News : Paris Motor Show – AROnline style…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Andrew Elphick

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Armed with our Eurostar billet AROnline’s continental correspondent, Andrew Elphick, breaches the main gate at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles armed with just €14  and a ballpoint pen…

So what’s new? To find out we headed straight over to the combined Jaguar Land Rover stand. Let us be clear here – it was a scrum, the French public couldn’t contain themselves for a piece of the XE/Discovery Sport action. Imagine the stand had Sophie Loren passing out free champagne, whilst wrapped only in a towel, and you might just be able to envisage the scrum! No less, being after the scoop we secured access.

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So what’s the lowdown on the XE? First impressions it’s BIG,  almost XF in stature. Whilst the XF is a gentleman’s express, the XE is gunning quite simply for the Audi A4 S line and BMW 320 M Sport customer. In the metal, the XE works far better than any over-processed press photo – the deep sculptured air intake and hunched arches really work, the metal ducktail spoiler stamped into the boot lid is a delicious detail.

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Even on the smaller wheels and tyres the track and proportions gel very well indeed. Truthfully, I was “so-so” about the whole XE media circus last month, but in the metal it is a winner. A winner with some flaws, however. That swooping “A” pillar treatment happened to be very close to my head as I climbed aboard and, oddly, the steering wheel is offset, despite the driver’s seat and pedals having perfect alignment.

Space in the rear is purely for those whose voice hasn’t broken yet with fairly tight legroom, and the central armrest does stick into your thigh when lowered. However, your kids will love the double 12v outputs and the huge rear door bins, just waiting to be filled with Lego/Crayola/mystery sticky substance. In the front the ambience is excellent with plenty of space – no traditional Jaguar transmission tunnel crush – and all controls are seemingly where you might expect. The dash top has a “wrap round” effect that will have Rover P6 owners smiling to themselves. Go for the pale interior trim is our tip.

Mechanically the Ingenium Diesel will be the big seller (despite the 4 cylinder petrol being £3000 cheaper and coming complete with an autobox). Details are already AROnline, but suffice to say the air intake is sensibly mounted at bonnet lip level, so you will be able to drive through puddles without fear of hydraulic locking the engine! Unusually the diagnostic slot features in the boot along with the “adblue” filler. A nod to future emissions adblue (or diesel exhaust fluid – its correct moniker) is a liquid that chemically neutralizes the NOx emission by injecting a small percentage into the diesel. This delightful non-toxic solution is a worry for the water table though, and does a feature a urine content – no were not taking the pee…

In conclusion? The XE is affordable and desirable, and has a pleasant quality everywhere you touch – we hope it drives just as well.

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Across the way Land Rover were showcasing the Discovery Sport, your 2015 Freelander. The exterior is instantly recognisable as a Land Rover family product – we especially like the “radar” display heated rear window with its curved arcs of elements. Poke your nose down by the wipers and you might spot the auxiliary airbags too, mounted on the trailing edge of the bonnet. In the metal the Discovery Sport is the opposite of the XE – it looks dinky despite not being that lithe. The Sport also happens to be quite colour sensitive – old money to Footballer’s wife in seconds if you select the wrong shade!

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Overall, the Discovery Sport’s exterior is inoffensive, but hardly ground breaking – a fitting Freelander replacement. Jaguar rather than Range Rover colours seem to suit it best. Possibly the Gaydon photocopier may well have dropped the ball – had this been a new Hyundai we would have stopped, said “that’s nice” and carried on walking.

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Inside, the surroundings are very pleasant, if not ground-breaking, but suffer from what I call the Ford Focus effect – if you can reach it from the steering wheel it feels fabulous, if you can’t it feels Yugo… awful sub-FSO quality plastic adorns the seat backs and rear sear sill covers, which if you try to access the back seat (not easy at all) you will scuff to pieces. Quite a poor effort from Solihull – I guess Gerry McGovern only travels to the Salon (Paris or Cut & Blow) in the front.

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One potential turnoff for the female buyer was spotted by a fellow passenger – as she opened the delightful door she shrieked as her  €50 nails were almost removed by the stylish but ergonomically awful door catch, bad news for the school run target market we do wonder.

