History is something that has always interested me, ancient civilizations especially. Thousands of years ago the likes of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans designed and engineered some pretty impressive structures and systems – a large number of which we still use today, something I find exceedingly impressive.
One major example of such a design is the road network. Now that may sound rather dull and boring and to be honest I have to agree. But it is nevertheless quite interesting.
The general idea of a road was developed along the invention of wheeled ‘vehicles’ which took place at the beginning of the Bronze Age – somewhere around 3000 BC. As the wheel developed from a solid wooden disk to a more elegant spoke arrangement, the wagons they were attached to became bigger or more widely used. This required a larger road network and it wasn’t long before a major trade road extended from the Persian Gulf to the Aegean Sea. Later the Romans built over 85 000km of roadway to maintain their empire.
None of this has any real bearing on what we know as a road today, because it was only in the 8th century AD that tarmac was first introduced to pave dusty streets, in Baghdad of all places, 3700 odd years after some poor sod bumbled down a gravel pathway towing the first loosely wheeled wagon.
And today road networks are undeniably one thousand percent the most important aspect of our lives – I mean how else would we get to race tracks on the weekends?
What pray tell has this got to do with the new Jeep Wrangler? Well it was then, in the 8th century when the first tarmac road was laid, that the Wrangler became obsolete. This SUV is irrefutably the worst off-road vehicle to ever hit a strip of tarmac. It’s loud, uncomfortable, sluggish, annoying, crude, unrefined and to be perfectly honest, a bit dangerous.
Americans are just fat and lazy. With their bloody useless automatic gearboxes and archaic leaf spring suspension they qualify as having the most primitive car manufacturers in the world.
I have and always will maintain that no American has ever considered – not even for a moment – that there might exist a place where roads are not straight. The Wrangler understeers around even the slightest bend and leans like that tower in Pisa.
Then there’s the auto box which I can guarantee will never have you in the right gear for the situation. Overtaking is a nightmare on single lane roads because the gap will be gone by the time it’s decided to shift down a cog at which time you will fly uncontrollably into the car in front.
I don’t even want to mention town driving, except for this: Fat Americans need something to glance off of if you accidentally run into one of them. Thus Jeep fit a colossal front bumper which is impossible to see from the driver’s seat, yet protrudes yards out in front. And that makes parking very very difficult – just ask the poor VW next to me in the parking lot.
The 2.8l turbo charged diesel engine is the one aspect I actually didn’t have a problem with in the Wrangler. The sprightly little four cylinder produces 130kW and 410Nm which makes the open, STRAIGHT road a surprisingly decent experience.
There are long and short wheel base versions of the Wrangler. I had the long wheel base which means four doors a quite a big boot, nothing special really. The interior was neither good nor bad and comes with pretty much identical kit to any other Chrysler derived product, with a CD player, trip computer, air con etc.
As far as the removable hard top goes, I couldn’t even understand the first line of instructions on how to remove it. They were talking about torque settings and right near side hex bolts, so without an engineering degree and a decked out toolbox I didn’t have a chance of getting it off and back on in the couple days I had the Wrangler.
I decided to do some internet research on how exactly one goes about taking off the roof and was totally unsurprised to find people have winch systems set up in their garages to deal with the task. Enough said.
After all this crap, Jeep have the nerve of charging R340 000 for the 4 door Sahara model I had the displeasure of testing. Are they clinically insane?
A pretty terrible SUV then…well no, not entirely. You see it all comes back to the invention of the road, because once you run out of tarmac the Wrangler really begins to show its mettle.
Much in the same way Land Rover make their Defender with exposed rivets and bare welds, the Wrangler is a rough and ready adventure seeker and makes no excuses for the fact.
There’s even a warning sticker stating, “The top and doors on this vehicle are designed only for protection against the elements. Do not rely on the top and doors to contain occupants within the vehicle or to protect against injury during an accident.” The Wrangler is more a piece of camping equipment with wheels than an everyday runabout.
Of course with such off-road ability the Wrangler comes with a low range box and locking rear diff. All this in combination leaves no summit insurmountable nor any boulder or crevice unnegotiable.
So if you’re an 8th century Baghdadian, or just someone who lives in the mountains, the Jeep Wrangler is without a shadow of a doubt the only car you’ll ever need. If however you’re a normal, present day human being, steer well clear of this one.
Photo Credit: Motorpics