TRAIL TESTED

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

DE­SPITE its tra­di­tional look and tra­di­tional me­chan­i­cal lay­out, the JL Wran­gler in­tro­duces new think­ing and em­ploys tech­nol­ogy where ap­pro­pri­ate. Parts of the body, in­clud­ing the doors, are alu­minium, for ex­am­ple, in­dica­tive of the ef­forts de­sign­ers have gone to, to re­duce weight.

“Weight begets weight,” says Adams. “You put weight in some­where else and you’ve got to put big­ger brakes on … it’s like a water­fall ef­fect. Ev­ery­thing you can re­duce is a mul­ti­plier and a ben­e­fit down the road.”

But it’s the trac­tion-con­trol sys­tem Traut­mann is most proud of with the JL. “The brake lock dif­fer­en­tial is such a cool story of how we made it,” he says. “It was such a dif­fi­cult process; it took me al­most two years.”

Traut­mann ex­plains it was a chal­lenge to cal­i­brate it for rock hop­ping. “It should be in­stan­ta­neous and seam­less that you’re trans­fer­ring all that torque. Cer­tain things like driv­ing in snow and ice are quite dif­fer­ent to rock hop­ping.”

In the end, he’s stoked with the re­sult, one that in many in­stances can ef­fec­tively re­place lock­ing diffs, some­thing only fit­ted to the Ru­bi­con.

For the Ru­bi­con Trail de­vel­op­ment drive – part of re­ceiv­ing the “Trail Rated” badge of any new Jeep – the Wran­gler re­lied heav­ily on elec­tron­ics.

“We ran the en­tire Ru­bi­con with­out us­ing lock­ers,” he says. “We ran it front and rear open dif­fer­en­tials; shows our con­trol­la­bil­ity and trac­tive ef­fort.”

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