Jaguar XF Diesel becomes most efficient Jag ever

November 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

A British team has crossed the U.S.A, from New York to Los Angeles, in a Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel averaging an incredible 4.49 litres/100 kms over 4,480 kms – making it the most efficient Jaguar ever built.

Finishing in Los Angeles, California, the journey – the equivalent of travelling from London to the Sahara – took in 11 states, three time zones and eight days. Yet the XF only required four stops for fuel – its peak economy of 4.21 litres/100 kms being achieved on the penultimate day of the trip.

Paul Alcock, XF Project Manager, Jaguar Cars, who was present throughout the journey, commented: ‘This project was designed primarily to test the potential economy of the XF 2.2D. The incredible figures achieved by the car were accomplished through making every element of the new XF as efficient as possible – from its aerodynamics to its four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine linked to an eight-speed gearbox.’

Driven by independent testers, David and Alexander Madgwick, the XF 2.2D was a standard UK registered, right-hand drive vehicle. In the course of the coast to coast adventure, the car maintained an average speed of 85.2 km/h incorporating a multitude of real-life scenarios including the busy roads exiting New York and, towards the end of the trip, entering Los Angeles, road works, high winds and a climb to 2217 metres above sea level. Continue reading “Jaguar XF Diesel becomes most efficient Jag ever” »

Peugeot 508 2.2 HDi GT 2011 Review

November 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Peugeot 508 is an excellent touring car. Let’s give praise where praise is fully due: I would happily drive from Auckland to Wellington in this car, and I’m the impatient type who usually flies.

New Zealand gets three different models of the 508: a two-litre turbodiesel sedan, a two-litre turbodiesel stationwagon, and the version you’re reading about now, which is the 2.2-litre GT turbodiesel sedan. They start at $54,990 and end up at $65,990. So is this 508 worth it?

If you’re after a largish touring sedan with good fuel economy, plenty of accoutrements, smooth handling and the power to get past when you need it, the 508 stacks up. It even won a trophy in Germany in 2010 putting it above 18 other cars in its class.

But in my opinion, that does not make it perfect because, in typical Gallic style, the French have taken an awesome car and made it ‘quirky’. It starts with the choice of kit. The driver’s seat massages you. It’s nice (apart from the unusual noise it makes which isn’t really drowned out by the radio). This is useful on long journeys, but what’s even more useful is sat nav, and that’s noticeably absent. There’s not even a place to put it, which means you need one of those aftermarket ones which starts making the interior of your car look like a window display at Dick Smith.

Secondly, I quite like a head-up display which projects the speed onto the windscreen, and the 508’s HUD works well. Except what I really want is a place to put my water bottle, and some storage in the front (the glovebox and central binnacle each have room for one croissant only, and there are only two tiny compartments to put a phone or other junk).

Thirdly, the instrument layout is absolutely perfect, but why do we still have the early 2000s LCD in the dash? It’s not quite clear what’s going to appear on that screen as opposed to the really good screen that’s part of the instrument cluster, and what’s really needed is a reversing camera, or at least some kind of visual representation of reversing because you can’t see much out of the rear window.

Finally, the design. Look at the front – it’s beautiful; a hint of Maserati. It’s understated, sleek. Look at the side – expertly crafted with a prominent shoulder line running the line of the window right to the tailgate. But the back looks unfinished, bulbous, slightly large and out of proportion.. Fortunately, though, this means that you get a good sized boot.

We’ve covered off my gripes, and they might seem minor to you, but the Peugeot 508 has some very stiff competition, even in the bells and whistles department, with cars like the Ford Mondeo Titanium (which is much cheaper). But what it does better than the Mondeo is cruising. The 508 is excellent to drive. It progresses smoothly (and relatively quietly for a diesel); forward motion is provided by a 150kW 2.2-litre turbodiesel that produces 450Nm of torque. This feeds through a six-speed gearbox which almost always is in the right gear for the conditions, unlike some automatics, but is slightly sluggish off the line. However, there’s a sports mode if you need more instant movement, and for it to chop down earlier and change up later.

Handling is very good – not sports car-like, but very good nonetheless. This is helped by 18-inch wheels.

