The Truth About Cars » Jaguar The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Jaguar Jaguar F-Type Project 7 To Debut At Goodwood Festival Of Speed Tue, 24 Jun 2014 20:45:46 +0000 jaguar-f-type-project-7-production-version-side-front-1

The maddest, baddest Jaguar F-Type will debut at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Focus ST Diesel, consider your thunder stolen.

Technical details haven’t been announced, but expect the 5.0L V8 in 550 horsepower trim to be under the hood. As if 495 wasn’t enough…

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TTAC Salutes: The Jaguar XK Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:58:05 +0000 450x300xIMG_8619-450x300.jpg.pagespeed.ic.j3DujeKkZR


After nearly a decade of production, Jaguar will finally put down the XK, as budgetary resources and the introduction of the F-Type Coupe make the big cat redundant.

Although sales of the XK are up slightly, the big coupe and convertible have been on a general downward trend over the years. According to Automotive News, Jaguar wants to focus their resources on the new XE compact luxury sedan, as well as other projects – most likely the long rumored crossover.

Jaguar was adamant that the F-Type is not replacing the XK, which leaves room for a possible replacement down the road. The XK is a larger, more comfortable grand tourer, while the F-Type is positioned as a sports car. But don’t expect to see a new XK for a long time.

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Capsule Review: Jaguar F-Type – Base Is Best Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:30:10 +0000 2014-F-TYPE-tunnel-main_rdax_646x396

How much power is enough? 300 horsepower? 400? 500? Let’s put it another way? How much is enough to impress people you don’t even like?

The vehicle above is identical to the Jaguar F-Type V8S I drove: Sandfire Metallic, Dynamic Mode, cheesy gold-painted plastic paddles (ugh) and an exhaust note that sounds like a 1200cc Harley with the mufflers cut off – with some added popping-and-farting noises programmed in for good measure.

2014-Jaguar-F-Type-S-interior (1)

This is a car that impresses other people. It looks like a sports car, or even a junior exotic. It certainly sounds like one. As I recounted in my last review of the F-Type V6S, it is one automobile that really does make you more attractive to the opposite sex. It’s also the worst F-Type variant on the market.

Ok, the soundtrack is intoxicating – to a point. The only way you can enjoy that mechanical orchestra is to accelerate really quickly and then let off the gas, to decelerate to the point where you might get a hefty speeding ticket, but not a roadside impound. Forget flying under the radar (literally) –  it’s so bloody loud that every highway patrolman or concerned citizen within a 25 mile radius can hear what you’re doing. The Group B rally-car noises plumbed in to the V8 exhaust note is like spiking Chateauneuf-du-Pape with Grape Kool-Aid.


While you’re doing busy making a scene, you are probably negotiating some bends, and the V8S, with its extra two-cylinders, supercharger and associated plumbing and massive wheels, feels substantially heavier than the other models. The difference coming out of the two cars is drastic, like you’ve just removed a rucksack full of dumbbells from its back…err, front.

The best comparison that can be made is between the various last-gen Mustangs. As you go from a Shelby GT500 to a V8 to a V6, you feel the nose get lighter and lighter progressively. Which shouldn’t matter on a less track-focused car that’s all about excitement and getting attention to make up for a lack of parental love. But it does, especially when you’re getting an indicated 11 mpg, while trying to use the F-Type’s quad pipes to recreate the sounds of the Battle of Britain.


When it was time to return the V8S, I felt satisfied that I had been sufficiently validated by anonymous motorists and pedestrians. It was time for the V6S – or so I thought. Horror of horrors, it turned out that I was incorrect. It was a V6. The base V6. Oh, the indignity of having to drive a base model F-Type, with just 340 horsepower (rather than the 380 ponies of the V6S), a (slightly) quieter exhaust, and smaller wheels without faux-Brembo red calipers.

photo 3 (1)

Well, it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As good as the V6S I raved about last fall? No. But there would be no shame in driving one of these every day, because if nothing else, it’s more exciting than a base Boxster. For starters, the aforementioned front-end liposuction works wonders in everyday situations. The base F-Type actually feels nimble and easy to toss around, to say nothing of maneuvering through traffic. There’s still Dynamic Mode, the active exhaust and a Sport Mode for the transmission, which makes things a fair bit louder and a bit more raw, without sacrificing everyday comfort or drawing the ire of your neighbors when coming home late at night.

Despite being down 40 horsepower compared to the V6S, the base car is still reasonably quick, but adds another level of engagement to the experience. You have to work the car a bit harder to access the still-plentiful power reserves, and in the real word, that’s often more rewarding – meanwhile, fuel economy was an observed 23 mpg, or about double what I recorded during the V8S’ totally unscientific acceleration/efficiency testing. At a base price of $69,000, it’s also about $23,000 less than the V8S.

photo 3 (1)

Ask yourself, can you live with an extra $23,000, while also having to tell people that yes, the V6 models are actually the superior choice? I tried, and my explanations about less weight over the nose, a more exotic soundtrack (the V8 sounds like a cross between a Spitfire aircraft and a Pontiac GTO – the V6 sounds like a cross between a Lancia Stratos and Hendrix’s version of Voodoo Chile ) and, worst of all, less horsepower

Personally, I gave up, exasperated, but I didn’t care. A lot of people do. They have to be able to tell people that they bought the best, the most powerful, the most expensive, even if its capabilities are so beyond them, it would be like giving a .500 S&W Magnum to somebody who doesn’t know how to fire a .38. It’s all that most F-Type buyers really need, but when does logic ever pop into the sports car purchase decision?

I know this because I’m the kind of person that felt exactly the same way about the V6 Mustang – it’s more nimble and agile, it’s got plenty of power and it’s the better choice for most daily driving situations. But I’m vain, and I’d never buy a V6 Mustang because then, you won’t be impressing strangers and people you don’t actually like. But I’m human, and prone to inconsistencies bordering on the hypocritical. And with the F-Type, I’m making a deviation from my usual logic.

I wish I could close out the article by saying that my girlfriend agrees that the V6 is her choice too, but she just dumped me.  All I can think about is how even though the Porsche Boxster is a sharper machine, I’d really like to go for a drive in the F-Type right now. Given the chance, I would take the V6, not the V8, to help me clear my head and get over the fact that my passenger seat is going to be empty for the next little while.

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Jaguar Will Finish Lightweight E-Type Project 50 Years After It Began Fri, 16 May 2014 11:00:17 +0000 1963-silverstone-lightweight-e-type-003-1

Those with enough money their pockets and desire a new Jaguar E-Type could opt for the restomod offerings from Eagle, and would likely be happy with what they receive. However, an exclusive few may manage to snag a new E-Type directly from Jaguar as soon as this summer, when the automaker finishes the final six of 18 Lightweight E-Types after a five-decade pause in production.

Autoblog reports the program — begun in 1963 — will pick up where it left off in 1964, when the last of the first 12 of the all-aluminium cars rolled out of the factory. At the time, the remaining sextet of E-Types had chassis numbers ready to go, only for life to take Jaguar elsewhere.

With the numbers found, however, the automaker will at last build the missing cars. The work will occur in-house, with its craftsman hand-building each one to the exact specs as the original 12, all of them powered by an aluminium 3.8-liter I6. The cars will weigh 250 pounds less than the standard E-Type.

As for when and where the first Lightweight will roll off the line, Jaguar says the car could arrive sometime this summer, though “established Jaguar collectors, expecially those with historic race car interests,” will have first dibs on the six vehicles. No price has been stated thus far.

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Drive Slow, Homie Wed, 09 Apr 2014 11:00:19 +0000 IMG_8619


A good friend of mine has a bit of wisdom that I try to follow whenever possible: “Say yes to everything.” It’s easy to misconstrue this as encouragement to engage in promiscuous behavior, ingestion of narcotics and other activities that are indicative of poor future-time orientation. Instead, it’s an exhortation to open oneself up to experiences and opportunities, without regard for the kind of details that the more neurotic among us might obsess over.

I kept this in mind when I got a call from a local fleet manager not long ago. His offer was simple: drive a brand new Jaguar XKR for a week. As always, there were conditions attached.

1) This was, literally, a brand new car. When I picked up the keys, it had roughly 50 miles on it.

