This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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Published in The Witness Motoring on Wednesday September 23, 2009
This Jaguar eased onto my driveway as the 5.0 litre naturally aspirated petrol version departed.
Both were Premium trimmed and the only ways of telling them apart were colour, Liquid Silver for the 5.0 litre and Lunar (dove grey for us basic males) on the 3.0 litre, and the fact that the diesel was fitted with 18” wheels rather than 19-inchers on the petrol burner. The smaller wheels made it look squatter and more purposeful, somehow.
Despite its smaller engine, the parallel sequential twin-turbocharged diesel puts out good numbers: 202 kW of power vs the 5 litre’s 283 and 600 Nm of torque at 2 000 rpm vs the petrol version’s 515 Nm at 3 500 rpm.
With the excitement kicking in at much lower revs, the diesel moves like a scalded kitty too, getting up to the 100 km/h benchmark in a claimed 6.4 seconds vs the 5 litre’s 5.7. Just a few years ago, these numbers were considered Ferrari and Lamborghini territory and are still quite hairy to experience first-hand today.
It’s quiet, too. Sound deadening material obviously plays a part, but new high-speed piezo units deliver up to five precisely measured injections per combustion cycle, minimising combustion noise. Their crystals are also installed nearer the tips, meaning they are deeper within the engine, masking the sound of the trademark diesel “click.”
Inside the car, you could be forgiven for thinking a petrol engine was doing the work – only the rev counter gives the game away. Outside, one can hear that it’s a diesel, but a lot quieter than one is used to.
Rather than repeat everything I said about the driving experience in the 5 litre, let me mention a few things I didn’t bother with previously.
Modern cars are made for the lazy and forgetful, as evidenced by the fact that you don’t need to remember to select “Park” prior to switching off – the car does it for you as soon as you press the big black on/off button.
You cannot lock the magic smart key device inside the car, either. I found this out by accident. The fob usually stayed in my pocket, but one fine day I tossed it into one of the cup holders. On exiting, I pressed the black button on the door handle to lock everything up. Instead of politely folding, the outside mirrors remained deployed and the car emitted a gentle ‘toot’. I reclosed the driver’s door, thinking that was the cause, but no joy. A search of my pockets in order to use the ‘lock’ button on the fob revealed my mistake.
The built-in satnav device uses a male voice rather than the very English feminine tone I have become used to. “He” appears more patient, not resorting to “recalculating” every time one misses a suggested turn, or “turn left NOW” when an off ramp appears. The prompt simply suggests you “turn left” and quietly calculates the following instruction if ignored.
One gimmick that has tweaked my blood pressure on occasion is the touch-sensitive glove box switch. This is a little chromed target one is meant to gently caress in order to pop the lid. Brutal pressure definitely does not work, but the required feathery gentleness isn’t always successful, either. If you have all the time in the world, it works every time. If you don’t…
Just make that feature idiot proof and I’ll be happy, Mr Chief Designer Mc Callum.
So which model did I prefer? The big petrol version was really special, but for R83 000 less money, much better fuel economy and all the performance any sane person could use, I’d pick the diesel.
Price: R672 000
Engine: 2 993 cc 24 valve V6 twin turbo diesel
Power: 202 kW at 4 000 rpm
Torque: 600 Nm at 2 000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 6.4 seconds (claimed)
Maximum speed: Governed to 250 km/h
Average fuel economy: 6.8 l/100 km (claimed). About 9.6 l/100 over 400 km of real world testing, split 1/3 freeway to 2/3 city and performance.
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
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