Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Evoque”

Porsche Macan – First Drive

Porsche MacanBelieve it or not, Porsche‘s assault on the SUV market started over 12 years ago with the somewhat divisive Cayenne. This is the Macan (Ma-Caan), and what’s perhaps more pertinent with this model is that Porsche have been making sports cars pretty much since the genre was invented. Confused? This is the all-conquering marque’s latest model and their debut entry into the ever-expanding and highly lucrative compact SUV sector, but Porsche are very keen to stress that the Macan should be regarded as ‘less of a small Cayenne – more of a large 911’.

Initial evidence to back-up this claim is tenuous to say the least. It doesn’t take an expert to notice that it’s got five doors, a proper boot (500l – 1500l with rear seats down), and the engine isn’t stored in aforementioned boot – it’s in front of the steering-wheel, just behind the headlights.

That really is just about where the similarity to its larger sibling ends though.If I was to tell you that, in typical Porsche fashion, they’ve ditched the traditional copper for their battery wiring in favour of aluminium as it saves a whopping 3.6kg, you get some idea of what the Macan is about.

Macan Diesel  011

silhouette is very 911-based

Visually, the Macan has none of the awkward angles and lumps sometimes associated with cars in this class. It’s pure Porsche at the front, with the traditional clam-shell bonnet and raised wings. The basic silhouette is very much 911 based and there are hints of the iconic sports car found all around the Macan, combined with certain aspects of the 918, not least of which being the eye-catching 3D rear lights. Speaking of the rear, this is the angle I found most satisfying on the Macan – its shape is pleasing and well proportioned. Look closely and you’ll notice that the Macan’s tyres are wider at the rear than the front to aid traction and grip – that’s definitely more sports car than SUV – a set of exposed quad-exhausts does nothing to detract from the overall look, either.

There are three models available at launch – two petrols in ‘S'(340bhp) and ‘Turbo'(400bhp) guise, and one Diesel, ‘S Diesel'(258bhp), although there’s apparently scope to expand the range in the future.

Porsche macan rear

quad exhausts. Mmmmmmm….

What’s perhaps more important than the range of engines available, though, is the fact that the Macan comes as standard with Porsche’s excellent PDK ‘box across the range, as opposed to the Tiptronic system found in the Cayenne. Again, this decision is undoubtedly pointing more in the direction of performance, less towards gentle wafting.

Porsche were keen to emphasise the Macan’s sporting pedigree, to the point that it’s launch wasn’t held on some quasi-all-terrain test route, it was held at a race-track. And not just any race-track. It was held at Goodwood – a circuit renowned for its high speeds and lack of run-off points. Oh.

3D rear lights, design taken from 918

3D rear lights, design taken from 918

I drove both petrol variants around the Goodwood track, and what’s immediately evident is the lack of body-roll that goes hand in hand with the engines and gearboxes to give a planted, purposeful feel. You can opt to combine your steel-sprung suspension with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system (standard on Turbo), or even plump for air suspension if you like. I guess it depends on what you plan to do with your Macan, but the way the car handled and reacted to changes in direction and camber was sublime in all three set-ups.

Lightweight battery cables or not, the Macan weighs in at nearly 1900kg, so I was quietly grateful for the reassuring stopping power on offer (Porsche engineer their models so that they can go from 60-0 mph in half the time it takes to go from 0-60), especially when approaching those run-off points. Or lack of.

Analogue clock is part of Sport Chrono package

Analogue clock is part of Sport Chrono package

I drove the Diesel on the roads around Goodwood and, lets face it, the road is where the vast majority of Macans will find themselves. Porsche are predicting a 60:20:20 split in the UK (S Diesel:Turbo:S), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the proportion of Diesel models bought was even higher. It really is that good. It may originally have been lifted from the Cayenne, but in the Macan the Diesel unit really comes alive, especially when combined with the ‘Sport’ mode that’s fitted in every Macan, or the really spicy, optional Sport Chrono package.

porsche macan dieselCouple this performance with 46mpg combined and the Diesel is even easy on both the conscience and the wallet. Scarcely believably meagre fuel consumption is another aspect the Macan shares with the 911, though. Even the Turbo model returns an average 30mpg, although I don’t think our test cars were quite achieving that around the track!