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Over at MINI the new 5 door had centre stage. Little changed from its prototype Geneva bow earlier in the year, once again the French public couldn’t get enough of the new British-built hatchback. Coincidentally, the ghost of the ADO17 Landcrab hovers over it, especially that kick at the bootline. (Size-wise it’s just 7” shorter than the BMC family favourite). Rear access is good and as capacious as any other supermini, (if priced a sized above). Sadly, though, more mainstream than MINI fans might be used too – means we lose the delicate frameless windows on the 5 door as shown below.

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Also on the Paris stand, in its first outing outside a Concours d’ elegance, was the Superleggera. E type-esque in details, and far sexier than the frumpy production roadster, it does actually seem to suit the fish-eyed look that is infecting the brand. The desirability stems from the crispness of the details – once a hallmark of the 2001 MINI, but now in the third generation, the MINI is gaining an unfortunate washed pebble effect. Could this be a niche in the brand we actually would like from BMW?

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Adjacent to the MINI stand, German-owned, but British-built Bentley let themselves down, spotting number plates bearing a hash tag! A hash tag – how vulgar Bentley; a beautiful car spoiled for a lowly social media shortcut. Come on Crewe you’re better than this! We do jest, as the Pyms Lane luxury saloon looked divine, especially the new Mulsanne Speed. Check your lottery tickets now folks!

And the rest? You know those rival marques (!) – over at Renault we had sublime and ridiculous: sublime the simple Twingo rear door handle/bag handle – simple yet genius. The rear suitcase engine supermini continues to delight, as did its Smart Forfour half-brother.

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The ridiculous? The new Espace, I can describe thus: a car for French civil servants. It can serve no purpose as a luxury car as it has three abreast comfy, but not quite big enough rear seats – so no use a luxury large French chariot. As an MPV, access to the rear seats requires a degree in mechanical engineering and lots of bits were broken inside already, ergo useless for family travel. From the cockpit it made sense, but isn’t a large French car bought for one the above?

Sadly’ the styling can be summed up as thus: German van stylist instructed to imagine an Avantime….

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Anyway, if you fancy a trip, you have till Sunday to investigate, more information here…

20 Comments

  1. Hashtags (cringe..) I see that they are sharing a stand with VW as well:

    <img src="http://static6.businessinsider.com/image/542eb54a5afbd3824b8b4567-480/a-bentley-mulsannespeed-is-presented-at-the-volkswagen-group-night-show-on-october-1-2014-in-paris-prior-to-the-paris-motor-show.jpg&quot;

    Have seen quite a few Disco Sports out – nicer than an Evoque but they really do look tiny in real life. The 3rd row of seats must be miniscule (I'm assuming it is actually a 4×4 and the 3rd row sit above a transmission axle). Also haven't seen one in a colour that is convincing (apart from white!).

  2. ANON says:
    October 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Hashtags (cringe..) I see that they are sharing a stand with VW as well:

    <img src="http://static6.businessinsider.com/image/542eb54a5afbd3824b8b4567-480/a-bentley-mulsannespeed-is-presented-at-the-volkswagen-group-night-show-on-october-1-2014-in-paris-prior-to-the-paris-motor-show.jpg&quot&quot;

    Have seen quite a few Disco Sports out – nicer than an Evoque but they really do look tiny in real life. The 3rd row of seats must be miniscule (I'm assuming it is actually a 4×4 and the 3rd row sit above a transmission axle). Also haven't seen one in a colour that is convincing (apart from white!).

  3. What was the MG stand like? Now that they are planning a big push into Europe I hope it would have made an impression.

  4. I also visited Paris last weekend and can vouch for the scrum. Never seen anything like it at a Motorshow. I actually thought the Discovery Sport felt better finished than the Jag XE, although the man on the stand said that the XE’s there where the only cars in existence at the moment and had all been hand built with non-production quality interior fittings. I actually liked the look of the Espace. An alternative to the new Volvo XC90. The 5 door Mini may be big for a Mini buts its still a small car. Don’t know why the press are describing it as a Golf alternative, it has a lot less room than a Fiesta. The big disappointment for me was the new Mondeo. Nice on the outside but miserable in. Felt exactly like the cheap and nasty American hire car it is. Even the French chap who jumped in alongside me – and who you would have thought would be immune to dodgy build quality – was appalled at the way the head lining bulge holding the interior light moved up and down around 3 inches when pushed. The facelifted Focus next to it felt a far better car.