2) I had to help with the “break-in”, which meant driving it fairly long distances, and with extra care in mind. Gentle acceleration was fine. Mashing the throttle and lighting up the rears in an effort to recreate the audible signature of a Spitfire (aircraft, not roadster) was not.

3) The last of the winter weather had yet to recede. Temperatures were still in the mid to high thirties, sporadic flurries had not yet given way to spring showers, and the car was wearing a set of fat Pirelli P Zeros.

Did I mention the 510 horsepower supercharged 5.0L V8?

Challenge accepted.

The XK has been out since the 2006 model year, and it’s only just starting to look dated right now – especially inside. As Alex Dykes noted in prior reviews, the steering wheel looks like something you would have found in a Hertz Prestige Collection car a decade ago. The most bit of evidence in our exercise in dendrochronology is the in-dash touch screen. Even though it dates back to 2006, it looks and feels more like Windows 95, though it works well enough.

To jaded enthusiasts already charmed by the Sloan Ranger flash of the F-Type, the XK might look a little stale. To everyone else, you’re driving the only supercar that doesn’t cause a reflexive feeling of hostility. Pedestrians stop and stare, little children point and, crucially, other motorists will let you in when attempting to change lanes or make left turns. You will frequently get this car confused for an Aston Martin, at which point, you have to inform them of one major difference: this thing is actually good to drive.

My lone experience with Aston Martin proved to be a real letdown. The V8 Vantage was a victim of an immense, Clarkson-driven jingoistic hype machine. Well, that’s not entirely true. The V8 Vantage was fairly well-reviewed, mostly by journalists who were angling to get back on another Aston Martin junket. Since I drove a privately owned car and my self-worth isn’t based on what junkets I get invited to, I can let you in on a secret.

The V8 Vantage was barely quicker than a 4.6L Mustang from the same era, and arguably less satisfying to drive. Not a whole lot has changed in the interim. Save yourself the $20,000 (likely more, once options are added) and buy this. It’s a bit quieter, a bit less impressive to the bystanders that you imagine are staring at you admiringly, but it’s better in the real world.

At typical speeds, this is an extremely comfortable car. Even with the comically large 20″ wheels and 20-Series tires, the ride over Toronto’s pothole-and-frost-ridden roads is superb. Somehow, the ride remains composed without ever feeling soft. Impacts are absorbed, but don’t seem to unsettle the car or make their way through the cowl like some oversprung sporty cars do. At all speeds, the car is quiet – too quiet even. With the windows up, the muted burble of the blown eight is no louder than say, the Hyundai Genesis V8 I recently tested. That’s not a good thing, even for a car that is rightfully considered a Grand Tourer.

Pick up the pace a little, and the XKR responds in a far more athletic manner than any GT has a right to do. With it’s all-aluminum structure, the car feels far lighter on its feet than a BMW M6, though in reality, it’s still just a hair under 4000 lbs, and 250 lbs lighter than the Bimmer. The steering is still hydraulic, but doesn’t have an abundance of feel or feedback. Any confidence inspired by the car is thanks to its composed chassis, which is largely absent of body roll or unwanted motions and the enormous, sticky Pirellis. It might not be the most communicative car on the road, but the XKR is very capable at making its way through turns at far higher velocities than what’s considered socially or legally acceptable.

Where the Jaguar really excels is as a high-speed, long-distance cruiser. By nature of its design, the rearward visibility makes rapidly changing lanes a bit of a challenger, with a rather small aperture that can be viewed by the rear-view mirror. On the plus side, the cushy seats, utter absence of NVH and the superb stereo make the XKR as comfortable as sitting in your favorite armchair, with a subdued NASCAR soundtrack looping in the background – not that you’d ever do something so declasse.

Being forced to drive this car at an artificially gentle pace made me appreciate that the exalted sports cars in our hobby – the Elises, Miatas the E30 M3s and Toyobarus – are fantastic cars when the conditions are perfect and the roads are properly paved and there’s not much else going on in your life to prevent you from unplugging your life and driving for a couple hundred miles to your favorite road.

That scenario is like a first date that stretches into the next morning: often discussed, rarely realized and necessitating unplanned food and bathroom visits, the latter of which can be rather awkward. For every other situation, cars like this are underappreciated. They let you crawl in traffic, take calls via Bluetooth and get you where you need to go without turning you into a sweaty, oily mess with rumpled clothes and a well-worn AAA card. There’s a reason why our EIC is so enthusiastic about his Honda Accord V6 6MT. The drive wheels might be swapped and the cylinder count might be down, but both cars fulfill the same purpose.

By the end of my time with the XKR, I had racked up nearly 1000 miles, and felt confident that I had treated the car with sufficient care that something that pushed the limits of my instructions could be done without causing excess mechanical harm. I knew from driving XKRs in the past that engaging Dynamic Mode and stepping on the accelerator from a dead stop would produce a launch like a pre-facelift Shelby GT500, with a bucking back end, a flickering traction control light and a demonic wail from the supercharged V8.

I found myself on an abandoned road in an industrial park. I was glad I said “yes”.
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Jaguar’s Mark Your Territory Sales Event Sun, 06 Apr 2014 01:11:07 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

I must have missed it when this XFR-S commercial first appeared last fall, but apparently “Mark Your Territory” is one of Jaguar’s current tag lines. It’s also what regional dealer groups are using for their spring “sales event”, which is how I found out about it when I caught an ad on tv. I’m a former Jaguar owner and I’ve reviewed their cars favorably so I think I understand what their brand is about. I also get what their marketers are doing with their “It’s good to be bad” ad campaign featuring actors notable for playing villains, though it’s not what I’d do if I was in charge of their advertising. On the other hand, concerning how big felines mark their territory…I don’t understand at all how a British luxury car brand associated with the look of burled walnut and the smell of fine leather wants to be associated with cat urine. Also, “Grace, Space, Micturition” just doesn’t have the same poetic ring as the original.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Jaguar XE Will Get F-Type Powertrain Fri, 04 Apr 2014 01:56:16 +0000 jaguar-xe


Although the upcoming Jaguar XE was previously announced with just a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, it was hard to believe that Jaguar wasn’t going to put something spicier under the hood of their first proper 3-Series competitor.

AutoGuide reports that Jaguar leaked (intentionally, or otherwise…who knows, these days?) that a supercharged V6 will be available on the XE. In the F-Type (as well as the Jaguar XF, XJ and various Land Rover products), the base engine puts out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to compete with the Audi S4 and BMW 335i. In the F-Type V6S, that figure rises to 380 horsepower and 339 lb-ft.

The aluminum construction of the F-Type and the 8-speed gearbox help the two V6 cars to hit 20/28/23 mpg (city/highway/combined) in the base car and 19/27/22 mpg in the V6S. The XE might even be able to surpass that figure.

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Geneva 2014: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:22:09 +0000 Jaguar-XFR-S-Sportbrake (1)


550 horsepower supercharged V8 in a British wrapper coated in French Blue paint. A bit confusing? Not really – it’s a CTS-V Wagon for those under the jurisdiction of the EU Parliament.

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Geneva 2014: Jaguar XE Fights The Three Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:55:43 +0000 jaguar-xe-646x396


Jaguar released this teaser of their new 3-Series competitor, the XE. All we know is that it has an all-new 2.0L 4-cylinder with a turbocharger and is based on an scalable aluminum architecture. Expect a full debut at September’s Paris Auto Show.

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I Don’t Care About The Mercedes-Benz E63 Wagon Anymore Fri, 28 Feb 2014 22:15:58 +0000 2014-jaguar-xfr-s-sportbrake-15


I’m known for dumping on wagons constantly, but I think it’s important to understand the difference between what I report on, and my own tastes. Take, for example, this car, the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake.

This car is basically irrelevant. We’re not going to get it in North America. It will be sold in limited quantities in Europe, and nobody would actually buy it in any meaningful numbers here. From a business standpoint for North America, it’s a non-starter.

And I love it. Now that the E63 AMG is all-wheel drive, where else can you get a blown V8 putting down 550 horsepower in a station wagon body?


