Tag Archives: England

2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4

MINI’s Countryman is bigger, not necessarily better … 2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman

The new MINI Cooper Countryman goes too far, but maybe that’s what U.S. buyers want.

It’s the biggest MINI yet. I know that sounds contradictory for the small British-born make now made by BMW. But it’s true. This is MINI’s version of a crossover or small sport-ute with a longer and wider body, plus ALL4, its all-wheel-drive system is available.

It also appears to be less MINI in styling as it looks more bulky than cute. Think of that cute guy/girl in high school that packed on a few pounds by the 10-year reunion. In fact, the Countryman is just short of 500 lbs. heavier than the MINI Clubman that I enjoyed last year.

To put it nicely, the Countryman feels more substantial than earlier models and obviously is designed to accommodate larger U.S. passengers. The Countryman gains four inches of rear seat legroom compared to its predecessor and being a 4-door it’s easy to load five people aboard. I did it on a lunch run and one of the riders was a 6-footer.2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman

So while the MINI-ness of the Countryman seems a bit of a stretch (pun intended), the usefulness of it should make it more attractive to folks who intend to actually haul a family in it on a trip. Another family plus? The rear seats fold down flat in a 40/20/40 split to expand the generous 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space, but allow rear seat riders. Likewise the seats will recline slightly and the entire rear seat will slide forward a couple inches if you’re simply carrying cargo, not rear seat passengers. Continue reading 2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4

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Automodello’s 2011-2016 Noble M600

Noble M600 supercar looks good in 1/43 scaleAutomodello Noble M600

The Noble M600 may be the fastest car you’ve never heard of, and no wonder in the U.S. market because it’s not readily available here.

Nope, Noble is a British supercar made outside Leiscester, England, where it sells for 200,000 pounds. How much that translates into U.S. dollars after the Brexit vote may require a phone call to your local banker .

But Automodello’s new 1/43 scale version is a modest, considering the original’s price tag, $119.95. And we shouldn’t be surprised that Automodello takes on the Noble for a model as it has been mining models of some of the lesser known makes and rare vintage cars and racers that other die-cast and resin model maker have steered clear of. For the record, this is Automodello’s first model of a currently produced car and away from its vintage lineup.

The History

Noble Automotive was founded in 1999 by Lee Noble who wanted to build his own high-performance mid-engine, rear-drive car. What many of us call a driver’s car.Automodello Noble M600

Continue reading Automodello’s 2011-2016 Noble M600

2016 MINI Cooper Clubman

Bigger MINI makes Clubman more useful …2016 MINI Clubman

When does a MINI become so big that it’s not, well, mini?

There’s a fine line to be sure, but the new MINI Cooper Clubman seems to straddle it pretty well. Visually the Clubman is still cute with the round headlights and profile of a MINI, but there’s no doubt it’s longer and, to be honest, more useful than its predecessor.

The new Clubman is roughly 12 inches longer than the former model with a wheelbase that’s five inches longer. The upshot is more rear seat room, decent cargo space with the rear seats folded down, and a smoother ride. There are four doors too, making it easier for folks to slide into the rear seat. The former model had just one rear-open back side door, making seat access a bit clumsy.

Like before, the Clubman keeps its rear panel truck-style doors, which allows for easier loading and unloading. Plus it means wider loads will slide out easily.

All that increases usefulness.

2016 MINI Clubman
Clubman is a lot longer, but still carries the MINI profile.

Continue reading 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman

2014 Jaguar XJL AWD

Jaguar XJL extends the legend with AWDjag1

Jaguar’s image has been polished, tarnished and polished several times, but its history of racing success, generous power and spirited road manners, along with an expectation of gentlemanly comfort, endures.

The restyled XJL does nothing to dispel the legend, with its muscular but trim lines, big chrome grille and vertical tail lamps. But there are some surprises, too.

First, this is a large sedan with mammoth interior that will accommodate five adults with NBA length legs. The XJ’s long-wheelbase model features a limo-like 124.3-inch wheelbase, or somewhere between Chevrolet’s big Tahoe and Suburban SUVs for wheelbase, and they aren’t small. Overall length is sizeable too. In fact, a Tahoe is more than four inches shorter in lengthy. Trust me, this Jag is roomy.

Jaguar’s engine creates 340 horses, which may sound mild for a Jag, but since the car is light for its size, just 4,153 lbs., the car feels relatively nimble. The surprise to long-time Jag devotees may be that there’s no V8 in this model, but the 3.0-liter V6 is supercharged. That gives you quick power when you need it, but doesn’t tax your gas mileage too much in normal stop and go driving.

The XJL, and this one had all-wheel drive (another surprise), is rated at 16 mpg city and 24 highway. I ran it about 60% highway miles and got 20.1 mpg. That’s good for the size and power of the vehicle, plus it being all-wheel drive.

AWD allows the supercharged XJ to keep its composure, even in snow.
AWD allows the supercharged XJ to keep its composure, even in snow.

