No one gets it right all the time, not even our crack team, who confess their worst errors of judgement
11 August 2019

Even Autocar's motoring writers are sometimes guilty of a bit of misplaced scepticism when it comes to new cars.

From the Range Rover Velar to the Porsche 911, here are the motors Autocar team members have massively misjudged.

Range Rover Velar

A three-and-a-half-star road test verdict wasn’t a promising fanfare for Land Rover’s most overtly metropolitan model, subconsciously compounding reservations about a style-centric Range Rover sprung from Jaguar underpinnings. But at least half a star had been shed by the test car’s underwhelming 237bhp diesel engine – a failing remedied by the 296bhp petrol four-pot powering the Velar I spent a fortnight with last summer. It was quick, it handled and it was comfortable. Moreover, it did things off road I would never have anticipated – certainly more than almost anyone would need. It’s currently the Land Rover that would fit my life better than any other. 

Our Verdict

Range Rover Velar

Fourth Range Rover model has abundant style but how much breadth of ability does the Velar really have?

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Richard Webber

Porsche Cayenne

I was a Cayenne sceptic. I couldn’t work out why Porsche had bothered, which explains why I am not a product planner or in marketing. I thought it was a bit pointless and not very pretty. Then I bought an old one. After the passing of quite a few years – 17, I think – I have to say it really is quite handsome. A high-rised 996-generation 911 is not a bad thing. That V8 makes a wonderful noise, it is pin sharp on the road and there is a ton of space in that great big boot. A practical Porsche. Brilliant.

James Ruppert

BMW Z3 M

It’s not so much that I got it wrong at the time, more a case of realising now that although it was flawed, it was almost the last of a breed. Or, to put it more simply, if it was made new today, we’d all love it. I’m talking about BMW’s Z3 M Roadster. A simple car with hardly any electronics, and a lovely straight-six engine with more than enough performance. It looked way better than the standard car thanks to blown-out wheel arches and wide rims. The chassis wasn’t brilliant and the steering a bit soggy. If you own one today, I’d suspect you love it.

Colin Goodwin

Porsche 911

When I was new to this game, I struggled with the appeal of a car that, conceptually, was deeply flawed. We don’t think about the 911’s seriously unhelpful weight distribution much now, because Porsche long ago defeated the urge of its rear-hung powerpack to initiate unwanted gyrations. Back in the mid-1980s, said flat six could quite easily tip the 911 into a spin if you were rashly indelicate with throttle, wheel and a bend. And if you braked hard while travelling downhill on a wet road, a lock-up might follow. It was an intimidating car. I didn’t realise you had to master the 911, this the key to its appeal. I do now. 

Richard Bremner

BMW Z8

The most obvious car I got wrong was the BMW Z8. When it came out 20 years ago, I noted its 5.0-litre V8 motor, 400bhp output and the fact the engine came from the M5 and concluded this must be a thoroughbred sports car. So when I discovered it was actually quite a soft and comfortable grand tourer, I sharpened my pen and wrote about what a missed opportunity it represented. In fact, the only miss was me missing its point. I drove one a couple of years back and loved its languid gait, dead cool interior and effortless performance. No wonder prices are now nudging £200,000.

Andrew Frankel

Audi A2 & Smart Roadster Brabus

‘Wrong’ is a harsh word in this context. I was honest about the Audi A2, and later about the Smart Roadster Brabus, because they were both fundamentally flawed cars. The A2 had poor visibility, the Smart a poor gearbox, and neither particularly clever ride comfort.

Both, though, are cars I could quite happily own today – they’d make a great two-car garage – because their pursuit of an ideal has outlived and outshone their drawbacks. So, in a sense, mea culpa. I’ll tell you what, though: I remain spot on about the one-star-at-best BMW C1 Scooter.

Matt Prior

Jaguar I-Pace

Last summer, I was given the keys to a late prototype Jaguar I-Pace and decided to drive it to the British Grand Prix on qualifying day. Given the potential for traffic snarls, it was possibly brave, but the return journey was only 170 miles and its real range beyond 200. The first worry came when the car started emitting a loud buzzing sound at around 4am. Not looking my best, I ran outside and unplugged it from the charger, reasoning it should have been full by then.

Alas, fully clothed and behind the wheel at 6am, I discovered it was saying it would hold only 190 miles of charge. As a result, I drove at a constant 55mph and got home with little to spare. How could this possibly be the future? Then something amazing happened. The same week, Jag’s folks held their hands up and asked to do a software update to put the car in final production spec. I held out no hope that plugging a laptop in could elicit more range… and then spent close to 250 miles driving non-stop. The Achilles heel was no more and the I-Pace was duly – and rightly – proclaimed a world leader. 

Jim Holder

Porsche Cayenne

I really hated the Porsche Cayenne when it first came out – not just dislike but a near-visceral detesting of it and what it meant for the world’s most famous sports car brand. I don’t think the first-generation version looks any better than it did when it was launched, but I’m quite partial to the current model and its combination of pace and practicality. I still struggle to think of it as being a proper Porsche, but if I was in the market for a sporty SUV, it’s almost certainly the one I’d pick.