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True Confessions: Revealing My Secret Crush Fri, 07 Feb 2014 13:00:32 +0000 Photo courtesy of wikipedia

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

I was about eight years old when I fell in love the first time. She was a long, lanky and curvaceous piece of work, sexy and sophisticated, and I knew the moment that I first laid eyes upon her, her and her sister for there were two parked alongside one another in the driveway, that one day I must possess her. Looking back I can tell your she was a big girl, but compared to the my father’s Oldsmobile Delta 88 she seemed impossibly lithe and trim. Her chrome nameplate told me she was called “Jaguar” and once I spied her no other car would ever be quite good enough.

It’s funny how you can use a car every day for years and years and, when it is finally gone, be unable to recall a single detail. You know the make and model, of course, and probably have a general image in your mind, but when it comes to specifics you have only the vaguest of recollections, more an emotional impression of how the car made you feel than a single, hard and fast memory you can point to. But to this day, and despite the fact that I probably only spent about ten minutes next to them, in the driveway I still can recall enough of the details of the two cars I saw that just now I was able to get on line and identify them as Mark IIs. That says something.

The Jaguar Mark II is, of course a sedan – saloons as the British call them – and because of them I have always had a thing for the manufacturer’s larger offerings. To be honest, I wouldn’t turn down on of their sports cars if it were given to me, but the only one I have ever actually imagined owning is the most sedan-like XJS. I can’t tell you what it is about the big cats, but they have always had a special appeal to me. They ooze sophistication, and the thought of finding myself ensconced on a hand stitched leather seat, surrounded by old world craftsmanship as I survey the world across a long bonnet and monitor my progress via a set of clock like gauges mounted in burled walnut makes me a giddy as an English schoolgirl.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Of course, the brand’s reputation for unreliability, especially among the older models, means I will probably never actually own one but in my mind they are still the perfect combination of power, good looks and luxury and I still find myself pausing to look whenever I find one for sale. I’m not sure why that is. Logically I know it’s a relationship that could never work, but I still I have that hope that owning a Jag could turn out to be the craziest, wildest, greatest thing that ever happened to me and so I have to pause to consider that whenever the chance presents itself.

I’m not nuts, am I? Please tell me you feel the same way about some brand or another. Tell me that there is one car that you have always admired but, for whatever reason, have never indulged in. One of those cars that you could not resist if only they sold on this side of the ocean or that specific model you would buy if you had that extra spot in the driveway. That car you swear you will get when your children get out of their car seats, or that other one you are looking forward to owning when they finally get out of the house altogether so you don’t need to worry about rear seat legroom. You cannot be a lover of all things automotive if you do not have at least one secret crush. What is it? We must know.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Review: 2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T (With Video) Fri, 27 Dec 2013 14:00:48 +0000 2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-001

It’s been decades since Cadillac produced the “Cadillac” of anything. However, when car buffs dismiss the only American luxury brand left, they fail to see Cadillac’s march forward. 2002 brought the first RWD Cadillac since the Fleetwoood. A year later the XLR roadster hit, followed in 2004 by Cadillac’s first 5-Series fighter, the STS. Not everything was rosy. The original CTS drove like a BMW but lacked charm and luxury fittings. The XLR was based on a Corvette, which made for excellent road manners, but the Northstar engine didn’t have the oomph. The STS sounded like a good idea, but the half-step CTS wasn’t much smaller and ultimately shoppers weren’t interested in a bargain option. That brings us to the new ATS and CTS. Ditching the “more car for less money” mantra, the ATS has been created to fight the C/3/IS leaving the CTS free to battle the E/5/GS head-on. Can Caddy’s sensible new strategy deliver the one-two punch fans have hoped for? I snagged a CTS 2.0T for a week to find out.


Click here to view the embedded video.


I found the outgoing CTS a little discordant, but 2014 brings an elegant more aggressive refresh. GM’s Art and Science theme has matured from “cubism gone wrong” to shapes that flow and jibe with a larger grille and softer creases. The 5-Series continues to go for elegant and restrained, I find the XF and A6′s design a mixture of plain-Jane and snazzy headlamps while the Infiniti Q5o and Lexus GS are going for flowing elegance.

The demur side profile continues with a simple character line to draw your eye from front to rear. One thing you’ll notice during that eye-movement is the distinct RWD proportions that separate the CTS, E, 5, GS, XF and Q50 from the long-nosed Audi A6 and near-luxury FWD options. Out back the CTS’ rump is a bit less exciting but employs all the latest luxury cues from hidden exhaust tops to light piped tail lamps. I was hoping Caddy’s fins would be further resurrected,  but the “proto fins” on the XTS are absent. Pity. Obvious from every angle is an attention to build quality absent from earlier generations with perfect panel gaps and seams.

Structurally, the CTS has jumped ship to a stretched version of the Alpha platform the smaller ATS rides on. Thanks to the automotive taffy-pull, the CTS is now 2.3 inches longer than a BMW 5-series. However, because of the Alpha roots, the CTS has actually shrunk for 2014 by 3 inches in length while getting 2 inches wider and a 2 inch roof height reduction.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Interior-006


GM has proven they are able to create a car that drives competitively and looks sexy on the outside, but interiors have always been a mixed bag. The last gen CTS felt as if it was built with a mixture of custom parts and Chevy hand-me downs. No more. Like the ATS, the Caddy shares little with the rest of GM’s mass market-rabble. It is hard to find fault in the CTS’s dashboard’s combination of injection molded soft touch plastics, leather, faux suede, real wood, carbon fiber and contrasting stitching. Cadillac continues their dedication to shiny touch buttons on the dash and no luxury sedan would be complete without a little gimmicky drama. The CTS’s motorized cupholder lid ties with the XF’s automated air vents for the feature most clearly designed to brag about. I’m not sure how long that little motor will crank away, but it can’t be any less reliable than Jaguar’s theatrical air vents.

Because of the way Cadillac chose to stretch the CTS’ donor platform, cargo and interior space aren’t the primary beneficiaries. This means that rear legroom actually shrinks for 2014 to the smallest entry in this segment by a hair. Trunk volume also drops from a competitive 13.6 cubes to 10.5 which is a 20% reduction compared to the Lexus and BMW and 30% smaller than the Mercedes. The CTS makes up for some of this with comfortable thrones all the way around and when equipped with the optional 20-way front seats the CTS ranks #2 in the segment just behind BMW’s optional 24-way sport seats in comfort. Taller drivers and passengers beware, dropping the CTS’ roof height made the profile sexier but cuts headroom to the lowest in the segment.

2013 Cadillac ATS Instrument Cluster

2013 Cadillac ATS Instrument Cluster

There is one glaring flaw. The decidedly dowdy base instrument cluster is shared with the ATS (pictured above) and the XTS. Our Facebook followers were so put-off by Caddy’s base dials, the fervor spawned a Vellum Venom Vignette. While the ATS is saddled with the four-dial layout, the CTS and XTS have a savior: the most attractive LCD disco dash available. (My tester was so equipped.) Perhaps it is this dichotomy that is so vexing about the base CTS models. If you don’t fork over enough cash, you’ll constantly be reminded that you couldn’t afford the Cadillac of displays.

The 12.3-inch cluster offers the driver more customization than you fill find in any other full-LCD cluster. Unlike the Jaguar and Land Rover screens that simply replicate analogue gauges, you can select from several different views depending on whether you feel like analogue dials or digital information and the amount of information overload you prefer. (Check out the gallery.) My preferred layout contained a high res navigation map, digital speedo, fuel status, range to empty, average fuel economy, audio system information with album art and track information and the speed-limit on the road I was traveling on.

2014 Cadillac CUE - CTS 2.0T-001


I have been critical of Cadillac’s CUE system but 2014 brings some important software fixes resolving the random system crashes and demon possessed touch controls I experienced in the ATS and XTS. After driving the CTS for 852 miles, the CUE system proved rock solid in terms of reliability. Unfortunately, little has been done to address the sluggish response to inputs, unintuitive menus and old-school nav graphics. Despite the still flaws, I have to stick by my words when MyFord Touch landed: I’d rather have slow infotainment than none at all. BMW’s iDrive still ranks 1st for me because the interface is intuitive, attractive, responsive and elegant. BMW continues to add new features to their system and, unlike other systems, the new features in general operate as smoothly as the rest of the iDrive interface. You may be surprised to know that CUE ranks second for me.

