NewsGrab

We don’t do a lot of this on DTW, but here’s a brief roundup of the (UK-centric) news highlights from w/e 6/12/19.

Hotwheels? (c) Jaguar.com

December is generally a quiet time of the year for most carmakers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all tumbling weeds within the automotive universe. But rather than highlight any one aspect, let us take this opportunity to consider some of the more significant stories pillaged from the news outlets this past week – with an added dash of subjectivity.

Monday saw Jaguar officially launch its facelifted F-Type to a waiting world. Having previously squandered heaven knows how much on silly, elaborate pyrotechnic stunts to publicise previous launches, it was somewhat refreshing to see in these more straitened times that JLR’s PR team elected instead to concentrate on something a good deal less expensive, if equally silly.

But of course it was the full-size version we wanted to see, and yes (at first glance at least), no pooches (or kitties in this instance) were screwed in the refashioning of this car. Otherwise, changes have been relatively minor – the F-Type most likely enjoying a development budget the size of a small round down their local Bishops Itchington boozer. Improved materials in a largely unchanged cabin, the de rigueur digital instruments, improved infotainment interface and at the rear, revised tail lamps. And disappointingly, no straight-six – for cost reasons.

The overwhelming impression one gets is that Jaguar have gone to the trouble of attending to the one aspect of the F-Type which perhaps least required it. The F’s big enemies have always been weight, powertrains (these two are related), perceived reliability and price. With those unaddressed, it’s difficult to see how this will shift perceptions.

(c) motorward

A carmaker with less to worry about is Toyota, who announced earlier this week that from 2020, all Corollas sold in the UK would be hybrid-only. While it remains possible to obtain a entirely combustion powered Corolla while stocks last, one assumes, it will not be possible to do so once these have been (coughs…) exhausted.

Smart move, especially on the back of reports that in November, one in ten new cars sold in the UK was either Hybrid or electric powered. Nevertheless, while that may sound like good news for carmakers like Toyota who have suitable product to sell, the overall trend is downwards, with many potential buyers simply bewildered as what to do in the current febrile climate.

(c) Opel.com

Another facelift light on meaningful change took place at PSA-owned Opel / Vauxhall, who got the blusher and foundation out for the embattled Insignia. Like Jaguar, changes were largely confined to the nose, with only minor tweaks to the cabin and ‘all together everyone’, the infotainment. Again, like the F-Type, powertrains are where the Insignia is reckoned to lag behind, so any tangible shift in fortunes seems off the table. One has to wonder about the Insignia – especially as it has also this week been announced that its US market Buick Regal equivalent will be axed as of 2020. If you encounter an Opel aficionado this week, give their hand a consolatory squeeze.

Jozef Kabaň – former newly-appointed BMW chief designer, photo (c) BMW Group

One also has to feel for Jozef Kabaň . The highly rated design director who began his career at VW, Audi and later, Skoda, was headhunted by BMW, only it seems to fall victim to the turbulence and creative stasis which has latterly buffeted the FIZ. Following an even shorter stint at Rolls Royce prior to his ultimate departure from Munich, it was announced this week that he is to return to the banks of the Mittelandkanal later in 2020 as design chief for brand-VW.

In what appears to be something of a much needed reshuffle, Klaus Bischoff who had headed Volkswagen’s current underwhelming design direction, now moves up to an overall responsibility role for the entire group, while Michael Mauer, who had been moonlighting in that role while also directing Porsche’s designers will return to Zuffenhausen to concentrate his energies where they can be best effected. Kabaň will (if allowed), provide a breath of fresh air at stuffy old Wolfsburg. Can’t come soon enough.

(c) Aston Martin : thisismoney

Billionaire considers buying Aston Martin. As headlines go, it’s not even news, is it? Why not a matching pair, since you’re flush? But no, this particular individual, instead of pouring money into the current UK election campaign, or buying Greenland, is reputed to be part of a consortium considering the partial purchase of the embattled and financially embarrassed luxury carmaker and superspy conveyance provider, Aston Martin Lagonda.

