Welcome to Unsealed 4X4

Are you hungry for the latest in 4X4 news, reviews and travel?

At Unsealed 4X4, we’ll give you up-to-date 4X4 news, reviews and how-to's to keep you in fine form.

The top 5 4X4s we don’t get in Australia

...but wish we did

We’re pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to off-roaders in this country but have a look around the world and there are some we’re missing out on. Here are the top 5 4X4s we don’t get in Australia.

WORDS BY ISAAC BOBER, IMAGES BY MANUFACTURERS

GUIDE

The Troller T4 might have a silly name but the photos should be enough to tell you this thing would be right at home here in Australia. Built by Ford for Brazil only, the Troller (originally an independent maker it was purchased by Ford more than 10 years ago) has been running around for years but was refreshed with this T4 Trail spec earlier this year.

We’re all expecting the new Bronco, which should be revealed later this year, and while it will be based on Ford's T6 platform which sits underneath the Aussie-developed Ranger and Everest, we reckon the Troller T4 would be a more off-road friendly platform. The Troller T4 Trail (based on the second-generation T4 launched in 2014) runs Ford’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel which is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission.

The special-edition T4 Trail gets rock sliders, steel, winch-ready front and rear bumpers, rocker panels, pumped guards, steel underbody protection, a snorkel and removable towing hitch. The body is made of a composite fibreglass material. Approach and departure angles measure 50-degrees respectively, and the rampover is 30-degrees.

On the inside, the Troller T4 Trail is all hard plastics, rubber mats and drain plugs, meaning the thing can be washed out at the end of a day in the mud. But it’s not all back-to-basics, there’s dual-zone climate control, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, panoramic sunroof, and more.

The Troller T4 Trail lists from around AUD$85,000 and is only available in Brazil. Shame.

Troller T4 Trail
1
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

This is a case of a modifier joining forces with a car maker. Famous for its work with TopGear’s North-Pole conquering HiLux, Iceland’s Arctic Trucks converts a range of vehicles, but Isuzu is the first car maker that has officially aligned with it. Toyota looked at joining forces with Arctic Trucks but felt it was just a little too wild for its tastes.

The D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 is available only in the UK and Norway. And was first launched in 2014 into those two markets.

This latest version gets upgraded Fox Performance Series shocks and 35-inch Nokian Rotiiva All-Terrain tyres fitted to 17 x 10-inch wheels. The body gets a 30mm lift and the suspension offers an extra 20mm over standard. This has improved the approach, departure and rampover angles. Pumped guards help to give it that standing-tall-and-wide look.

The interior of the D-Max isn’t what you’d call plush, but this AT35 adds new seat trim and soft padding to the armrests, centre console and dashboard top. Gloss black trim has been added to the window switches, air vents and glove box, which also incorporates a new Isuzu D-Max badge. There’s a 7.0-inch infotainment screen offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The engine has been left alone, so the key difference is really just the tyres, suspension and body lift. There are a host of accessories to keep tweaking the AT35, like bespoke 6mm-thick aluminium underbody protection, a roll-top tonneau cover, Arctic Trucks sports bar, waterproof and anti-skid floor mats, a front receiver hitch, LED light bars and spot lights, and a snorkel kit.

Earlier this year, Isuzu and Arctic Trucks revealed a limited-run 10-unit special, called AT35 Safir (the blue one below).

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35
2

Locally, we’ve seen the Isuzu Team D-Max precision driving team build up the Concept-X MU-X and D-Max. Not for production, the things get chopped and pumped guards, unique front and rear bumpers, 38 x 15.5 R20 tyres, front and rear winches and a bespoke suspension package with 60mm remote reservoir shock absorbers, four-wheel disc brakes on both vehicles, the standard rear leaf spring suspension set-up has been replaced with a custom MU-X style five-link coil spring configuration. With the big tyres and another seven-inches of suspension lift, the approach and departure angles have grown to 50 and 38 degrees, respectively.

The exhaust systems have been tweaked too although the Concept-X vehicles are still powered by unmodified versions of Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC 3-litre diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmissions.

Isuzu. This Concept-X nutter gives us an idea...

NEW
MODEL
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

Born in 1976, the original Niva was a three-door 4X4 that its designers described, at the time, as a Renault 5 plonked onto a Land Rover chassis. It sold here in Australia and even won a few off-road racing events, indeed if you hunt around online, you’ll even find the odd one or two for sale; we found a 1996 model asking $15,000. What the...

The Lada Niva nameplate died at the end of the 2000s when General Motors purchased Lada. The thing is still produced, but these days its known simply as the Lada 4X4 and it can now be had as a five-door. The model we’re looking at here is the top-spec Lada 4X4 Bronto (unlike the rest of the range, it’s only available as a three-door).