CUE’s graphics are more pleasing to my eye than MMI, COMAND, Sensus, MyLincon Touch, Enform or AcuraLink. COMAND’s software should have been sent out to pasture long ago. The graphics are ancient and trying to load any of the smartphone apps is an exercise in frustration. Instead of reinventing their software, Lexus reinvented the input method taking their system from most intuitive to least in a single move. Senus isn’t half bad but Volvo’s screens are small and the software lacks the smartphone integration found in the competition. MyLincoln Touch is well featured but lacks CUE’s more modern look and the glass touchscreen.

2014 Cadillac CUE - CTS 2.0T-006

The scratch resistant glass touchscreen and proximity sensors used by Cadillac are part of what give the system a clean modern look. Most systems use resistive touchscreens which are pressure sensitive and require that the surface of the screen actually move to sense your touch. This means they need to be made of a ductile plastic which is several layers thick. The consumer comparison is to think of your iPhone or Android phone vs a color Palm Pilot from years past. Cadillac uses the screen to allow intuitive finger-sliding gestures and the proximity sensor to reduce visual clutter when your finger is away from the screen. Move you hand closet to the screen and the less critical interface buttons reappear.

Cadillac continues their relationship with Bose, giving the base model an 11-speaker sound system that brings everything but navigation to the party. Our model was equipped with the up-level 13-speaker Bose sound system, navigation software and the optional single-slot CD player hiding in the glove box. Compared with BMW’s premium audio offerings, the Bose systems sing slightly flatter and lack the volume capable in the German options. However compared to Lexus’ standard and optional systems the Cadillac holds its own.

Ecotec 2.0L I-4 VVT DI Turbo (LTG)


Thanks to the new GM Alpha platform, all three engines sit behind the front axle which is ideal for weight balance. Base shoppers get the 2.0L direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder worth 272 ponies and 295 lb-ft of torque, besting BMW’s 2.0L by 32 HP and 35 lb-ft. On “Luxury” trim and above you can opt for GM’s ubiquitous 3.6L V6 (321HP/275 lb-ft) for $2,700, but I’d probably stick to the 2.0L turbo if I were you. Aside from being lighter, the turbo delivers more torque at lower RPMs and has a more advantageous power delivery which make it a hair faster to 60.

Shoppers looking for more shove and willing to part with $59,995 can opt for a 420 horsepower twin-turbo V6 in the CTS V-Sport that cranks out 430 lb-ft. Despite sharing thee 3.6L displacement of the middle engine, GM tells us that only 10% of the engine components are shared. Sending power to the pavement in the 2.0T and 3.6 models is essentially the same GM 6-speed automatic transmission BMW used to use in certain models of the 3-series until recently. Optional in the 3.6L and standard on the twin-turbo V6 is an Aisin 8-speed automatic that is essentially shared with the Lexus LS.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-014


Unfortunately, the first thing you’ll notice out on the road is the coarse sound from under the hood. GM’s 2.0L engine is no less refined than BMW or Mercedes’ four-bangers, but the difference is you can hear the engine in the CTS. In fact, based on the overall quietness of the cabin (a competitive 67 dB at 50 MPH), I can only conclude that Cadillac designed the engine to be heard. I don’t mind hearing the 3.6L V6, but most luxury shoppers would prefer not to be reminded they chose the rational engine every time they get on the freeway. On the bright side, because GM does not offer start/stop tech, shoppers are spared the inelegant starts and stops that characterize 528i city driving.

While I’m picking nits, the 6-speed found in the 2.0T and most 3.6 models lacks the ratio spread and shift smoothness of the ZF 8-speed automatic found in most of the competition. While I prefer GMs 6-speed to the somewhat lazy 7-speed automatic in the Mercedes E-Class, the rumored 8-speed can’t come soon enough. The 8-speed used in the V-Sport (optional on the 3.6L) solves the ratio and marketing issue, but the Aisin unit feels just as up-shift happy and down-shift reluctant as it does in the Lexus LS 460. As a result when you use the shift paddles, your actions feel more like suggestions than commands.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-013

The reason I label those flaws as mere nits is because of how the CTS accomplishes every other task on the road. Acceleration to 60 happens a 4/10ths faster than an E350, a half-second faster than the 528i,  a full second faster than a GS350, and practically years ahead of the A6 2.0T. Part of this has to do with the engine’s superior torque curve and higher horsepower numbers, but plenty has to do with curb weight. At 3,616 lbs, the CTS 2.oT is 200lbs lighter than the BMW or Lexus, 400lbs lighter than an E350. The comparable Audi A6 would be the front-wheel-drive 2.0T model with the CVT at 3,726. If you think that’s an unfair comparison, the 2.0T with Quattro is 3,900lbs and does little to correct the A6′s front-heavy weight balance.

As a result of the CTS’s near perfect 50.3/49.7 % weight balance and the light curb weight, the CTS feels more agile and responsive on winding mountain roads, especially when you compare it to the V6 competitors. The steering is as numb as anything on the market thanks to electric power steering, but you can get faint whiffs of feedback now and then and the steering weight is moderate rather than strangely firm in the 528i. Admittedly we’re splitting hairs here when it comes to steering feel, as there is precious little difference between the CTS, GS and 528i. Even the hydraulic system retained in BMW’s 550i doesn’t feel as crisp on the road. Helping out the handling is a standard moderately firm spring suspension or an optional MagneRide active suspension as our tester was equipped. The adaptive dampers feel more refined than in previous versions, despite them not changing the vehicle’s personality much from regular to sport mode. The CTS never felt out of sorts on rough or uneven terrain and despite being moderately firm, never felt punishing. This places the CTS right in line with the modern Germans. Toss in standard Brembo brakes and the CTS is far more willing to hike up its skirt and dance than the establishment competition.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-007

For 2014, Cadillac added $6,035 to the MSRP and put “value” on the back burner. At $45,100, the CTS starts $4,400 less than the 528i and $2,600 less than the GS350. Of course the Caddy’s base model has fewer features, so an apples-to-apples comparison brings the delta up to around $1,500 less than the BMW. That’s a much smaller window than there used to be, and it’s not surprising when you consider the CTS’ interior is finally equal to or better than the Germans. The pricing deltas get more interesting as you go up the ladder. The CTS 3.6 is a few grand less than a BMW 535i. In that mash-up, the BMW provides superior thrust but when the road gets winding the CTS is more enjoyable. Then we get to the CTS V-Sport. The V-Sport brings a twin-turbo V6 to a twin-turbo V8 fight. At 420 HP and 430 lb-ft the numbers are stout to be sure, but trail the 443 HP and 479 lb-ft from BMW’s 4.4L V8 and most importantly, the V8 delivers a far superior torque curve delivering all of its torque 1,500 RPM earlier. Still, the Cadillac is 325 lbs lighter, handles better, is $4,830 cheaper and by the numbers gives up little in terms of straight line performance.

The two sweet spots for the CTS are a nearly loaded 2.0T with the LCD disco dash and a moderately well equipped V-Sport. The 2.0T offers the best road manners of its direct competition at a reasonable value. The V-Sport on the other hand offers BMW shoppers an interesting alternative. At an $1,800 up-sell over a comparably equipped 535i and $4,800 less than a 550i, the V-Sport is probably the best value in the luxury segment for 2014. After a week with the middle child Cadillac, GM seems to finally be on the right path with their luxury brand. As long as the XTS is replaced with a large rear driver sedan soon I might even say that the American luxury brand is on a roll. While I can think of a few reasons to buy a BMW 5-Series over a CTS (the base CTS instrument cluster is a good reason), shoppers have no reason to dismiss the CTS as they might have done in the past. Although the CTS is still 20lbs of sound deadening and an 8-speed automatic away from being the Cadillac of mid-size sedans, it is a truly solid competitor.


 GM provides the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.3 Seconds

0-60: 5.9 Seconds

1/mile: 14.36 Seconds @ 97.5 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 24.8 MPG over 852 Miles

Sound level at 50 MPH: 67 dB

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New Jaguar Land Rover Factory in Brazil to Open in 2016 Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:30:32 +0000 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If you live in Brazil and are pining away for a Jaguar or Land Rover, Tata Motors will open a factory for the luxury marques in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The new factory, slated to produce 24,000 units annually at the beginning, is set to begin construction in Itatiaia sometime next year. The two luxury brands already hold 53 percent of the luxury SUV market in Brazil, with a goal to sell 10,000 units in 2014; 9,549 Evoques, Freelanders, Discoverys et al have left the showroom through October 2013.