Now, I’m way ahead of you here, because the surest way to lose a fortune is put one’s own money into Aston Martin – history having recorded a decent number of previously well-heeled individuals who have done so and watched their fortunes dwindle for their trouble. It’s all somewhat speculative right now, so get the popcorn out, sit back and enjoy. Because just like the Broccoli-family movie franchise, there’s bound to be another exciting episode before long.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

20 thoughts on “NewsGrab”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. I’m glad you mentioned the F-Type as it gives me an opportunity to ask a you question about the now deleted supercharged V6 engine. I read elsewhere that the “V6” engine was simply the V8 engine block and crankshaft with two (the rearmost?) cylinders lacking pistons, con rods and valve gear. I read that with great incredulity, unable to believe that such a bodge could ever have made it into a production car.

    To my great embarrassment, I actually owned an F-Type V6, but never looked that closely at the engine. In my defence, the engine bay was very tightly packed and I traded the car in after two months, unable to come to terms with its bulk and especially, its width, which largely negated its sporting intent.

    Regarding the facelift. It’s fine, but less distinctive than what went before, and that shut line between the leading edge of the bonnet and nose cone is now much wider and more prominent. Also, the low set headlamps give the front end the same slightly droopy look in side profile that afflicts many current BMWs. Here’s an old vs new comparison:


    The “horizontal” headlamp actually looks to be pointing downward in this view, accentuating the droop.

    1. Yes, I think I prefer the original as having a more distinctive character. They’re both very nice, though. The two pictures, above, illustrate the difference things like colour and camera angle make.

      It is a very wide car at 2 metres and that would make it uncomfortable to drive down narrow lanes and around town. Once you start worrying about things like that, it’s time to say goodbye. That said, it’s always sad when you don’t bond with a car, especially when it’s otherwise very desirable. My personal record is 4 months (not the car’s fault – it was mid-sold).

  2. I read this with the voice of John Craven from his Newsround days of eons about which puts a wholly different slant on the content. As you say, Eóin, for such a “quiet” month, there’s rather an amount going on.

  3. ” I read elsewhere that the “V6” engine was simply the V8 engine block and crankshaft with two (the rearmost?) cylinders lacking pistons, con rods and valve gear. I read that with great incredulity, unable to believe that such a bodge could ever have made it into a production car.”

    Daniel, incredible though it may seem, that’s what Jaguar did:

    It’s not exactly elegant, but it makes sense for an engine which was never going to be made in big numbers, and was only going to be used in cars which could accommodate the AJ133 V8 anyway. With the straight-six Ingenium on the way, tooling for a proper V6 would have been a questionable use of resources.

    1. Hi Robertas. Thanks for confirming that, and for the photos. I guess it was a pragmatic solution, and didn’t impact negatively on cars that were designed to take the V8 anyway. I’m still embarrassed that I never noticed, though!

    2. It’s interesting that the US market still gets the V6, in addition to the V8, so they clearly believe there is a market for it there. It had been my understanding that the V6 was as described, but I have never actually seen the evidence until now. Expediency notwithstanding, it seems a horribly compromised solution, especially as it would probably weigh almost as much. Allegedly, the four is now the choice for most European buyers, which probably isn’t too surprising. It’s also supposed to be nicer to drive, having considerably less weight over the nose. Obviously the in-line six would have (on paper at least) been ideal, but given that the F is on a modified version of the 2005 X150 XK platform, it would probably have been a prohibitively expensive piece of re-engineering for such a low-volume product.

      Speaking of weight, I also read somewhere that the V8 powerplant (and transmission) is the major contributor to the F-Types rather portly weight, a matter the almost blanket fitting of 4wd can only make worse. The use of the older GT platform got them to market sooner, but it was in my view something of a false economy. The F needed to be near-flawless to make its mark. That it hasn’t speaks volumes.