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Comments
15

11 August 2019

 Sometimes we all have an unexplainable dislike to a new Car, your Brain goes “ yuck! that bumper, that body design “, and that’s ok, we have a right to say, and sometimes you change your mind, for instance, wasn’t a fan of the Insignia when it came out, but, the latest refresh has turned an ugly Duckling into a Swan, so , if we just admitted when we were wrong sometimes we’d feel better.

Peter Cavellini.

11 August 2019

And now i want to buy one! However always thought the A2 was mis understood (albeit the ride is dire) and owned mine for 10 years. 

11 August 2019

I dont get the Velar either. However if it makes money for JLR who are we to knock it?! 

11 August 2019
adrian888 wrote:

I dont get the Velar either. However if it makes money for JLR who are we to knock it?! 

The Velar is probably the most relevant car in the Land Rover line up. Although it could do with shedding a few kilos, it's not over engineered and burdened with off road tech no one will ever use, like the RR, RRS and Discovery are. What has damaged its reputation is it's ridiculous list price and that under developed Ingenium engine, although that's a common issue throughout the group range. Only now have JLR begun to get on top of its issues. A lesson learned in not to bite the hand that feeds you until you can feed yourself.

11 August 2019

Whatever one’s opinion of the Cayenne, Velar and IPace, their undeniable common problem is their size. They are simply too big for our lanes and car parks. I was following an IPace the other day and tthe driver literally stopped when a car came the other way because they were worried about squeezing their over-size car past the one coming the other way. And yet for all that size their internal packaging is poor.

11 August 2019

ther eis nothign wrong with the size of these cars, if you say the roads cant cope with them, how dies articulated lorries and large vans cope, we have a Velar have no issues in parking, it fits into parking spaces and you can see the lines either side, the I-Pace and Cayenne are similar sized and again have no issues.

 

Now if you are just harping on about single lane roads, well, i had an original MG ZS and that was not a very wide car and the struggled, so whats your plan, destroy all teh roads that over 100 years old and rebuild, at the cost of about a trillion pounds +, the UK roads cope well with the traffic we throw at it, we do not need 16 lane roads, all 20 feet across, we can make an assumption and decide if we can drive up a road or not, we are not thick, and just because one car cant pass another, so what, if the road was built smaller, so be it, go another way if thats all you are talking about and as for internal dimension, we have so much room in the Velar with pockets, storage and more, we have never filled it up, and not for the want of trying.You also have to remember that cars have to abide by legislation, the world over, some countries require more some less, but brands can not and do not, build for a specific market, they build the cars that cover all legislations, safety, security and so on, this is because that what we want, we want to feel safer in the cars we are in, and if that means thicker doors, better airbags, and more of them, safety systems, and autonomous safety, they all this has to be put into the cars, and that takes space. so, if you are happy having a 1950's Austin A40, with no safety, security and metal so thin a breath of fresh air will buckle it, then fine, you are more than welcome to go back to that, but dont complain when you get crushed by any modern car where all its passengers get out and walk away.

 

11 August 2019
jonboy4969 wrote:

ther eis nothign wrong with the size of these cars, if you say the roads cant cope with them, how dies articulated lorries and large vans cope, we have a Velar have no issues in parking, it fits into parking spaces and you can see the lines either side, the I-Pace and Cayenne are similar sized and again have no issues.

 

Now if you are just harping on about single lane roads, well, i had an original MG ZS and that was not a very wide car and the struggled, so whats your plan, destroy all teh roads that over 100 years old and rebuild, at the cost of about a trillion pounds +, the UK roads cope well with the traffic we throw at it, we do not need 16 lane roads, all 20 feet across, we can make an assumption and decide if we can drive up a road or not, we are not thick, and just because one car cant pass another, so what, if the road was built smaller, so be it, go another way if thats all you are talking about and as for internal dimension, we have so much room in the Velar with pockets, storage and more, we have never filled it up, and not for the want of trying.You also have to remember that cars have to abide by legislation, the world over, some countries require more some less, but brands can not and do not, build for a specific market, they build the cars that cover all legislations, safety, security and so on, this is because that what we want, we want to feel safer in the cars we are in, and if that means thicker doors, better airbags, and more of them, safety systems, and autonomous safety, they all this has to be put into the cars, and that takes space. so, if you are happy having a 1950's Austin A40, with no safety, security and metal so thin a breath of fresh air will buckle it, then fine, you are more than welcome to go back to that, but dont complain when you get crushed by any modern car where all its passengers get out and walk away.

There is an issue with the size of these vehicles, although not just relevant to JLR, they are undoubtedly one of the worst for it.

11 August 2019

Very few of these cars are actually desirable.

11 August 2019
manicm wrote:

Very few of these cars are actually desirable.

To you, not to the 100,000's that buy some of them.

11 August 2019

As time goes on, I feel Autocar's favourable reviews are the only thing stopping JLR from going under. It's a bit like watching a Michael Mcintyre show...where the front row is invariably filled with D-list celebrities trying to split their sides laughing, whilst everyone else scratches their heads.

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