By Steve Orme
Toyota Land Cruiser
Ever since Ben-Hur rolled out his concept fast attack chariot, armies have been striving for the ultimate battlefield light vehicle.
The American military long since realised they could invade nothing more heavily defended than a Beach Boys revival convert in a Jeep and so introduced the plug-ugly Hummer and with it the new battlefield tactic of scaring the enemy to death.
Which is why the Land Rover will be replaced on the front line by the Italian-built Iveco LMV, a hugely armoured, powerful vehicle, its whole purpose being to prevent regimental body parts becoming part of the insurgent graffiti.
Of course, wherever apocalyptic horsemen turn up you will find relief organisations. And while sending gap year students home in several pieces can have a detrimental effect on volunteer recruiting, a fleet of Oxfam LMVs is likely to send the wrong message to the locals.
Which is why there is the Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruiser has brought more charity toilets and Christmas goats to dust bowl villages than any other 4x4.
However, you may think its natural habitat is Kensington. A word in your ear. Lovely as it is how this makes anti-car hippies with tie-dyed beards foam at the mouth, it is a complete waste of your money and the toughest off-roader on the market.
The £56k V8 Invincible is uncomfortably big in traffic, a test of spatial awareness and concentration. Battling the urban jungle in one is like using an Airbus 380 for stunt flying.
However, although this is a huge beast beware, that does not make the 286bhp 4.5-litre twin turbo charged diesel slow. All this brawn whips it to 60mph in 8.2 seconds and on to 130mph.There is a danger of barreling into a corner a bit too quickly. In which case you will immediately understand the level of understeer experienced by the captain of the Scharnhorst.
Right then, time to sing the Land Cruiser’s praises. In a straight line, acceleration through the automatic, sequential option gearbox is impressive. The engine is quiet and smooth enough to have you forget it is a diesel. 26mpg will be a reminder.
Honestly, I have been in hotel suites less well appointed than the V8. Full leather, faux walnut trim, a large touch screen navigator and audio system, reversing camera, climate control and Bluetooth are all standard features.
Off road a man can grow old looking for terrain to defeat the ladder chassis Cruiser. It runs in full time four-wheel drive with a simple on-the-move switch to low range and has lockable centre diff and hill decent control. Body height is adjustable. If you get this stuck you should be shot. And in some countries would be.
Towing? Oh yes, with a torque peak of 479lb ft it can tow Cheshire.
The bad news is that in the current carbon climate 270 g/km Land Cruiser drivers couldn’t be less popular if they underwent colonic irrigation on a bus. The good news is you can now import it armour plated.