Last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show heralded the arrival of the long-awaited Land Rover Defender. It made quite the splash too, showcasing a bright new look which incorporated several nods to the iconic and much-loved classic.
And it arrived with a reasonably hefty starting price, too – £40,920, in fact. So if you’re after a car capable of mud-plugging with the best of them, but don’t fancy forking out over £40,000 for a new Defender, then what are your options? Here’s a few…
Old Land Rover Defender
Don’t want to wait for the new Land Rover Defender? Simple — get the old one. With a £40k budget, it’s easy to nab a late model — as recent as 2016 — loaded with kit both for off-roading and general on-road comfort.
If you fancy a project car, you could even go for the low end of the market — say, sub-£10k — and invest the rest in making a uniquely restored machine.
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Toyota never officially sold the FJ Cruiser in the UK, though that hasn’t stopped a number of examples arriving on these shores via importers.
Designed for the American market, it’s a proper off-road machine, even though it may look like an oversized toy car. It’s an exceptionally rare car here too, so you’re sure to turn heads.
Nissan Navara AT32
It’s possible you’ve heard of Arctic Truck before, but for those who haven’t, this off-road specialist firm knows how to make a proper rough and tough go-anywhere motor.
Recently, it has teamed up with Nissan to bring a dedicated off-road package to its popular Navara pick-up truck — adding beefier springs, chunky tyres and a whole host of visual upgrades to make it look the part.
It’s often said the original Willy’s Jeep inspired the classic Land Rover off-roader that became known as the Defender — so why not go for the original?
Recently introduced as a whole new generation, the Wrangler is just as capable on the rough stuff as ever before while also becoming more liveable on the road. Lightly-used examples of the latest car are available well within budget.
Two (new) top-spec Suzuki Jimnys
Why get one basic off-roader, when you can have two well-kitted ones for the same price? Ok so we are cheating a bit here by putting a new car in, but if off-roading is the game, then Suzuki Jimny is the name.
Its latest generation has just arrived, and is an exceptional go-anywhere machine compared with anything on the market — let along a dinky little runabout like this. With top-spec Jimnys coming in at £18,499, you can have two for the price of one entry-level Defender.
In a similar vein to other cars on this list, the Daihatsu Fourtrak which doesn’t look like it’d be all that capable when the going gets rough. The reality is quite the opposite, however, which is probably a reason why it’s such a firm favourite with farmers.
The little Fourtrak is sturdy, reliable and easy to maintain while its short overhangs allow for excellent departure angles, furthering its ability off-road. You can also get tidy examples for well under £2,000, sweetening the deal even further.
It would be a shame not to feature a pick-up of sorts in this list, and the lucky spot has, on this occasion, been taken by the Mitsubishi L200. Why? Well, it’s superbly rugged, to begin with, with a rough-and-ready approach to off-roading which has seen it become a firm favourite by those who need a no-fuss, no-frills way of getting where others can’t.
Another reason why it features on our list is price. Even brand-new versions tip the scales at around £30,000, while decent used examples can be found for well under half that.
It’s hard not to be charmed by the big Mercedes G-Wagen. It looks like a tank, for starters, and there’s something delightful about the big, bluff windscreen and ‘get out of my way’ looks. Certainly, when it comes to turning heads there are few like it.
We’ll admit, that this budget won’t come close to fetching a brand new G-Wagen, but it’ll net a tidy used example. Not only do they look good, but they’re formidable off-road and still relatively well-appointed inside.
Upon first impressions the Daihatsu Terios looks like it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, owing to its bulbous design and dinky proportions. However, that’s just not the case – there’s far more lurking here than meets the eye.
The Terios is a real terrier off-road, in fact. Its small size means that it’s not troubled with tighter gaps, while permanent four-wheel-drive allows it to conquer obstacles which would leave other off-roaders quaking in their rubber boots. Plus, you can get the most recent model for around £2,000 on the used market.