Posts from ‘Jaguar’
Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it is black.” For most of its production run, the Ford Model T was only available in black because black paint dried the fastest and it simplified production to have only one color. Today, BMW has broadened the choice of free colors to black and white on many of its models. If the customer wants something more colorful, that’s a $550 option. Jaguar’s new F-Type sports car has a standard black convertible top. A top of another color is a $600 option. British Racing Green paint, once the most popular choice for an English sports car, is now a $1,500 option on the F-Type.
For a price, cars offer a broad palette of paint colors, but interior choice is more limited. In the 1940s, most American cars offered a choice of tan or gray interiors. Kaiser-Fraser, the postwar challenger to Detroit, didn’t have the resources to develop a V8 engine, but they did shake up the industry by offering new fabrics in a wide choice of colors. Soon, Detroit was offering interiors in every color of the rainbow and a few that were unknown to nature. Today we have gone full circle, as most interiors are offered as just tan or gray.
Doing hard time can change a man. Things you thought were true on the outside become less clear as time on the inside accrues. I did time—four years, in fact. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a lot of that time, at least the part that wasn’t spent in chemistry. You see, I was sentenced to four years of “learning” at Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois. My crime? Finishing eighth grade.
One thing I learned was that though you can lock a man up and hand him a German II textbook, you can’t stop him from thinking about cars. And think about them I did. It was during this period that the magic triumvirate of working at a gas station, reading Car and Driver, and living someplace rural enough to attempt crazy things in cars came together to reshape my worldview. Well, my automotive worldview at least.
I learned a few important things. From the gas station, I learned that American-made cars produced in the late ’70s and early ’80s were largely laughably crummy. The build quality was embarrassing, performance dull, and reliability distressing.
At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, I was fortunate to talk with Andy Goss, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America. Jaguar has a stronger lineup this year, as all-wheel drive and fuel-efficient V6 engines are newly available on its sedans. The addition of the 2014 F-Type roadster later this year will strengthen Jaguar’s line even further. The F-Type is Jaguar’s first true 2-seater sports car since the legendary E-Type of the 1960s and ’70s. (The XJ220 supercar was too expensive and rare to count as a regular production car.) The E-Type spearheaded Jaguar’s U.S. sales in the ’60s, and Jaguar officials hope that the F-Type will repeat that role.
Here is what Andy Goss had to say:
On the F-Type’s importance to the Jaguar line today and to the E-Type heritage: “The F-Type will be the emotional fulcrum of the Jaguar brand. Not in numbers, but in passion and emotion. The E-type will be featured in F-Type promotion, but Jaguar will not overplay the E-Type heritage. The F-Type is more modern and can stand on its own merits. Jaguar was rejuvenated when Ian Callum became design director. Callum acknowledges Jaguar’s bloodlines, but does not mimic past models.”
The automotive world is full of overpriced options. It’s pretty easy to argue that paying $2,500 for an in-dash navigation system is absurd, especially in the face of mobile devices that cost less than $200.
Likewise, some folks cringe at the notion of paying $1,000 or more for a sunroof. I am not in that camp. I like a little extra breeziness on the rare temperate day our Chicago home grants us.
But every now and then, a truly absurdly priced upgrade comes around that can’t be ignored. This one has bugged me since the day I became aware of it, and yet I am only venting my frustration now. Let me introduce you to the “$5,000 Half Liter.”
Half liter of what, you may ask? Well, of nothing actually. It’s 500 cubic centimeters . . . of space. Well, space in an engine, to be exact. Let me explain.
In 2002, Jaguar introduced its ill-fated X-Type sedan to the U.S. The car was based on the European-market Ford Mondeo, and was thus understood to be something less than a real Jaguar. In fact, as the Mondeo was a front-driver, Jaguar was forced to slap an AWD system on the X-Type lest people figure out what was really going on.
When it comes to luxury sedans, Jaguar’s midsize XF and large XJ have won plenty of accolades, yet have been perennial also-rans behind rivals from BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes, and even those from Acura, Audi, and Infiniti. But that may begin to change.
In recent years, all of the above manufacturers have joined innovator Audi in offering all-wheel drive as an option to standard front- or rear-wheel drive—all, that is, except Jaguar. Well, I take that back. One could argue that the Jaguar X-Type compact of 2002 to 2008 not only offered all-wheel drive but came standard with it. However, others might counter that that slow-selling, ill-fated anomaly could hardly be considered a true Jaguar, being as it was a gussied-up European Ford Mondeo that resulted from Ford’s 1990 buyout of the regal English marque. (That union has since been dissolved, Jaguar having been purchased along with Land Rover by Indian manufacturer Tata in 2008, leaving the X-Type a conveniently forgotten footnote in Jaguar’s otherwise glorious history.)
Jaguar took the wraps off its most powerful sedan ever at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The 2014 Jaguar XFR-S boasts a 550-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The British maker says the car will go from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and achieve an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph.
