The Current Land Rover Defender Is Still As Refined As A Fart At A Dinner Party…


Pains me to say it but I remember now why I sold my year-old Defender. It was a 110 XS with all the trimmings. Trouble was, as much as I loved to look at it, the Land Rover was an absolute dog on the road.

I think we last six months together before I gave up. It was uncomfortable, noisy and less refined than a fart at a dinner party. At least my long-serving Series III does what I expect of it – which doesn’t include long stints on the motorway.

This Black Pack version look awesome but alas, it is still a piece of farm machinery underneath. Compared to the Jeep Wrangler we test before Christmas, it’s like climbing back into a Skoda Estelle, if you ever had the misfortune of doing that.

So, if you are planning to buy a final edition Defender, don’t imagine you will enjoy driving it on Tarmac. For farm use and generally towing, it’s brilliant. Me? I’m waiting for the newt model due next year…

Land Rover’s Black Pack Defender Is One Of The Last Special Editions


They call me ‘Twin Defender Jeremy’. I’m not a farmer but there are now two Land Rover’s parked outside and both represent opposite ends of the Land Rover ownership spectrum!

My own 1972 Series III is about as basic as they come. A ponderous, four-speed gearbox with Fairey overdrive. It rattles and squeaks BUT with a little love and care over the years it still holds its oil and is apparently going up in value.

The spanking new Defender Black Pack is one of the final, special edition Land Rovers. Yes, a new model will arrive next year and cause much nashing of teeth among off-roaders who like to wear baseball caps.

Black Pack is not aimed at them. It’s been ‘urbanised’ to look cool and trendy. I must admit, I rather like it.

But here’s one fact I can tell you without even driving Black Pack. The £30,000 model will still drive just the same as any Defender however you dress it up. Yes, It’s going to be a testing week for my back and eardrums…

Gok Wan Wants An Aston DB9 – And He’s Not Keen On The F-Type Either…

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Just back from interviewing Gok Wan. The king of style has a gorgeous little house in Hampstead and a cool little French Bulldog, called Dolly.

What’s on his driveway? – a Porsche Panamera. I didn’t expect His Gokness to like a sports car with four seats and room for luggage. No, I truly expected a Fiat 500, maybe a Mercedes ML, or a top spec Audi.

Gok wasn’t too keen on the Jaguar F-Type, mainly because the rear end was ‘too angular’. I can understand that. It might explain why he is longing to buy an Aston Martin DB9 too.

Today was the last day with the Jag. Land Rover is delivering a Defender tomorrow – perfect timing for the snow that is apparently due tonight.

I enjoyed the F-Type, although it does lack soul and character. I truly don’t believe it will ever be a classic like the E-Type but the Coupe is a genuine rival for the Porsche 911 and is much prettier on the eye too.

The Jaguar F-Type S Is A Pain Over Uneven Surfaces And The Seats Squeak!

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Whenever I thing Jaguar, two things come to mind. One is my gorgeous, much-lamented E-Type – the other is some businessman in a big coat smoking a fat cigar.

I’m from that generation, you see. Somehow or other, the F-Type doesn’t really fit into either bracket. The E-Type was a nightmare to drive in anything but a straight line, and the fat-cat Jags were armchairs on wheels, with the bonus of an ash-tray.

The F-Type is beautiful but it isn’t iconic like the E-Type, or as comfortable as the old XJ. In fact, the S model I’m driving is seriously bumpy at low speed on uneven surfaces – it will make you wince in pain at times!

And then there are the two seats. They’re very hard and despite multiple electronic adjustments of every nature, you will get a numb arse after a while.

Oh and recline either to a certain distance and they squeak on the bulkhead too.

Beautiful to look at, even the F-Type would benefit from some comfortable refinement then..

The F-Type Has Such A Competent Gearbox You Will Want To Use The Flappy Paddles!


Four days in to driving the Jaguar F-Type and I’ve finally had a chance to cut loose on a decent, winding road.

It’s no ordinary bit of tarmac either – a stretch of road I used to commute when I first became a motoring writer 28 years ago.

The A40 between Gloucester and Ross-on-Wye is littered with speed cameras but there are some sections, near May Hill, where it’s like driving through an Alpine pass.

And it was here – not on the M40 or at a standing start from the traffic lights – that the eight-speed automatic gearbox won me over.

