Where I come from, pickups are not only used by tradies and farmers, but by insurance brokers, IT specialists, stay-at-home parents, florists - everybody. It’s got to the point where the best-selling vehicle in New Zealand is the Ford Ranger pickup. Second place goes to the Toyota Hilux pickup. Third place goes to the Mitsubishi Triton…pickup.
Good grief, you say. What state are the roads in New Zealand in if you need a pickup just to go to the dentist, deliver some computer monitors, or make a trip to your legal advisor about appointing a trustee to your estate?
No, no, no, you’re missing the point. New Zealand adults, men and women alike, crave the macho, thick-skinned aura that defines the antipodean and goes with driving a pickup. Yes, they may roll on lycra to cycle at weekends, imbibe turmeric soy lattes, and own three pedigree poodle oodle noodle schnoodle dogs, but owning a pickup gives them the butch kudos they so desperately desire.
Therefore, it may come as a surprise to you that I am rather endeared to this microscopic little pickup. When CAR staged its RC rock crawler group test, the Enduro Element24 Sendero was heavily overshadowed by the bigger machines. But I felt it necessary to focus solely on the Sendero in order to gauge whether it is a proper machine in its own right, worthy of the rock crawler name.
I mean, Element has bothered to give the Sendero proper off-roading hardware and that intrigued me. Why bother with all that if not for a good reason? Trust the chef, I always say.
Tell me about the Enduro24
Such hardware that I speak of lies beneath the polycarbonate body. A flimsy single-piece body is common with rock crawlers, don’t complain about it. They make a vital contribution to the vehicles’ toughness by absorbing the impact energy of crashes and rolls, without channelling that energy to the chassis and suspension.
The Enduro24 bears four wheel drive and 4-link suspension front and rear. The shock absorbers have coils; the centre driveshaft is telescopic to help cope with extreme axle and suspension travel; and the chassis rails are metal. So while the Enduro24 is not in any way brisk, it is torquey which, combined with the aforementioned components makes the Enduro24 a slow but determined and capable individual. Like a tortoise.
In the box, you get everything you need, which is not always the case with more expensive rock crawlers. Crucially, you get a battery (USB rechargeable) included.
Saddle up. Finger to the trigger
Outdoors, in the bigness of the world the Enduro24 felt every bit of its tiny 1:24 scale. Sendero means path in Español and it's an apt rather than aspirational name for the Enduro24. Because it’s so slow, you’re best to put it on very rough terrain and tackle that, rather than crawl around on dead pine needles and twigs.
There’s very little overhang front or rear, which means approach and departure angles are impressive, even if the scale takes the micky a bit. I had exactly this scenario when driving the Sendero indoors. I was marvelling at the truck’s ability to approach and climb very steep slopes and laughed to myself when I realised the steep slope in question was my trail running shoe.
The Sendero’s motor sits over the front wheels. In RS Audis this results in considerable understeer, but in the Sendero it merely helps the front tyres to remain in contact with a surface when climbing. The tyres keep the traction and the torque pulls the Enduro24 upwards an onwards.
The trade-off with the front-mounted motor becomes clear when descending. The Enduro24 has a tendancy to roll head over heels when driving down a very steep slope.
We need to address stability as well. And the Enduro24 performs well here too. Everything of noticeable weight sits along the chassis and of course the body weighs less than a water molecule, so the centre of gravity is nice and low. Lateral stability is very good indeed, besting the larger, heavier trucks for sure.
Apart from size and speed not being in the tortoise’s favour, its turning circle isn’t great and nor is the throttle sensitivity. The latter can make negotiating tricky situations difficult. It’s like an uncouth diplomat bellowing to a foreign delegation, ‘Right you troop of groomed weasels, do we have a trade agreement or what?’
A useful additional battery pack to give you longer driving time.
Among larger rock crawlers the Enduro24 get overshadowed. But if you spend time with it alone, you discover it has much to offer. The £100 price tag may seem a lot, which is what we said of it in the group test, but the Enduro24 is so much better than the cheap crap you can buy for less.
Such toys overpromise and underdeliver. The Enduro24 underpromises and overdelivers. The important note to add, of course, is that the Enduro24 can be modified and upgraded. But even as it is the Enduro24 is both capable and hardy, which is not what can be said for the bigger but cheaper models on offer.