Tata will use the new factory to meet local demand before considering export markets nearby, and is considered to be a major step in their overall global manufacturing strategy.

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This Isn’t The First Time Jaguar Has Designed And Built Their Own Engines Mon, 25 Nov 2013 15:04:57 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

Jaguar has announced that they’re getting back into the engine designing and building business, after more than a decade and a half of being dependent on buying motors from Ford. There was a time, though, that Jaguar designed and built what many considered at the time to be the most advanced engines in the automotive world. There was the venerable and powerful six-cylinder XK engine introduced in 1948 and in production for over four decades, followed by the Jaguar V12, introduced in the late 1960s. The XK engine was designed by Walter Hassan and William Heynes, while Hassan joined Harry Mundy to lead the design of the V12. Between the two of them, Hassan and Mundy had a hand in designing many of the most technologically advanced postwar British engines that were ever made.

Walter Hassan (1905–1996) went to work a a 15 year old shop boy in W.O. Bentley’s newly formed Bentley Motors. After Bentley passed into the hands of Rolls-Royce, he left the firm and designed a number of successful racing specials in the 1930s. After a stint with ERA where he met Harry Mundy, in 1938 Hassan joined SS Cars Ltd, soon to be renamed Jaguar, as head of research and development. During the war he moved to Bristol, working on engine development but returned to Coventry after the war where he worked with Bill Heynes developing what would become Jaguar’s XK DOHC inline six that would power Jaguar to victories at LeMans. In 1950, Hassan joined Mundy at Conventry Climax where, with Claude Baily, they designed a lightweight engine originally intended to run portable fire pumps (this was just years following the bombing of London and Coventry by the Germans during WWII, when a need for portable firefighting equipment became known). The FW series of overhead cam engines would go on to wins at LeMans and in Formula 2 and Formula 1 racing, bringing two world championships to Lotus with Jim Clark at the wheel.

Jaguar "XK" six cylinder engine

Jaguar “XK” six cylinder engine

Harry Mundy (1915-1988) went to school in Coventry and apprenticed at Alvis, going to ERA (English Racing Automobiles) in 1936, first working as a draftsman. At ERA he and Walter Hassan became lifelong friends and colleagues. In 1939, Mundy went to work at the Morris engine factory where he worked for the duration of the war. In 1946, he took a position as head of design for British Racing Motors (BRM), and had a hand in the development of BRM’s V16 F1 engine. In 1950, he joined Coventry Climax, working, as mentioned above, with Hassan on the FWA engine. Mundy then took a career detour, becoming technical editor at the UK’s The Autocar magazine in 1955, though he still did consulting work. One of those commissions was for the design of the Lotus Twin Cam head for the Ford “Kent” block four cylinder. When offered the job by Lotus head Colin Chapman, Mundy was given the choice of either 1,000 British pounds as a design fee or a 1 pound per engine royalty. Not entirely believing that Chapman was running a going concern, Mundy took the sure thing but would later regret it as Lotus eventually built about 40,000 “twinks”. After Jaguar bought out Coventry Climax, acquiring Walter Hassan in the bargain, Hassan convinced his old friend to return to engineering and join him at Jaguar. Along with Bill Heynes they designed the Jaguar V12.

In the video above, Hassan and Mundy explain the features and design philosophy behind their bent twelve. Though they retain proper British reserve, you can still tell just how proud they were. They also go into technical details that you’d not likely hear at a new engine introduction today.

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Jaguar F-Type Coupe Gets Faster “R” Model Wed, 20 Nov 2013 03:46:34 +0000 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-16


Ahead of its debut at both the Los Angeles and Tokyo Auto Shows, Jaguar has unveiled the F-Type Coupe, with a 550-horsepower F-Type R as the flagship.

Carbon ceramic brakes are an option, while a stiffer suspension, electronic differential and a torque vectoring system add to the mix. Also available are the V6 models, producing 340 and 380 horsepower respectively, and featuring all of the same equipment as the V6 convertibles. The V8S trim will not be available on the coupe. V6 coupes will be $4,000 less than their droptop counterparts, while the F-Type R will start at $99,000.


Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-01 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-02 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-03 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-04 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-05 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-06 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-07 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-08 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-09 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-10 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-11 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-12 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-16 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-18 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-19 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-20 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-24 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-25 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-27 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-30 Jaguar-F-Type-Coupe-33 ]]> 16
2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe to Debut at LA Auto Show Wed, 06 Nov 2013 14:11:08 +0000 F Type Coupe

For those of us who love the Jaguar’s F-Type’s zazz but would prefer to keep the wind out of our hair (along with the rain, sleet and snow) on a more permanent basis, Jaguar now has an option for you.

The hardtop iteration of the British-Indian automaker’s halo car will make its global debut in Los Angeles November 19 at an exclusive party for VIP customers and media types prior to taking the floor at the LA Auto Show a day later.

Though little is known about what’s under the bonnet or the glass roof panels, the all-aluminium cat most likely won’t have the C-X16′s KERS-inspired hybrid drivetrain. Rumors are abundant that a manual gearbox will debut along with the coupe. The coupe will debut in showrooms across the United States in the spring of 2014.

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The Jaguar F-Type vs. Some Tunnels Mon, 04 Nov 2013 14:00:51 +0000 IMG_5261
Six days a week, Monday through Saturday, I get up at 4:45 am – five o’clock and I’m plonked in front of the keyboard, staring at the blinking cursor of my computer screen, fuelled by caffeine and ready to start shovelling words into its gaping maw. Six days a week, but on the seventh day I sleep in.

Sunday, a day for rest. But this day, I rise at my usual time to drive a hundred and fifty miles through the blackness and the pouring rain.

As I move east, the traffic thins. The gaps between spray-flinging semi-trailers increase. Where the highway splits, in the little town of Hope, I take the route that heads North, and find myself alone on the road in the purring Jaguar. The FM radio begins losing reception and I turn it off. The concentrated showers fade, replaced by heavy, clinging mist.

Buttoned-up, the F-type pads its way through the still-sleeping town of Yale, a light or two on here and there, but no-one stirring. The road snakes up out of town, the speed limit climbs back up – and there it is, first of seven. I pull the car over, stop, put the top down.


Hell of a car, this thing, all sharp angles and compact muscle. This is the light version too, the supercharged-six rather than the blown-eight, but its 380hp is plenty of punch for the street, and with everything softened-up and battened-down for the bad weather, it’s been a great highway cruiser. I’m not here to cruise though: toggle flicked to dynamic, shifter snapped to the left, a pull on the rubbery paddle shifter to lock the eight-speed in manual mode.



I’ve always loved tunnels, even as a kid. Driving through them at night, you’d suddenly be transported into a world of flickering sodium-lamp orange, the car dropping into warp-space as you peered out the back seat window. In the daytime, the radio would spit, sputter, and fade to static as you passed from here to there, wherever there might be, ahead, a brightness in the shape of a D lying on its back.



Baffles fully opened, the little Jag skitters forward with a nasty cough of aggression that rises to a yowl of fury. The tiled sides of the tunnel bounce the waves right back in a crescendoing shock-wave – second-to-third with a snap and a snarl and the briefest shift of the F-Type’s hips on the rain-slicked surface.

The strip-lighting blurs, the cacophonous bellowing playing castanets with my inner ear, the plates of my skull starting to approach valve float – and then we’re through, through into the purple-black early morning and the stillness of the surrounding mountains. I come off the throttle immediately into a Sten-gun chorus of backfires – with this engine, the Jag isn’t insanely fast or anything, but abandoned though it may be at this early hour, this is still a public road.

And anyway, what’s the hurry? That was just the first of seven.


This is the Fraser Canyon’s gem, not quite a secret, but an oddity I’d forgotten about. The road itself is a joy, not the knotted crest-and-dip roller-coaster of a California canyon road, but winding and undulating and – best of all – almost completely deserted. That’s not what got me out of bed though.

There are seven tunnels here, in the short space of just twenty-five miles. The longest, the China Bar Tunnel, is up at the North end of the run, a 2000-foot flourish for my impromptu symphony of fire. This first borehole was a straight-shot, a musket-barrel to fling the car out like a projectile chased by an eruption of violence, but the others are a variety of shapes and sizes like over-boiled macaroni noodles stuck in the bottom of the pot.