Using the steering column paddles, I flicked up and down the cogs smoothly like a man possessed. It was the single most exhilarating piece of driving I’ve enjoyed in years!

You can leave the Jaguar in standard auto and it’s still a great tool. But believe me, even if you aren’t used to paddle shift, the F-Type will win you over…

It’s a lock out – what happens when you are frozen out of your Jaguar F-Type

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When was the last time you were frozen out of a car? In this age of heated seats, heated steering wheels and engines that start without a manual choke (remember those?) how bizarre that we haven’t invented something to ensure car doors don’t ice up in sub zero conditions.

This morning I woke to find the F-Type was sealed under what looked like a shaking of icing sugar over the top. The thermometer read -2 – which felt more like -10 in a slight breeze.

As I grasped the pop-up handle – very cool in the right way – the door refused to budge. It was stuck completely to the body work. What am I meant to do now?

In the old days, you would pour hot water over a frozen key lock but not sure that;s a good idea with a £70k F-Type. So what did I do? In the end, I took my old Land Rover out instead. Canvass roof, freezing inside but so simple to get in to!

The Day I Downgraded To A Jaguar F-Type

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I don’t suppose that many people get the chance to downgrade to a Jaguar! Well, having spent the first half of the week driving a Bentley Continental around Sweden, I’ve done just that.

Now, I have to say, I have always considered myself more of a F-Type fella than a Bentley bloke. I was nearly seduced by the power and comfort of the Continental but the Jag is a much rawer and inspiring experience.

I love the rasp from the twin tailpipes that you can enhance with the acoustic button on the transmission tunnel – I love the low slung design and the styling cues that remind me of the E-Type.

So as much as I covet my neighbour’s Bentley, I know that I’m a long way from changing my allegiance too.

The Jaguar F-Type Will Never Have Iconic Status But It’s Still A Beauty…

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Big regrets? Selling my 1963 Jaguar E-Type! A Series I coupe in dark blue, it was the closest thing to perfection that ever rested on four wheels.

Strangely, my girlfriend at the time hated it. I foolishly fell under her influence and flogged it for the £1,000 more than I had originally paid. Seven years on, it would have been worth three times as much…

Looking back now, the pain isn’t about losing so much money but letting such an iconic car slip carelessly through my hands. Which is why I’ve been looking forward to driving this week’s F-Type for months.

I can tell you now, it’s never going to be an iconic car like the E-Type but at least it borrows some of the curves and bumps. It’s lovely to look at from any angle. I haven’t seen it properly in daylight yet but more tomorrow when the sun comes up…

I don’t have a family, so I can admire the XC60 from afar and buy an inappropriate Maserati instead…


For once I seem to be in the right test car for the weather conditions. Usually I have a rear-wheel drive BMW for ice (appalling), an MX-5 two-seater to go on holiday with a passenger AND dog (tight), or a bog standard saloon on a hot day when a convertible would be perfect (boring).

The point is that even with the keys to a candy shop of cars, it’s difficult to plan ahead and choose the right one. In Britain, spring can be a snow-fest, or a mini scorcher. It’s the only good reason to live by the Med, where the weather is always the same.

Which is probably why in 2015, car buyers seem to want multi-purpose vehicles that do everything. A one-size-fits-all, off the peg motor that takes every day in its stride, and whatever you throw at it.

While the XC60 is never going to set your pulse racing, it’s a brilliant family SUV. Fortunately, I don’t have a family to ship around, so I can admire it from afar, tell my friends it’s perfect for their kids – then go and buy an inappropriate Maserati instead….

If George Osbourne Brings In A Tax On Heated Steering Wheels Then I’m In Trouble


If George Osbourne ever decides to bring in a draconian tax on heated steering wheels then I’m in big trouble. I’ve been driving around all week with the thing on – it could spell the end of string-backed driving gloves for good.

And I know Volvo wasn’t the first because Lexus and Range Rover have had them for years – although Lexus messed it up in some of their models by making part of their steering wheel from wood, which actually doesn’t heat up . What were they thinking?

Perhaps like most of you, I thought a heated steering wheel was just a gimmick at first but after a couple of days, you just can’t live without one – especially in the UK cold snap we’re experiencing at present.

So here are my other favourite cold weather features on cars. The Air Scarf in Mercedes SLK that blows warm air onto the back of your neck (brilliant!) and the heater that turns itself on in a Volvo so that the vehicle is warm before you get to it (fantastic).

Any other ideas?