Off-road driving up your street? Then buckle yourself in and check out our ultimate list of dirt-eating mega motors...
Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis in the early 60’s this entry level ATV (if you can call it that) was designed to be a go-anywhere military vehicle; unfortunately, poor ground clearance saw it re-imagined as go-anywhere civilian vehicle, so long as it wasn’t raining and the going was flat and smooth.
Despite having a reputation as the hairdressers’ holiday car, the Vitara is a well-engineered and surprisingly capable off-roader. Having been in production since the end of the 80’s the Vitara is a common sight on the streets, note, not off-road tackling have-a-go terrain.
The first of the compact SUV’s, this rather un-stylish lump is a lot better at tackling the great outdoors than its rather wobbly exterior may imply. Sadly, after a 15 year run, the Xterre has had its day, but not after inspiring the likes of Range Rover Evoque with its brute-lite attitude. There is a lot of cheap fun to be had here so grab yourself a bargain, you deserve it.
A too much muscle SUV that isn’t just for converting into a stretch limousine for Hens’, this thing looks the business and it delivers. But it’s also appallingly thirsty making it a less-than-attractive option when you’re out of fuel, miles from civilisation, surrounded by hillbillys.
Not that there is much of a chance of it happening but should you take Porsche off road you’d be astonished that this pretty-looking hunk can actually cut the mustard in the rough stuff. Launched in 2002, this is the SUV that kicked-off the performance/all-terrain market and it remains an attractive option today.
Merc G Class
Like the Porsche, this is an unlikely candidate for a wild weekend in the woods. Similarly, should its owner not physically recoil at the sight of dirt, this is remarkably well equipped to deal with hostile conditions. It’s also a decidedly un-Mercedes Benz, its boxy Jeep styling and stripped down interior are a million mile away from what one associates with the three-star badge.
The original Jeep went into production in 1941 to be used as an AT military V but today it’s better known as the Wrangler, one of the few remaining vehicles manufactured with solid front and rear axles. It’s fantastic off-road which is all well and good until you need to drive back to the city on the hard stuff. Ouch.
Makes the Cayenne look like a penny chew. These days the RR is the last word in luxury but it’s not all about show, it’s impressively nimble on hopeless terrain too. Already well into middle age, the RR has adapted its style to suit the ever-changing world; sure, it’s a little more ‘music-producer’ than ‘landowner’ but the RR still means business.
Toyota’s longest running model, this car has achieved near legendary status as being unbreakable. If the Range Rover’s happy outside Casinos in Mayfair, this is one for the Serengeti. It may look like fairly uninspiring SUV among its peers but this car has evolved from a straight Jeep-copy way back in the 1940’s into the rather unassuming beast you see today. One 1972 FJ60 is in the Guinness Book of Records for amassing more than 400,000 miles on its odometer; that’s 166 tyres, 138 spark plugs, 54 shock absorbers, 31 batteries and 22 air filters, right there.
Inspired by the Jeep and launched in 1948, this remains the definitive all-terrain vehicle. It may not be as competent as some of its more modern counterparts but the design is largely unchanged from the original, the Series 1 looks just like the later Defender, because it’s Meccano-simple engineering is effective, practical and robust. A classic in every sense of the word, and Her Majesty loves them too.