Friday, 12 May 2017

COLUMN – May 2017

Here is another chance to catch my column from the may editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. It's been a hectic month yet again, but I have managed to squeeze in a couple of reviews for your perusal. The first is the Hyundai Tucson: sibling of the Kia Sportage and versatile crossover. Next was the updated Jaguar XF, a car which I was rather excited to see. The Jaguar model line-up is currently one of the most exciting in the market, putting Jaguar back on the map. As always the full write ups of both cars can be found on the Reviews page. See you next month!

By the time this column lands on your doorstep, I will be a father for the first time. But don’t think that means I’ll only be reviewing Astra diesels and Ford Galaxys from now on. In fact, the forthcoming months look to be some of my most exciting yet… Watch this space.

This month I will start by talking about the Hyundai Tucson. It shares many things with the Kia Sportage, and that’s a car I rather like. So how does its (non-identical) twin compare? I grabbed a top-of-the-range Premium SE to find out.

Looks wise, I like the exterior design. It’s bold and angular. From the front there’s a large, almost-aggressive grille. Both the front and rear three-quarters view showcase a well-proportioned design. The Premium SE model gets huge, 19-inch turbine alloy wheels which give some serious kerb appeal. The plastic bottom border of the car give a sense of ruggedness, which completes the ‘crossover’ design package. Inside, the Tucson is less impressive. The cabin lacks that air of quality that the exterior presents.

The engine in my test car was a 1.7-litre diesel offering 141PS, and was 2WD. It had the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) which would be my choice over the manual. It makes the most out of an engine that is a little underpowered. To its credit, it cruises well, but it just lacks that urgency when you need a burst of acceleration. Should you want a bit more oomph, there is a 2.0-litre diesel which offers 185PS and has AWD. The Tucson rides well, even on 19-inch alloys; soaking up bumps and potholes with ease.

The Tucson is fairly priced, starting at around £19,500. My Premium SE test car cost £31,125 which is reasonable considering it features keyless entry, electric tailgate, dual-zone climate control and heated front/rear seats.

A Jaguar XF replaced the Tucson. It featured the highly-acclaimed 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine. It had AWD, an 8-speed automatic gearbox and offered 180PS and 430Nm of torque. It’s not the fastest, with 0-62mph taking 8.4 seconds, but it is still a brilliant engine. And considering the combined fuel consumption figure is 57.7mpg you can see why the Ingenium engines are becoming so popular.

As for the car itself, the XF has benefitted immensely from a facelift. Outside the looks are crisper, more defined, and a bit sharper. My test car was an R-Sport which means it gets a sporty bodykit and had optional 20-inch alloy wheels for a serious style presence.

Inside the R-Sport was just my cup of tea. Sumptuous sports bucket seats were inviting, and the optional carbon fibre veneer whilst expensive (£1,100 to be precise!) was just what the interior needed to match that external presence. The InControl Touch Pro adds a 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster, which is without doubt a showstopper. You can customise the view and even use it as a full-screen sat-nav, and it just makes the XF feel current, modern and technological.

There is a certain prestige in the Jaguar brand; you don’t drive a Jag, you drive a “Jaaaaaag”, and with the AWD grip you really can drive it. This car grips and grips, tucking into every apex and hurtling you out the other side, whatever the weather. With adaptive dynamics the damping is variable, meaning that on A-road blasts you can have a firmer, sportier setup, yet return to a softer more comfortable setup for motorway driving.

Prices for the XF R-Sport 180PS AWD start at £38,650 and with options my car tipped the scales at £48,995. I accept that this is a lot of money for a 2.0-litre diesel saloon car. But what a car it is!

Dan

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