  5. Would be nice to hear about MG at Paris. Saw the BTCC race on Sunday. Great to see the 6 power past the BMW 3 and Merc A. Nice driving.

  6. The comments about the XE lack of space is also true of its German competitors the 3 series and A4.

    Regarding the Discovery Sport, I think you have to consider its competitors such as Volvo XC60. That faces exactly the same sort of quality issues which would suggest its a reality at this price point.

    From a styling point of view we should remember that people who want to make more of a statement have the Evoque, those wanting to blend in, what the Swedish would call “lagom” would find the understated style of the Discovery Sport appealing.

  7. Did Mr Elphick take the interior photo of the XE? If he did then Jaguar should employ him as their official photographer. It is the only photograph that I have seen of the car (whether from Jaguar or a motoring magazine) that makes it look stylish, quality and like a Jaguar. Even the colour choices look like a Jaguar. I am guessing that Mr Elphick did not have a studio, perfect lighting, lenses, time or editing software either.

    As for the XE, it is just too expensive given how XF’s depreciate. The car can be configured on Jaguar’s website and without going mad with options (forget the laser head-up display, or the start it from your smartphone options etc), in a decent specification you will soon get to the same price of a year old XF with not many miles in Portfolio, 3.0 diesel S specification. A car that is bigger, faster, more luxurious.

    As for the AdBlue filler on the XE, surely the diesel’s will require AdBlue to produce the stated emissions figures. The current S class Mercedes has the AdBlue filler in the fuel filler cap, not that it ever needs AbBlue between services unless you are doing taxi mileage.

  8. Having owned a large number of Jaguars, i was so looking forward to getting teh proper low down on the car, in fact we had alread put a deposit down, with our order, back in March.

    How Wrong we were, the XE is one massive let down, from the cheap rubber cup holders with no cover, to the harrid feeling and cheap workings of the knobs on the central binnicle, and while i am talking about the central Binnicle, it was so dreadfully finished, you push on the piano black surround and it moves, significantly, and it is not supposed to.

    It pales into insignificance compared to the Passat, which in its new generation seemed very sturdy, and well screwed together, the space for the driver and passenger, for the slightly over sized person, like myself, was very tight, and felt vey confining.

    yet saying that my six foot better half managed to get in the back with room to spare, so that was a good point.

    Overall, the XE has a major hurdle to overcome, and thats the XF, it has the overall appearance of the XF, and considering thats been around now for nearly 7 years, makes the XE slightly old before its launch, and considering teh XF will be much larger than the current one, with an evolution of the XE’s look, i fear that the look of the car will be just too stale after such a short time.

    We have loved each and every Jaguar we have owned, and we were so looking forward to this one, and as such, being as disappointed as we were, makes it an even bigger disappoinment.

    We were also quite put out that a number of teh XE’s interior bits and pieces are being used on the Discovery Sport, which considering how much more expensive that is, really takes the “you know what”, the exterior of teh DS is great, cant fault that, the interior, well, thats a totally different things, bland, boring and an XE copy come to mind, and then rip off follows.

    I just hope they have not proced this too far out of the reach of previous Freelander 2 buyers, because they did buy rather a lot of them.

    We have now decided on a different car, one that offers as much as the Jaguar, in fact more in terms of kit, and at half the price.

    • As Paul said:

      “the man on the stand said that the XE’s there were the only cars in existence at the moment and had all been hand built with non-production quality interior fittings.”

      Could this be down to the issues you had with the ‘display’ XE I wonder??

    • I am sorry to read you are disappointed by the Jaguar XE, particularly as you have been so supportive of it on this website for many, many months before the official reveal. However, I recognise where you are coming from on this.

