Archive for August, 2012

Round and Round we go….

Don’t worry, I haven’t just had a crash in my car (it’s been a while since I have embarrassed myself with a spin), but I do seem to be going round in circles at the moment…

You will probably have noticed that all of my cars have been old. I have owned a couple that were “only” three years old, but most have passed their sixth birthday and are well past 75k miles. It hasn’t been a deliberate strategy but more of a consequence of liking quality brands with good performance and a limited budget. I guess what I’m saying is, why buy a new 75bhp Fiesta when I can have a 360 bhp Jaguar? sure it will cost more to run and will need more repairs, but it’s no worse than the money I would lose in depreciation on a new car.

but things are about to change….

Last week I got offered a great new job opportunity; so after 18 years (my whole career) with the same company I handed in my notice and accepted the new position… Which includes a car allowance…. which gives me a new problem (a very first world problem)… what should I buy?

A week ago I was pretty confident that it would be a Mustang, but it can’t be. For the car allowance, I need to get something with 4 doors and I have to change it before its 50th month… so I’m in a whole new market. Add to that the healthy car allowance and a larger salary and I’m in a whole new world…

So what should I get?

My first thought was back to the Good Ol’ Grand Cherokee. I can definitely afford one now and maybe a new one…. The V6 probably makes the most sense. It isn’t a lot slower, it gets better gas mileage and really the V8 is only needed for the extra pulling power which I won’t need…. but hang on a minute… can I afford a Range Rover Evoque now?… Yes I can! All the reviews say “if you can afford it why buy anything else?” so why would I buy anything else?

A quick trip to the local Land Rover dealer and I have to say I am impressed. It looks great… modern but classy and not too big for a city dweller like me. The interior has that old world luxury feel that you would expect from a Range Rover. It’s a lovely place to be. Even the back seat is comfortable and spacious and the view out of the full length glass roof makes you want to park somewhere and look at the stars. The trunk is a reasonable size….. maybe a little small and slanted for two large dogs… but workable for one or two medium sized dogs? The 28mpg highway number is better than my Golf gets, so that works and it definitely helps with the slightly larger monthly payment… The only negative? Nearly all of the reviews rave about the new dynamic suspension option that makes it glide like a Jag but corner like a sports car.. a bargain at $1k… but in the US it’s only available on the Dynamic model and that is definitely above my budget… so can I live with the compromise of the regular suspension or will I always feel I didn’t buy the right one?

Or maybe I should get sensible and buy a one year old Grand Cherokee? Something with 15k miles will still last me three years and I’ve seen a lot of them for $10k below the new price so I could get a better spec. for less money and let somebody else swallow the initial depreciation?

but then the Evoque gets 28mpg so the higher monthly payment would be canceled out by the saving in fuel costs… which is only going to become a bigger saving as the years progress because realistically gas won’t get cheaper….

… my father in law just reminded me that I am always telling him to get an XC90. I don’t need 7 seats but the XC60 is more modern, great looking and definitely a safe, sensible family option..

Or maybe I don’t need an SUV yet. Should I just be buying a 4 door sedan? Kids are still a couple of years away and dogs probably at least 1, so should I buy a fast sedan… one more time? A new BMW 328i maybe and save even more money on gas (33mpg)? Or maybe a one year old 335i for it’s mini M3 performance (0-60 in 5.1s)?

Or take the company car option? No, definitely not that one. It’s financially the most sensible and safest option, but a Camry? I think not…

I’m writing this in the Bahamas and trying not to think about it until next week and trying not to annoy The Wife more than I have to… I’m failing, but trying!

So definitely the 335i then! but they are so common in San Jose that it wouldn’t feel that special so the Evoque then…. that’s it… the best choice…

To be continued…


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Sorry I keep sharing other peoples words and not my own… I’ve been kind of busy. I will start writing again soon, I promise. I haven’t stopped thinking about cars. My drive yesterday went something like:

Jaguar XK8 to Jaguar XF to a BMW 5 series then to a Jeep Grand Cherokee then back to an XK8 and finally to a Mustang…….

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Autocar are predicting the Alfa Guilia will be made in the US and will look like this:

Alfa readies 3-series rival for 2014

Hilton Holloway
9 August 2012

Alfa Romeo’s new Giulia saloon is just months away from being frozen into its final form and committed to production for a 2014 launch. The new BMW 3-series rival is evidence that Fiat Group boss Sergio Marchionne remains determined to revive the ailing brand.

