WAGONS – LARGE
Unless you’re heavily into off-road racing and rallies, you probably haven’t heard of Bowler, figuring it’s not what the Aussie cricket team needs, but reliable batsmen. Bowler is a specialist UK 4WD builder, producing vehicles that use old-design Land Rover Defender panels.
In 2017, INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe, a car enthusiast and experienced adventurer, identified a gap in the market for a stripped back, utilitarian, hard-working 4×4, engineered for modern day compliance and reliability. It didn’t hurt that Jim Ratcliffe is also Britain’s richest man.
The Bus 4×4 AWD conversion kit for the Toyota 300 Series Granvia features full time 4WD, high and low range gearing, and high ground clearance, putting this premium people mover into the large 4WD wagon category.
Based on LandCruiser 100 and 200 Series the Lexus 470 and 570 models have never achieved the Range Rover cache they obviously craved. However, they’e beautifully assembled machines with silky-smooth petrol V8 power.
Land Rover diehards were disappointed with the design of the post-2020 Defender that was more off-road capable Range Rover than Defender. The only carry-over signature from the original Defender was aluminium bodywork.
Nice wagon, but the original Land Rover DNA is long gone. A facelift model with new engines was launched in late 2020.
The Gelandewagen was originally planned as a German Army vehicle, but lost out to the VW Iltis and the first civilian version was produced way back in 1979. M-B has had three goes at selling the G-Wagon in Australia, with the 2017 models showing the flag as a backdrop to the Australian Army’s purchase of 1200 4WD and 6WD G-Wagons.
The old ‘square-rigged’ Patrol is finished Down Under, leaving Nissan with the under-marketed Y62 petrol V8 model. The specification was wrong from the start and changes are still needed.
Although the Range Rover’s price tag limits the number of potential customers, the marque has continued to show the way to all other 4WD makers since its introduction in 1970. Sooner or later all 4WD designers adopt features initiated by Range Rover. While most of us can’t afford a new Rangie, the used market is well populated with pre-loved examples.
When the much-anticipated 200 Series was launched in November 2007 there was good news and bad news for LandCruiser fans. Since then there have been several upgrades, but the basic package hasn’t changed.
The Troop Carrier received significant upgrades in 2017, with improved gearbox ratios and more dynamic and passive safety. However, some irritants remain.