Sunday – Squeezed Out

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Jeremy 20-inch Vulcan wheels in gloss black – £550 each. That’s just the alloy wheel and doesn’t include the tyre. So you can imagine how irritated I was when I tried to go past a caravan on a roundabout near Chippenham tonight, then suddenly found myself being squeezed out by an oblivious woman at the helm.

I doubt I was travelling at more than 30mph but suddenly, the gap between the horrible caravan and the XKR-S  became very tight! I crushed the brake peddle as the woman cut directly across the two lanes and ignored my presence. How noisy, bright and wide do you want a supercar to be madam?

It’s one of the perils of owning a supercar with low profile tyres. A curb stone might as well be a sharp knife, waiting to slash a gaping hole in your wallet and empty the contents on a regular basis. Tonight there was a slight squeal from the rear off-side rubber but a quick check revealed no damage. Phew!

On a lighter note, this weekend we have also managed to cram two twentysomethings in the back seats of the Jaguar. Unless you have friends who are very bendy and don’t suffer from a neck disorder, don’t ever try it yourself. The backseats of the XK are for very small children or a pet pooch only….

 

 

Thursday – A Big Discovery

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Jessica This car is a big step up from the Discovery of old. It feels solid, sorted and safe. The box shape does not work for me, utilitarian yes, aesthetic  no. Even though the bonnet is chunky and reflects the same look as a Range Rover, it definitely lacks a sense of style at the rear.

It’s easy to fall down when designing a dashboard. However, the retro wood finish ties neatly in with current online graphic trends (examples can be seen on Issuu.com) and will appeal to 70’s furniture enthusiasts. Combine this with lozenges of brushed chrome and you have a potential design classic interior.

Internally, the Discovery is very comfortable. The stitching is not overdone and it’s a pleasure to drive on either long or short journeys. Responsive, powerful with the all-important, armchair-style comfortable seats. It feels a little like sitting in a large comfortable office ( which rarely exist now, perhaps we do more work on the move these days, so it is appropriate!)

I know it has already been mentioned in terms of the current Jaguar range but the automatic  transmission dial is tactile, smoothly glides up when the car starts and feels thoroughly modern. It works just as well  in the Land Rover.

The Discovery is still ideal for pony clubbers and sport lovers alike, even campers – just make sure you do not have long nails as there is no chance of using the touch screen sat nav if you are fond of a well turned out hand!

Saturday – Cold Comfort

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Jeremy The ‘lost in space’ mobile phone drama continued today as O2 tried everything in their power to make giving me a replacement as difficult as possible. Thank you, O2.

I won’t bore you with the details but it has been trying! I had to have a final search through the Discovery and only found the optional toolbox in the centre armrest this time. Worth every penny in the hot spell I’d say.

While the Land Rover has a heated front screen for fast demisting, I have one complaint with the ventilation system. It is almost impossible to turn the fan down to a comfortable level. The temperature is fine – it’s just that even on the lowest setting, it blows very hard.

Despite a week of fiddling, I can’t say that either Jessica or I have got to the bottom of it. And why when we have the temperature turned up high does it still blow icy cold air of out the vents?

Everything else on the Discovery is straightforward and intuitive.  The air con is not.

Wednesday – What’s In Your Glovebox?

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Jeremy It’s a little known fact that Jessica has an issue with car manuals. Being a fashionista, it’s not the way they look, the fabric manufacturers use on the cover or the feel of the material, it’s more about why we have car manuals in the first place.

Flicking through the RXH manual together this morning, I could feel the argument about to surface again. She believes that all instructions should simply be available online – and that we should tap in via our smartphones or laptops.

This would not only save a small forest of trees (have you seen the size of car manuals these days?) but free up space in the glovebox. It would also provide dedicated manuals for each model. For example, the RXH manual is really just the same as a standard 508 estate handbook and therefore, extra complicated. It’s the same for most cars these days. You very rarely get a manual that is specific to your car.

So, while I think part of the joy of owning a new car is sitting in the driver’s seat and digesting endless pages of dashboard trivia, her argument does have some weight, provided you own a smartphone of course.

I have to agree with her that the RXH manual isn’t the easiest to navigate. I’ve certainly struggled with the DAB radio instructions, operating the tailgate and adjustment to the head up display screen. But imagine life without car manuals – what else would a man do on a Sunday morning…?

Monday – Split Decision

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Jeremy Monday evening and it feels like the weather is about to break over the Cotswolds. In fact, I’m sure I could hear the distant rumble of thunder as I climbed out of the RXH earlier, or could it have been from the back seat…?

The 508 is proving a mixed back in terms of build quality. While the seats are wrapped in sumptuous leather, there is  every type of electronic gadget – from auto-dip headlights to massaging driver’s seat – the squeaky leather rear seat has now been joined by a rattle, which seems to be originating from under the floor of the boot where the battery packs are located. This is starting to annoy me and it would definitely be back to the dealership if I had spent £35,000+ on a luxurious, 4×4 estate.