In between them, the Jaguar’s cockpit is wind-whipped and damp, more so than a Boxster’s would be. The copper-coloured shifters feel a bit cheap, and this 8-speed automatic is no eye-blink dual-clutch. Plus it’s a maybe a little bit too expensive, and the wisdom of buying a first-year British car is highly suspect. I had at least one serious issue with it in my week (gearshift locked in park – self-resolved after sitting for an hour or so), and you just know the ownership cycle’s going to be full of major/minor irritations.

But oh, how she howls. Luxury and polish is all very fine, but occasionally I can’t help but fall entirely for a car that utters a barbaric yawp every time you prod the loud pedal. Juvenile, I know, but it’s what makes me love the Boss 302, the 500 Abarth, the GLI, even my own crappy Subaru.

The 8-speed lets you hold a gear right up to and past the red-line – want to charge stupidly into the rev-limiter? Go ahead. The rasp and crackle of lift-off backfire fills the China Bar’s hollow tube, and then it’s stab at the throttle again and cranking it up to 11, innit? What a moron I am. What a happy moron.


We’ll miss this sort of thing in the electric future. The Model S has its own ffffwwweeeee of happy electrons fizzing away under hard acceleration, but its not quite the same thing sometimes. Sometimes the automobile is a source of pride of ownership. Sometimes it’s sensible and clean transportation. Sometimes it’s even a musical instrument, of sorts.

But sometimes it’s just a place to crank the distortion and hamfist your way through a tunnel playing three raucous chords. Three chords and the truth.

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When Jaguar Roared Wed, 30 Oct 2013 20:59:48 +0000 Mark0813JagXJSimage01

Under Indian ownership, Jaguar has descended into the sort of theme-park Engish-esque-ness that was once the exclusive property of MINI. A Britannia-flag F-Type-RS is surely just days away at the point as Tata sweats to polish the brand before the inevitable start of Asian assembly. Today’s Jags are interesting and characterful vehicles after a fashion, but as with many other brands, they are still relying on the glamor of a previous age to move the metal.

So let’s return to that age, when John Egan ruled the roost and the pennies were pinched properly and “heritage” was a concept honored mostly in the breach, not the observance.


Your humble E-I-C’s quixotic love for the Jaguar XJ-S is relatively well-known, or should be, but it’s worth noting that the XJ-S represented the best of the company as well as the worst. No, it was never fully sorted, and no, none of them ever ran particularly well, but it was a Jaguar in the proper sense: the most grace, space, and pace for the money, and forward-thinking with it. No retro foolishness, no harkening to a past era of glory. Better to have the glory now.

And with the help of Tom Walkinshaw — hell, because of Tom Walkinshaw — glory was had, in 55-gallon-drum quantities. One free car was all that Jaguar provided to begin with, and from that seed a race-winning tree sprouted. No, there’s nothing “classic” or “retro” about the cars you’ll see if you click the above link, but do you care? Of course not. The star-crossed big coupe caused its owners enough grief to last most of them a lifetime, but when it shone, it truly shone. Will those days ever return? Will Jaguar, under Tata ownership, ever shoot the moon for a super-aerodynamic, high-speed, high-drama coupe again? We can only hope.

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Harry Metcalfe Leaves Evo For Jaguar Land Rover Thu, 10 Oct 2013 17:46:13 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

Long time Evo writer Harry Metcalfe has left the magazine to work for Jaguar Land Rover, in a role that is the dream of journalists everywhere: helping to develop halo versions of their current and future model range.

A frequent meme on TTAC (at least when you see my byline) is the denigration of what I call the armchair product planning brigade, the peanut gallery cohort who insist that OEMs import diesels, build station wagons and equip every car with a manual transmission. It’s easy to call for these kinds of cars without an understanding of the auto market and the economic and regulatory realities that underpin it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that TTAC helped open my eyes to them.

In my brief career as an auto writer, I have had the privilege of seeing what really goes into automotive product planning. Before I had any understanding of how the industry worked, I thought it was simply a cabal of guys and girls who liked to sit and talk about cars and decide on what would get built by the car company. In other words, it seemed like the best job in the world. Little did I realize how difficult and exacting the job really is.

My estimation of the profession has only increased as I’ve had more access to that side of the industry. It is a job that requires attention to detail, hours of Excel spreadsheets, and endless presentations to senior management. Everything must be justified on an economic basis to finance people who want to do things for as little money as possible.

All in all it is an essential job that most people who discuss cars on the internet tend to believe they could  do better. Personally, I’m not so sure I could. But Harry Metcalfe seems to have, against all odds, landed that dream-like version of the Product Planning gig, the one where someone is paying you to act as a visionary for a range of high-performance luxury cars. Best of luck to Harry and Jaguar Land Rover.


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Capsule Review: Jaguar F-Type V6S Mon, 07 Oct 2013 13:00:48 +0000


As a teenager reading “Death in Venice,” I understood the world to be divided between the Aschenbachs and the Tadzios. There are those who gaze, and those who are gazed upon. – David Rakoff

I, as Rakoff would put it, am not a handsome man, though my mother would disagree. If I were to be cast in a James Bond movie, I would probably play the villain. Past lovers have often commented on my intelligence, my charm and my high earning potential as an automotive journalist, but rarely if ever on my physical appearance. I’m at peace with this, for I have discovered that the one automobile that can “increase sexual arousal, particularly in women” is not the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible, as P.J. O’Rourke would contend, but a Jaguar convertible.


My first realization of the aphrodisiac qualities of the Jaguar convertible was not in the F-Type, but with its older sibling, the XKR.  An affable but outdated grand tourer, the XKR was borrowed for competitive analysis against the F-Type, which consisted of numerous acceleration tests to confirm the potency of its 510 horsepower supercharged V8 (potent, indeed) as well as the efficacy of the large monobloc brake calipers to help reduce speed in the presence of local law enforcement (also excellent). The XKR’s major failing would be the uselessness of its backseat. Even the rather diminutive Jackie, who scarcely protested while sitting in the rear seat of a hardtop Shelby GT500, was forced to sit with her legs across the back seat, akin to how an XKR owner who lay his golf clubs across the rear bucket seats.

Shortly after Jackie departed, my friend Kyle and I entered ourselves in the Yorkville Grand Prix, named in honor of the tony downtown district that functions as an informal home to Toronto’s supercars. There are no winners, but entrants are required to drive in either first or second gear under significant load, while spectators jeer the participants sotto voce. As I completed lap number 3, I was taken aback by a rare phenomeon. A gorgeous young girl, barely older than 20, crossing the street as I sat waiting at a red light. As she strutted past me, her skintight white pants and skimpy halter top were only secondary considerations. She was making eye contact with me!

“There’s a nice Jewish girl for you,” remarked Kyle.

The best I could do was to flash a meek smile, more forced than the ones I pulled on antecedent elementary school picture days. To my surprise, she smiled back and blushed a little. I reflexively  drove off when the light turned green, not even thinking about trying to engage her in any way. I decided to turn back and try and find her, but it was in vain. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get to enjoy that feeling again,” I lamented, as the XKR roared down University Avenue. It turns out I was wrong.


If you want to be the center of attention, especially among nubile women, do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not remember the XKR even exists. You want an F-Type, perhaps in Polaris White as shown above. Italian Racing Red is certainly striking but will invite too many snide quips about inadequate genitals to be beneficial. You will get so many stares from attractive women of all ages that you will begin to feel the kind of contempt for them generally known to deeply damaged people who spurn romantic advances because they feel unlovable. Oh, and you absolutely must get the car with the “Configurable Dynamic Mode”, which adds another $3,000 to the base price, but effectively gives you two cars for the price of one.


With Dynamic Mode off, the F-Type is all show but feels like it has a lot less go. The 380 horsepower V6 is still there, but throttle response is muted, the exhaust produces a rather banal hum akin to a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 and the steering feels a bit like the current Mazda MX-5, with lots of response but not as much feel. But it’s also not a supple grand tourer like the XKR. One would be forgiven for thinking of it as a halfway sports car for the chest-hair-and-Hublot-watch crowd.


