News of the week:
• The all-new Volvo XC90 has debuted in Stockholm, Sweden.
• Three years in the making and part of a USD 11 billion investment programme, the latest Volvo XC90 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Volvo’s history.
• It captures the brand’s future design direction, incorporating its own range of new technologies and utilising its new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology.
• The XC90 will be the first of its cars to carry the company’s new – more prominent iron mark – which has the iconic arrow elegantly aligned with the diagonal slash across the grille.
• Together with the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” DRL lights, the iron mark introduces an entirely new, distinctive and confident face for Volvo’s forthcoming generation of cars.
• The XC90’s large bonnet with its new topography, the beltline and the sharpened shoulders connecting with the tattoo-like new rear lights are important design signatures that will be mirrored across the range.
• To add more visual muscle from the sides, the all-new Volvo XC90 comes with a range of wheel sizes up to 22 inches.
• The all-new Volvo XC90 offers the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry.
• It includes two world first safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and auto brake at intersection capability.
• The all-new Volvo XC90 offers a range of two-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains, all of which provide an outstanding combination of performance and fuel-efficiency.
• The top of the range XC90 T8 Twin Engine, which combines 2L, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor, offers an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation: around 295kW with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle).
• Full range details and pricing will be available closer to the local launch, but we expect the pricing to start just under R800 000. South Africa will get the Twin-engine T8.
Road test: Jaguar F-Type 3.0 S Coupe
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe line-up closely follows that of the longer established convertible in that customers have a choice of three engines. There are two 3.0 V6s of varying power outputs along with a supercharged 5.0 V8 for those who want the maximum available performance and are prepared to pay for it.
In a previous review of the Jaguar XF 3.0, I suggested that it was preferable to, if less exciting than, its bigger brother V8 because it was friendlier and could be driven more sportily in a wider range of conditions. You’ll understand that I was expecting to have much the same opinion of the F-Type Coupe.
Well, no. With this body style the positions are almost reversed. The V6, in its stronger 280kW and 460Nm form as tested here, is still nowhere near as powerful as the V8, but it still gives the chassis a lot of work to do, and you have to be careful how you use it.
And I mean careful even in situations where an unusual amount of care might not seem necessary. My most attention-grabbing moment during this test came shortly after I’d left a roundabout leading towards a highway close by.
There was a downhill right-hand bend, and I wasn’t pushing at all hard (because I’d done quite a lot of that already and was now just heading towards my destination). Maybe half-throttle, if even that. The road was dry, and there weren’t any reports of accidents on this road in a while. So I suited up and took a shot at it, seeing that there was little to kerfuffle the experience.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox, realising that hard acceleration wasn’t being asked for, shifted up from third gear to fourth. The rear of the car jumped to the left and I had to apply opposite lock on the steering. My palms, I blush to admit, were not as dry as they had been a few seconds before.
I know there are journalists who love this sort of thing, and there may be people who would buy an F-Type hoping that it will happen to them. Personally, I prefer to feel that I’m driving the car, not that it’s driving me.
In fairness, the V6 S gives what might be described as fair warning, whether by accident or design. It’s actually noisier than the V8 when driven gently, even if you resist the temptation to press the button that makes the exhaust growl more fiercely. Give it enough throttle and you’ll sail on to a top speed of 275kph. The 0-100kph sprint comes up in 4.9 seconds.
Why its behaviour, and not the convertible’s, should so easily become wayward is something of a puzzle. Perhaps, with this chassis, 280kW is enough to make the handling tricky when the body structure is stiff but not when it’s compromised by the removal of the roof on the Convertible (The V8, in contrast, offers a wild ride either way). And, it’s just the right amount of power to haul the 1.6 ton body.
It’s also worth pointing out that the test car was fitted with optional 20″ wheels and tyres of lower profile than the ones used on the standard 19s. That could have been significant, though it would be surprising if such a small difference completely altered the car’s handling. Yet another possible issue is that the V6 S has a limited slip differential which may possibly have been set too tight.
The brakes worked well, it has massive all-round discs and red calipers, while the standard sports suspension features adaptive dynamics to reduce the rate of body roll, and thus improving stability at higher speeds.
For me, as you’ll have noticed by now, the driving dynamics dominate the whole experience, but if you’re interested in other matters there’s no doubt that the F-Type is a dramatic-looking, if perhaps not entirely elegant, sports car with, as is the way of Jaguars, a very special interior.
There’s a lot of equipment, as there damn well should be in a car that costs close to R1 million. It has a DAB digital radio, cruise control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera and, for the sake of pedestrian protection, and an active bonnet are all standard.
And if you’re think the claimed fuel consumption of 9.1-litres per 100km is decent, I would then rethink buying an F-Type 3.0 S. It’s thirsty and with the spirited driving experience that I had, I yielded around 18-litres per 100km as combined fuel consumption. By no means is it meant to be driven like a nanny!
More can be specified, but it’s not cheap. My test unit came equipped with the larger wheels, a Meridian surround sound audio with 12 speakers, a panoramic sunroof, sports bucket seats, and a heated steering wheel, to name a few.
So the test unit was valued at close to R1.2 million, which a lot of money to fork out for a sports car. But that’s not much to pay when you consider that the base model BMW M4 will cost you around R50 000 more than the base spec F-Type. And at nearly R500 000 less than its sibling Coupe R, it’s definitely the pick-of-the-bunch.
This car is also more exclusive, the lines are beautiful and it has to be one of the best models ever released by the English marque in decades.