Fantasy Garage

Happy birthday 2020

It’s that time of the year again, where I get another year older but nothing else seems to have changed much.  Generally at this time I start thinking about what new gadget I’d like, and this year it seemed appropriate to play with the idea of replacing the XF.

Now, as per usual, I need to set some search criteria for this endeavour.  So how about these:

  1. Must have in excess of 270bhp (the XF has 275bhp) or be as fast in the 0-60 sprint as the XF.
  2. Must not be older than 2014 (the XF is 2014). 
  3. Must be no more than one level above the XF on the car tax bracket (see rates here, the XF is in band D).
  4. Must have room for 4 people.
  5. Must have less than 150,000 km.
  6. Must be under €25,000 to buy at this moment in time.

There are some cars that are ruled out straight away.  These are

  1. Any BMW diesel
    I had a BMW 520d some years ago with the N47 engine.  The N47 is known for its sudden timing chain failure which completely destroys the engine.  Luckily I didn’t suffer from that, but with BMW not standing over this catastrophically stupid design by helping any and all owners if that happens, nor even issuing a recall, then I’m not confident in BMW diesel technology anymore.
  2. Audi A4 or A5
    I had an A5 before this XF, so not interested in another A5.  And I don’t like the A4!
  3. Any Jaguar
    Getting out of one Jaguar, why would I get into another?

With the search criteria set, I’ve discovered that there isn’t much out there of interest at the moment … here is what I found:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C Class SPORT C350e ESTATE
    This is a 2016 model, on a 162 plate.  It is powered by a 278bhp 2.0 petrol coupled with a hybrid powertrain, giving her a 0-60 time of just over 6 seconds.  Not too shabby!  And the car tax is very low compared to my current machine.  This has my attention, for sure!
  2. BMW 330e MSport Saloon
    A 2017 model this time, this BMW is also powered by a 2.0 petrol with coupled with an electric powertrain.  Giving 252 bhp, it’s slightly under my power criteria but has the acceleration figures to get into the running – 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, an identical figure to the XF!
  3. Lexus GS450h
    Bit of an unexpected entry, this.  I recently drove an LS460 V8 and was hugely underwhelmed by the whole experience.  The handling was poor, the manoeuverability was funny in a car park and I had to wait for the engine to have a committee meeting about what power to give me every time I pressed the accelerator, no matter what mode the car was in.   The GS range is supposed to be more sporty in its outlook, so this might be acceptable.  With lower CO2 emissions, the car tax is less than mine.  And with 340bhp and 400nm of torque, it hustles up to 60 faster than Jag.  I just wonder what the handling would be like … I also wonder how the batteries would be, as I found a 2014 model.
  4. Ford Focus ST2
    I owned a Focus ST170 in my younger years, and I admit this was a fun car to drive, albeit somewhat lacking in power.  I am also a fan of the original Focus RS – really nice lines and a great drive.  This version of the ST has more power and better handling than that original RS, so it has to be a contender, especially with its 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds.  I think it looks cool too.
  5. Audi A6 
    I had an A5 2.0 TDi S-line before my current XF and I absolutely loved that car.  The cockpit was a really nice place to be, the automatic box was sharp and responsive with a good manual override option and the feeling of quality was fantastic.  Never gave me a day’s trouble in 2.5 years – the only thing this car needed was more than it’s standard 204bhp.  This A6 has the 3.0 TDi engine that Audi make available in many different states of tune.  In this flavour we have the BiTDi version – that’s 313bhp to you and I, coupled with the 8 speed torque convertor automatic box that I really liked in the A5.  I have a few quibbles – it looks like a larger A3 saloon or A4 saloon nor are the seats as sporty as mine.  But it’s right up there with the XF for power and pace.

    And that’s my list.  It’s funny when you start actually looking around, sometimes there isn’t anything worth the effort of going to test drive.  Although, to be fair, the first two entries in this list have my attention as I hadn’t considered a PHEV option before this as I was incorrectly assuming that the PHEV models in this sort of price range would be new Prius models or Outlander plug-in specials.  I also like the Focus and the A6, so this isn’t too bad.  

    However, those of you who know me would expect me to be unhappy with this limited range of motors.  Which is true, so when the amount is upped to a €30,000 limit and the year range is widened a smidge either side, this gets to be a slightly longer list.  Check out the new entries below!

  6. Porsche Panamera
    I have owned two Porsches to date, a 944 Turbo and a Boxster.  Both were fantastic fun to drive and also looked great, but both also suffered from engines that needed fettling or they went expensively wrong.  I’d be reluctant to jump into another Porsche powered with an engine that needs very frequent maintenance in order to achieve high mileage.  Which is where a Panamera diesel comes in – seems a bit wrong in that the Panamera isn’t the greatest looking Porker and it seems to be powered using the wrong fuel.  But it’s a good price at under 30k, has covered good mileage and also comes with a good service history.  This might be worth a look – the downside though is this is the first generation diesel with only 250bhp so my XF actually is quicker.  Hmm … 
  7. Audi S3
    I owned an early generation model of these with 200bhp and a small body.  It was fun to drive and actually was more surefooted in the corners than the big S8 I owned.  It needed more space and a better interior, as it was pretty basic for such a cool car, but it had a great driving position, nice Recaro seats and rewarded enthusiasm!  I’d like to try a later variant, and we happen to have one on offer.  This one has 300 bhp and gets to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds and I do like larger space compared to the version I had.  Not sure about the dashboard and interior as the equipment levels seem sparse, but I think it’s worth a peek.
  8. BMW M140i
    I’ve never even sat in a 1 series BMW but I know the higher powered variants by reputation.  This one seems no different – 340bhp from a 3.0 petrol in a small body seems to me to be a recipe for fun.  Couple that with RWD and, in my opinion, a much nicer interior than the S3 we just saw and I definitely want to take this for a spin.
  9. Audi A7 BiTDi
    As mentioned above, the BiTDI 3.0 diesel engine from Audi is a cracker, especially with the 8 speed torque convertor transmission.  Above we saw it in an A6, which looks a bit too much like everything else.  Here we see it in an A7, which in my head looks very like an early Aston Martin DBS and is my current favourite of the Audi range.  Throw in the Black Edition trim and this is probably in pole position on this list, but the one shown below is not actually a Black Edition so I’m not so sure about it – but I think I’ll keep an eye out as I know of two BiTDi Black Edition A7’s that are about to come onto the market.

Much happier with the list now as it stands – there are quite a few there worth playing with, some even in the same dealer which makes it handy.  

Anyway, I’m off to blow out the fire hazard that is my birthday cake with many many candles.  Happy birthday to anyone who shares the same day as me! 




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