Diesel bonkers – what about the Jaguar XF with a big petrol engine?

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Let’s be honest, not that many buyers will opt for the petrol XF. We’ve all gone diesel bonkers, despite the harm it is doing to our environment and paying more to fill the tank.

And that’s a terrible shame because with both 335bhp and 375bhp versions to choose from, this is one Jaguar that stuffs the best of BMW for driving dynamics in every department.

I’ve only driven the car a dozen miles but I can’t wait to find an excuse to climb in again. Not bad considering I have a 911 and a Harley-Davidson squeezed on the drive too.

There’s going to be a storming SVR model along soon with 550bhp on tap but I think our 375bhp test car has the balance just right. It’s an absolute belter of a car and the best Jaguar in years – including the F-Type.

The Audi A8’s subtle looks lack visual appeal in the executive car park

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Don’t expect to wow your neighbours with the A8 – a pumped up version of the A4. There’s nothing remarkable about the styling, even on our hugely expensive test car.

At least the big Audi is beautifully put together. Advanced, refined and technologically superior, it should be the benchmark limo for all others to aspire to.

However, shouldn’t an exec get as excited about their set of wheels as the rest of us? The A8 misses out here – it’s a big saloon for men in grey suits. The type of chap who would scorn a BMW, Jaguar or a terribly provocative Maserati.

So, while they enjoy effortless performance which allows them to serve up dinner party chat about the A8’s remarkable fuel economy, the subtle looks won’t appeal to everyone.

Why the Audi A8 dashboard can teach even the brilliant Mazda MX-5 a lesson

cropped-audiuk_011388.jpgJust what can the latest Mazda MX-5 learn from the Audi A8? A superlative sports car and benchmark limo, they both have a flat screen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard.

The current trend for upright, stand alone screens that don’t sit flush with the dash continues apace – even though a 7-inch block of plastic totally ruins the ergonomics.

That’s especially true when it requires a lot of scrolling through menus to turn the screen off at night. Painful.

So at least Audi has got it right with the A8. Press one button and that useful but very ugly screen folds away neatly into the dash and is hidden out of sight.

Other manufacturers take note. We want high tech but like a huge TV in the living room, it looks better when not in view…

The Audi A8 – where would you rather sit, up front or in the back?

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Audi operates a fleet of chauffeur-driven A8s in the UK for high profile media events – film premieres, fashions shows and that kind of thing.

The questions is where would you rather sit – in the driver’s seat or in the back?

Thanks to all that lightweight bodywork, even our 3.0-litre is pretty swift in a straight line. It’s ‘modestly’ dynamic but doesn’t feel like a driver’s car in TDI form at least.

There’s no getting away from the fact that this a very large car. Just like the brilliant Range Rover, it is super comfortable and refined but not a vehicle for launching around a corner.

So I’m going to sit this one out and take the back seat…

Looking to make a massive understatement? The Audi 8 is your car…

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Looking to make a massive understatement? The latest Audi A8 – like previous models – is the least talked about limo you could wish to hope for.

But while the aluminium exterior is not known for turning heads, the cabin is something of a peach. Whether you are a BMW or Mercedes follower, both German rivals are knocked into the shade by the A8 cockpit.

It’s simply a class act. A subtle blend of wood, metal and sumptuous leather that would please any chauffeur, or the person sat behind him.

While the navigation system takes a little getting used to, everything else about the big Audi is how a cabin should be. There are tons of options too but even the standard car has more than enough to please…

The Audi A8 looks like an A6 on steroids…

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After a week in the R8 it almost seems unfair to step into the A8. The two cars are like chalk and cheese – although both share quattro four-wheel drive.

On a wet drive to Kenilworth Castle yesterday, I’m glad the huge A8 had some extra grip though– it really was one of those days to come unstuck big time on the Fosse Way strip.

First impressions? Well, I’m just not sure the big Audi feels special enough. It looks like an A6 on steroids, or a bloated A4. What I’m trying to say is, the A8 just doesn’t feel that different.

Sure, it’s loaded with technology but I want a bit more than that for my £76k. I can’t help feeling a Jag or a Range Rover would move me in just as much comfort.

But critically, they would also set my pulse racing every time I saw it on the driveway…

The Audi R8 is every inch a supercar – even though it doesn’t have the badge to match

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The R8 may not carry the badge of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari but it is every inch a supercar. It has the looks, the performance and handling to keep the keenest driver engaged.

It’s not as practical as a Porsche 911 as an everyday fast car – but then if you want one of those, go buy a Mercedes.

A better comparison would be the latest McLaren 570S. I drove that car in Portugal four months ago and it is hard to pick between the two.

I suppose the McLaren has more cache – you can’t buy any McLaren for less than £130k, after all.

But badge aside, I’d say both cars are more than a match for each other and the R8 is more than worthy of your consideration – if you are lucky enough to have enough money to buy either…

Five things you won’t know about the Audi R8 until you own one

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One reason why motoring writers can offer a better opinion is that we get the chance to live with a car for more than just the usual dealership test drive route.

After ‘owning’ the R8 for five days, I know that it shares one little problem common to the Porsche 911 – the buckle on the passenger safety belt rattles against the bulkhead when not in use.

I can also tell you that the virtual dashboard isn’t as intuitive to use as it might be, and in strong sunlight, there’s a terrible reflection on the windscreen above the instrument binnacle.

While the R8 has an acoustic exhaust system that allows the Audi to be driven relatively quietly through a town (you don’t want to be a knob and show off, do you?), it’s impossible to start the car discreetly, as the pipes scream.

The front luggage area is tiny, oh and the suspension is way to firm, even on ‘comfort’ setting.

So you see, no car is perfect. Even when it looks this good and costs so much…

The Audi R8’s digital display is the future of dashboard design

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This latest R8 may not look much different to the last one but underneath that aluminium skin, it’s a totally different car. Based on the Lamborghini Huracan, you can own one with either a 5.2-litre V10 or V10 Plus lump in the boot.

The first produces 540bhp – our monster Plus is 610bhp and totally awesome in the 3.2 second dash to 60mph. This new R8 is 110 lbs lighter too – making it faster and more agile than before. Just be careful when you press down the front boot lid – the metal is so light it bends in!

But what’s extra special about the latest R8 is the virtual cockpit. No, it still has a steering wheel and pedals but there’s no infotainment display screen in the centre of the dash. Instead, it’s right in front of the driver where the speedo used to be.

The whole binnacle area is entirely digital. The speedo readout is still there but you have a choice a countless set ups to suit your taste. If you like, the entire screen can be one big sat nav display.

It’s clever and you can bet a lot of other manufacturers will soon be following the same design too…

The Audi R8 V10 Plus is a monster of a car…

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What’s the difference between driving last week’s Rolls-Royce and this week’s Audi R8? Well, apart from the £130,000 price difference, the great British motoring public seem a lot less hassled by the Audi.

Maybe it’s the fact the R8 isn’t quite so ‘posh’ but other drivers just get out of the way of the Audi – while the Ghost seemed to wind people up enormously and create all kinds of road rage madness.

So the R8 is quite the monster of a car. Low, wide and extraordinarily fast, it’s every inch a supercar – even if the styling isn’t quite so eye-catching as a McLaren or the Audi’s sister lambo.

It’s not quite a Porsche 911 in terms of daily practicality – the boot is tiny and the dashboard is less intuitive – but it’s still one hell of a car…