Porsche are understandably eager to grab their slice of the compact SUV market, so much so that, including expanding their Leipzig plant, they’ve invested  £1billion Euro to create what they call the first sports car in the class. On first impressions, they might have pulled it off.


By Ben Harrington


Specifications; Porsche Macan S, Engine – 3.0l V6 biturbo petrol, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 340bhp, Torque – 460Nm, Emissions – 212 – 204g/km CO2, Economy – 31.9mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 158mph, Acceleration – 5.4s 0-62mph, Price – £43,300 OTR

Specifications; Porsche Macan S Diesel, Engine – 3.0l V6 turbo Diesel, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 258bhp, Torque – 580Nm, Emissions – 164 – 159g/km CO2, Economy – 46mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 143mph, Acceleration – 6.3s 0-62mph, Price – £43,300 OTR

Specifications; Porsche Macan Turbo, Engine – 3.6l V6 biturbo petrol, Transmission – 7 speed PDK, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 400bhp, Torque – 550Nm, Emissions – 216 – 208g/km CO2, Economy – 30.7mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 165mph, Acceleration – 4.8s 0-62mph, Price – £59,300 OTR


For full details, go to http://www.porsche.com/uk/models/macan





Range Rover Evoque SD4 Prestige Coupe – Driven and Reviewed

Range Rover Evoque Coupe front and sideWay back in 1970, if you’d have walked into a Range Rover showroom you’d have more than likely been greeted by a smiling, Sta-Prest salesman who’d have been more than happy to proudly demonstrate the best (possibly the only) luxury 4×4 in the world. It was big, it had three doors, it was quintessentially British and the only quandary you’d be faced with would be which shade of brown to opt for. Staying in 1970 for a little bit longer, it was a similar story if you decided a Mini was the car for you; there were some slight variations in body styles and engines to choose from, but if all you wanted was a clever, compact car for the family, you could simply decide on which particular hue to go for and that was it – your three door marvel of British engineering will be delivered ASAP, Sir.

Fast forward 43 years and things have changed a little. Well, a lot actually. Both brands have been through the British Leyland mill and come out the other side, only just though and with reputations temporarily in tatters. Foreign ownership has been the salvation of both national treasures and through this, the secret of survival has been identified in a certain, undeniable quality; diversity.

All this brings me onto what is undoubtedly the most diverse product from the Range Rover stable to date – the Evoque. Launched in 2011 with considerable fanfare (some of it Spice Girl related), it’s now an everyday sight on our roads whilst still retaining an air of exclusivity. Ironically enough, if it’s a quality SUV you’re after with comparable kerb appeal and quirkiness, realistic competition comes in the surprisingly similar sized Countryman or Paceman models from, would you believe it, MINI? How things have changed in just over four decades!



The ensuing popularity was such that Land Rover were moved to introduce round the clock manufacturing of the Evoque, in order to keep up with the insatiable demand it generated, and it’s not hard to see why. Just on face value, the Evoque is an attractive proposition, especially in three door, coupe guise such as our SD4 Prestige test car. The Evoque looks it’s best when viewed from the front, with its pepper pot, two-bar-grille that makes it unmistakably part of the Land Rover group. The appeal lies in its jutting chin and narrow lights, giving the impression of a stalking ninja in full, face-concealing headgear. The lines created by these feature headlights continue down the side of the Evoque, past the A-pillar, intersected briefly by some relatively oversized front wheel-arches that add a chunky, almost playful nature to the sometimes sombre Range Rover brand.