      Your comments about the Discovery Sport mirror mine. While I have no issue with the XE and Discovery Sport (both costing a similar amount and covering a similar price range) share interior components, like you, I have concerns that the Discovery Sport might be proceeding too far out of the reach of previous Freelander 2 buyers. There is already considerable price overlap between the new Discovery and the Range Rover Evoque and both will eventually target the same buyer profile when the latter model is offered with a seven-seater option.

      This, together the Discovery Sport exuding no visual relationship/design language with the Discovery 4, beyond its two-bar radiator grille, or previous generation Discovery models makes it hard to see it as a ‘true’ Discovery beyond the name. Land Rover Ltd executed a brilliant homage to the Range Rover’s established design language when they brought out the Range Rover Sport in 2005, while at the same time also giving it its own personality. Job very well done. However, the Discovery Sport has not looked to follow a similar route to reinforce the new Discovery ‘family’, instead looking more like an premium priced Freelander (which it is, albeit without the Freelander name).

      As you say, the Freelander 2 was, and still is, a big sales success and has a more successful image than the first generation incarnation.

      I hope both the Jaguar XE and Land Rover Discovery Sport sell, but I feel in the case of the latter model Land Rover Ltd should have been more mindful of some of the design cues of the Discovery Vision concept and considered why Discovery as a successful sub-brand in its own right has been a consistent success for 25 years.

      This is a great article and I really appreciate the authors being so honest about their views and findings for these Motor Show vehicles.

  9. Jagboy, dare I say it but possibly because the XE doesn’t have the attributes a XF has might not hinder it? Think BMW – 5/7 series buyers have in no way whatsoever the 3 series on their radar. However the 3 (and the 1 too) are what keeps them afloat – could the XE be the Jaguar that brings volume to JLR?

  10. The Espace became boring when the last one came out. The Scenic has gone the same way. I’d like a go in the new Twingo though.

  11. The XE is too close to the XF, and thats why it is wrong, the outline, some interior touches and the general over view are XF, and it should not be, the XF has been out too long for it to sire a baby, the XE should have been more distinct, and the new XF would then follow that.

    For Jaguar to put sub standard cars on display for the world to see is just ridiculous, however, like i said, the way the switchgear moved and felt, was not what was expected, if the cars on display were indeed not production ready, then they have done theselves a lot of harm, first impressions last, especially from reporters, and those that went to the show to view the product with a view to purchase, I heard a couple of people say similar whilst we were there, as well as a few, not very pleasant looks.

    The XE will sell, thats in no doubt, however, it will be mainly to non Jag owners, I am a mod on a jaguar forum, and the feeling there, is very similar, its just too familiar.

    With regards to the Discovery Sport, i am disgusted in the land Rover policy on pricing, only a few months ago, you could get a base model freelander 2 for around £22k, they suddenly realigned the range, and it became £27k, and the new one starts at £32k, thats a massive hike, and for what, its not that different inside, the tech is roughly the same, and the two extra seats, now whats the point, with them up, you have next to no boot space.

    The Jag starts at a reasonable priced £26k but you get nothing for it, so you have to spec it up, and thats when the costs sky rocket, ours went up to £36k and we only had paint, better wheels, and a R-Sport trim, I wish JLR well, but they have alread alienated a lot of X-Type owners that were willing to upgrade, and all for what, short term gain, the XE will age quickly, especially once teh new revolutonary XJ comes on stream and the 20% bigger XF, both within the next 18-24 months.

  12. @David 3500
    I agree that LR are attempting to take the Freelander 2 upmarket in Discovery Sport form. Cynically calling it a Discovery and charging Disco prices. It may be priced from just over £30k, but the model you would want on your drive, HSE auto costs £40k. An equivalent Freelander2 SD4 XS auto would set you back £32k with similar equipment (leaving aside the additional row of seats). The cost to change from one to the other is likely to drive home market buyers to cheaper alternatives. So have LR shot themselves in the foot?
    I love LR products having owned two Freelander 1’s and a Discovery 3 & 4, but I do wonder how long they can carry on hiking the prices in the home market.

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