There are plenty of buttons to control all aspects of the audio equipment, the speed limiter/cruise control, trip computer, various options for hands-free phones, and automated high beam.

Safety features abound on the latest Peugeots and it has a 5-star Euro NCAP rating for adult and child safety, and it scored 97% for safety assistance. There are six airbags, whiplash-protecting headrests, and directional b-xenon headlamps.

The passengers are spoiled in the 508. Rear passengers have blinds for the side windows and the rear window. They also have their own air conditioning and directional reading lights. The front passenger can set a completely different air conditioning setting to the driver.

Why would you buy the Peugeot 508? If you want a sleek, comfortable car that’s a notch up the ladder from a Mondeo and arguably smoother than a Volkswagen Passat, this is going to tick the boxes, especially if you have kids to transport. It’s going to impress your colleagues.

You’d also buy it if you like driving long distances and you want a frugal touring car. The tank is good for at least 750km on a long journey. We averaged around 6.3l/100km on a mixture of round town and longer journeys. We saw figures in the low 4l/100km range on the motorway, which is excellent for a car this size.

Who will buy it?

You’d buy it if:

  • you like French quirkiness, or feel sorry for them that they lost the rugby
  • driving gives you a bad back
  • you do a lot of kilometers driving one or two children around, but hate SUVs
  • you’re a bit older and want something that handles well without rattling your fillings
  • you can get a company car and you want something different that’s a talking point, but looks the part on a mid-exec level.

Pros

Lots of interesting features

Very smooth ride

Plenty of power, but it’s still economical

Cons

Wrong choice of kit spoils what could have been a really amazing car

Rearward visibility is not fantastic

Price: from $54,990.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Peugeot reveals new 208 supermini

November 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With high fuel prices and congested main centres the small hatch B-segment market has become a key war zone for car makers. It’s an area Peugeot has long been strong in and it’s latest weapon in the fight is the new 208 which has just been revealed and will replace the current 207 series.

This latest Pug will go up against the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and VW Polo. While the overall dimensions have shrunken Peugeot claims that the interior volume has increased.

In terms of styling the 208 adopts Peugeot’s latest design language, the main highlights include a “floating” grille, raked back headlights and “boomerang” style tail lamps. The 208’s profile is also more sculptured, and overall, the new model looks sufficiently more advanced than the 207 it replaces.

The 208 will be built in two body styles when it launches next year, a three- and five-door. The three-door model is distinguished by pronounced side curve that extends all the way back to the rear lights, a slightly more sloped roofline, thicker C-pillar and a smaller glasshouse. The three-door 208 will tip the scales at just 975kg, a full 170kg lighter than its predecessor. Continue reading “Peugeot reveals new 208 supermini” »

Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year

October 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo is preparing to put its V60 Plug-in Hybrid diesel car on sale in European markets from next year.

The Plug-in Hybrid has been built in close cooperation between Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.

“No industry or organisation can tackle the climate challenge all by itself. It is our mission to develop carbon dioxide-lean cars, but it is the society that is responsible for creating a sustainable future,” says Stefan Jacoby, the President and CEO of Volvo. “This project shows how cooperation between experts in different areas brings us closer to the transition from individually carbon dioxide-lean products to a climate-smart lifestyle.”

When powered solely by electricity, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid has a range of up to 50 kilometres. Continue reading “Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year” »

Audi A6 TDI 2012 Review

October 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In the past decade Audi has become a car-manufacturing powerhouse with entries into almost every motoring category. But for all its new models one of its most important and defining vehicles remains the A6. The executive cruiser now enters its seventh-generation and with lightweight construction, sleeker styling and extensive mechanical upgrades, is ready to resume its long fought battle with BMW’s 5-Series. Does the 2012 Audi A6 have the dynamic ability and first-class luxury appointments to dominate its high-end division? Car and SUV buckled into the driver’s chair of the new A6 TDI Quattro to find the answers.