      Also in agreement on width. Not a car to enjoy in this part of the world. As to the restyle, I’d need to see one before I’d be prepared to comment further.

    3. JLR has been announcing the Ingenium inline 6 for three years. And yet it kept getting delayed. They have never said what the delays are about – my guess, durability issues.

      Given that it has taken three years to fix whatever the problem was that caused the delays, I wouldn’t touch one.

    4. There’s an even deeper dive into this V6 from a V8 matter from Car and Driver from back in 2016. I thought it was common knowledge these days. Apparently not.

      https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a15349070/block-party-creating-a-v-6-by-declaring-two-cylinders-redundant/

      The Ingenium straight six is being sold in the Range Rover Sport in the US. It’s a pussycat, slower than the old V6 and with slow throttle response. Nice one.

      https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a28929417/2019-range-rover-sport-inline-six-by-the-numbers/

      i don’t suppose losing $4 billion earlier this year helped JLR to fund putting the inline six in the F-type, but by the sounds of it it wouldn’t have helped. The 2.0 litre turbo engine isn’t exactly a powerhouse either. Not by BMW or Mercedes or Honda standards for the same size 20t . Can’t imagine trundling around in an F-Pace with this titchy engine panting away. And the pricing of all JLR stuff is aspirational to say the least.

    5. Halfords Christmas special offer 2019: DIY conversion kit Jaguar V6 to V8 including 84mm drill, set of pistons and Haynes manual ‘how to convert your Jaguar V6 in one weekend’

    6. What a bodge! It’s on a par with some of British Leland’s best efforts !

      What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just go for a 3.0 V8. There was a 3.2 AJ8 (86mm bore and 70mm stroke).

      This bodge V6 had a 84.5mm bore. It is surprising to me that a destroked V8 would be more difficult than changing the head and block casting, adding a balance shaft, adding a balance shaft drive… and ending up with the bulk and weight of a V8 with the output of a V6.

      On second thought, since the Leland mentality seems to be present, I bet they thought they would lose large V8 sales (and profits) if they offered a smaller V8.

    1. Hopefuĺy, Herr Kabaň will be able to reestablish a distinctive style for VW (although the ID.3 already shows promise in this regard). Bad news for BMW though, who’s need in this regard is very much greater.

  4. “…all Corollas sold in the UK would be hybrid-only. While it remains possible to obtain a entirely combustion powered Corolla while stocks last, one assumes, it will not be possible to do so once these have been (coughs…) exhausted.

    Smart move, especially on the back of reports that in November, one in ten new cars sold in the UK was either Hybrid or electric powered. ”

    How is reducing your models to a drive format that 90 percent of buyers DO NOT WANT a smart move ?

    1. Hello Angel – I think the answer is that it’s a smart move because they’re getting out of the ‘internal combustion only market’ early, so they won’t have any problems shifting stock as the market changes and government bans come in to operation.

      I would also think that some of their hybrid options will be very mild, so much so that people will barely be aware they have them. You could justifiably ask what the point of offering such options would be and I guess the answer would be to make the transition to new power sources manageable.

      I’m not sure that lack of take-up of alternative power units is due to market resistance or lack of availability. I think it’s a bit of both – some EVs have long waiting lists.

    2. Charles, Toyota doesn’t do mild hybrids. You get a real one every time. The choice is whether you get the regular hybrid or a plug-in EV version which is far heavier due to the larger battery. Get the regular one. The RAV4 crossover has an available hybrid AWD system – the electrons drive the back wheels, and it’s selling very well in North America because Toyota doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for it, about $2K. There are Corolla and Camry hybrids as well, and virtually all Lexuses offer that option too. The RAV4 hybrid is both more powerful and quicker than the petrol-only one, and is much more economical. Sounds like a better deal all around if a crossover is your bag. Toyota has been so far out in front on real hybrids (with only Ford licensing their technology) all this 48V mild hybrid stuff from Mercedes et al is about 15 to 18 years out-of-date even as it’s introduced. GM had it for 2008 still using the 12V system and it was essentially useless. Can anyone show the Mercedes 48V mild hybrid actually does anything useful in the fuel economy stakes? Toyota completely outclasses the Europeans on real petrol/electric hybrids and it’s not even close technically. My personal conviction is that this is how cars should trend, not to annoyingly compromised pure EVs or poisonous diesels.