Range Rover Evoque Rear cornerA near vertical tailgate, combined with the coupe’s impressively large doors add an air of shooting brake to the Evoque. It’s an appealing shape that’s easy on the eye with enduring popularity. It’s only really the Evoque’s rear end that could be described as slightly questionable; the rear window is impossibly small and the level at which bodywork changes colour and morphs into bumper/undertray is a little too high. The result is a multitude of features seemingly squashed into a relatively meagre area. One feature I never tire of though, is the ‘comet’ style rear lights ands their ‘glowing ball with streaking tail’ design. Think you’ve seen them somewhere else? Jaguar’s F-Type sports similar lights, if somewhat exaggerated when compared to the Evoque.

Range Rover Evoque rear light clusterAnyway, enough of how the Evoque looks, the more pertinent question is possibly how it feels and how it behaves, both on and off-road.

I don’t know how they do it but Range Rover have a knack of producing incredibly comfortable seats and the Evoque continues this trend with aplomb. Various heating, cooling and shape adjustments all contribute to making even the longest of journeys as bearable as possible. Memory seats are, for me, an essential purchase in a car, as I love the guarantee of my seat returning to my optimum position after someone else has driven it. A shame then that whoever was tasked with positioning the buttons that control the Evoque’s memory seats opted to plonk them just behind the interior door pulls; it’s quite unnerving to open or close ones door and find your seat is unexpectedly moving as your knuckles have inadvertently scraped said buttons. Very frustrating.

Memory seat controls - well within knuckle range

Memory seat controls – well within knuckle range

The rest of the Evoque’s interior is the usual high quality fare we’ve grown to expect from the brand. There are splashes of metal and wood in all the right places, the still awesome dual-view TFT screen, and many niceties that all contribute towards a deeply pleasing ambience. Find much better and you’re probably sat in, well, a full-size Range Rover. The sense of space in the Evoque comes as something of a surprise; no occupant will find themselves cramped, even in this coupe model, and yet the boot, although not cavernous, is a decent shape and size too. Anyone with concerns about visibility stemming from that diminutive rear window I mentioned earlier can be reassured that the Evoque comes complete with a pair of door mirrors that wouldn’t look out-of-place on a road-train; it takes a bit of getting used to but missing something in those bad-boys would be no mean feat. One aspect of coupe ownership that could easily frustrate is the method of accessing the rear seats. Naturally, the front seats have acquired a motor for effortless movement back and forth but the rate at which they move is best described as glacial. Obviously health and safety will have legislated on the appropriate pace for this motion, to stave off any potential law suits resulting from trapped limbs etc. Sometime though, allowing access and egress from rear seats demands a certain level of stealth, i.e. in torrential rain so I can’t help but feel that this is one luxury feature too far and should have probably been left on the shelf.

Range Rover Evoque Coupe seat button

One motor too far?

I’m in the fortunate position to be able to comment first hand on how the 4WD Evoque copes with going off-road as I took one around Land Rover’s very own test facility at Gaydon. Obviously the good folk at LR weren’t going to allow me to attack the off-road course if they weren’t confident in its capabilities but rest-assured, this is no walk in the park. Some of the hills, valleys and troughs had me doubting anything would make it through, but put the Evoque into the appropriate mode for the terrain and it just goes and goes like a particularly determined mountain goat. Our intrepid Evoque was fitted with an underbody tray as height clearance is obviously not quite up to Defender levels but apart from that, you can be confident that this is by no means all show, no go.

Back in the real world and, let’s be honest, the common-or-garden speed hump is about as tasty as it’s going to get for 90% of an Evoque’s day. Thankfully, off-road prowess doesn’t have to mean wobbly on-road traits and back on the black stuff, the Evoque feels more mid-size hatch than tall lofty SUV. The suspension and drivetrain combine to give a smooth, silky ride that seemingly irons out all the creases and ridges we’ve grown accustomed to on British roads. I defy anyone to spot a change of ratios in the wonderful 6 speed ‘box, although this is due to be updated with a lightweight 9 speed ZF unit in the near future.

Devilish red jewels in Dynamic mode

Devilish red jewels in Dynamic mode

If you choose to, you can opt for a ‘dynamic’ driving mode in the Evoque, complete with red jewelled rings around the dials. This is supposed to support a more enthusiastic driving style but personally, I wouldn’t bother. I’m all for more feedback and response on the twisty bits but honestly, I felt that the standard ride blends comfort and driveability to near perfection, dynamic mode simply took away from the whole experience without enough significant gain.