But with Dynamic Mode toggled to the on position, the F-Type stops being a fashion accessory. It’s difficult to think of a car that can change its character so completely with one simple action, but the transformation is remarkable. Suddenly, the V6 has found its lungs, emitting a demonic snarl that sounds more exotic than Ferrari’s most recent V8s, with all the popping and backfiring that any attention-seeker could want. The numbed throttle and steering are suddenly crisp and responsive, while the chassis becomes even more taut.If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest bit of supercharger whine, something that, in my opinion, should be more present on a car like this. Slot the 8-speed transmission into “S” and the shifts are executed with an alarming brutality, akin to the very first Lexus IS-F. You feel each gear change through your spine as the car hurtles you forward. Industry scuttlebutt claims that a manual may show up alongside a coupe version. They can keep it. Even without a clutch pedal and a gearshift, it will make your facial muscles hurt from grinning so much.


Back on planet earth, the car is affable in everyday situations. On longer highway drives, the revs are kept below 2000 rpm thanks to the 8-speed transmission. There is a slight hint of wind noise right where the convertible top meets the A-pillar, but generally, road noise is dependent on whether the active exhaust is open or not. There are flaws too. The stop-start is a little ridiculous on a car like this. When the top is up, blind spots are massive, as one would expect with a convertible. The trunk is unable to hold even one golf bag, which will apparently put off some potential buyers.


And so will the fact that, according to reputable sources, this car is not quite the dynamic proposition that a Porsche Boxster or 911 is on the Race tack. Frankly, I couldn’t care less, and I’m sure plenty of customers don’t either, though they won’t have the bragging rights of a Nuburgring time or some other meaningless performance benchmark. Today’s Porsche sports cars, dynamically competent as they are, don’t make you feel this special. Then again, I’m not sure any car feels this special. If you want to win an HPDE event, then a P-Car is your only choice. If you want to feel like an equine-endowed billionaire Formula 1 champion petroleum tycoon international playboy film star every single day of your life until the warranty runs out, this is your only option. At $84,000, it will make you better looking too, without you ever having to go under the knife.


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September 2013 Sales: A Stellar Month For Subaru Tue, 01 Oct 2013 20:07:04 +0000 IMG_2610-550x366

September was a great month for Subaru, with the brand up 15 percent. Ford, Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW also posted solid gains. General Motors,Hyundai/Kia, Toyota, Nissan and Honda saw declines, as the SAAR dipped to 15.3 million units amid decreased consumer and business confidence. Table below the jump.

Automaker Sept. 2013 Sept. 2012 Pct. chng. 9 month
9 month
Pct. chng.
BMW Group 28,958 26,739 8% 262,956 235,639 12%
    BMW division 23,568 21,761 8% 212,565 186,397 14%
    Mini 5,306 4,899 8% 49,635 48,531 2%
    Rolls-Royce 84 79 6% 756 711 6%
BMW Group 28,958 26,739 8% 262,956 235,639 12%
Chrysler Group 143,017 142,041 1% 1,357,003 1,250,670 9%
    Chrysler Division 25,251 24,850 2% 237,746 241,466 –2%
    Dodge 48,576 47,356 3% 461,834 391,912 18%
    Dodge/Ram 77,145 73,770 5% 731,130 611,272 20%
    Fiat 3,157 4,176 –24% 32,742 32,742 0%
    Jeep 37,464 39,245 –5% 355,385 365,190 –3%
    Ram 28,569 26,414 8% 269,296 219,360 23%
Chrysler Group 143,017 142,041 1% 1,357,003 1,250,670 9%
Daimler AG 27,474 25,987 6% 236,933 214,387 11%
    Maybach 4 –100% 36 –100%
    Mercedes-Benz 26,849 24,953 8% 229,996 207,040 11%
    Smart USA 625 1,030 –39% 6,937 7,311 –5%
Daimler AG 27,474 25,987 6% 236,933 214,387 11%
Ford Motor Co. 184,452 174,454 6% 1,887,672 1,685,068 12%
    Ford division 177,999 167,652 6% 1,827,820 1,621,188 13%
    Lincoln 6,453 6,802 –5% 59,852 63,880 –6%
Ford Motor Co. 184,452 174,454 6% 1,887,672 1,685,068 12%
General Motors 187,195 210,245 –11% 2,117,459 1,967,715 8%
    Buick 15,623 14,673 7% 157,503 137,262 15%
    Cadillac 13,828 12,579 10% 133,414 103,512 29%
    Chevrolet 127,785 149,801 –15% 1,493,329 1,420,383 5%
    GMC 29,959 33,192 –10% 333,213 306,558 9%
General Motors 187,195 210,245 –11% 2,117,459 1,967,715 8%
Honda (American) 105,563 117,211 –10% 1,159,012 1,066,458 9%
    Acura 11,648 14,366 –19% 120,830 115,773 4%
    Honda Division 93,915 102,845 –9% 1,038,182 950,685 9%
Honda (American) 105,563 117,211 –10% 1,159,012 1,066,458 9%
Hyundai Group 93,105 108,130 –14% 964,601 974,728 –1%
    Hyundai division 55,102 60,025 –8% 548,218 539,814 2%
    Kia 38,003 48,105 –21% 416,383 434,914 –4%
Hyundai Group 93,105 108,130 –14% 964,601 974,728 –1%
Jaguar Land Rover 4,700 4,640 1% 47,806 41,224 16%
    Jaguar 1,313 1,004 31% 12,447 9,550 30%
    Land Rover 3,387 3,636 –7% 35,359 31,674 12%
Jaguar Land Rover 4,700 4,640 1% 47,806 41,224 16%
Maserati 379 269 41% 2,241 1,984 13%
Maserati 379 269 41% 2,241 1,984 13%
Mazda 22,464 24,135 –7% 220,490 209,481 5%
Mazda 22,464 24,135 –7% 220,490 209,481 5%
Mitsubishi 4,001 4,806 –17% 44,981 46,122 –3%
Mitsubishi 4,001 4,806 –17% 44,981 46,122 –3%
Nissan 86,868 91,907 –6% 941,116 866,484 9%
    Infiniti 9,040 9,445 –4% 80,919 86,596 –7%
    Nissan Division 77,828 82,462 –6% 860,197 779,888 10%
Nissan 86,868 91,907 –6% 941,116 866,484 9%
Subaru 31,755 27,683 15% 313,407 245,463 28%
Subaru 31,755 27,683 15% 313,407 245,463 28%
Suzuki* 1,921 –100% 5,946 19,149 –69%
Suzuki* 1,921 –100% 5,946 19,149 –69%
Toyota 164,457 171,910 –4% 1,698,179 1,571,424 8%
    Lexus 19,522 20,386 –4% 190,760 170,990 12%
    Scion 5,131 6,743 –24% 54,090 56,490 –4%
    Toyota division 139,804 144,781 –3% 1,453,329 1,343,944 8%
    Toyota/Scion 144,935 151,524 –4% 1,507,419 1,400,434 8%
Toyota 164,457 171,910 –4% 1,698,179 1,571,424 8%
Volkswagen 48,377 51,660 –6% 463,066 450,830 3%
    Audi 13,065 12,302 6% 114,411 100,694 14%
    Bentley 253 239 6% 1,859 1,644 13%
    Lamborghini* 46 44 5% 414 388 7%
    Porsche 3,093 2,736 13% 31,549 25,015 26%
    VW division 31,920 36,339 –12% 314,833 323,089 –3%
Volkswagen 48,377 51,660 –6% 463,066 450,830 3%
Volvo Cars NA 4,188 4,977 –16% 48,193 51,626 –7%
Volvo Cars NA 4,188 4,977 –16% 48,193 51,626 –7%
Other** 253 246 3% 2,277 2,209 3%
TOTAL 1,137,206 1,188,961 –4% 11,773,338 10,900,661 8%

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Jaguar Will Take on 3 Series Segment & More With New Modular All Aluminum Architecture Tue, 10 Sep 2013 11:20:30 +0000 Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum architecture. XJ bodies being assembled.

Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum architecture that will be applied to their new sedan and crossover. Pictured, XJ bodies being assembled.

