So having taken the Ford Escape out for a few runs I can see it’s limitations. As with many automatics, it over-revs, which will be an issue in the desert. Despite it passing the Shamil, the local version of the MoT, there is a vibration somewhere I’m not keen on. It feels like a propshaft or a UJ to me – need to get underneath and hit a few things and see what’s loose. Some of the suspension bushings are cracked so they will need sorting. It’s got respectable clearance for a small soft-roader, though since it’s got independent suspension the suspension arms are vulnerable. I will have to adapt my driving style in the desert significantly – this is not a ‘point-and-go’ Defender. Similar in many ways to the non-difflock Vitara V6 I drove in the Egyptian desert on a few trips. What ruins the clearance however is the low chin valance which hangs down and takes away quite a bit from the approach angle. Going to take it offroad at the weekend and see what it’s like.
Bought a few more bits for it yesterday – jerry cans are vital for a V6 petrol that’s contemplating desert trips. The local Carrefour has awful Chinese pressed-steel versions at 89Dh (£16.50) in green; the local hardware store has the same cans in hideous polished chrome at 280Dh (£51.80 per can!). I haven’t been able to find standard NATO cans anywhere so I bought two of the green ones, knowing they will leak at the seams and the car will stink Also picked up a big coolbox and some other ancillary bits of kit.
Gave some friends a lift in it this morning and one said ‘So will this do what your Land Rover would do?’ – Sadly not, not by a long way. But you can’t import older vehicles into Fujeirah, so I’m stuck with this until I can find a decent Land Rover already in-country at a price that leaves my internal organs attached.