THE WEEK THAT WAS: Jaguar (re)discovers all wheel drive
Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover's late but welcome spread out into niches already well tapped by German rivals Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz attracted considerable reader interest here at just-auto this week.
As we noted: "[New Jaguar and Land Rover variants] ...open up market segments around the world JLR has been locked out of because it did not have a relevant model. New all-wheel-drive versions of the Jaguar XF and XJ mean that the brand can compete in the snow belt regions of the United States where 80% of premium saloon car sales have four wheel drive."
As Audi and BMW, in particular, already know. And - yeah, I know it's a different place in the market - does Subaru which seems to have the New England market for affordable 4WD cars and crossovers well cornered.
To be fair, we have been offered all wheel drive Jaguars before - hands up if you recall the often unfairly maligned X-type. Yes, it had a few bugs, yes you could dismiss it as a gussied-up Mondeo (Ford being JLR's owner at the time) but ever asked anyone who owned one? Certainly my unscientific polls of UK owners have attracted more praise and claims of lengthy ownership than complaints.
The new AWD Jaguar models are produced with left hand drive only and will also be available in alpine regions of Europe and in China but not sold here in the UK home market. After the snow forecast for the southeast this weekend, that could change...
Land Rover is adding a two-litre petrol engine the Chinese want to the 2013 model year Freelander in a market where engine sizes are being driven down by taxes on larger engines. Catering to market needs, no matter how awkward, worked well for the Japanese and, later, the Koreans, particularly in the US and Asia. With a Chinese plant on the drawing board, JLR strategy seems sensible and the local factory will help with building market-specific variants where they're sold.
Recalls are in the news much more these days as automakers recall the Toyota 'sudden acceleration' scandal, shudder, and get 'em back in to the dealers, purely as a precaution, you understand. Ford could probably do without one of its EcoBoost engines, apparently made, ahem, here in England, acquiring a reputation for external rather than internal combustion at a time when it is extensively promoting the fuel economy advantages of its downsize technology. No matching recall for Europe where the 1.6 was launched first and is widely used.
Speaking of Ford and fuel economy, there's been some pushback in the US over its claims for its new hybrids; over here Toyota dealers are well used to flak from new Prius owners whose real-world results don't match the 'official' headline figures.
While we're on Toyota and hybrids, the automaker this week opened a vote of confidence in the Australian auto industry - a new, replacement engine plant at Altona that builds both petrol and hybrid powertrains.
Volvo announced a large spend on flexible new vehicle platforms and the UK's SMMT is searching for a new CEO after the current chief announced he was off in January to a new, and still secret, non-auto role.
Finally, just to prove you never stop learning while covering our fascinating industry, I heard about a device called a 'swamp cooler'. Imagine what The Law might say if you drove around with one of those these days.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com