the Amarok was first unveiled in SA I heard lots of folk predict the Hilux’s demise. I was doubtful, convinced that the mighty Toyota could weather any storm. When I finally drove the Amarok I was forced to question the Hilux’s top-dog status, not because the VW was a superior vehicle, but because several Hilux owners had

Words and pictures by Grant Spolander PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE We test drive the new Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCi, which aims to be an affordable option in the large luxury SUV segment. Is it finding its way or getting lost along the tricky path of price versus quality? THE Nissan Pathfinder recently underwent some minor upgrades. At the unveiling of this updated model a Nissan spokesperson informed the media that their seven-seater SUV is priced to compete with the Discovery 4 and not with SUVs in the Fortuner category. While the Pathfinder’s pricing (R518k) certainly confirms its place in the

Words by Grant Spolander Pictures by Grant Spolander and Rob Till. BALANCING ACT Grant Spolander takes our new long-term test vehicle, a Discovery 4 HSE TDV6, for its first real off-road jaunt. Will this iconic off-roader live up to its reputation or has it become soft in its quest for opulence? IN ‘08 it was announced that Tata would be buying Land Rover. When the news hit our shores many Land Rover supporters took to the hills – we heard it had something to do with chirping Toyota owners. Earlier this year saw the release of the much anticipated Discovery

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