Jaguar XE Roadster looking probable

August 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Jaguar XE roadster

According to recent reports Jaguar is busy developing a new, smaller sports car designed to take on Porsche’s Boxster convertible and its hardtop Cayman sibling.

The new model is expected to be produced in roadster and coupe form and has been named the XE by the motoring press.

Slotting into the Jaguar line-up beneath the XK coupe and convertible, the smaller XE is thought to be an important component in a overall product plan that would see Jaguar building more than 100,000 cars a year by 2015.

It will feature an all-new aluminum platform that will eventually form the basis of the next-generation XK, XF and even the XJ through 2015 and beyond. It will reportedly be a common aluminum matrix, housing the engine up front with power sent to the rear wheels.

In regards to the XE’s powertrain expect to see a gasoline naturally-aspirated V6 producing around 205kW. A supercharged version kicking out 260kW is also suggested as a range-topping variant.

All details of the XE remain unconfirmed as Jaguar is still exploring the production viability of the new entry-level sportscar. If it does go ahead 2013 is the earliest possible launch date.

Suzuki Swift XE 2008 Review

March 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Swift XE 2008 fq

An Easter break was what I needed to soothe my aching wrists and blurry eyes so off we headed to Napier. The Art Deco capital is guaranteed sunshine pretty much all year round but is 425km away, the last third being the hilly Napier-Taupo highway. If I’d had more foresight I could have organised a car with twice as many ponies under the bonnet — I was feeling like I was Hannibal, the road was the Alps and I’d neglected to organise elephants, instead having to settle for an asthmatic Labrador with a gammy foot. We packed light, and I’d implored Jen to go on a crash diet so that we weren’t left crawling up the hills like a house bus, spewing toxic plumes.

Leaving on the Thursday at 12 from the North Shore the Swift’s first test was spaghetti junction which was crammed with other people who had a similar idea to us. Nudging along in stop-start waves the Swift had no chance to live up to its name. At this rate we would reach Napier tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes as the saying goes.

Traffic cleared substantially after the Coromandel turn off and the Swift could stretch its legs. My expectation of the first large hill was that we would end up slipping backwards down the ranks as streams of traffic shuffled us like a croupier to the back of the pack but it wasn’t the case. Frequently a hill would see us gradually drop from 100(ish) to 90kph, at which point the Suzuki changes down and acceleration resumes, as long as the pedal is buried into the firewall. We would have struggled with more luggage and/or passengers, though.

The Swift was a pleasure to drive as long as overtaking wasn’t a top priority. On the open highway and in the city, the Swift’s handling is perfect. Around town the Swift’s 75kW gives it a useful turn of speed. And, if the word didn’t evoke crabs, Suzuki perhaps should have called it the Nippy, because that’s what the Swift is — highly manoeuvrable with good visibility and the right size to fit in tight car parking spaces.

On the inside my main gripe is the sea of greyness that stretches like the hide of one of Hannibal’s elephants across the dashboard. In a car of this price you have to expect fairly hard plastics, but at the Swift desperately needs some accenting to spice up the blandness and the only respite is the Sony head unit with detachable face. This single-CD stereo is MP3 compatible and has an input for an external portable music player, and unfortunately crows all kinds of visual messages constantly on its LCD even while turned off. Other than that, this base Swift model just comes with the basic requirements: air conditioning and a couple of airbags.

Passengers can be carried in the rear if they have short legs, or the driver and front seat passenger have short legs.

Having put the Swift through its paces for the best part of a thousand kilometres and achieving an average of 6.9l/100km it’s not hard to see why it is the top selling small car in New Zealand. Personally I’d have the manual Swift Sport reviewed here, or even the cheaper manual XE to give me a bit more control, but for $18,500 the price is right, the styling is right, and the handling and performance are great if a funky new car with a responsive chassis and city-friendly automatic gearbox are on your wishlist.

