31 August 2001

RECENT LAUNCHES

BMW

The X5 4.4i may be expensive at £44,600, but farmers weeklys testers found it to be a highly competent machine that gives the Range Rover a definite run for its money.

However, this summer BMW widened its portfolio with two cheaper models, the X5 3.0i and X5 3.0i Sport. Instead of the 4.4 litre engine, the new

models 3 litre powerplant

produces 231hp and 300Nm of torque at 3500rpm.

Performance is still good – 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 126mph – and prices are £33,000 and £34,900

respectively for the two models.

Standard spec includes all the usual things, plus automatic diff brake, auto speed hold, auto speed stability control, dynamic stability control, hill descent

control, park distance control.

Other engines are to come. The X5 3.0d and X5 3.0d Sport, with a 184hp straight six diesel engine, will arrive this autumn with price tags of £33,005 and £34,905 attached. And for those who find the current models insufficiently luxurious, a flagship model called the X5 4.6is will be appearing in showrooms this autumn.

DAIHATSU

are too expensive and plush for many rural people.

One passenger model – the relatively high-spec 2.8 litre £19,000 TDX – is currently available, as well as long and short wheelbase versions of the Fieldman commercial (£15,454 and £16,041). But buyers will need to move fast if they want to obtain one before they

disappear.

Meanwhile, Daihatsus Terios mini-4×4 gets a new 86hp 1.3 litre engine, new interior, more interior space and a facelifted five-door body. Permanent four-wheel drive and an electronic locking centre diff are the main drivetrain features. On-the-road price is £9980.

FORD

Main new 4×4 launch from Ford this year is the Maverick. The old Maverick was beginning to look a bit crude but was a good seller nonetheless. The new one promises to be a credible rival to the likes of the Land Rover Freelander, Toyota RAV4 a

are too expensive and plush for many rural people.

One passenger model – the relatively high-spec 2.8 litre £19,000 TDX – is currently available, as well as long and short wheelbase versions of the Fieldman commercial (£15,454 and £16,041). But buyers will need to move fast if they want to obtain one before they

disappear.

Meanwhile, Daihatsus Terios mini-4×4 gets a new 86hp 1.3 litre engine, new interior, more interior space and a facelifted five-door body. Permanent four-wheel drive and an electronic locking centre diff are the main drivetrain features. On-the-road price is £9980.

Main new 4×4 launch from Ford this year is the Maverick. The old Maverick was beginning to look a bit crude but was a good seller nonetheless. The new one promises to be a credible rival to the likes of the Land Rover Freelander, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Like the Ranger pick-ups, the new Maverick is a joint

development with Mazda. It actually sits on a wheelbase 65mm longer than a Freelanders and has good space for people and luggage.

Engine choice is limited to two petrol units at the moment – a 3 litre 197hp V6 and a 2 litre 124hp version. Ford says a diesel version wont appear until 2003, when it will also launch a petrol-electric hybrid.

Drive on the Maverick normally goes to the front wheels, but if the system detects slippage, drive is progressively fed through to the rear wheels as well.

Prices are £17,995 for the 2 litre and £20,995 for the V6.

Fords Ranger pick-ups,

meanwhile, now claim to take one-third of the UK pick-up market. Three versions are available, regular (two-seat), Super Cab (extra space behind seats) and doublecab (four seats). While all models beat the 1t VAT-reclaimability threshold, the doublecab is one of very few models on the UK market that also meets the 1045kg payload threshold for pick-ups fitted with a hardtop.

HYUNDAI

This Korean manufacturer was historically known to farmers mainly for its Pony pick-up, but that disappeared from the price lists some while ago. Now, with the arrival of the Santa Fe off-roader, its back on the 4×4 buyers radar screen again.

Hyundai launched two petrol versions of the Santa Fe at the beginning of the year. Initially, these offered a choice of either a 2.4 litre 143hp four-cylinder engine or a 2.7 litre V6 with 177hp under its belt.

A 2 litre diesel option was added this summer; its a new in-house common-rail motor and is the first passenger diesel offered by Hyundai in the UK. Claimed to give a 24% boost in power over previous 2 litre diesels used by Hyundai in other markets, it develops 115hp and 192lb ft of torque at 2000rpm. It also manages a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 37mpg.

Though the exterior styling is a little gawky, the Santa Fe is snappily modern inside. Its also well put together and good value for money. On-the-road price for the 2.4 petrol is £15,999, the V6 will set you back £17,999 and the diesel slides in between at £16,999.

Transmissions include a five-speed manual on the diesel and 2 litre petrol, but the V6

unusually sports a Porsche-developed H-tronic auto which gives a choice of full auto mode or driver-operated clutchless nudge-up, nudge-down mode.

ISUZU

No great changes to the spec of the current Trooper line-up here, with 3 litre 159hp

common rail diesel and 3.5 litre V6 petrol providing a choice of motive power. But, as with many other makers in the last year, prices have been reduced or more kit offered for the price.