The mid-sized mass-market luxury car segment is defined by the BMW 3 Series. Jaguar once tried to enter that segment with the X Type, but the “mini XJ” never caught on, in part because it was derided as a badge engineered Ford Mondeo. According to Automotive News The C-X17 crossover concept revealed in Frankfurt this week is based on a new all-aluminum platform that will underpin a “range of future Jaguars”, the most important of which will be a mid-sized sedan to again take on the BMW 3 and its competitors. Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum construction and having the first all-aluminum car in the C and D segments will be a selling point for the new models. While Jaguar Land Rover’s current sales are the strongest the British car maker has had, JLR’s owners, Tata, are hoping that JLR will reach three quarters of a million units by 2020 and ultimately joining the ranks of automakers selling a million or more cars a year. To do that Jaguar needs a volume product, the most logical being a mid-sizer. With CUVs sales booming, a crossover based on the C-X17 will also help reach that volume. While differentiating between a Jaguar crossover and the Land Rover lineup will be an issue, Jaguar does say that the CUV will have some off-road capabilities.

Smaller displacement engines are seen as the auto industry’s future and JLR has invested $776 million in a new engine factory in Wolverhampton, England that will produce an all-new JLR designed four cylinder engine in both diesel and petrol versions that will likely be the standard powerplants in the vehicles based on the new platform. However, since a very large percentage of luxury cars sold in North America are currently sold with V6 engines, expect a version of Jaguar’s new V6 to be available as well. The availability of all wheel drive is critical for selling cars in the northern half of the United States, and Jaguar made a big splash this past winter about offering AWD on the XJ and XF, so you can likewise expect the new sedan to share the crossover’s AWD components.

Another current trend in the industry is modular architecture and Jaguar says that the new platform will be scalable, so it could in theory be the basis of cars the size of a BMW 5 or Mercedes-Benz E Class, or crossovers larger than the C-X17, which is about the size of an Audi Q5.

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Jaguar’s New Crossover Makes Sense In Today’s Market Sun, 08 Sep 2013 21:00:12 +0000 ku-bigpic

In advance of its public debut at the upcoming Frankfurt show, Jaguar has dropped a front 3/4 beauty shot and other images of its new compact crossover. Since there’s no shortage of wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who see this as a Porsche Cayenne level brand heresy, and since I’m a contrarian non-comformist by nature, I’m going to swim against the stream and say that the CX-17 or whatever they end up calling it, makes sense, or at least it can in today’s market. Compact (and smaller) crossovers are the hot thing in the car biz these days. Lexus just released images of a LF-NX compact crossover concept that presumably will also be revealed at the Frankfurt show. GM is looking to shuffle production because GM Korea can’t build enough Buick Encores and Opel Mokkas. Land Rover is having record monthly sales, in part due to the success of the Evoque.

Which raises the question, why build a small Jaguar crossover when Jaguar Land Rover already builds the Evoque? That’s a good question but I think JLR’s product planners understand the difference between a Jaguar and a Land Rover, and also between a Land Rover and a Range Rover. If you note, the Evoque is branded as a Land Rover, not a Range Rover. JLR already offers two different flavors of midsize SUVs, built on the same platform, the LR4/Discovery and the sportier, more elegant Range Rover Sport, and that distinction is carried over to the company’s full size SUVs, the Range Rover and the Land Rover Defender, which is not currently sold in the U.S. While there is plenty of component sharing being done, the company appears to carefully distinguish between the luxurious Range Rovers and the more utilitarian Landies.


Why then market a luxury compact SUV as a Jaguar and not a Range Rover? Another good question and I’m sure those product planners have considered it. I don’t have a great answer for that question but I do think it oddly might have something to do with not wanting to affect the Range Rover subbrand, seen an a vehicle with all of the capabilities of a Land Rover, but also comfortable and truly luxurious. Right now there are only two vehicles that carry the Range Rover brand, the original full size version and the Sport, which as alluded to above is really a LR4 with Range Rover looking body panels and a Range Rover looking interior. I’m sure that plenty of people think that the Range Rover Sport is  a sporty variant of the Range Rover, rather than an upscale LR4.


Making an entry level Range Rover might be like Packard offering the “junior” Packards in the 1930s, good in the short term but long term it may lower the prestige of the brand. The question might be better phrased as “why not a compact Range Rover crossover?”


If a crossover at that price point might hurt Range Rover,  then won’t it hurt the Jaguar brand? Jaguar has no reputation as a builder of utility vehicles, upscale or utilitarian, at all, so they have no reputation in that segment to hurt, just as Porsche didn’t with the Cayenne. We enthusiasts may bemoan the “damage” that the Cayenne does to the Porsche brand, but the simple truth is that the Cayenne makes SUVs full of cash for Porsche and the VW group. Selling a compact crossover as a Jaguar may have less downside than as a Range Rover, with just as much upside or more.


There’s also the issue of brand recognition. Though we live in an age when even non-enthusiasts know that a Lotus is a kind of sports car and hip hoppers rap about Aventadors, I’d still guess that Jaguar has better brand recognition, particularly in the U.S., than either Land Rover or Range Rover.


Just as JLR probably knows the difference between a Land Rover and a Range Rover, they know the difference between those brands and Jaguar. I’m guessing that you do too. Do I have to lay out how a Jaguar crossover would be different than one with the LR or RR brand? Just as Porsche can and does market the Cayenne as an authentic Porsche, heir to Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche’s sports cars, so Jaguar can sell the CX-17 as the Jaguar of crossovers, with an air of cosseting that even Range Rovers don’t have. A proper suburban car, a Jaguar crossover would not have to have all of that off-road-ready gear that buyers of Land Rovers and Range Rovers expect on their vehicles, even if they may never use it. It could also trade on the part of Jaguar’s heritage that has to do with performance, just as Porsche has done. Just writing that it seems to me that Jaguar can bring more in terms of brand image to a crossover than Porsche can with its new Macan. Porsche is known as a maker of sports cars. Jaguar is known as a maker of fast, luxurious and comfortable cars.

Or, think of it this way: do you think the average suburban mom would rather drive a vehicle with a Land Rover, Range Rover or Jaguar nameplate on it?


It might work. We all laugh at the “Jeep” Compass, intended to sell to people put off by the more rugged looks and capabilities of the Patriot. The decision by Chrysler to build both of those Jeeplets from the same platform (shared with the also derided Dodge Caliber), again, is one of those things that prompts a lot of critical questioning? How much better would the Patriot have been if money wasn’t spent on the Compass? The answer is who knows? If you note, the Compass survived Chrysler’s bankruptcy, has been refreshed a couple of times, and you can buy a brand new 2014 model at your local Jeep dealer. I assume that after all that the reason why you can still buy them is that they are profitable for Chrysler. Selling a compact Jaguar crossover in the same showroom as a Land Rover Evoque might also be profitable.


Ultimately, profitability is the measure of success in the auto industry. Performance, brand image and all the rest don’t really matter as long as a car or truck turns a profit. The reason why JLR will sell this as a Jaguar and not a Land Rover is because they think they’ll make more money that way. I think they’re right.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

ku-bigpic jaguar-c-x17-crossover-concept-leaked_100439131_l jaguar-c-x17-crossover-concept-leaked_100439133_l jaguar-c-x17-crossover-concept-leaked_100439136_l-1 jaguar-c-x17-crossover-concept-leaked_100439135_l jaguar-c-x17-crossover-concept-leaked_100439132_l ku-bigpic-1 jaguar-c-x17-crossover-concept-leaked_100439130_l ]]> 35
Jag Crossover Shows Its Mug Fri, 06 Sep 2013 14:50:20 +0000 jaguar-cx-17-concept-628


Just before it makes its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Jaguar’s C-X17 concept shows its undisguised face. To the Jag faithful, this is as scandalous as bare ankles would be in Taliban-era Kabul. We’ll be waiting for the full picture before launch any damning “Avoidable Contact” fatwas.

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Jaguar Crosses Over Mon, 02 Sep 2013 18:39:00 +0000 jaguar-c-x17-concept-preview (1)

Years of unrelenting speculation via the British motoring press are finally coming to fruition: Jaguar is about to launch a crossover, and this concept, dubbed the C-X17, appears to be it.

While officially a concept, the Jag crossover is surely a done deal. Riding on a new modular architecture that will be shared with an upcoming small sedan (slotting below the XF), the crossover will be an important car for adding volume, particularly in key markets like China and Russia where demand for crossovers is strong. Expect a full reveal at the Frankfurt Auto Show next week.

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