MONDAY - First decent drive in our Jaguar XE diesel long-termer, a round trip of 150 miles: London, Midlands, Gloucestershire.
This is the 178bhp diesel with eight-speed auto, which strikes me as top value, given that it starts around £32,000. It goes, too. I was surprised to discover its 0-60mph time was only 7.4sec, because the powertrain – comprising a 2.0-litre diesel with 317lb ft plus eight easy-shifting ratios – gives a strong response at any speed.
One criticism: having driven quite a few electric cars lately, I’d like the XE’s response to be more linear, especially from rest. Like many, the Jag gives you a pause followed by a surge.
The best thing for me is the superb driving position. Knowing how many packaging hurdles designers have to negotiate, I can hardly believe how tailored it is: perfect seat shape and position, ideal control layout and instrument view, great sight lines. It will be a wrench to give this car back.
TUESDAY - Latest dopey idea: buy an ex-Army Jeep. Actually, the idea’s not so new. I’ve had it since I was a kid, when some of my father’s friends in outback Australia drove about in vehicles they’d bought straight from the forces for £100. We laughed at their crudity back then.
Now, I see a wartime original as the perfect garage companion for a Lotus Seven or Citroën 2CV: huge capability combined with supreme simplicity.
Take a look at the Milweb site, said a helpful friend, you’ll find dozens. I did and he was right, but as a result the idea died. Ten grand gets you a basket case, the number of varieties is intimidating, false provenance seems an issue and, like many simple, high-value vehicles, Jeeps attract bodgers. Think I’ll just keep enjoying other people’s as they drive by…
WEDNESDAY - Interesting to see how some quarters of the wider media have taken the VW furore as an excuse to lambast the specialist motoring websites for an imagined dereliction of duty. Autocar has largely escaped, not least through the efforts of Mr Holder, whose appearances as a radio and television pundit have increased as he has become known as an island of common sense in a sea of misinformation.
Still, motoring hacks are being criticised for parroting highly optimistic ‘government’ fuel consumption figures (nonsense: here, we’ve been running our own since 1927), for being motivated by a love of car launch ‘jollies’ (nonsense: after a while, the luxury is staying at home) and for being too close to the industry (arguable: but that’s how you discover what’s new and what’s true). It’s all a reminder of something critics should always remember: it’s easier to criticise than praise.
THURSDAY - Disappointed to see Toyota, proponents of low-carbon motoring, describing its Auris Hybrid as “the hybrid you don’t have to plug in”. This strikes me as an unhelpful piece of opportunism. Portraying a car as easier to use because it’s dirtier also seems quite out of character.