Just like the Suzuki Jimny, the Lada was never particularly good on-road; its short wheelbase, small engine, and noisy gearbox meant highway-speed was painful, noisy and slow. But, off-road…they’re designed to operate in temperatures from -45-degrees to +45-degrees Celsius and they'll go just about anywhere. Indeed, you can still hire them in Iceland.

While the 4X4 Bronto looks rugged and chunky it’s essentially the same Lada we saw in the 1990s. Sure, the materials inside are a little more GM-nice with heated seats and air-conditioning, and electric mirrors (yep, these are talking points with the Lada 4X4) but it’s still very utilitarian with hard plastics just about everywhere and the design is properly retro in that it hasn’t changed in years.

The 4X4 Bronto offers 240mm of ground clearance, mud-terrain tyres, a stronger rear axle, beefed up front springs, a longer travel front end, and screw-type front and rear locking differentials. The 4X4 Bronto measures 3680mm long, 1740mm wide, 1713mm high and with a wheelbase measuring 2200mm. For comparison, the Jimny measures: 3645mm long (inc spare), 3480mm (exc spare) 1645mm high, 1720mm wide (mirrors included) and a 2250mm wheelbase.

Under the bonnet is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 83kW and 129Nm of torque and it’ll take 18 seconds to get from 0 to 100km/h. No, that isn't a misprint. You can only get a five-speed manual transmission and it weighs 1285kg and the payload is 335kg. The numbers are all very similar to Jimny.

So, the 4X4 Bronto is basic…but we all love the Jimny and it is basic too, and I reckon this Bronto 4X4 looks better. I reckon it be better off-road too – it’s constant 4WD, remember. Shame we don’t get it here.

Lada 4X4 Bronto
3

Okay, it’s possible to buy an F-150 Raptor in Australia from a variety of speciality importers but the Hennessey VelociRaptor V8 is only for the US. It takes the already bonkers F-150 Raptor and turns it up to 11.

See, where the Raptor only has a V6 engine making around 450hp, the VelociRaptor has been fitted with a 5.0L Ford V8 and makes a staggering 750hp or 570hp at the rear wheels (Hennessey won’t say how much torque it makes) but the thing will hit 96km/h in 4.1 seconds. The, ahem, regular Raptor will get to 96km/h in 6.0 seconds, so, the VelociRaptor is proper quick.

The VelociRaptor V8 gets unique front and rear bumpers, and tweaked suspension (it still uses the standard-fit Fox Racing gear) and a six-inch lift. The wheels are 20-inch and the tyres 37-inch mud-terrain rubber. On the inside, the dashboard layout and the infotainment system is all Ford, but there’s enough Hennessey and VelociRaptor badging, like the outside, to know you’re in something a bit special.

Off-road the F-150 Raptor has dominated the performance pick-up segment since it was launched, and while our Ranger Raptor comes close, its bigger brother sets the benchmark. The Hennessey is a performance upgrade, so, if the old Raptor was quick down a dusty trail then this thing will be blistering.

The VelociRaptor V8 isn’t cheap, including the vehicle you’re looking at around USD$150,000 and only 100 are being built this year. But that’s enough with the words, watch the video below to see how a VelociRaptor is built.

Hennessey VelociRaptor V8
4

The Defender as we knew it is dead. You can read all about the new one by clicking this linkBut there’s a booming business in tweaking old Defenders (think: Twisted) in the UK and that prompted Land Rover to siphon off 150 units (100 in 110 and 50 in 90 body styles) and let its engineers get a little carried away...

Sure, the Land Rover Defender V8 Works looks pretty much like a regular Defender to the untrained eye. To those that know, though, you’ll spot the lower ride height straight away. Then there are unique badges, the bespoke 18-inch sawtooth alloys, bi-LED headlights and, on the inside there’s leather on just about every single surface, including the Recaro seats.

But it’s what’s under the bonnet that’s of most interest. The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel has been thrown out and replaced with a 5.0-litre V8 making 297kW (up from 90kW) and 515Nm of torque (up from 360Nm). This is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’ll get from 0-96km/h in 5.6 seconds which is down from 15.8 seconds in the old Defender.

The brakes were embiggened and the ride was tweaked too (revised coil spring rates, dampers and anti-roll bars) although the steering has been left well alone. So, expect to still be turning and turning and turning as you cannon along the road.

This year, Land Rover announced a range of upgrade kits for older Defenders, including a Suspension Kit, Handling Upgrade and a Works Upgrade Kit. The kits are available on Defenders built between 1994 and 2016 but not in Australia. And the Defender Works V8 isn't available here either. Boo.

