The route took us from Beatrix Potter to Donald Campbell from a blue-jacketed rabbit to a Bluebird in the incredibly cool New Jeep Wrangler.
We were of course in the Lake District starting our amazing off-road adventure at Windermere near where Potter had her home from which inspiration was drawn for her tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends.
The Jeep Wrangler is, of course, something of a legend itself taking its DNA from the original Willys Jeep created for the US army in 1940. The design brief specified ‘a light reconnaissance vehicle’ that became known throughout the world as simply the Jeep.
It has been in production now for more than 75 years but has come a long way from the original drab green original livery. Today’s motorist can choose between ten colours like Firecracker Red, Punk’n Metallic (orange), Mojito, or the one we were driving, Hella Yella ( as well as regular black, white and silver).
The car I drove was the bright yellow 2-door 2.2-litre turbo diesel much to the envy of the rest of the convoy and we were a stunning combination of colours as we pulled out heading for Parkamoor and some serious terrain. Nobody could miss us.
Because of drivers’ growing desire for cars that are ‘different’ the Wrangler is becoming an increasingly important part of Jeep’s sales. It is available in the entry-level Sahara followed by either the Overland, a more luxurious city-type car or the rugged Rubicon, the trim level in our car. But Jeep reckons the Rubicon with its air of adventure is the one that will tempt motorists into the driving seat.
Like all Wranglers, it sports the seven-slot grille with the round headlights, straight back door with its bold spare wheel and our version had wild looking 17” tyres that looked like they would take you anywhere. It also had a removable black roof.
“Very handy for pulling us out,” remarked my driving companion after Russell Dykes from Ardent Offroad had given us a particularly scary briefing on what to expect on the drive ahead, which he described as one of the three hardest in the UK.
We were suitably subdued as we made our way through Ambleside high and comfortable in the Rubicon with its leather seats, Rubicon logos and red double stitching. It also has the most tech ever bestowed on a Wrangler with among others touchscreen, sat nav, reverse parking camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
But it was the amazing mechanics we would test as we drove through Coniston and took a hard right to begin our 673ft climb on some vicious terrain to get to the top of the hill overlooking Coniston Water where Donald Campbell, the only man to break the world land and speed record in the same year, tested out his legendary speedboat Bluebird. It is also the lake on which he died on January 4 1967.
Our way took us over some precipitously steep and rocky paths, at times only wide enough for our car and a cigarette paper. As we followed Russell and his colleague, Andy Pulleyne upwards we could only marvel at how their vehicle was coping, the tyres at times splayed out like a big black gecko clutching on to the rocks. As our car bucked and swayed behind them, sometimes teetering on only one wheel, we were astonished at just how fierce and able this car was.
It has Jeep’s Rock-Trac four-wheel drive system onboard – Command-Trac is available on the Sahara and Overland – this gives you four options for off-roading from mild to extreme as well as a rear or front and rear axle lock and the ability to turn off the sway bar, the anti-roll bar on the vehicle. That all makes for an incredible capability that had us really holding our breath.
The three trim levels come with either two-door or four doors and with our diesel engine or the new 2.0-litre petrol engine. All have 8-speed automatic transmissions.
On the Tarmac again we powered on to Ulverston and uphill once more, where we mesmerised the sheep and looked down from our vantage point to Morecambe Bay. Then we were off-road again in Grizedale Forest famous for its terrifying rally stages. We passed by Near and Far Sawrey which are actually right next to each other before a final treat and the ferry across Windermere to our starting point.
Andy leaned in the window as the ferry chugged across. “This is an amazing car,” he said. “I am in awe of it.” Likewise indeed.
Car reviewed: All-New JeepWrangler Rubicon 2.2-litre diesel automatic on the road from £46,865 0-62mph 9.6secs Top speed 99mph Engine 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel Fuel Economy combined 37.7mpg CO2 emissions 197g/km CO2 Max Power 197bhp Torque 450Nm Transmission 8-speed automatic
Watch what the others say on Youtube…
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.
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