Watery end to 4x4 test drive

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The Independent Online
THE MANUFACTURER claimed the car could tackle tough conditions but one amateur critic took his brief to take a new vehicle "off road" to its limits - and 20ft under the sea.

It was every motorist's nightmare: a car with only 12 miles on the clock and on loan for a week but stuck in mud in the path of an advancing tide.

The driver was given the Vauxhall Frontera to test for a forthcoming programme of Driven, a new Channel 4 motoring series.

He got up early, before the camera crew was ready, and took the car for a quick spin on the beach at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

But it got stuck in the mud and the embarrassed driver had to watch for three hours as the tide came in and steadily immersed the vehicle.

Coastguards were called and managed to unhook a trailer with surfboards from the Vauxhall, but the car was stuck fast.

It could not be winched free until the tide had turned six hours later.

A spokesman for the programme said: "There's no explaining it really. He was testing out its 4x4 capabilities on the sand and he just drove the car out there and it got stuck."

The driver, known only as Justin, was said to be very embarrassed and unwilling to talk of his brief foray into the world of testing cars.

But a Coastguard spokesman said: "It was so far out and stuck so deep in the mud that we told the two people with the vehicle to get as many of their possessions as possible.

"The vehicle was then totally submerged as the tide came in. The tide at Weston is very quick and leaves an awful lot of mud, as they found out."