Price: from $16,990 (manual), $18,500 (auto)

What we like

  • Stylish
  • Nippy
  • Good price

What we don’t like

  • Passengers + hills
  • Grey dashboard
  • Kia Picanto beats it for specification level

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

COMFORT XE LTD
Power steering O O
Tilt steering O O
Electric windows – front & rear O O
Electrically adjustable exterior mirrors O O
Central door locking O O
Remote-controlled door locks with hazard answer-back O O
Audio – Radio/CD 4 Speaker 6 Speaker
Air Conditioning with pollen filter O O
INSTRUMENT PANEL XE LTD
Tachometer O O
Light-off/key reminder O O
Driver’s seatbelt warning lamp O O
Fuel warning indicator O O
Door ajar warning lamp O O
Tripmeter O O
3-spoke steering wheel & Steering lock O Leather
Information display :
Digital clock O O
Outside temperature gauge - O
Fuel consumption gauge - O
INTERIOR XE LTD
Cabin light – 3 position / Luggage area light O O
Cupholders – front 2 / rear 1 O O
Sun visors – both sides O O
Ticket holder & vanity mirror – driver’s side - O
Centre console box - O
Day/night rear view mirror O O
Cloth seat material / Cloth-accented door trims O O
Height adjuster – driver’s seat - O
60:40 split tumble-folding rear seat O O
3 rear seat head restraints O O
3 assist grips - O
Front door trim pockets O O
Front seatback pocket – passenger’s side - O
Front seat undertray – passenger’s side - O
12 volt accessory socket O O
Convenience hook on passenger’s seat back - Grey
Rear luggage shelf - O
Remote fuel lid opener O O
EXTERIOR XE LTD
Halogen headlights O O
Body-coloured bumpers, mirrors, door handles Bumpers only O
2-speed wipers with variable intermittent O O
Rear window demister & wiper/washer with intermittent O O
Rear centre aerial O O
Electromagnetic tailgate opener O O
UV cut glass – front doors O O
Black coloured A & B pillars O O
Front fog lamps - O
Wheels & tyres :
185/60R15 steel wheels with wheelcaps O -
185/60R15 alloy wheels - O
SAFETY XE LTD
Dual Airbags O O
Side Airbags - O
Front and rear curtain airbags - O
Head impact protection pad O O
Shift lock & key interlock – AT only O O
ABS with EBD and Brake assist O O
Decoupling mechanism for brake and clutch pedals O O
Height-adjustable seatbelt anchorages O O
Seatbelts – Front – 3 point ELR with pre-tensioners O O
Seatbelts – Rear – 3 point ELR x 3 O O
High-mounted stop lamp O O
ISO-FIX child seat restraint system O O
Child seat tether anchorage – 2 seats O O
Child-proof rear door locks O O
Immobiliser O O
Side impact beams O O
DIMENSIONS
Overall length mm 3,760
Overall width mm 1,690
Overall height mm 1,500
Wheelbase mm 2,380
Track Front mm 1,470
Track Rear mm 1,480
Minimum turning radius m 4.7
Ground Clearance mm 140
WEIGHTS
Curb weight kg 5M/4AT 1040/1060
Gross vehicle weight kg 1,485
ENGINE
Type M15A with VVT, 16 Valve
Cylinders 4 in line
Displacement cc 1490
Bore X stroke 78.0 x 78.0
Compression ratio 9.5:1
Maximum Output (EEC net) Kw/rpm 75/5900
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 133/4100
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection
Fuel type 91RON
TRANSMISSION
Type Manual 5 speed all synchromesh
Automatic 4-stage electronicallycontrolled
Final drive ratio 5M/4AT 4.105/4.144
CHASSIS
Steering Power assisted rack & pinion
Suspension Front MacPherson strut & coil spring
Rear Torsion beam & coil spring
Brakes Front Ventilated disc
Rear Drum, leading & trailing
Tyres 185/60R15
CAPACITY
Seating 5
Fuel tank (unleaded 91) Litres 45
Luggage capacity Rear seatback raised 201L
Luggage capacity Rear seatback folded 494L