During my trip from Namibia's capital Windhoek to the Atlantic coast town of Swakopmund, I drove for two hours without seeing another vehicle in either direction. A former German colony on the southwest side of Africa, Namibia is a big place (nearly twice the size of Texas) with just 1.6 million inhabitants. I had plenty of time to ponder what constitutes 'off-road.'
My 370-kilometer drive was entirely on a mix of gravel, dirt and rocks. For the journey, I used a fairly unlikely off-roader - an unmodified Toyota Corolla. In the First or Second World, people drive rugged sport-utilities on billiard-table smooth roads. Here it is the precise opposite, as owners of small sedans cope with tracks most city dwellers would refuse to attack with a Range Rover.
Of course, we would all prefer to be pushing Land Cruisers through the bundu (outback), but they are too expensive for the Third World. Maybe carmakers could focus less on handling at the limit and more on increased ground clearance and dampers to last more than 20,000 kilometers on the rough stuff.