Acceleration is smooth and strong with the Jag’s 8-speed automatic transmission savageonwheels.com, car reviewsdelivering seamless shifts. My only concern with the drivetrain is the gas-saving “intelligent stop-start” feature. Like a hybrid, the Jaguar’s gas engine shuts off at stoplights or nearly anytime you’re stopped in traffic, or at a drive-up window, etc. When you take your foot off the brake, the engine automatically refires. Both on the shutdown and the startup there is a noticeable shudder that seemed less refined than I’ve felt in various hybrids. Several riders commented on it, saying they would be disappointed in that shake after paying roughly $85 grand for such a luxury yacht.
That’s right, the XJL starts at $83,700 and with only a delivery charge, no options, hit $84,595. This, apparently, is the price for merging luxury and notable styling.

But while there was that hiccup when the engine shuts off to save fuel, the powertrain and the interior are incredibly quiet. This may be the quietest car I’ve driven in several years. With the car stationary and running I got 64 decibels on an iPhone app that my friend loaned me. That jumped to only 67 when a friend’s daughter played her French horn just outside the car in a sound test we did for my You Tube video review. Outside, by the horn, the decibels hit a peak of 118.

Continue reading 2014 Jaguar XJL AWD

Die-cast: Autoart MGB roadster

Tiny MGB roadster a throwback to early sports carsmg1

England’s MG was one of the early two-seat sports cars that assumed almost epic popularity among enthusiasts in the United States after World War II.

Returning GIs who had seen the small, sporty, fun to drive MGs while stationed in England during the war desired the roadsters once they reestablished themselves after the war.

Old WWII airports around the country were converted into race tracks and road racing’s popularity grew. So the nimble MGs became regular weekend warriors along with Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Sunbeams and Triumphs.

Autoart delivers a tidy 1:43 model of the 1969 MGB Mk. II roadster, the MGB being made from 1962 until 1980. MG began in Abingdon, England, near Oxford, in the early 1920s as Morris Garages, a Morris dealer, began making its own versions of the Morris cars. Design work came from Cecil Kimber. MG made cars for more than 50 years before falling on hard times and being sold to various auto-making entities. The name now is owned by a Chinese automaker.

Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart MGB roadster

2014 Land Rover Range Rover 5.0 V8 SC

Supercharged Rover strong on power, luxury, off-road ability

Dating myself here, but imagine a Crocodile Dundee type character intoning, Luxury Ute? Now this is a Luxury Ute as he points to a large, muscular Range Rover SC.

Fording a stream is all in a day's work for a Range Rover.
Fording a stream is all in a day’s work for a Range Rover.

The Aussie accent may seem appropriate too as Land Rover, the firm that makes Range Rovers, was for years a part of the British Empire. Now, it and Jaguar are part of Tata Motors, a large Indian manufacturing concern. India too was part of Mother England’s empire, but that’s just coincidence we suspect, when it comes to Tata’s interest in Rover. Still, Range Rovers continue to be built in England.

Rover offers several models, but the Range Rover SC equipped with a monster 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is top dog. The supercharged motor creates a Corvette-like 510 horsepower, but this off-road capable truck starts at a highly immodest $99,100 with an $895 delivery charge. That’s $100 grand in my book.

I know, I know, you’re wondering what could be worth that sort of money when perfectly good off-roading luxury utes like Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, and others, can be had for half that.

Well, a lot comes down to how you want to be perceived as you trundle into the country club parking lot or the yacht club, yet the Rover does offer a lot. However, I can tell you how you’ll be greeted at gas stations, with open arms and welcoming smiles. You’ll be leaving a rather large deposit any time you fill up. Continue reading 2014 Land Rover Range Rover 5.0 V8 SC

2013 Land Rover LR2

Land Rover’s LR2 modest in price, but boasts off-roading capabilityLR2 hill

Land Rover’s proud and adept off-roading history assures you that you’ll be getting a terrain crunching vehicle with any model, but the expectation of luxury is surely just as great.

So it is with its entry-level sport-ute, the LR2. With a modest starting price of $36,400 you know this isn’t going to be smothered in luxury, but still your expectations are elevated.

Created in Halewood, England, but now part of India’s Tata Motors automotive empire, Land Rovers have always been able off-road warriors. This one is no different, what with Hill Descent Control so that the LR2 won’t go careening down a steep incline at too great a speed, and with what Land Rover calls a 19.7-inch water wading depth. In addition the ute’s design includes a 29-degree approach angle and 32-degree departure angle at its rear.

So yes, it’ll go off road and take on any gravel, snow, sand that gets in its way. The 4-wheel-drive system is fulltime and a driver can push arrows on the console to electronically set the transmission to handle any of the aforementioned surfaces.

But let’s face it. Mostly you’ll be cruising the interstate and our nation’s crumbling roads, possibly an even greater challenge than sand or mud. Continue reading 2013 Land Rover LR2