Engineers tightened the front and rear suspensions by 30 percent. A new rear subframe is necessary to handle the high levels of torque running to the rear wheels. Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system monitors and counteracts body lean, which is especially useful when carving tight corners. Large ventilated disc brakes bring things to a halt.
Also on display at the 2012 LA Auto Show was the 2014 Jaguar F-Type. Originally unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the F-Type is a 2-seat convertible powered by either a supercharged V6 or V8 engine.
Land Rover is also a part of the Jaguar family, and the purveyor of high-end off-roaders showed its redesigned 2013 Range Rover. Billed as the first all-aluminum SUV, the new “Rangie” weighs some 500 pounds less than its predecessor. This should translate into much improved fuel economy—up to 5 mpg in both the city and on the highway.
The purchase of a luxury item is usually more emotional than sensible or calculated. When someone purchases a high-end vehicle, they expect to get what they pay for: a car that is refined, distinctive, and crafted of fine materials. With that in mind, it simply wouldn’t do to attach a chintzy, cheap-feeling key to an expensive car. Appropriately, most luxury cars come with nice-looking keys.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the key to the 2012 Jaguar XJL Supersport.
Instead of a traditional metal key, this Jag uses a transponder-type key fob, commonly called a “smart” key. This kind of key allows the user to get into the car and start the engine without removing the key from their pocket or purse. It also weighs a bit more than a typical transponder car key, giving the impression of high-quality craftsmanship. After all, tossing a heavy, shiny key fob to a valet is sure to impress much more than a dull plastic one.
Consumer Guide Automotive editors are a discerning bunch. When rating vehicles in the category of Acceleration, they have to be blown away—almost literally—before they will bestow a perfect score of 10. Horsepower is not enough; editors look for a car that’s quick from a stop and delivers smooth, linear power.
For model-year 2012, CGA editors lauded 18 cars with perfect 10s for acceleration. (Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to test many exotics, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis.)
Perfect 10s for Acceleration
Powertrain: 510-hp 6.0-liter V12, 6-speed automatic transmission w/manual-shift capability
CG Says: “The exhaust note is intoxicating, and it accelerates with the ferocity you’d expect from a 12-cylinder sports car.”
Powertrain: 510-hp 5.9-liter V12, 6-speed manual transmission
CG Says: “Accelerates as well as you would expect from a supercar with 510 horsepower. Throttle response is outstanding in any situation. The manual transmission is a joy to use.”
Powertrain: 420-hp 4.2-liter V8, 6-speed manual transmission; 525-hp 5.2-liter V10, 6-speed manual transmission
For Jaguar enthusiasts, the wait is over. At this fall’s Paris Motor Show, the British automaker unveiled a new 2-seat roadster. Finally.
Jaguar’s glory years were spearheaded by 2-seat sports cars. The marque’s postwar ascendancy was launched by the XK120 at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show. The low-slung roadster was only meant to ramp up production of Jaguar’s revolutionary new dual-overhead camshaft engine before volume installation in sedans. Instead, the XK120 caused a sensation and spurred American export sales for Jaguar.
Jaguar didn’t expect the E-Type (or XKE in U.S. advertising) to be a volume model either, but its introduction at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show created an even bigger sensation than the XK120. The E-Type identified Jaguar in the Sixties—especially in America where they probably outsold sedans. Many years after it went out of production, the sporting glamour of the E-Type was still helping sell Jaguar sedans.
Jaguar has been slow to commit to an E-Type replacement—almost 40 years, in fact. Sports car prototypes were occasionally spotted and 2-seat concept cars made appearances at auto shows, but Jaguar built only sedans and 4-seat grand touring cars. The company claimed it had to concentrate on volume cars. Yet some would ask how could a marque whose reputation was built on sports cars afford not to build a sports car?
Presumably, if you’re shopping for a used car, dollar value is a priority for you. Not that value isn’t a priority for most car shoppers, new or used, but used-car folks tend to ratchet things up a notch.
I get that. My wife and I have purchased more one- to two-year-old cars than we have new ones. Generally, we have sought out premium rides that, for whatever reason, have depreciated far faster than other cars in the same class.
Some cars simply aren’t worth seeking out used. Acura’s excellent RDX, for example, retains a stunning 71 percent of its retail value after 24 months. The Lexus RX 350 retains a mind-boggling 80 percent of its value over the same period of time. Those numbers are crazy, and they make buying a new RDX or RX much more attractive.
What we’re looking at here is a list of arguably cool luxury rides that, after two years in use, have depreciated to such an extent that they are now compelling buys. Whereas the aforementioned Acura held on to more than 70 percent of its value, we’re seeking out cars that are going for 50 percent or less. Worth noting is that after 24 months, most of these cars still have another two to three years of warranty remaining in force.