Prices now range from £17,955 to £22,505 for short wheelbase diesel Troopers and from £20,055 to £28,755 for long wheelbase diesel versions.

JEEP

The big news at Jeep is the imminent arrival of the new Cherokee. Though it wont go on sale until next month, details of the new model are beginning to filter out.

Although the old Cherokee was getting a bit old fashioned, it was good value for money. Expect a rather more sophisticated beast with the new one, with a choice of permanent or on-demand 4WD systems. It also sports more radical looks than the old, rather bland and boxy shape.

Engine choice will be either a 3.7 litre V6 petrol with 211hp and 235lb ft of torque or a 2.5 litre 143hp/253lb ft torque common rail diesel. The latter manages a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 31mpg, which is pretty good for this class of vehicle.

Prices have yet to be announced.

LAND ROVER

Land Rovers main news this time last year was the arrival of the Td4 diesel engine. Developed during the period in which it was owned by BMW, the Td4 is a common rail unit developing 112hp and 216Nm at 1750rpm. It is claimed to give 15% more power and 24% more torque than the old diesel and is no-doubt helping to boost Freelander sales in rural areas.

New machines this summer from LR include a commercial version of its Discovery mid-range model. There used to be a commercial version of the old Discovery but that was dropped when the model range was updated.

The new version looks very like the standard 4×4 with rear windows fitted with black glass rather than replaced with tinwork as they are on some rivals machines. Rear seats have been removed, giving a plywood-covered payload area 1700mm long, 1130mm wide and 1080mm high. Maximum carrying capacity is 680kg and there are six lashing points to keep the load

where it belongs.

Otherwise the car is pretty much akin to non-commercial versions, with TD5 diesel engine, electronic traction control, hill descent

control and rear self-levelling

air suspension. Price of the Discovery Commercial is £19,242 excluding VAT.

MITSUBISHI

Mitsubishi had a busy year in 2000 with the launch of the new Shogun and new Shogun Pinin. Launches in 2001 are more low-key, but include the addition of a V6 petrol option on its L200 doublecab pick-up. This follows the increasing trend for pick-ups to be aimed at the leisure market and used as a "lifestyle"

vehicle.

Called the Triton and aimed more at the leisure market than the farmer/builder, its 3 litre engine produces 178hp and 188lb ft of torque at 4500rpm. It can also be specified with leather

upholstery and satellite

navigation. Price of the Mitsubishi Triton is £17,900 on the road, excluding VAT.

NISSAN

Two models have been launched by Nissan since the spring. One is a "lifestyle" doublecab pick-up called the Navara which is being aimed firmly at company car drivers wanting to take advantage of new benefit-in-kind tax rules coming into force.

With a payload over the 1t mark, the Navara is technically classed as a commercial vehicle, which means that its benefit-in-kind value is just £500, with no need to take account of business miles covered.

As you would expect, specification is more Kings Road than agricultural – chrome bumpers, aluminium side-steps, lots of logos, CD player, electric windows, air-con, anti-lock brakes, even two cup-holders. Old Bert would be choking on his half of mild. The engine is a 2.5 litre 104hp diesel and the cost of all this is £19,995 with VAT or £2943 less if you take off the VAT.

Also coming up from Nissan is its new X-trail small off-roader. Scheduled for launch next month, it slots into the compact sector below the Japanese firms Terrano and Patrol models.

Price tags start at £16,800. For that you get a five-door bodyshell, three trim levels and a choice of engines. Both are four-cylinder units, with the 2 litre petrol unit developing 140hp and 142 lb ft of torque and its diesel brother opting for 2.2 litres capacity and providing 114hp and 199lb ft of torque. The diesel is a common rail unit, the first in a Nissan off-roader.

Petrol-powered X-Trails get the choice of a four-speed auto or five-speed manual transmission, while the diesel unusually comes with a six-speed manual designed to take full advantage of the engines wide torque curve. It is claimed to better 39mpg on the combined cycle.

There no low-range box, but push-button selection of 2WD/4WD.

SKODA

Currently enjoying a

renaissance in the UK and

elsewhere as potential buyers get the message that VW

ownership means high quality at relatively reasonable prices, the Octavia 4×4 is the

manufacturers first venture into four-wheel drive vehicles and aims to provide a competent 4×4 estate package at

markedly lower prices than a Volvo XC or Audi Allroad.

The only real rival in that price bracket is basic-spec

version of Subarus doughty Legacy estate.

Only one engine option is offered, a 150hp 1.8 litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit that can push the Octavia to 60mph in 9.3 seconds and still apparently achieve nearly 32mpg on the combined cycle. Drive is normally to the front wheels only, but feeds to the rears automatically once a speed differential between the front and rear wheels is

detected.

Theres just one spec level – the top-of-the range Elegance, which includes electric everything, ABS, air-con and six-disc CD player. Price is £16,200 on the road.

