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    John Whittle
    What a year it has been! / #Mazda / #Volvo-S60 / #Volvo /

    Turbulent times in the economy, a great number of buy downs and many vehicle launches. To say the automotive industry has been busy would be an understatement. It’s been manic. That being said, we still managed to have some fun this month. We’ve gone against the grain with our cover feature as the #McLaren-570S is not a budget car, but according to #McLaren neither is it a supercar, even though it resembles one. Rather it is McLaren’s entry into the sport car category, to play with the likes of Porsche .

    Staying on the performance segment, we visited an old friend with a new engine, the #Volvo-S60-Polestar . This car has been downsized in terms of displacement but offers more power. If practicality is more up your alley though, you’ll enjoy our piece on the #Mazda-CX-5 , a family car with amazing looks.

    On the tech front, we have an interesting yet humorous review on the new DJI Mavic drone. For the luxury lovers we’ve driven the #Jaguar-XF which offers great and unique attributes and then to top it off, we have the #Volvo-XC90-Excellence which is the crème de la crème of the range.

    Overall, it’s been quite the ride and we’d love to thank you for the amazing support we’ve received on our website and YouTube channel. For those of you that will be going on holiday, travel safely. For those staying in, get a lot of rest and get ready for more automotive and lifestyle content from TheMotorist team!

    Happy reading Motorists.
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    F10 520d SE LONGTERMERS / #Jaguar / #BMW

    How much more fuel do you suppose is consumed through running your heated seats on full blast all the time? The recent colder weather has meant that the Five Series has driven around west Oxfordshire for nearly a month with heated seats and steering wheel on full roast, and I think the resultant 37.6 is the lowest average figure I’ve seen since we bought the car. The only reason the overall economy is actually 39.1mpg is due to a lastminute return day trip to Sudbury the day before I submitted this copy to the editor, which has had the effect of dragging up the average a tad.

    Full anorak-spec this observation may be, but a ten percent difference in terms of inferior economy (or thereabouts) is a marked drop. I doubt there’s another reason for it, and next weekend we’re off to North Wales again for our annual freezing-our-bits-off- because-we-have-children shindig at Betws-y-Coed (there’s a Winter Wonderland there every year), and given that I like to travel in a toasty oven these days, and especially at this time of year, it’ll be mildly interesting to see what kind of economy we get.

    Enough maths though, what else have we been up to? Well I’ve driven a Jaguar, around a year after I said no to the last one. That car was the XE, which turned out to be too small, not special enough inside and despite the 3 Series-esque road manners, not quite what I was looking for. Shock horror of course, because I ended up buying a Five Series. Ergo trying the XE really wasn’t giving Jaguar a fair chance. The XF would have been a far more suitable foe, ignoring for a moment the alluring finance deals which supported XE sales at the time.

    Without boring you with the logistics, I was able to spend some quality time with the XF, the idea being (risky I know) to ascertain whether or not it would indeed have been a better fit. And the short answer? No.

    On castor-spec 17-inch alloys it looks too bloated, the rear deck especially sitting very heavily over the wheels. Square-on from the rear, there’s a distinct muffin effect, too (i.e a narrow track). The F10 runs equal diameter rims of course (at least it does at the moment) but the styling is better resolved, possibly through being a more traditional three-box shape.

    The XF’s frontal aspect is spot on though. It’s as you walk around the car that is starts to unravel.

    So you climb inside, and this is where a Jaguar is supposed to excel, right? No again I’m afraid. The days of the low-slung and snug, highdashboard, hide and wood Jaguar interiors which I used to own back in the day have long gone. No bad thing some would say, but the honest truth in my view is that, compared to the driver-centric and well-finished premium feel to the BMW’s interior, the open-architecture fascia was in stark contrast to the BMW and for the wrong reasons. Firstly because this is the latest iteration of the #Jaguar-XF – not an update of the previous model, but a whole new version. Hence you would expect it to match the F10, at least.

    When the G30 goes on general sale in the UK in February, it’s going to date the Jaguar’s interior something chronic (plus the tech in the Jaguar isn’t too hot either, but we’ll get to that). And secondly because the interior in general, with thin and brittle-feeling paddle-shifters, ditto the electronic parking brake actuator and even more thin, brittle and poor-quality seat height adjustment, plus an impressive looking aluminium rising rotary gear selector which unfortunately then sits in a sea of plastic, felt quite inferior to the #BMW interior. And let’s not forget, this is where you spend most of your car time.

    If this sounds quite harsh then it’s fair to also point out that the car did grow on me a little during the two days we had it, but nowhere near enough to be convinced by it. And I’m also acutely aware that I do like a bit of ‘wood’ trim in my cars. The standard BMW trim is also pretty awful in my view (and the metallic-look plastic in the M-Sport offerings is even worse) but it’s at least underpinned by some better thought-out design. Who, for example, decided to locate the driver assistance buttons in the XF down on the lower right-hand side of the dashboard by the driver’s knee, where they are almost completely out of sight and difficult to spot without considerable determination whilst on the move? And when you do activate the system, the tell-tale icon in the instrument cluster is apologetically small. Driver assistance? Hardly. In terms of overall tech, BMW wins again. Not in the availability of tech, as the Jaguar also offers up lane guidance, radar cruise, cameras and so on, but in how the tech is deployed. The iDrive pro-nav in the Five Series, as I’ve said before, is a fantastic piece of kit. As is the HUD. The Jaguar offerings however, lag behind. The touch-screen interface lacks appeal, the graphics are outmoded and the presence of a memory card for the nav’s maps in the armrest had me mentally winding the clock back ten years.

    Jaguar sold a little over 80k cars in 2015 (contributing around 20 percent to the overall JLR sales figures once the approximately 400k annual Land Rover sales are taken into account). BMW shifted 1.9 million. So naturally there’s a monumental investment hole. One does wonder how the gap will be closed on this evidence. In terms of the drive, bearing in mind I’d already been underwhelmed by the looks and the interior, the abrupt quality to the auto shift (which is the same ZF unit I believe, albeit with Jaguar-specific calibration) no matter the drive mode selected at the time, was the final nail in the coffin.

    The XE did this too and I didn’t like it then, either. Ride quality was excellent though, wind and road noise well-suppressed, and the rotating air vents are amusing pieces of theatre (even if the central vents are now bog-standard items on this latest version). These positives weren’t enough to tip the balance however. So no, I didn’t fancy it, and the F10 is definitely the better car, at least from my perspective. There’s a video review of the XF on my YouTube channel. And I’ll apologise in advance for the hat…

    TECHNICAL #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d-SE / #BMW-520d-SE-F10 / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-F10
    YEAR: #2016
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 1319
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 11,878
    MPG THIS MONTH: 39.1
    COST THIS MONTH: Nil
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