The Evoque faced more than its fair share of thinly veiled criticism when it was announced, possibly not helped by a certain Mrs Beckham. Two years on, we’ve got 24 hour production lines and worldwide popularity, and it’s not hard to see why. Who’s laughing now, eh?

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Range Rover Evoque SD4 Prestige Coupe, Engine – 2.2l Diesel, Transmission 6 spd automatic, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 190PS, Torque – 420Nm, Emissions – 169g/km CO2, Economy – 43.5 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 121mph, Acceleration – 8.0s 0-60mph, Price – £40,995 OTR, £46,875 as tested.

For full details of the Evoque and any other Range Rover products, go to http://www.landrover.com

Range Rover Evoque – First Drive

Ben Harrington of Driving Torque drives and reviews the Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque Coupe

Bertone, Karmann, Pininfarina and now, Beckham. For all of their years of designing and building serious, rugged 4x4s, the new Evoque will forever be tagged as the car that Victoria built and obviously that’s just the way that Land Rover want it. I’m going to put this possible error of judgement to one side however and attempt to deliver an honest, unbiased review on what is repeatedly labelled as the greatest new model to have been launched in recent memory, by anyone.

On the particular day that I tested the latest Range Rover, I was lucky enough to have not one, not two but three of them to go at, both a coupe and 5dr 4wd and the latest addition to the group, the 2wd- eD4.

Ben Harrington of Driving Torque driving Range Rover Evoque 5dr

Range Rover Evoque

The 4wd coupe I was testing sported the SD4 2.2 litre diesel engine, capable of 0-60mph in 8.os, 169g/km CO2 and 43.5mpg combined. But the real fun was to be found in the 5dr as it had the Si4 2.o litre petrol under the bonnet, pushing the 0-60mph time down to a very respectable 7.0s but consequently the economy suffered at 32.5mpg combined and 199g/km, I’m predicting that the petrol will be a rare sight on Britain’s roads. Apart from the engines and the obvious lack of rear entrances and exits on the coupe, the 3dr and 5dr 4wds that I was testing were virtually identical and so I’ll group these two together. Both were the range topping Dynamic models, prices start at £39,995 for the 5dr and £40,995 for the coupe and both were fitted with the optional Lux pack, weighing in at a not-insignificant £4,325. These cars were unashamedly meant to impress.

Putting practicality swiftly to one side, in my humble opinion the Evoque looks at it’s best in 3dr guise and from every angle the coupe I tested does look a million dollars, which makes the £44,325 price tag seem a bargain. Now, there’s two ways of looking at the list price of an Evoque; yes, its expensive when compared with some other similar size 4x4s on the market but those other 4x4s aren’t Range Rovers. So maybe the best way to consider the price is from the angle of how much money you’d be saving over a similarly specced Range Rover Sport or even a fully grown Range Rover, both of which could easily cost double the amount of the Evoque with options.

The Range Rover Evoque prepares to attempt a gradient

Can the Evoque cut it off-road…………

Anyway, back to my test cars. The quality of the grown up Range Rovers has been successfully transplanted in terms of materials and interior finish into this baby one, without creating a 70% size photocopy- that would have been far too easy. Obviously, you just don’t get the acres of space that’s found in its big brothers – that would be impossible but the Evoque isn’t all about compromise either. The driving position for starters is unique to this model; it offers that essential high up feeling in order to gain superiority over lesser mortals but it very cleverly avoids an industry standard, bolt-upright posture in favour of a far more cosseting, sporty position that results in an entirely more engaging sensation. Another feature that’s unique to the Evoque are the jewelled rings that adorn the instrument dials. On first impression, these could simply be considered a tacky bit of bling, inspired by Mrs B. On closer inspection however, this ring detailing is echoed in the front and rear light clusters and somehow seems appropriate for the model, especially when they change colour, reflecting how spirited the selected driving mode is.