Land Rover Defender Works V8-70th Edition
5

GUIDE

The top 5 4X4s we don’t get in Australia

...but wish we did

WORDS BY ISAAC BOBER, IMAGES BY MANUFACTURERS

We’re pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to off-roaders in this country but have a look around the world and there are some we’re missing out on. Here are the top 5 4X4s we don’t get in Australia.

The Troller T4 might have a silly name but the photos should be enough to tell you this thing would be right at home here in Australia. Built by Ford for Brazil only, the Troller (originally an independent maker it was purchased by Ford more than 10 years ago) has been running around for years but was refreshed with this T4 Trail spec earlier this year.

We’re all expecting the new Bronco, which should be revealed later this year, and while it will be based on Ford's T6 platform which sits underneath the Aussie-developed Ranger and Everest, we reckon the Troller T4 would be a more off-road friendly platform. The Troller T4 Trail (based on the second-generation T4 launched in 2014) runs Ford’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel which is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission.

The special-edition T4 Trail gets rock sliders, steel, winch-ready front and rear bumpers, rocker panels, pumped guards, steel underbody protection, a snorkel and removable towing hitch. The body is made of a composite fibreglass material. Approach and departure angles measure 50-degrees respectively, and the rampover is 30-degrees.

On the inside, the Troller T4 Trail is all hard plastics, rubber mats and drain plugs, meaning the thing can be washed out at the end of a day in the mud. But it’s not all back-to-basics, there’s dual-zone climate control, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, panoramic sunroof, and more.

The Troller T4 Trail lists from around AUD$85,000 and is only available in Brazil. Shame.

Troller T4 Trail
1
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

This is a case of a modifier joining forces with a car maker. Famous for its work with TopGear’s North-Pole conquering HiLux, Iceland’s Arctic Trucks converts a range of vehicles, but Isuzu is the first car maker that has officially aligned with it. Toyota looked at joining forces with Arctic Trucks but felt it was just a little too wild for its tastes.

The D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 is available only in the UK and Norway. And was first launched in 2014 into those two markets.

This latest version gets upgraded Fox Performance Series shocks and 35-inch Nokian Rotiiva All-Terrain tyres fitted to 17 x 10-inch wheels. The body gets a 30mm lift and the suspension offers an extra 20mm over standard. This has improved the approach, departure and rampover angles. Pumped guards help to give it that standing-tall-and-wide look.

The interior of the D-Max isn’t what you’d call plush, but this AT35 adds new seat trim and soft padding to the armrests, centre console and dashboard top. Gloss black trim has been added to the window switches, air vents and glove box, which also incorporates a new Isuzu D-Max badge. There’s a 7.0-inch infotainment screen offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The engine has been left alone, so the key difference is really just the tyres, suspension and body lift. There are a host of accessories to keep tweaking the AT35, like bespoke 6mm-thick aluminium underbody protection, a roll-top tonneau cover, Arctic Trucks sports bar, waterproof and anti-skid floor mats, a front receiver hitch, LED light bars and spot lights, and a snorkel kit.

Earlier this year, Isuzu and Arctic Trucks revealed a limited-run 10-unit special, called AT35 Safir (the blue one below).

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35
2

Locally, we’ve seen the Isuzu Team D-Max precision driving team build up the Concept-X MU-X and D-Max. Not for production, the things get chopped and pumped guards, unique front and rear bumpers, 38 x 15.5 R20 tyres, front and rear winches and a bespoke suspension package with 60mm remote reservoir shock absorbers, four-wheel disc brakes on both vehicles, the standard rear leaf spring suspension set-up has been replaced with a custom MU-X style five-link coil spring configuration. With the big tyres and another seven-inches of suspension lift, the approach and departure angles have grown to 50 and 38 degrees, respectively.

The exhaust systems have been tweaked too although the Concept-X vehicles are still powered by unmodified versions of Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC 3-litre diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmissions.

Isuzu. This Concept-X nutter gives us an idea...

NEW
MODEL
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

Born in 1976, the original Niva was a three-door 4X4 that its designers described, at the time, as a Renault 5 plonked onto a Land Rover chassis. It sold here in Australia and even won a few off-road racing events, indeed if you hunt around online, you’ll even find the odd one or two for sale; we found a 1996 model asking $15,000. What the...

The Lada Niva nameplate died at the end of the 2000s when General Motors purchased Lada. The thing is still produced, but these days its known simply as the Lada 4X4 and it can now be had as a five-door. The model we’re looking at here is the top-spec Lada 4X4 Bronto (unlike the rest of the range, it’s only available as a three-door).

