Great Britain

Jeep Wrangler Night Eagle carries on the 4×4’s hard-as-nails bloodline

MY timeline was filled with chatter about two proper 4x4s this week.

Land Rover trotted out more details about the Defender Hard Top van, just as the billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe unwrapped his back-to-basics Ineos Grenadier.

Coincidence? Or the opening salvo in a PR battle for clicks? I’d say the latter.

But do you know what tickled me most?

Sitting outside my house right now is the daddy of them all: The Jeep Wrangler.

Both Land Rover and Ineos openly admit the original 1941 Willys jeep was the starting point for their hard-as-nails workhorses.

Which means Wrangler, with its direct bloodline, was born ready.

It’s also the definition of all-American cool. That seven-slot grille and round headlamp combo is so iconic there’s no need for a Jeep badge. It can’t be mistaken for anything else.

But it gets better. Whip off the roof and doors and flip down the windscreen — all in just a matter of minutes — and you’re sat inside an authentic US Army jeep, just with a touchscreen and Apple CarPlay.

You can’t do that in a Defender, a Grenadier or a Mercedes G-Class. You can’t strip them down for an al fresco adventure unless you’re handy with a grinder.

Now I’ve tested Wrangler before — properly off-road, in a swamp in Austria — and, as you’d expect, it is magnificent.

We all joke about going somewhere you couldn’t stand up. But it can. It’s extraordinary.

For those who like to nerd out on detail, it has a ladder frame chassis, low-ratio transfer box, locking diffs and mega wheel articulation, while the front anti-roll bar can be disengaged at the touch of a button. That allows the front wheels to drop and compress up to 25 per cent further to tackle the harshest terrain.

Not really essential when it’ll go no further off-road than a farm shop here in Blighty, it must be said. But it’s reassuring to know it can.

It’s a bit like a diving watch. You’ll never use one 300 metres below sea level but you want one all the same because it is capable and that gives it credibility.

On the road, Wrangler can’t compete with the new Defender for handling and refinement. The old one, yes. But the new Defender is different gravy.

The Wrangler’s steering is a little vague and there’s a lot of wind noise — both of which I could happily live with — but the biggest frustration is there’s nowhere to rest your left leg.

The transmission tunnel is so wide you have to sit with your knee bent.

But the 2-litre turbo petrol with eight-speed auto is smooth and keen to please and Wrangler has all the tech and safety features you need. Plus it has lots of grab handles and some lovely nods to its heritage.

So how much is it?

The two-door Wrangler Sport starts at £40k and the four-door Sport is £42k.

The red Tonka toy you see here is the new high-spec Night Eagle at £48k. It has road-bias tyres but is still Trail Rated.

Not cheap, then. But neither is a new Defender. And you could buy two Wranglers for the price of a G-Wagen and look ten times cooler.


Price: £48,850

Engine: 2-litre turbo petrol

Power: 272hp, 400Nm

0-62mph: 7.6 secs

Top speed: 110mph

Economy: 25mpg

CO2: 259g/km

Win Ronaldo kids team kit

HAVE you noticed all the kids are wearing Juventus tops now Ronaldo is playing for them?

Well, here’s your chance to win the full kit – not just for your child, but for a whole under-12s team.

Jeep has kindly given me 12 full kits – shirts, shorts and socks – for the goalkeeper, eight outfield players and three subs. Thank you.

For your chance to win, simply email [email protected] with your child’s team name, league and contact details, by noon on Friday, July 10, 2020.

Winner chosen at random. Kit sizes cannot be changed.

Good luck.

Bill Murray recreates iconic Groundhog Day role for Jeep Super Bowl ad and fans are LOVING it

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