The Giulia will be the first all-new mainstream model launched under Alfa’s revival plan. The saloon, plus the mid-engined 4C sports car (due on sale in early 2014) and the reborn Spider (2015), are intended to put Alfa Romeo firmly back in contention as a viable global premium brand.

The front-drive Giulia (the name is used internally but is not final) will arrive as a saloon first and then a Sportwagon.

Prices are expected to kick off at around £22,000 for the entry-level 120bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir version. In addition to this familiar unit, the Giulia will be powered by a series of new turbocharged petrol engines exclusive to the Alfa brand, including an updated version of the highly regarded 1750 TBi unit used in the defunct 159 and Brera, as well as Fiat’s own diesel powertrains.

Marchionne recently revealed that, in future, Alfa will benefit from a range of engines that are not shared with Fiat-branded cars. However, with Fiat seemingly shrinking back to a core range of Panda and 500-series vehicles, any future clash between them is unlikely.

The Giulia will also use a new MultiAir version of Chrysler’s latest Pentastar petrol V6, though this engine may not make it to Europe. Four-wheel drive will be an option on the Giulia, and is particularly important if Alfa is to successfully relaunch itself in North America.

The new car will aim to compete with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series in Europe’s compact executive sector. This market is still very healthy, in stark contrast to the mainstream European D-sector market, dominated by cars such as the Ford Mondeo, which is shrinking fast.

The key to the Giulia being taken seriously in established premium company is an updated version of the sophisticated ‘Compact’ platform that underpins the Giulietta. Fiat says 90 per cent of the platform is made up of ‘high-strength’ materials, featuring such technical niceties as a cast aluminium ‘shear plate’ to brace the front chassis legs, greatly improving rigidity for better steering and suspension control.

The Giulia’s underpinnings are the third iteration of this architecture. The second-generation Compact platform, which is wider than the Giulietta platform, currently underpins the Dodge Dart and the Chinese-market Fiat Viaggio. The Giulia gets a further update of the Dart platform, with a longer wheelbase and a rumoured complete upgrade of the independent rear suspension.

The car’s final look — which has been agonised over by Fiat Group bosses — is expected to be finalised this autumn, when the production process is set to begin. A thinly disguised version of the final car is expected to be unveiled in the middle of next year.

The new Alfa could be made alongside the Dodge Dart at Chrysler’s plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Officially, Fiat says this is possible, but no decision has been made.

In truth, building the Giulia in the US will give a huge boost to the chances of a successful relaunch of Alfa there after the brand pulled out of North America in 1995.

Building the Giulia in Europe then shipping it to the US would undermine profitability, and greater economies of scale can be achieved by building the car alongside its Dodge cousin.

The Giulia is also likely to spearhead the introduction of Alfa to the Chinese market, with local production alongside the Viaggio (the Chinese version of the Dodge Dart) a racing certainty.

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Jaguar F-Type: New details

10 Aug, 2012 10:19am Jack Rix

Jaguar has revealed the engine line-up for its new two-seater sports car

The launch of the F-Type Roadster at the Paris Motor Show is creeping ever closer, and Jaguar is building the buzz with a host of new details on the two-seater sports car, shown here in our artist’s impression.

Most significant is confirmation of the three-strong engine line-up, which will include 335bhp and 375bhp versions of Jaguar’s new 3.0-litre supercharged V6, as well as a “new derivative” of the existing 5.0-litre supercharged V8. No power output has been confirmed for the V8, but expect it to be in a milder state of tune than the XFR, with around 450bhp.

Jaguar has also revealed that every model will be rear-wheel drive and use an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Stop-start will be standard, too, while the chassis and body will be constructed entirely from aluminium to keep weight down and performance up.

Adrian Hallmark, Global Brand Director, Jaguar Cars, said: “As its sporting forebears did in their era, the F-Type will break new ground by delivering stunning sports car performance while vividly demonstrating Jaguar’s cutting-edge engineering technologies and world-class design excellence. The next step in Jaguar’s sporting bloodline is about to become reality.”

We’ll have full details and first official pictures of the Jaguar F-Type when it’s revealed on 26 September at the Paris Motor Show.

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