SUBARU

Though best known in farming circles for its 4WD prowess, its the ultra-fast Impreza Turbo that has caught the imagination of the general public. So it was no surprise earlier in the year when Subaru announced a

high-power version of its Legacy Outback estate.

Called the Outback H6-3.0, it comes with a newly-developed 3 litre boxer engine that musters 209hp and propels this otherwise sensible and practical estate to 60mph in 8.5

seconds. There are also a host of safety systems, including Subaru Vehicle Dynamics Control and Variable Torque Distribution All Wheel Drive.

The latter splits torque between the front and rear wheels at a 45:55 ratio during normal

driving. However if the rear wheels begin to slip for any

reason, it rebalances the

distribution back to 50:50 to help allow traction to be regained.

SVDC, meanwhile, controls

traction, ABS and throttle response. If potential danger arises, such as a slippery road or sudden swerve, it can cut the engine power and simultaneously apply braking to whichever wheels can best help the driver escape a collision or slide. On the road price is £26,995.

Meanwhile, changes to the Forester range include 7hp more for the already powerful S-Turbo, radio-CD players for all models, retuned suspension and changes to the fascia.

SUZUKI

Suzuki may be a big seller of off-roaders into the leisure

market, but it obviously hasnt forgotten the rural buyer. The turn of the year saw the firm launch its first "commercial" (ie VAT-reclaimable) version suitable for rural business users.

The Vitara Van costs just £9995 (excluding VAT) and comes with a 1.9 litre 74hp turbodiesel engine and maximum payload just under the half-tonne mark. The five-speed gearbox also has a hi-low transfer box, so it shouldnt have too much trouble off-road. Load deck area is 838mm x 1041mm x 1016mm.

Equipment levels are good

considering the modest price and include power steering, radio-cassette, rear wash/wipe, heated rear window and a

key-pad immobiliser.

Suzuki also launched a seven-seat version of its Grand Vitara this summer. The XL-7 has a 2.7 litre 170hp V6 engine and has been lengthened by 320mm (12.6in) to give room for a third row of seats.

The latter split-fold to boost load carrying capacity, while the second row of seat not only split-fold but can also be adjusted fore and aft. A further 46kg (100lb) of luggage can be carried on the vehicles roof rails. Price has yet to be announced.

TATA

Indian maker Tata has added a "luxuriously-appointed" EX model to its Safari range, but says that the price tag of £14,995 is the same as on the standard model. Meanwhile, the standard model has had its price reduced by £1000 until the end of September.

The new EX model has leather-trimmed interior, with hide-covered seats and trim, a CD player, customised

dashboard and door trims, colour-coded roof spoiler and lockable spare wheel cover. This is on top of the standard spec, which includes air-con, electric windows, central

locking, seven seats and

push button-activated

four-wheel drive.

The engine is the same Peugeot-derived 2 litre

turbodiesel with 90hp and 146lb ft of torque at 2500rpm.

TOYOTA

Those who consider the latest generation of diesel engines as good as – if not better – than their petrol counterparts, will be pleased to hear that Toyota has been having a push on the diesel front this year.

In February it announced the Land Cruiser Colorado would get its new 3 litre D-4D common rail diesel. This claims to have more power and torque than its predecessor, but also better fuel consumption. Power is up from 123hp to 161hp and torque rises from 218lb ft at 2400rpm to 253lb ft at just 1600rpm. Fuel consumption is 30.1mpg on the combined cycle, a good figure for this size of vehicle.

The diesel Colorado is available in three trim levels – FX, GX and VX – with prices from £23,795 to £31,695.

Toyotas funky RAV4 range will also get a D-4D diesel option this month, though this is the

2-litre version with 114hp and 250Nm of torque at 1800rpm. Power is up by 5hp compared to the 2-litre diesel used in the firms Avensis saloon thanks to the fitment of a variable nozzle turbocharger. Moreover, fuel consumption is 39.8mpg

on the combined cycle.

Prices for the diesel RAV4s range from £15,995 to £20,695.

VOLVO

Volvo added a second all-wheel-drive estate to its XC (Cross Country) model in the spring. The V70 AWD shares the XCs five cylinder 2.4 litre light-pressure turbocharged petrol engine, with its 200hp and 285Nm of torque. It also has the same 4WD technology with the Swedish makers TRACS anti-spin system that automatically transfers power from a spinning wheel to one offering grip to ensure progress on loose or slippery surfaces.

However, the V70 AWD looks exactly the same as any other V70 estate (apart from being a bit taller), whereas the XC comes with extra ground clearance, chunkier bumpers and side body mouldings. On-the-road prices start at £26,995.

The XC itself, meanwhile, gets a specification upgrade that Volvo says is worth up to £4300 with no increase in price. The

standard S models stays at £28,910 on the road but gets leather, cruise control, climate control, and upgraded audio while the SE model (£31,410) gets satellite navigation,

electrically-operated front seats and headlamp wash/wipe.