vineri, 1 iulie 2011

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI Quattro (2011)

This is the new Audi Q3, Ingolstadt’s rival for the BMW X1 and the forthcoming Range Rover Evoque. It’s the smallest Q-series 4x4 yet from Audi, and (at least initially) is only available with a selection of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged and direct-injection engines.
Items like an aluminium bonnet and aluminium bootlid are 50% lighter than the conventional steel items, there are big car options like 3D sat-nav complete with Google Earth tech, and let’s not forget the appeal of that four-ringed badge. The Q3 is already guaranteed to be a sales success for Audi, but is it any good? Read on for CAR’s first drive review of the new Audi Q3.
That’ll be the Cross Coupe Quattro, unveiled way back in 2007; despite the huge array of new models that Audi has produced over the past few years, it’s actually taken a surprisingly long time for that small concept car to become a production reality.

In the metal and on the road it looks good, but only if you spec the S-line bodykit, and those LED headlamps and taillights too – and remember there’s a certain baby Range Rover on the way that’s rather stunning.
Good points first. In terms of refinement, the Q3 is very good indeed – at motorway speeds there’s barely any wind noise, and what road roar there is is only apparent because everything else is so hushed.
Cars equipped with the S-tronic transmission (standard on the top-spec petrol and diesel) and the optional Drive Select system get a nifty de-coupling clutch that disengages the engine on the overrun. It works well: the gear indicator between the two dials disappears to indicate what’s going on and the engine’s revs drop to below 1000rpm nearly every time you back off the throttle. The only downside is the lack of engine braking; just as a Cayenne Hybrid in its ‘sailing’ mode can start to freewheel and pick up pace, the same is true of the Q3 so you actually need to keep your foot on the brake.

  • How much? £28,460.
  • Engine: 1968cc 16v turbodiesel four-cylinder, 174bhp @ 4200rpm, 280lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm.
  •  Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, four-wheel drive.
  • Performance: 8.2sec 0-62mph, 132mph, 47.9mpg, 156g/km CO2.

Jaguar XF 2.2 D (2011)

This new, facelifted XF 2.2 D is a very important car for Jaguar. If the Coventry company’s predictions are correct, it’ll nearly double XF sales, from 12k units in 2010 to 20k in 2012 (deliveries don’t start until September 2011). Fleet sales will be boosted as it dips below the crucial 160g/km tax threshold, and 43% of XFs to leave the Castle Bromwich factory over the coming years will be 2.2 Ds.
That’s not all. The new four-pot diesel’s arrival coincides with a mid-life facelift for the entire XF range, ushering in the C-XF concept car's looks and an updated interior. Read on for CAR’s first drive review of the new Jaguar XF 2.2 D.
Right, but we don’t expect the same sort of uproar from Jag fans that came when the company first fitted a for-pot oiler into the X-type in 2003. This is a car the company must build, and the more it sells, the more money that can be put into projects like the XE sports car and C-X75 supercar.

The engine itself is the 2.2-litre, single turbo, four-cylinder diesel that will soon debut in the Range Rover Evoque. Only here it’s been installed in a north-south configuration for the first time, necessitating a whole host of ancillary changes, including new engine mounts, a new oil pan and different sound deadening. On that note, the 2.2 D benefits from a new twin-layer bulkhead to further reduce noise, additional sound deadening moulded around the turbocharger, alternator and starter, and all new diesel XFs feature active engine mounts too.
A few subtle but important changes. There’s a lot less silver plastic, and all the buttons are now rubberized items and all the better for it. The super-simple cruise control remains, but there are now rubberized wheel spokes too, there’s a little more shape to the gearshift surround, but alas we’ve lost the hidden touchpad that opened the glovebox – it’s now just a boring button. The rotating air vents and rising rotary gearshift remain.
Our test car came in top-level Premium Luxury spec, which means everything from sat-nav and leather, to Bluetooth connectivity and heated front seats are standard – essentially, it’s got everything on it you’ll ever need. Traditionally the Premium Luxury trim has accounted for 28% of sales and lesser Luxury trim has taken 29%, but expect a little shift towards the latter with the new 2.2.

It’s nimble and agile in a way that no car this big has any right to be, the steering is quick, light and full of feel, and… and the chassis is so sweet you’ll soon find yourself wanting and wishing for more power. Driven an E-class recently? The XF exists in a different world, but the downside is the same slight problem that afflicts all modern Jags – a firm ride. It’s not 1-series M tough though, and we reckon the trade-off is worth it.

Only on start-up (especially when cold) and when you’re really thrashing it does the engine betray its four-cylinder roots, but for the rest of the time it’s smooth and quiet. Best to twist that gear selector in S if you’re pushing on though; with eight cogs to choose from, the transmission will be forever shifting down and searching for the right ratio if you leave it in D. There are paddles, but they’re still small, plasticky items with a short, unsatisfying throw.

  • How much? £37,950.
  • Engine: 2179cc 16v 4-cyl turbodiesel, 188bhp @ 3500rpm, 332lb ft @ 2000rpm.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive.
  • Performance: 8.5sec 0-62mph, 140mph (limited), 52.3mpg, 149g/km CO2.