OUR 4X4 Of The Year test threw up an interesting mix of vehicles from 2016.
On the one hand we had the VW Amarok V6 that is loaded with the latest chassis tech, a clever and mischievous V6 diesel engine, and all the luxury fruit piled inside; while on the other there were two heavy duty cab-chassis utes that hark back more than three decades.
With their live axles front and rear and body-on-frame construction, we like to call these two old-school trucks traditional, but are they really any less tech savvy than the more modern vehicles on the test? Both the Mercedes G300 and the Toyota Land Cruiser are powered by electronically controlled, common-rail diesel engines, and they both employ electronic chassis controls such as traction and stability control to make them safer to drive. Just because the G300 has window winders and its ECUs are housed in a sealed console box doesn’t mean you want to submerge it in a river; although, admittedly, it would probably drive further and deeper than some of the other vehicles on this test.
So the G300 and LC70 aren’t the low-tech, traditional trucks they were 30 years ago, but are they any better now than back then? From an emissions standpoint they certainly are, but emissions don’t keep you relaxed after a 10-hour drive. Nor do they get you up a snotty hill that an old rig with open diffs and no electronics would ever scale.
Anyone who has driven one of the early 70s from the 1980s will tell you they are noisy, slow and agricultural vehicles – they were only a small step up from the old 40 Series. The cabins on those first 75 traybacks were short and cramped for anyone taller than 160cm and, if you could get them up to 100km/h, you couldn’t talk to your passenger over the noise. They were a lot like the G300 cab-chassis is today, despite the high-tech Benz engine under the blunt bonnet.
With its latest upgrades, however minor some of them may be, the LC79 is a refined and competent tourer and off-roader. In fact, we’d say it’s the best 4x4 on the market bar none. Possibly the best 4x4 ever!