Independent Reviews of New and Used Cars

Jaguar Logo Jaguar XF: THE CAT’S WHISKERS

If you think the big three prestigious German brands have the Executive car segment sewn-up, a drive in the improved version of Jaguar’s second generation XF may be enough to make you reconsider. Even in the face of tough competition from rivals like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6, this car offers a compelling range of virtues. As before, there’s a choice of saloon or Sportbrake bodystyles. The XF range now hinges around a 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinder engine and while that doesn’t sound too exciting, it’s where the big sales are. It now comes in a single 204PS D200 state of tune, offers customers the option of rear wheel drive or AWD and features the brand’s latest MHEV mild hybrid engine tech, which can assist the engine under acceleration. There are also conventional P250 (RWD) and P300 (AWD) 2.0-litre petrol models. As for design, well the looks have been smartened but from almost any angle, you’d know this was a Jaguar. You’d know this was an XF.

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Volkswagen Logo Volkswagen Passat: RECOGNISABLY PASSAT

Volkswagen has super-sized its Passat in its ninth generation form. Jonathan Crouch checks it out.

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Volkswagen Logo Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid (2021 - 2023): HY-ER ASPIRATIONS

It’s puzzling why it took Volkswagen so long to bring us a PHEV version of this Tiguan, given that the technology it used had been around in a Golf since 2014. This powertrain does, after all make so much sense to the sensible conservative folk who tend to like this uber-sensible Wolfsburg mid-sized SUV. A Tiguan eHybrid can’t offer you the longest all-electric driving range in the segment amongst models from this period, but it does feel classier inside than rival PHEV versions of direct competitors from 2021-2023 like the Ford Kuga, the Peugeot 3008, the Citroen C5 Aircross and the Vauxhall Grandland. Yes, you could get an even smarter cabin feel by opting for a mechanically very similar Audi Q3 45 TFSIe, but that would cost a great deal more. For quite a few crossover customers tempted by the PHEV concept, what’s served up here will be more than sufficient for their needs. It’s a very complete package.

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Volkswagen Logo Volkswagen Crafter: HARD CRAFT

There are many large vans that claim to be all things to all people but Volkswagen’s much improved Crafter comes closer than most, as Jonathan Crouch reports.

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Smart Logo smart fortwo cabrio (2016 - 2023): CAB FOR THE CITY

This car represents a clever idea, cleverly executed. If you like the idea of an open-top, you drive your car mainly over short distances or in town and space is not especially important, then you’ll likely find this MK3 fortwo cabrio to be an endearing little thing. Fashionable urbanites will be as attracted to this third generation version as they were to its predecessors. It does, after all, remain the quintessential open-topped citycar, stylish, cheap to run, supremely space-efficient and easier to get around in and park than anything this side of a moped. You come away from a drive in this smart feeling that no other small rival has been quite so perfectly tailored for the town. True, obvious period rivals have the advantage of a rear bench, but you pay for that in so many other ways. Those competitors have smaller cargo areas; their greater size makes parking more difficult and they carry around extra weight which tends to lead to higher running costs. Nor can they offer the kind of full open-air experience you get in a fortwo cabrio with the roof bars removed. So, how to sum up? Well, the extra maturity of this third generation version is welcome, with its smoother driving dynamics, stronger safety standards and extra connectivity. Ultimately though, this is still the kind of purchase you make with your heart rather than your head. Maybe if smart could sell it in some kind of giant designer shopping bag? Better still, one of those convertible, reversible ones. Fashion: don’t you just love it?

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