Jaguar XF 2018 review: Sportbrake First Edition 30d
Fewer are buying wagons, especially luxury wagons. So what was Jaguar thinking when it created its XF Sportbrake?
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It's no secret that Porsche is the master of charging more for less, but it's tough to argue against given the iconic Zuffenhausen brand has proven so often that less is, indeed, more.
Just four years into the 911 model's evidently permanent presence, the 911T was stripped of luxuries to purify the driving experience, yet kept the basic engine tune.
The T (for Touring) moniker only lasted until 1973, but four and a half decades later it's back with the new Carrera T variant. Just when you thought the 911 line-up simply couldn't get any more diverse. I don't think anyone's complaining, though.
Staying true to its roots, the Carrera T sheds weight and sharpens its focus, but keeps the entry Carrera's drivetrain. But is it worth the extra $17,500 over the base model, particularly with the next-generation 992 911 set to appear in little more than a year?
|Porsche 911 2018: CARRERA T|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Rather than a simple deletion of features and a stroll through the options list, the Carrera T's distinguishing elements are more than skin deep.
Your fellow Cars & Coffee attendees are likely to be most impressed with the thinner side and rear glass, scaled back sound deadening and the absence of rear seats, which are claimed to net a 20kg weight saving over an equivalent-spec Carrera.
Other details not available on the standard Carrera include the 10mm lower PASM sport chassis, the Sport Chrono Package, shortened manual gearshift and Sport-Tex fabric seat inlays. The interior is also distinguished by fabric door pulls and the GT sports steering wheel.
The Carrera T also scores the sports exhaust with centrally positioned outlets in black, grey 20-inch wheels and subtle front splitter from the Carrera S, but the most obvious visual distinction are the 911 Carrera T decals running along the base of the doors. These decals are colour coded with the wing mirrors.
Less for more isn't necessarily true, then, but you'll have to be a proper 911 spotter to identify it aside from the decals and tail badge. Remember the T is all about a pure drive experience, though, not 'look at me' styling, although the Racing Yellow example tested here sure commanded its fair share of attention from onlookers.
The 911's reputation as the everyday sports car is somewhat mitigated by the Carrera T's absence of rear seats, but it still retains a few niceties for the two remaining occupants.
Aside from the industry-best cup holders secreted above the glovebox, the 911 has a choice of two door pockets per side but no bottle holders and a decent centre console bin.
There's 145 litres of storage under the bonnet, or 'frunk', which is actually complemented significantly by the extra space behind the front seats, as you'll see with the giant picture frame we managed to carry. The missing back seats do cancel any opportunity of fitting child seats back there, though, ISOFIX or otherwise.
The Carrera T actually forms a new third rung in the tall 911 ladder, with it's $238,400 list price sitting $17,500 above the base Carrera coupe, but also $1400 above the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4. It sits squarely between the Carrera and Carrera S, sitting $17,600 beneath the latter.
Our test example was fitted with the standard seven-speed manual transmission, but you can also opt for the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch auto for an extra $6,670.
The Carrera T is so focused on driver engagement that the PCM multimedia system is deleted by default, but thankfully able to be reinstated as a no-cost option as with our test car.
The Carrera T also retains dual-zone climate control and seat heaters, which would be difficult to excuse at this end of the price scale.
Like anything bearing a Porsche badge, there's an array of options to choose from. Our test car was fitted with $32,820 worth of non performance-enhancing details, which included $1,390 for black wheels, $6,490 for black LED headlights with the PDLS Plus system, $1,290 for tinted tail-lights and another $1,290 for tinted rear windows.
The inside was treated to the $7,490 Full Leather Package with yellow details, $6,270 Carrera T trim package, which brings body-colour seatbelts and door pulls, with colour-coded stitching for the door trims, armrests and seats, $5,990 18-way electric Adapative Sports Seats Plus, $1,890 Alcantara trim for the steering wheel and gearknob, and $720 Sport Chrono analogue clock.
It's pretty incredible that the base 911's engine now makes 2kW more than a 996 GT3, but it's a welcome dividend from the Carrera's recent move to a smaller-capacity twin-turbocharged package that still hasn't silenced all sceptics.
The 3.0-litre unit totals 272kW at 6500rpm, with 450Nm available all the way from 1750-5000rpm. So still 37kW and 50Nm shy of the Carrera S spec, but aided by the T's 20kg weight advantage.
Porsche won't let you look at it, though, with the short engine cover just revealing a couple of extraction fans and oil and water fillers.
The seven-speed manual fitted to our car's shortened shift throw is signified by the Guards Red shift pattern, and the Carrera T-specific drivetrain elements are rounded off by a shorter rear axle ratio and mechanical differential lock.
This shorter axle ratio likely accounts for the T's 1.2L/100km deficit over the Carrera's official combined consumption figure, which results in a 9.5L/100km number on our manual example's windscreen sticker.
The PDK auto is rated a full litre per hundred better, and both options demand a diet of top-shelf 98 RON unleaded. The 64-litre fuel tank suggests a useful theoretical range between fills of 673km.
We recorded an 11.4L/100km overall figure over our 400km mixed-condition test, with a best of 8.2L/100km on a gentle motorway run.
