News of the week:
- Jaguar launches the all-new XE model in South Africa.
- The luxury British is set to stir up its segment which is largely dominated by the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4.
- It is also the first in its class with an aluminium monocoque chassis.
- It debuts with three engines and a number of model derivatives which vary in spec. a 2.0L turbodiesel with 132kW and 430Nm which is claimed to return a combined 4.2 litres per 100km. It also emits 109 g/km of CO2…falling under the tax emission bracket.
- The 2.0L petrol turbo unit develops 177kW and 340Nm of torque. It will sprint from 0-100kph in 6.8 seconds.
- The flagship model is powered by a supercharged 3.0L V6 which produces 250kW and 450Nm. It is claimed to sprint from 0-100kph in 5.1 seconds.
- The XE is claimed to be the most aerodynamic Jaguar sedan car ever built (I disagree considering the aerodynamics of the beautiful F-Type).
- The cabin offers outstanding levels of comfort and spaciousness. Exquisite materials and finishes combined with Jaguar craftsmanship with a class-leading interior.
- It is also the first Jaguar to be equipped with electric power steering, tuned to provide exceptional responsiveness and feel but with lower energy consumption than hydraulic systems. The XE also boasts the lowest cost of ownership and most environmentally sustainable credentials of all Jaguar models.
- Pricing starts at R534 800 for the entry level Diesel Pure derivative, whilst the flagship model will set you back R908 100.
Road test: Toyota Auris XR 1.6
Few cars strike fear in the hearts of car reviewers as much as a bread-and-butter Toyota products.
I’d love to tell you all about how awesome its 19” rims look, but that low profile tyres give it the ride quality of a Pick n Pay trolley on cobblestones. But I can’t because it rolls sensibly on 16” wheels with cushiony 205/55 rubber.
I’d love to tell you that its sexy coupé-like roofline looks the business parked among a sea of exotics at Hyde Park mall and then follow up with moans about how small the boot and back seat are. But I can’t because its body style is totally practical with decent legroom for rear passengers, and its spacious 360 litre boot is able to munch more bags of groceries than most people can afford in a single shopping session. And that’s with a full size spare wheel in there as well.
I’d love to explain in great detail, how its highly-strung turbocharged engine boosts wonderfully at high revs but that it lags on pull off and drinks too much juice on daily commutes. But I can’t because its simple, naturally aspirated 1.6 does its thing, no fuss, quietly churning away with reasonable pulling power in most situations. And I can’t whinge about the 7.8 litres per 100km our test car averaged either, even if Toyota ambitiously quotes 6.2.
I can’t even kick a stink about pricing. Our high-spec XR model, at R287 700, is competitively priced in its segment and standard features include leather seats, keyless entry and start, auto headlights, dual-zone climate control, heated seats and electric lumbar adjustments. Few of these things can be found in similarly sized and priced rivals.
It’s annoying really. An obsessive compulsive critic like me can find fault in anything, and after a week with most cars I usually have some niggles and nitpicks to sift through, and which are best filed into my you’re-too-picky drawer.
But it’s not easy with the Auris. The designers behind it went to great lengths to ensure it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, well. Nothing less, nothing more. Perfect bullseyes in each of its everyday practicality departments.
And then I realised… this is the Auris’ only fault. It’s so darn responsible that it’s completely forgettable. Like that shy office worker who sits in his corner, nailing all of the impossible targets set by his bosses. He’s the ideal employee, except that no one knows his name. While other staffers are photocopying their buttocks at the annual Christmas party, he’s colour-coding Excel spreadsheets in neat little files.
And what’s really irritating, is that the midlife update just performed on the Auris has made this already hard-to-fault package just a little bit better. Besides its slightly freshened exterior, which at least makes some attempt to look exciting, the Auris gets a host of under the skin improvements. The suspension system has been overhauled to improve ride quality; the electronic power steering has been re-programmed for better feel and to get weightier as speeds rise; and sound deadening materials have been added to the firewall, dashboard, fenders and doors to kill wind and engine noise in the cabin.
Inside, the dashboard has been completely redone with a curvy new shape and soft-touch coverings, and vents and door handles are revised with higher quality finishes. The double-din sized (square) radio unit has also been replaced with a new touchscreen system with reverse camera functionality. Here I was able to connect my iPhone via Bluetooth or USB cable and shuffle through my music library with relative ease, and I like that album artwork is displayed in full colour.
A role model for all other C-segment hatches to look up to. But, the Auris is so near-perfectly practical that I’ve already forgotten it.
Toyota Auris XR 1.6
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Power: 97kW @ 6400rpm
Torque: 160Nm @ 4400rpm
0-100km/h (claimed): 10.0 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 200km/h
Consumption (claimed): 6.2 litres per 100km
Price: R287 700
Warranty: 3-year/100 000km
Service plan: 5-year/90 000km
AURIS VS THE RIVALS
Chevy Cruze LS 1.4T (103kW/200Nm) – R265 200
Ford Focus Trend 1.5T (132kW/240Nm) – R277 900
Hyundai i30 Premium 1.6 (95kW/157Nm) – R284 900
Kia Cerato EX 1.6 (95kW/157Nm) – R261 995
Mazda3 Dynamic 1.6 (77kW/144Nm) – R253 100
Opel Astra Enjoy 1.4T (103kW/200Nm) – R287 400
VW Golf Comfortline 1.4TSI (90kW/200Nm) – R308 000
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