Just like the Suzuki Jimny, the Lada was never particularly good on-road; its short wheelbase, small engine, and noisy gearbox meant highway-speed was painful, noisy and slow. But, off-road…they’re designed to operate in temperatures from -45-degrees to +45-degrees Celsius and they'll go just about anywhere. Indeed, you can still hire them in Iceland.

While the 4X4 Bronto looks rugged and chunky it’s essentially the same Lada we saw in the 1990s. Sure, the materials inside are a little more GM-nice with heated seats and air-conditioning, and electric mirrors (yep, these are talking points with the Lada 4X4) but it’s still very utilitarian with hard plastics just about everywhere and the design is properly retro in that it hasn’t changed in years.

The 4X4 Bronto offers 240mm of ground clearance, mud-terrain tyres, a stronger rear axle, beefed up front springs, a longer travel front end, and screw-type front and rear locking differentials. The 4X4 Bronto measures 3680mm long, 1740mm wide, 1713mm high and with a wheelbase measuring 2200mm. For comparison, the Jimny measures: 3645mm long (inc spare), 3480mm (exc spare) 1645mm high, 1720mm wide (mirrors included) and a 2250mm wheelbase.

Under the bonnet is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 83kW and 129Nm of torque and it’ll take 18 seconds to get from 0 to 100km/h. No, that isn't a misprint. You can only get a five-speed manual transmission and it weighs 1285kg and the payload is 335kg. The numbers are all very similar to Jimny.

So, the 4X4 Bronto is basic…but we all love the Jimny and it is basic too, and I reckon this Bronto 4X4 looks better. I reckon it be better off-road too – it’s constant 4WD, remember. Shame we don’t get it here.

Lada 4X4 Bronto
3

Okay, it’s possible to buy an F-150 Raptor in Australia from a variety of speciality importers but the Hennessey VelociRaptor V8 is only for the US. It takes the already bonkers F-150 Raptor and turns it up to 11.

See, where the Raptor only has a V6 engine making around 450hp, the VelociRaptor has been fitted with a 5.0L Ford V8 and makes a staggering 750hp or 570hp at the rear wheels (Hennessey won’t say how much torque it makes) but the thing will hit 96km/h in 4.1 seconds. The, ahem, regular Raptor will get to 96km/h in 6.0 seconds, so, the VelociRaptor is proper quick.

The VelociRaptor V8 gets unique front and rear bumpers, and tweaked suspension (it still uses the standard-fit Fox Racing gear) and a six-inch lift. The wheels are 20-inch and the tyres 37-inch mud-terrain rubber. On the inside, the dashboard layout and the infotainment system is all Ford, but there’s enough Hennessey and VelociRaptor badging, like the outside, to know you’re in something a bit special.

Off-road the F-150 Raptor has dominated the performance pick-up segment since it was launched, and while our Ranger Raptor comes close, its bigger brother sets the benchmark. The Hennessey is a performance upgrade, so, if the old Raptor was quick down a dusty trail then this thing will be blistering.

The VelociRaptor V8 isn’t cheap, including the vehicle you’re looking at around USD$150,000 and only 100 are being built this year. But that’s enough with the words, watch the video below to see how a VelociRaptor is built.

Hennessey VelociRaptor V8
4

The Defender as we knew it is dead. You can read all about the new one by clicking this linkBut there’s a booming business in tweaking old Defenders (think: Twisted) in the UK and that prompted Land Rover to siphon off 150 units (100 in 110 and 50 in 90 body styles) and let its engineers get a little carried away...

Sure, the Land Rover Defender V8 Works looks pretty much like a regular Defender to the untrained eye. To those that know, though, you’ll spot the lower ride height straight away. Then there are unique badges, the bespoke 18-inch sawtooth alloys, bi-LED headlights and, on the inside there’s leather on just about every single surface, including the Recaro seats.

But it’s what’s under the bonnet that’s of most interest. The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel has been thrown out and replaced with a 5.0-litre V8 making 297kW (up from 90kW) and 515Nm of torque (up from 360Nm). This is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’ll get from 0-96km/h in 5.6 seconds which is down from 15.8 seconds in the old Defender.

The brakes were embiggened and the ride was tweaked too (revised coil spring rates, dampers and anti-roll bars) although the steering has been left well alone. So, expect to still be turning and turning and turning as you cannon along the road.

This year, Land Rover announced a range of upgrade kits for older Defenders, including a Suspension Kit, Handling Upgrade and a Works Upgrade Kit. The kits are available on Defenders built between 1994 and 2016 but not in Australia. And the Defender Works V8 isn't available here either. Boo.

Land Rover Defender Works V8-70th Edition
5