Climbing aboard a modern 911 is a bit like meeting Elvis if he'd managed to discover moderation and give up the gun habit. It's about as iconic as things get, but has been brilliantly modernised to keep pace with stronger competition than ever.
For a company that stuck with the same interior hard points in the air-cooled 911 from 1963-98, it's managed to give the 991 an interior that's unmistakably 911 and Porsche, but also thoroughly modern, efficient and high end in its functions and materials. And this is an interior that's just had it's sixth birthday, and is about to be superseded by the 992.
Twist the key fob in its barrel - which seems old-school but is actually the best place to store it when in use - and the flat six barks into life with a carefully crafted Porsche characteristic note. I've never been a big fan of Porsche sounds and the jury is still out regarding the success of the new turbocharged noise, but it's still definitely a Stuttgart sound.
Grab first in the shortened seven-speed's gate and your contemporary benchmark for shift feel will be reset, before a light and definite clutch release underlines how impeccably engineered these machines are.
Slow-speed steering weight is just right in Normal mode, and the feel at any speed is about as good as it gets. The move to electric assistance was controversial with the 991 generation, but I don't think I've experienced better in a current model.
I must say that if I were speccing the car, I'd be sticking with the standard leather trim for the steering wheel and gearknob, as I find the admittedly sexy-as Alcantara just too slippery in bare hands.
Negotiating the T's long nose down driveways and over speedhumps requires great care and planning, particularly with the Carrera S's extra splitter, so I'd also add the nose lifter - even though it adds another $5,490.
The T's shorter rear axle and weight saving knocks just a 10th off the manual's official 0-100km/h claim to 4.5s, so at road speeds the accelerative advantage is undetectable.
The T's most distinguished driving characteristic is the combination of its next-tier lowered sport chassis and extra road noise, due to the thinner glass and scaled back insulation. You know how much more fun a car is to drive without a racing helmet on? The T's extra rawness has a more subtle equivalent effect.
The four-piston 330mm brakes at each corner continue this theme, in that they require more effort than your average hatchback, but will reel it in from high speeds real quick, time and time again.
This was the first opportunity I've had to drive the new turbo engine in manual guise, and as much of a manual die hard as I am (with three in my own garage), I didn't expect it to be so rewarding with the more complex turbo power delivery and throttle response. And that's largely because it isn't complex.
Porsche has managed to tune the 3.0-litre with amazing linearity, so much so that the rev counter is still a reliable yardstick for the amount of thrust available at any given time. Max torque is available all the way from 1750-5000rpm. The throttle response isn't quite as sharp as a naturally aspirated engine, but it's so much sharper than most turbos.
Porsche has managed to tune the 3.0-litre with amazing linearity
In my book, this adds another dimension to the manual vs auto in performance applications debate. It's not just about being beyond a certain accelerative capability or intended function, it's about how much the driver feels like they're making a positive contribution to the performance. With the Carrera T, I'd be going for the manual, even though it's officially three tenths slower to 100km/h and it's rated 15.1-second time is a full six tenths behind the PDK at 200km/h.
It could do without the automatic downchange throttle blip in Sport and Sport + driving modes, which removes most of the satisfaction from heel-and-toe down changes, yet will certainly be welcomed by drivers unfamiliar with the right-foot-dance move.
As always, the sounds improve dramatically as the revs and throttle inputs climb, and the 3.0-litre with the sports exhaust makes a pretty decent wail at its relatively meagre 7400rpm redline. There's no performance gain beyond its 6500rpm power peak, though.
The purist engineer in me would prefer a front or mid-engined layout than the behind-the-axle 911, but this fundamental compromise has been well and truly masked by suspension geometry, 305mm wide rear tyres and rear overhang weight minimisation.
The Carrera T is also no doubt helped by the lockable rear diff. If you plant your right foot out of an uphill hairpin, the rear end steps out nicely, but is then surprisingly easy to control with the throttle. A widowmaker this is not.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Like all Porsche models to date, the Carrera T has not been rated by ANCAP, and like all non-SUV Porsches to date, it also lacks a Euro NCAP rating.
It also falls surprisingly short in terms of active-safety gear like AEB, with just driver and passenger airbags, thorax and head airbags each side and a reversing camera to note. We expect this to change with the upcoming 992 911, due to appear next year.
The 911 Carrera T is covered by Porsche's standard three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is par for the course among premium brands, but lags behind the five-year-plus terms offered by most mainstream manufacturers these days.
Service intervals are a generous 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, but Porsche does not offer capped-price servicing.
|Carrera||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$207,570 – 238,590||2018 PORSCHE 911 2018 Carrera Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$203,610 – 234,080||2018 PORSCHE 911 2018 Carrera 4 Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 GTS||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$252,120 – 289,850||2018 PORSCHE 911 2018 Carrera 4 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 S||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$235,950 – 271,260||2018 PORSCHE 911 2018 Carrera 4 S Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|
“Can Porsche do no wrong? The 911 could do with the same safety gear you get in a $14,990 Mazda2, but the Carrera T in manual guise otherwise does exactly what it says on the box. It's an excellent driver's car, and if you don't need the back seats and welcome a bit of extra cabin noise, it's arguably the most exciting 911 this side of a GT3, for almost $90k less.”