At least I have got the hang of the DAB radio now and the sat nav is behaving beautifully. The automatic rear boot door opens from the keyfob but I can’t get it to close using the same button!

So, I’m still not 100 per cent over whether I like the RXH or not. It’s all minor niggly stuff but to compete with the Audi allroad or a Volvo V70, I think it just needs to up its game a bit.

 

 

 

Thursday – Space, As We Know It

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Jeremy The CR-V has landed and I’ve just been giving it the once over. Push button start, huge glass roof and Bluetooth connected! The EX comes with all the extras you would expect in the most expensive version, including leather seats, navigation and DAB radio (a must for Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and the Ashes next week!).

What is remarkable about the interior is the amount of space – quite Tardis-like. Even with the rear seats in place, the boot measures almost 600-litres – more than enough for Malin the Hungarian Viszla and his best mate Humphrey. Those back seats also drop with the minimum of fuss using a single lever, freeing up 1600+ litres.

Some chunky rear pillars make over the shoulder vision is a bit tricky when reversing, although being an SUV, general visibility is excellent. The giant glass roof on the EX doesn’t open and to keep the sun out on hot days there is an automatic screen that closes smoothly from both the front and rear.

The dashboard is easy on the eye, fairly plain with quite a rash of buttons for the driver to understand. Electric seats on the EX are exceptionally comfortable, with masses of headroom both front and rear. The air conditioning really blasts it out too – good news as we are expecting a heatwave from this weekend…

Tuesday – Quietly Confident

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Jessica This is a car with a quiet reputation and clearly there are those in the know.  We all know they are out there but take little notice.  Actually stopping and looking at it (even in white) the lines are effective, the shape although small is in good proportion from front to back and I like the hard top version for those times when living through an English summer there is no hope of driving California style in sunglasses and bikini.

Once I got into the car and got over just how little it is particularly for my long limbed frame, I began to enjoy myself.

The dash and console have minimum equipment without missing the basics, the screen sensibly reverts to simply telling the time when not in use, which I much prefer.  Many cars have so much going on that one glance down and you may as well be talking on a phone it is so distracting.

Not so here, there are no distractions from the business of driving,  with a gear stick in a classic sports position and easy to reach, handling that is sharp and authentic, gears that allow you to really drive, road holding is impressive this car is fun and attractive.

Clearly big dogs, large amounts of luggage or children are out of the equation here, which makes it even better as it is  purely a car for the self, an individualistic driving experience without breaking the bank.

Monday – The Fun of Golfing

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Jessica Yesterday morning, as I drove through Stroud in my trusty 200,000-mile BMW, I passed the entrance to ‘Wheel Nuts 2013’. It’s a classic car rally where many beautifully preserved cars were trekking, with every owner happy and excited at the gate about the fun day ahead.

It got me thinking about how much we love old cars – cars that have character, cars that remind us of times and stages of our own. I think we love a design ethic to translate across the years and to find some nostalgia in a car that is available now. Somehow VW have managed this with the Golf.

If I think back many years to a pale blue Golf I had with go faster black stripes, I felt the ghost of the original as I started to drive CarCouture’s current Mark VII version. With all its modern features and no nonsense dashboard, it still has the fun, drivability and reliable feel that I remember  from my own Golf – just wrapped in a modern casing.

VW has developed the shape and embraced technological developments but the essence of this car, which has always existed in a special category of its own in terms of demographic uptake and no nonsense fun, is very much there.

It is sound on the road, corners well and the handling is excellent. So altogether, it is a  car you could take anywhere at any stage of your life and still have a little fun.

Sunday-Huffkins Challenge

JessicaThe Jag has passed a girl challenge today……
Once the many seat buttons have been pressed, in house massage parlour engaged, music selected, mirror adjusted (yes the Chanel nude lipstick works for a weekend) , it is time for the car park challenge.

The prize for negotiating the spiral entry ramp and numerous pillars of the Cheltenham multi-storey with no scratches or dents, is a delicious cup of exquisite loose leaf Lapsang Souchong with cakes (mine an award winning fruit cake) from Huffkins.

The car was immaculate, it is a pleasure to drive, responsive, fast and smooth. There is a sense of power that is easy to manage with the fun of paddle gear shift and an excellent braking system.

……….arriving at the challenge point……. yes we made it onto the car park (slowly) around the very tight, long, narrow spiral car park ramp, then easily manoeuvred into a tight space beside a pillar. There was much bleeping and flashing from the car which clearly did not believe I could negotiate such a testing space.

All in all a lovely afternoon, cake all round and a spin home across country in the spring sunshine.

I will be sad to see this car go as it is a luxurious experience to drive, though I still don’t understand why the rear end of this lovely car looks like an old Ford Sierra!