Having only previously seen the Evoque in the flesh from the outside, I was somewhat surprised to glance rearwards from the driver’s seat and find proper, adult size leg room for your lucky rear passengers. I was so astonished in fact that I leapt out of the car, determined to open the boot and therefore expose this bounder’s shortcomings. I’m fairly sure that a genuine double-take then occurred when I discovered a decent size boot, 550 litres in the coupe and 575 litres in the 5dr, to be exact. Just to put this into context, the Audi A4 Avant’s boot weighs in at 490 litres, that’s over 10% smaller than even the coupe, all of a sudden this baby Rangey doesn’t seem quite so compact. And I’m right, it’s neither small nor a tardis – the Evoque actually measures 4355-65mm, under 10cm less than aforementioned A4 so it could hardly be considered a super-mini. When placed on its own and not being compared to its palatial siblings, the Evoque is a car that’s realistically capable of transporting a family of four and all their luggage around in comfort.

Out on the road, the 4wd Evoque’s driving experience confirms what the seating position had previously hinted at; this car is no wallowy barge that has to be coaxed around corners with its wing mirrors scraping the floor. With the Terrain Response system set to dynamic (menacing red instrument dials) this genuinely rides like a capable hot-hatch, even the diesel engine in the 5dr was keen with little engine noise disturbing the tranquility of the cabin. My only complaint would be that the 6 speed automatic ‘box found in both the Dynamic models had an unnerving tendency to change gear whilst tackling bends. This made the whole car’s geometry go out of shape, not a pleasant feeling whilst negotiating a sweeping left hander. This situation could maybe be avoided by opting to change gear yourself but there’s no guarantee that the ‘box won’t disagree with your chosen gear and select a different one anyway.

The Range Rover Evoque tackles a tricky angle

………….yes it can!

One aspect of the Evoque that I was eager to assess was it’s off-road ability as this is where it’s attracted many doubters. Could this very fashionable vehicle prove itself to be as comfortable plugging mud as it is looking good? To put it through its paces I was going to take the Evoque around the rigorous off-road Land Rover Experience at Gaydon, a track I’d previously tackled in a Discovery although I think on that occasion the car was guiding me round, not vice versa. Now, I’m not naive to think that the good folk at Range Rover would risk the embarrassment of their new baby coming unstuck and certainly not on their home turf but my experience of proper off-road driving is limited at best and I wanted to see how assured a ham fisted novice such as myself would feel when tackling the rough stuff. One limitation that became immediately apparent was the comparative lack of ground clearance, some strengthened belly plates had been fitted to the test car to protect its vulnerable underside. I must stress however that this course is no walk in the park and on the few occasions that there was an audible scrape, it was on the most extreme of obstacles, not a kerb in Tesco’s car park. Otherwise, the Evoque successfully defeated any problems thrown at it, all without the aid of a low ratio gearbox and a locking differential, these are replaced with electrical wizardry controlling the drivetrain, dependant on the selected terrain mode.

Having assessed that the 4wd Dynamic Evoques are luxurious, capable off road and have excellent road manners, I went for a spin in the latest addition to the group – the ‘base model’ 2wd eD4 in Pure trim with a six speed manual gearbox. Just to clarify things a little, the entry-level Range Rover is a little different to how I remember other model’s entry levels; heated leather comes as standard, as do climate control and combined sat nav/entertainment screen; a far cry from the lack of a near-side wing mirror on some base models I’ve owned. It is an odd sensation getting into the driver’s seat of a Range Rover and finding a third pedal and a gear-stick but the gearchange is assuredly positive with a purposeful short shift between gears. On the road, the manual has the obvious advantage of feeling more engaging than the auto and avoids that unwanted mid-corner shift I encountered in the auto. I’m not entirely sure however whether there’s great demand in today’s 4×4 wielding society for a Range Rover that relies on the driver to change gear themselves;even taking into account the depleted fuel economy and £1,600 price hike, the auto just feels more at home than the manual. Some switch gear is lost in the transition from 4wd to 2wd Evoque as it loses its Terrain Response system but I’m sure this would only be noticeable if you transferred straight from one model to the other as I did. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the chaps at Range Rover were unwilling to let me take the 2wd model around their off road test track but I’m led to believe that even with only two driven wheels, the Evoque is better than you’d imagine when the going gets tough. Quite why anyone would opt for the 2wd Evoque over the 4wd Evoque (or any other 4×4) if they were planning on doing any off-roading is another matter.

