The Urban 4x4

A recent survey has shown that just one in eight 4x4 drivers in the UK have taken their jeeps off-road.

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Last Updated: 26 Jan 2016

Why so few? Because they prefer to keep their petrol-guzzling beasts in the tarmacked confines of the city. It's more 'Let's zip to Harvey Nicks, Tamara' than 'Let's off-road, Trevor!' But where's the logic?

Jeeps just don't belong in a city, no matter if it's an urban jungle. Why take a vehicle with military origins, designed to tackle rough terrain, out of its natural rural/battlefield habitat and drop it into a congested metropolis with narrow roads and tricky corners, and where the biggest challenges are finding a parking space and bouncing cyclists off the massive front bumper? These vehicles are expensive, hard to manoeuvre and a danger to pedestrians. Never mind the fact that the kids get a better view from that height.

The French are so worried about them that a Parisian councillor wants to ban them from the capital. Yet monied urbanites on this side of the Channel can't get enough of them. In the first four months of this year, 5,772 new 4x4s were registered in London, a rise of 51%. Mayor Ken Livingstone described them as 'bad for London - completely unnecessary', and called their owners 'complete idiots'.

Yet ownership is increasing and, looking beyond the impracticalities, you soon discover why: perceived status. Owning a Jeep Cherokee or a Range Rover Vogue is tantamount to shouting: 'I've made it!' It's social power steering, pure and simple.

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