Sunday, 26 February 2012

Is the V8 news as good as it seems?

As much as the sound of a V8 Land Cruiser presses the right buttons for Land Cruiser fans, shouldn’t we look at this logically as well?

The brilliant Toyota 1HZ engine, for its reliability and ….? I can’t think of anything else actually. It’s noisy, not particularly economical, emissions output is poor, underpowered for the job it has to do and is probably the only engine that, when it is shut down, shakes so much it registers on the Richter scale.  But it’s an engine perfect for the Third World. And I guess that’s why we love it. It’s very tough indeed, and with no electronics, it can be fixed by anyone, and if well maintained, lasts a very, very long time without major work.

The V8. It is better in every way, I think, but one. It’s electronically controlled which means: it can only be tuned at an approved workshop, it produces far kinder emissions, it is far, far more powerful and useful for the job it has to do. It is going to turn the otherwise underpowered 70-series Land Cruisers from something special to something truly awesome. But…

The D4D V8 hasn’t had a good run so far. Injector problems with all kinds of diesel are well known, and although they have probably sorted it out, this engine is going to be less reliable, considerably more expensive to service and most work will only be able to be done at an approved workshop. It’s not an engine designed for the Third World, in which we live.

So, when it comes to nuts and bolts, we are going to be paying more to swap reliability for performance.  How much more performance? Lots! How much less reliability? This is the driving question.

Monday, 20 February 2012

HUGE news to Toyota Land Cruiser Fans

The rumours running wild about V8 Land Cruisers are rumours no more! Via my top secret, under-cover spies infiltrating the deepest recesses of Toyota SA's closed doors, reveals that not only is the V8 coming , but two all–new models as well.  The news broke during last week’s Toyota dealer sales conference that accompanying the Land Cruiser pick-up and 76 Wagon V8 diesels, will be a Cruiser double-cab. This startling news was only tempered slightly by the additional news that the Cruiser 200 VX will be joined by a basic spec, GX unit. Don’t get too excited. It will not be like it was with the 100, the GX having the heavy-duty chassis. It will just be a cheaper, simpler, less electronic and therefore more versatile VX. Will the Troopy V8 be coming? Nobody asked, because it’s such a slow seller, I guess, nobody cared. This will all probably happen around October.

It’s all great news – but not for anyone who just bought a Land Cruiser with the 4,2D – like me for example. Next week: Is the V8 all good news? Not necessarily.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

What’s more fun? Camping? Or Being in a wild place where camping is the only alternative?

Camping is a real chore. The bed is never as comfortable as the one at home. The food is as good, sometimes better, but it’s a chore to make given the lack of convenience. The chairs aren’t nearly as comfortable as my ones at home. And if it rains, it’s horrible. And I hate sleeping in a ba

So why do I love it so?

For me, it’s where I wake up that makes all the difference. If you invited me to go camping at Vaal Dam or at the Blickiesfonteindorp Oord, then I would make any excuse to get out of it. I would rather clean the dog’s ears. But a trip to the desert, preferably with as few people around as possible, I am happy to undergo near torture for a few evenings and mornings of that.

I had my wheels rotated the other day and the man asked me if my Land Cruiser was just a “mall crawler”. I told him it was, but then he asked why I have nice red shock absorbers. We got talking. I wanted to ask this question of him, but without giving away my motives. He had a very nicely equipped Defender 90 and an Echo trailer. He said proudly, “You wouldn’t believe me, when I tell you. Me and my wife. When we arrive at a campsite, just, and I’m not lying, just 45 minutes, and everything is done and ready. I nearly tripped over the tyre iron. 45 minutes!!!!!.

On a good day, it takes me five. Yes, just five. Because I figure, it’s not about camping, and tents, and poles and stoves. It’s about being in a magic place. I want to spend my time exploring, looking, feeling and living, instead of fighting with sleeping bag pouches that are too small, and which pole fits where.

Am I bonkers? Tell me about you!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Buying a new car is mostly about emotion, not practicality. The G300 Pro..

Proof of this comes in the form of the new Mercedes G300 Professional. Because nobody in their right minds would buy one, unless they were mentally disturbed or OTT passionate about the G.

When it comes to the G, I admit, I am verging on the mentally unstable. I loved both of those I owned and love this one. But consider this. What do you expect from a 4x4 wagon that requires parting with over R770 000? (Over US$100 000)
“Several of them I would hope.”
A sound system?
“Yes, with multiple speakers and Bluetooth phone kit to begin with.”
What about leather?
“No question.“
Electric windows?
“Yes, stupid. What car doesn’t have them?”
What about carpets?
“Is that a serious question?”
Actually, yes. Would you expect carpets and sound insulation?
“Of course.”
Well I have news for you. Tick nothing for the G300 Pro. From this list, all it comes with is a single airbag in the steering wheel. And nothing else.
To wind up the windows you’ll need big biceps. The raised air intake howls like a lost wolf on the prairie, and the twin single rear seats give about as much support as a tightrope in a storm. The interior is lavish with plain painted steel and the centre console and armrest is made from, what looks like, parts of a railway girder bridge – and it doesn’t even open.

So, if I were to consider this G as a new purchase, having removed any emotion that I may have toward it, it wouldn’t even appear on the short list of 4x4s I might consider. But put the emotion back, and it is a compelling choice.

You see, the G is like a Picasso. It’s nothing to look at until you understand it. It’s so ugly, it’s beautiful, a classic in the best sense. Off road, there is no non-modified 4x4 that comes close. On road, most things are better, but when you put it into the category where it fits best (Land Rover Defender and Toyota 76 Wagon), it out-performs both of them by a long, long way.

But then given the price, it had better.