To conclude, the Evoque is a comfortable, luxurious and surprisingly spacious car and in 4wd guise it can wear the Range Rover badge without fear of diluting the brand. The 2wd eD4 Evoque offers most of the benefits of the 4wd with possibly better road manners and some attractive financial savings- when compared with similarly specced cars, however, it may be difficult to justify its price tag whilst losing its off road capabilities.

By Ben Harrington


eD4 Pure Coupe;£29,695, 2.2l Diesel, 2WD, 150bhp, 0-60 mph = 10.6s, 112mph max, 56.5 mpg combined, 133g/km CO2

SD4 Dynamic Coupe; £40,995, 2.2l Diesel, 4WD, 190bhp, 0-60 mph = 8s, 121mph max, 43.5 mpg combined, 174g/km CO2

Si4 Dynamic 5dr; £39,995, 2.0l petrol, 4WD, 240bhp, 0-60 mph = 7.1s, 135mph max, 32.5 mpg combined, 199g/km CO2

Jaguar Land Rover Experience Day

Friday the 27th of January saw The Heritage Motor Museum in Gaydon host the first Jaguar Land Rover Experience Day and I went along to have a look. Designed to be a very ‘hands on’ occasion, they’re scheduled to be held monthly with a different central theme. This being the inaugural event, the theme was ‘Speed and Sustainability’ with the former being represented by the stunning Jaguar XJ220 and the latter being ably demonstrated by the Range_e Concept.

There were various models from the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges to be sampled, ranging from the Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel all the way to the captivating Range Rover Evoque with plenty in between to satisfy all appetites. Couple this with not one, but two Jaguar XJ220s available for rides around the Gaydon proving ground at breathtaking speed and as I’m sure you can imagine, boredom was never an option.

Driving Torque drives Range Rover Autobiography

Driving Torque test drives the Range Rover Autobiography

Having booked in for my XJ220 experience, I took full advantage of the cars available for test drives. What is startlingly apparent in all modern Jaguars is that, whichever way you look at it, they’ve regained they’re USP, they’re mojo, they’re certain je ne sais quoi, if you know what I mean? Jaguar’s reputation was built on creating cars that were not only well built and luxurious but that offered a level of excitement that’s difficult to quantify. What’s very clever is the way in which each car in the Jaguar range seems to approach translating this ‘Jaguarness’ into a slightly different yet equally special driving experience.

Driving Torque drives Jaguar XKR-S

Jaguar XKR-S

Firstly, I took the 5.0 litre XK Coupe out and initial impressions were actually quite deceptive. With sister models the XKR and XKR-S offering awesome levels of performance, one could be forgiven for assuming that this ‘base model’ is quite sedate, maybe a little bit placid. Where this model excels is that as you sink into the sumptuous seats, start the barely audible engine and select drive on the automatic six speed gearbox, it can be as calm and peaceful as you like, allowing you to arrive at your destination in complete relaxation and comfort. If you’re feeling like having a little more fun however, there’s a couple of ways the XK can help out. One of them is an option on the gearbox simply marked ‘S’, another is a little button displaying a picture of a chequered flag that’s just asking to be pressed. In full sports mode, the XK is a different beast altogether. Everything seems to gain a certain taught quality that it didn’t previously have. Quite appropriately, like a cat that’s just spied its prey, senses heightened, waiting to pounce. The car just feels ready for a more enthusiastic style of driving and it doesn’t disappoint, yet reverse the procedure and you’re back behind the wheel of the cruising GT you originally sat down in.

