Sunday, February 3, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

New Land Rover Discovery spied testing

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

Spy shots show new Discovery in cold-weather testing; will form part of JLR's 16-strong model offensive

These spy shots appear to offer first evidence that the Land Rover Discovery and its T5 platform will live on as part of Land Rover's blitz of 16 new models between now and 2020.

Although clearly a test car, the fact that this machine has an unchanged wheelbase and track makes it unlikely that the new aluminium Range Rover platform is hidden under its bodywork. Indeed, the Discovery 4 has a 2885mm wheelbase and the new Range Rover a longer, 2922mm wheelbase. The Range Rover also has a much greater front track, some 85mm wider than the Discovery's 1605mm.

Despite being an existing model, the Discovery appeared on the Land Rover new-model plan that was briefly shown to journalists at the Range Rover unveiling last summer. This added to speculation that the car's heavy-duty T5 platform would live on because it will also become the basis for the next-generation Defender family. Although there is scope for reducing its weight, the T5 platform is highly respected for both its ruggedness and its off-road capabilities.

The current Discovery will be due for a major makeover by 2015, which makes the appearance of this prototype timely. The car is likely to get a new look inside and out that reflects the styling of the recently signed-off new Defender family. Land Rover sources say that the Discovery's flexible seven-seat layout, spacious interior and rugged abilities have created a cult vehicle that the company wants to preserve even as it expands to build a distinct family of models under the 'luxury', 'leisure' and 'dual-purpose' tags.

Financial analysts recently revealed that Jaguar Land Rover is poised to spend £2 billion this year on new model development and industrial investment, rising to a surprise £2.75bn next year.

Jaguar F-Type - first ride impressions

Posted: 02 Feb 2013 04:01 PM PST

We've been talking about the F-type for years. Now, finally, we can sample it. Steve Cropley rides with Jaguar's chassis guru Mike Cross in Wales

For two decades we've been hearing about 'Jaguar's new E-type'; finally, here we are, ready to ride in the much talked about Jaguar F-type alongside the firm's chassis guru Mike Cross.

Jaguar has brought a V6S prototype, the 375bhp supercharged 3.0-litre version that puts its distinctly healthy 339lb ft of torque through the eight-speed 'Quickshift' auto with paddles that Jaguar has developed with ZF, the ideal transmission for a car of this size, weight and potential.

The F-type door opens conveniently wide, but because this is a convertible you have to lift your right foot a little higher than usual over the bulky, strength-giving aluminium sill as you get in. The footwell is long and deep, and your hip point is just about level with the top of the sill, which means that you sit snug and low in the car. The main bulk of the fascia curves extravagantly away from you to the base of the screen.

There's a large central binnacle, containing two air vents, that powers out of the top of the dashboard to provide extra heating or cooling when needed. Below that is a prominent touchscreen; lower down sit a row of three circular switches to control the climate, and below those a smart-looking row of modern-design toggle switches. The main driver's instruments are a pair of big digital dials located under a glare-proof eyebrow. It's all neat and leaves a pervading aura of quality, but there are no real surprises.

You sit low and the fascia is quite high, but you still plainly see the power bulge that runs down the central bonnet, and there's a satisfying view of a muscular front wing to either side. The screen pillars are as thick as in any modern car, but their extreme rake and considerable distance from you means that they don't intrude. The passenger experience is made better by the presence on the left of the high central console of a 'holy cow' handle, which gives the passenger area a snug, tub-like feel.

There's a handsome gearstick in the centre of the console, which selects your direction of travel and can be used as a rocking gear selector, but the reality is that you only use it to get off the mark. The steering column paddles best control the gearbox's action and – given the power and torque – the car is lively in any of its modes.

Jaguar's figures give the V6S a 0-60mph sprint time of 4.8sec and a 171mph top speed (with a CO2 output of 213g/km and a combined fuel economy of 31mpg thrown in) and nothing about my day with Cross induced me to disagree.

This V6 has a higher specific power than previous Jaguar engines, and a 'modern' engine note to go with it. It's mechanically quiet, not least because there's a big, sound-absorbing noise protector right across the top of the engine bay, but the exhaust has a prominent, surprisingly edgy rasp that curls up to your ears over the rear deck.

Toe the accelerator lightly (says Cross) and the car eases away with the aplomb of a limo. Do it more dramatically and you're forced instantly, although never roughly, back into the upholstery.

Rear suspension squat is hardly a factor, even though your backside is only a couple of feet ahead of the rear contact patch. You can select a Dynamic mode for auto-shifting, which uses more revs, or actuate the paddles yourself but, according to Cross, most drivers opt mainly for the auto-shifting, using the paddles strictly when they feel like it.

As you'd expect from a smooth, supercharged engine, the V6 delivers easy torque right from the ground floor of its rev range, and could probably live its whole life below 3500rpm. On the other hand, the red line is at 6700rpm; this is a proper sports car and the power grows all the way to the rev-limiter.

I'm only the passenger here but I can see, just by watching Cross's hands, that the transmission is silky and downchanges are beautifully smooth. There's no question of the delays that used to affect set-ups like this.

Then there's the chassis. Even on lumpy, rutted, unpredictable surfaces, taken quickly, its excellence impresses. The F-type makes a constant virtue of its near-perfect weight distribution by avoiding pitching completely. According to Cross, Jaguar's suspension experts have also managed to configure the car so that it turns as if you, the occupant, are the centre of the movement, an ability that usually eludes even the best mid-engined car.

Tamed in all driving conditions by its adaptive dampers, the F-type V6's ride is always firm, but the rigidity of its all-aluminium chassis and the surprising quietness about its suspension even over bumps (which the V6S 'reads' through standard 19-inch Pirelli P-Zeros) make this feel a tautly damped, flat-riding machine.

The F-type has the soul of a responsive, agile sports car. The surprise is how well it copes with the most untidy, aggressive bumps and never, ever running out of suspension travel.

The steering is the highest-geared system ever put in a Jaguar, and I can only read its characteristics through Cross's hand actions, which is like trying to decide whether a scalpel is any good when wielded by the country's best heart surgeon. But he says it hits new heights, and I'm taking that on trust (while busting to try it myself).

Autocar's next F-type episode will be a proper test drive so stand by for stories and video tests in mid-April – at which stage I'll be as interested as anyone to discover whether my hugely favourably initial impressions of Jaguar's new sports car can move faithfully from one bucket seat to the other.

The full story of Steve Cropley's F-type ride, plus Martin Brundle's view from the driving seat, and a review of what F-Type alternatives are available on the used market, and at any budget, is available in this Wednesday's Autocar magazine.

Video: Riding in the Jaguar F-type

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:39 AM PST

Exclusive ride in the all-new Jaguar F-type

Steve Cropley rides in the all-new Jaguar F-type with engineering chief Mike Cross to understand the work that has gone into the creation of one of 2013's most desirable new cars.

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