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Not quite a star

Sometimes a starring role doesn’t guarantee popularity, says JULES CHRISTIAN.

Despite the last ones being made in 1967, the Jaguar luxury sports saloon of that era is still well remembered thanks to appearance in TV series such as Morse (1960 Maroon Mark 2, 2.4ltr. 248 MPA) and Endeavour (1956 Black Mark 1, 2.4ltr. KAN 169).

Because of this, classic enthusiasts have had to pay high prices to own one, but until recently you could own virtually the same car for just over half of the price. Daimler, who were bought by Jaguar in 1960, produced another version: the Daimler V8 250.

At a passing glance you might very well have mistaken the 250 as a Mark 2 Jaguar, since it used the same unibody, where the chassis and bodyshell are made together as one unit. Externally there were only a few differences, namely, the Daimler style radiator grill, wheel trims, badges, rear number plate holder and two exhausts, one at either side of the rear as opposed to the Jaguar’s placed to one side.

Inspector Morse’s Jaguar 2.4 Mk2

The exhausts were a clue as to what really separated the two cars from each other: the engine. Whereas Jaguar used their proven straight-six units, Daimler, who were more concerned about luxury and a smooth drive rather than performance, fitted their 2.5ltr V8 engine with automatic transmission and power-steering as standard. As is pretty usual with an engine with a cylinder bank on each side, the exhausts of the V8 were split on the underside of the car.

Despite a rather unimpressive 0-100km/h time of 14 seconds, it had a top speed of 180km/h and although was not in contention with the 3.4 and 3.8ltr. Jaguars, with 142bhp on hand, it did considerably out-perform the 2.4ltr.

The V8 was 51kg lighter than the straight-six engines necessitating revised suspension settings, and the original diff was changed early in production to lower the engine revs in order to make it more comfortable at high speeds and to lower petrol consumption.

Interior of the Daimler V8 250

The interior was very luxurious and as well as being fully carpeted with leather upholstery and walnut wood finish on the window sills and dash, it had its own Daimler badged steering wheel. Another, perhaps strange feature, was the old-fashioned split front bench seat, as opposed to the Jaguar front seats being separated by a centre consol.

The Daimler was also available in a wider range of interior and exterior colours than the Jaguar models and from 1967, in the final two years of its production, was rebadged as the Daimler V8-250. The upgrade included a heated rear window, padded dashboard top and improved electrics, and was noticeably different externally with new slimmer bumpers.

It was unfortunate that the Daimler, or the 2.4ltr. Jaguar version for that matter, never achieved the reliability or the acclaim of the larger engine Jaguars. Although the Daimler 2.5 V8 had its devoted followers, with over 17,600 being sold from its introduction in 1962, it was overshadowed by the high performance sports saloon image created by the 3ltr-plus Jags with their race-proven engines.

Endeavour Jaguar 2.4 Mk1

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Test-drive: Car of the Year

The all-new Toyota Yaris has been named as The Car of the Year 2021. Selected by a jury of 59 automotive journalists from across Europe, the fourth generation Yaris receives the award 21 years after the innovative first generation was named The Car of the Year in 2000, a first for Toyota. The Yaris has also consistently been recognised by The Car of the Year jury with every generation of the model making the award’s shortlist.

Here, Tonio Darmanin test-drives the winner.

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Smartly efficient

MG says that its new ZS EV is the first truly-affordable, new, electric family SUV that makes no concessions in terms of style, comfort or room. TONIO DARMANIN puts these claims to the test.

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Beauty and the bike

One of the most beautiful bikes of the moment. A cruiser with styling inspired by classic BMWs featuring the biggest boxer ever and some super cool features. TONIO DARMANIN drives the BMW R18.

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A French affair

TONIO DARMANIN meets William Pace, who has been restoring classic Renault vehicles throughout his life and today boasts a beautiful and unique collection.

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Fun times ahead

The Fiat 500 was tiny, but had such a big personality, says JULES CHRISTIAN

We all remember with nostalgia our first car and I hoped my car-mad father would sort me out something when I passed my test. In the meantime, I looked hopefully at being allowed to drive his cherished Lister-tuned 3.8 Jaguar Mark II (YCY 40… funny how you remember the numbers).

At the time, my mother, who hadn’t driven for some years, decided to get back on the road, and it soon became quite obvious that neither the son and heir, nor the missus, were going to get our hands on his beloved Jag, so he went shopping. I’m not sure what I expected, but lo-and-behold, a few days later, outside was a brand-new, bright red, sparkling Fiat 500.