      Probably why Europe has chosen to go the full EV route. Can’t compete with Toyota on hybrids. And in EVs, there Tesla has ’em beat with a better electric motor armature design and power-handling electronics — looking like 15 to 20 % better efficiency overall compared to say an Audi E-tron from tests so far. Things are far from looking rosy, but German PR is stellar.

      Nobody asked the populace in Europe whether they wanted EVs. It seems to have been a top-down decision, which has been meekly accepted. In Norway, EVs make sense due to hydroelectricity. VW has gone gung ho on a wing and a prayer they’ll sell these Golf-derived EV carts. If your electricity was broadly produced in a renewable way, sure it would be great bar the need for recharging. But Germany still mines brown coal for power generation in vast strip-mining swathes with the largest machines on earth, subjected to big environmental protests this summer. It’s past time someone did a proper cradle to grave analysis of total carbon dioxide emissions between a Toyota hybrid, and an EV charged from a thermal power station or even the national grid mix in any given country. My calculations point in favour of Toyota, but that’s not politically correct, so you’ll all likely be treated like mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed you know what. It’s become an industrial game this EV lark, with real returns on capital causing finger-biting concern, so overall minimization of CO2 has been overlooked on purpose. Too much money riding on the hope EVs will “take”, so they’ll be forced on the land(s). Eat your carrots and broccoli, or no pudding for you!

      Saw an I-Pace in monotone grey yesterday in traffic. So there’s at least two around here. If you want to sweat blood or have a laugh of despair, go to an I-Pace owners forum. The doors and so on may fit better than a Tesla, but the rest is rubbish by the sound of it. Dead batteries, and bad programming leading to stopped cars means Jaguar is acting like normal. Untrustworthy. If I were forced to buy an EV, I cannot see why it would be anything but a Tesla even if I think Musk is an idiot.

  5. Speaking of the Insignia, the consensus seems to be that the run for the Commodore nameplate is bound to come to a decidedly inglorious end very soon:

    https://www.caradvice.com.au/812053/holden-commodore-future-in-doubt/

    A little out of the loop a while back, I returned to Australia for a couple of months in both 2018 and 2019 and was simply staggered how few of these new-generation Commodores there were on the roads, to the point where it was a genuine novelty to see one. The sales figures don’t lie – the imported Commodore has tanked in a big way, and the signs can’t be promising considering that Australia and New Zealand are now (I believe) the only RHD markets in which GM is active globally.

    Or, if you want to put it an even more alarming way, Holden is being comfortably outsold year-to-date in 2019 by Lancia. Even worse for the lion, that’s including their New Zealand numbers! There’s really no positive way to spin that, is there?

    1. The Insigniadore’s woes are compounded by the burden of 5% import duty, as Australia doesn’t have a free trade agreement with the EU. That explains the GM importer’s preference for products from the USA, South Korea, and Thailand, all of which have free trade agreements.

      There really does seem to be an existential crisis looming – Holden’s ex-Toyota chairman and CEO Dave “Big Butt” Buttner threw in the towel last week.

      If there’s any comfort in the Lancia comparison, Australia and NZ have a combined population just over half that of Italy.

  6. Hello Bill – that’s interesting. My mind always (wrongly) categorizes non plug-in hybrids as ‘something-for-nothing / witchcraft / con’. They aren’t, of course, but some are better than others, as you say. As for EVs, I get enthusiastic about them, then someone seems to raise a new concern re their environmental impact; the latest one related to the potential need to carry out mining in the oceans.

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