Over the course of the day I noticed that every Jaguar I drove featured an ‘S’ option on the transmission and that little chequered flag button I mentioned earlier, even the colossal Range Rover Autobiography could be driven in sports mode if so desired. This got me thinking again about that certainly intangible quality, that ‘Jaguarness’ and how it could be best described. You see, sitting in a Jaguar is always an occasion, it’s warm and inviting without being kitsch. In normal, every day mode a Jaguar is the perfect gentleman, assisting you on your way with nothing being too much trouble. Hit full blown sport mode however and that perfect gentleman is a party animal, taking you wherever you please, at whichever speed you please yet still being able to take you quietly home when you’ve had enough. Even the massive XJL Supersport somehow manages to belie its substantial mass and seems to shrinks itself when the urge takes you to have some fun.

The one model that fails spectacularly at covering up its more wayward intentions is undoubtedly the XKR-S but then, I don’t think it’s actually trying to. When you can boast 550bhp, 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 186mph, any disguise would surely be thinly veiled so, why bother? Having said that, there is a noticeable difference between normal and sports mode, it’s just that in the XKR-S, one starts off with a party animal and ends up with an absolute lunatic! I dared to drive this car in a slightly enthusiastic manner and it seemed to be offended if I even momentarily lifted off the power, it looked down at me and laughed at what a pathetic specimen I was. One things for sure with this car, you’d run out of nerve before it ran out of horsepower!


Jaguar F-Type

One hugely impressive aspect of modern Jaguars is their interiors; this undoubtedly contributes towards a large percentage of their USP. With their neat features, cleverly sculpted vents and use of high quality materials, there’s always a little reminder that you’re in something special. I know that in this category we’ve come to expect a certain standard and the likes of Mercedes and BMW aren’t exactly slums but no other car manufacturer can compete with Jaguar’s interiors across their entire range. They’re modern and fresh and yet offer a warmth and familiarity that lifts them above the competition. The XJ’s interior really should be classified more as art than car; I doubt you’d ever stop noticing previously unseen features that simply made you smile.

The progression that Jaguar have made since being under Ford’s control is nothing short of staggering in what is actually a relatively short period of time. From the XF to the XK, right up to the XJ they’re not just contenders but what the competition aspires to beat and when the eagerly awaited C-X16 sports car is launched in the near future, the Jaguar brand will be thrust right back into the limelight – where it belongs.

Driving Torque gets ride in Jaguar XJ220

Fulfilling a lifelong dream in an XJ220

XJ220 This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Jaguar XJ220 and the highlight of the day for me was undoubtedly the two examples of this iconic car on show, one being no.004 – one of the development mules and the other being a lightweight ‘S’ model. As a young boy, a poster of one of these beautiful machines stared down at me from my bedroom wall, right next to my bed so it was the last thing I saw before I went to sleep and the first thing I saw when I woke up. The opportunity to be driven round the Gaydon Proving Ground in one of the actual development cars that hit the (then world record for a production car) 217mph, by none other than Le Mans winner and XJ220 test driver Andy Wallace seemed almost to good to be true and yet, here I was, trying desperately to maintain an air of composure and professionalism whilst creeping past 180mph on a slightly damp track.

I did manage to ask Mr Wallace a few of the many questions I had planned, in between the involuntary squeals emerging from my throat – some induced by fear, many induced by pure, unadulterated pleasure. I quizzed him on his personal reaction when the XJ220’s initial concept of a thunderous V12 and 4WD were shelved in favour of a turbocharged V6 and 2WD, did the turbo lag not irritate slightly? His reply – ‘Not really, you see I’m a racing driver and I always favour lightness’. This said whilst demonstrating what a whacking great turbo plus lightness can achieve by flooring the throttle in second gear. The results were, shall we say, shattering!

Huge thanks to all at Jaguar Land Rover for the day, thanks to Don Law of Don Law Racing for supplying the XJ220s and finally, thanks to Andy Wallace for helping me fulfil a life long dream.

By Ben Harrington

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