Recently Volkswagen has redesigned the New Beetle, a car that was massively perceived as “girly”. The redesign has pushed it in a more “manly” and sporting direction with a wider looking stance and sharper lines. Volkswagen have now redirected their attention to another inherently feminine family member…the Cabrio.
It has been at least a decade since the world has seen a new Cabrio from the VW family. Well, it’s back and better than ever. The Cabrio has always been just a Golf with the roof replaced by folding fabric. Set for an official launch at this year’s Geneva Motor show VW has done one better and used the GTI as the platform.
Using all the racy and sporty GTI design cues, the new Cabrio GTI is furthest thing from a cutesy convertible. Deep front air dams and side sill extensions give the car a wide affirmative stance. And if any one has any doubts when you rocket by, the bespoke rear diffuser is flanked by two chrome tailpipes.
The rocket under the hood is the same 2.0 liter turbo charged 4 cylinder engine as in the hatch back combined with an ol’ fashioned 6 speed manual or the optional 6 speed dual-clutch DSG. As with all soft tops extra weight is added to better the torsion rigidity and as a result the 0-60 does suffer a bit, up to 7.3 seconds from 6.9. The Cabrio’s off the line speed is still nothing to shy away from with a max torque achieved at a close to an idling 1,700 rpm. All that low end torque mated with an electronic differential still gives you a great driving experience but now with the joys of open air driving.
Priced just shy of the 100k mark, the Jaguar XF-R enters serious territory. The XF-R is Britain’s answer to Germany’s beefed up GT cars: Audi RS6, BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG.
When you first step into the XF-R it feels like an executive GT sedan should. There is plenty of room both for driver and passenger, even 6+ footers like me. The options and accommodations help drive home the luxury car feel as well. Heated and ventilated seats along with a simply laid out console makes any long drive more than enjoyable.
As you start to explore more of the car’s options you notice where the sporting feel creeps in. Alcantara roof lining and bits of carbon fiber catch your eye and you wonder why racing materials are in your GT sedan. As you customize the seat adjustments to your liking you notice you can bring the side supports in for a real bucket seat hugging feel. Next you see the setting marked ‘R’ on the gear selector and you’re not NOT going to put it into Race mode… then you hit the accelerator and it all makes sense.
A 5.0-liter super charged V-8 burbles back at you, the burble turns to a grunt and then a roar with the unmistakable whine of a super charger. Before you know it you’re above highway speeds and you realize you weren’t even close to half throttle. Give it the full weight of your right foot and the big cat will do 60 mph from a stand still in 4.7 seconds.
Taking the materials and the acceleration time away from a compromised track car, the XF-R could easily be mistaken for one… on paper. After driving around English backcountry roads all afternoon you’ll learn it is the furthest thing from it. Even with the larger wheels, low profile tires and stiffer spec’d suspension than the base model it rides incredibly smooth. Despite the 1 ton weight, the executive 4 door can handle country corners with ease and still absorb the ancient Roman road work.
In the fight against the Germans the Brits have brought a serious contender. The simplicity and user-friendly capability definitely swings in the Jag’s favor. The power and everyday drivability makes this beast the healthy alternative to the Bavarian big 3.