A glance across the new A6 reveals an understated and smooth aesthetic that’s acutely awareness of its own bloodlines despite being a clean-sheet design. Following on from the A8 flagship and the A7 four-door coupe the new A6 embraces Audi’s corporate design language. The bold Audi gloss black grille sits prominent at the front and is flanked by frowning headlights and recessed fog lamps. Broad shoulders define the sides with chrome trim drawing the eye to an elegantly curved roofline. The rear features a subtle boot spoiler, wide two-piece taillights and twin chrome exhaust tips signaling performance intent. The clean and mean look is finished off with 18-inch V-spoke alloy wheels. There are no radical risks in the A6 exterior design, just a continuation of the conservatively muscular styling that works well for Audi and its legions of brand fans. Continue reading “Audi A6 TDI 2012 Review” »

Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Since its release in 2004 the Ford Territory has become one of the success stories of the Australian car manufacturing industry. It’s found a home in the garages of many families here in NZ as well as across the ditch and has even performed duties as an emergency response vehicle. But after seven years cruising the streets how can the Territory stay desirable in a SUV market that’s packed with machinery from Japan and Europe? By offering a diesel engine option for the first time for starters, backed up by a modernising facelift, equipment upgrades and a greater emphasis on refinement. Has Ford’s $230 million dollar investment in the new Territory paid off? Car and SUV was certainly impressed by the 2011 Territory at its launch event earlier this year and got some more seat time to take a closer look.

Looks are a good place to start because in terms of styling the Territory has really shifted up a gear. The familiar proportions remain but there are now some calculated injections of Ford’s current kinetic design language. At the front there’s an all-new face with new upper and lower grilles, the headlights, bonnet and front bumper have also been replaced. These fresh touches give a wider and more muscular frontal appearance. At the rear Ford has deftly wrapped the three quarter glass around to the rear windscreen, hiding the D-pillar and giving it a slick look. New horizontal taillights replace the previous vertical design and also wrap into the rear guards. There are some more subtle general tweaks as well, like vents on the front fenders and indicator repeaters in the wing mirrors. Our tested top-spec Titanium model was dressed up further with chrome trim on the front grille, LED front lights, tinted glass and 18-inch Y-Spoke alloy wheels. In terms of design it’s a very successful facelift, the 2011 Territory looks ‘right now’ modern and dynamic while retaining its same staunch road presence. Continue reading “Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review” »

2012 Jeep Cherokee arrives with new diesel engine

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2012 Jeep Cherokee goes on sale in New Zealand this month with a new diesel engine option and a range of upgrades.

The 2012 Jeep Cherokee is available in NZ in a single specification level – the high grade Limited. It goes on sale with a choice of diesel or petrol engine variants.

As well as the familiar 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine which produces 151 kW @ 5,200 rpm and 314 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm, the Cherokee now offers the new 2.8 DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder Common-Rail Diesel (CRD) engine which produces 147kW at 3600 rpm and 460 Nm of torque at 1600 rpm.

The new diesel engine offers improved performance and economy with 13% more power over the previous model yet uses 12% less fuel. Jeep’s quoted combined fuel consumption figures for the Cherokee diesel are 7.9 L/100km and 206g/km CO2.

Jeep continues to push its 4×4 heritage in the Cherokee by offering the Jeep Trail Rated four-wheel-drive system –Selec-Trac II.

Selec-Trac II is a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system. Select-Trac II operates in 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD Low and Neutral. To back it up the Cherokee features independent front suspension with rack-and pinion steering and a five-link rear suspension set-up. Continue reading “2012 Jeep Cherokee arrives with new diesel engine” »

Peugeot reveals Mitsubishi-based 4008 crossover

October 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot has pulled the covers off its first foray into the compact crossover segment with its new 4008 model. The small SUV is scheduled for a global reveal next March at the Geneva Motor Show before going on sale in select markets from May 2012.

The 4008 will find a place in the Peugeot range below the larger 3008 and 4007 models and is based on the Mitsubishi ASX. It is the latest in a string of collaborations after the PSA Peugeot-Citroën group formed an agreement with Mitsubishi in early 2010.

Initially, the new crossover will be made available with four engines but we may not see all of them here in NZ. There’s an even split of two petrol and two diesel units. The petrol engines include a 1.6-litre unit producing 87kW and 152 Nm of torque, and a larger 2.0-litre with 112kW and 198Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a CVT auto optional with the 2.0-litre motor. Continue reading “Peugeot reveals Mitsubishi-based 4008 crossover” »