It’s not that I had anticipated a Ferrari, although I had guessed it would be Italian. The colour was red; and back then, both had the choke as a lever between the front seats. And both companies had the same owner. But somehow, I expected more.

What I couldn’t understand was why the Fiat? Apparently dad had been given one of its predecessors, the 500 Topolino, to use when he was stationed in Italy during the war and had loved it!

The first Nuova 500 came off the production line in 1957 and, apart from upgrades, was pretty well the same car until it was replaced by the Fiat 126 in 1975 with nearly 3,900,000 sales. It was simply designed to be an inexpensive economical and practical town car.

And simple it was – initially with a tiny 479cc that went up to 594cc in the final version, the rear engine had just two cylinders driving the rear wheels and even in the Sport model only produced 21bhp with a top speed of 105km/h. The gearbox was, well… a lesson in double declutching, and there was no synchromesh in first, but once you got the hang of it, it was actually quite fun and a good thing to learn for the future.

Fiat 500 Estate

The interior was very basic with rubber mats, practical rather than comfortable seats and a body colour metal dash area with just a speedometer. There wasn’t even a fuel gauge – just a light that flashed when you were running low on fuel. What it did have though, was an excellent folding plastic sunroof which dispelled any sense of claustrophobia in such a tiny car.

Apart from improvements over the years the Fiat produced three different models: the Nuova Saloon, the Giardinieri estate and the Furgoncino panel van. All of them were two-door with one of the quirky features being the use of old-fashioned style rear hinge ‘suicide doors’ until the mid-1960s and on the van and estate into the 1970s. A friend had one – in a car that size, it was so much easier to get in and out.

Tiny it may have been, quick it was not, but it was fun. So small that you could park it sideways in a parking lane and still be ‘legal’. And despite being thrashed by a foolish 17-year-old, it survived admirably.

Two years later, it disappeared for 10 days before my birthday, my Dad saying a service was needed and it came back transformed with a full Abarth performance kit. Now that was something else. What a present! The trouble was – I couldn’t get him out of it!

Fiat 500 van

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The Beetle, the Golf and now the ID.3

The VW ID.3 is destined to become the people’s car for the future, says TONIO DARMANIN

The VW group has been one of the leading exponents in the drive to electrify mobility. While many brands have taken a more cautious approach by electrifying versions of current models and assessing the volume of demand generated before committing to invest in new production lines and product ranges, the German giant took the plunge decided to dedicate a large portion of its investment over a five-year period, to the tune of €80 billion. The main aim was to ensure it retains its position as the world’s most powerful manufacturer, even in relation to electrified vehicles.

This will include a massive investment in the procurement of battery cells, while €33 billion will be dedicated to electric mobility and €11 billion of these specifically to the VW brand. The commitment is to have a fully electric or phev version of each of their 300 different models across all brands by 2030, and to offer at least 80 new electric or phev models by 2025.

Regarding the VW brand, the company decided to create an entirely new production facility dedicated to a family of electric vehicles comprising initially the ID.3, ID.4 and the I.D.Buzz that will reincarnate the iconic microbus launched by the company in 1950 – it will then further extend the range of models using the bespoke MEB platform.

The first model to hit the international markets – and which has now arrived in Malta – is the I.D.3, a five-door family hatch similar in size to the Golf. VW avoided a styling that looked too futuristic but opted for something more functional and aerodynamic enabling them to achieve an impressive 0.27 drag coefficient and by keeping the batteries and electric motor underneath the floorboard, to offer impressive levels of interior space and comfort in relation to the external dimensions of the car.

Tonio Darmanin with the VW ID.3. Photos: Martin Dimech

The platform has been designed to offer absolute flexibility and can host an entire range of battery sizes and electric motor (single or twin) installations. This will give them the versatility to tailor models to target specific groups of customers at different requirements and budget levels and with more efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The one-box shape illustrates precisely how the ID.3 is built around its passengers. Its overhangs are unusually short, while the interior is very long because the axles have been moved well apart achieving a wheelbase measuring an impressive 2.7 metres.

The interior of the ID.3 is a generously sized area that sees the driver and passengers sitting at a pleasantly high level, with good all-round visibility and easy access. The rear bench seat offers similar passenger space to that found in conventional mid-sized models. The boot can swallow 385 litres of luggage, and its volume can grow to 1,267 litres by folding down the split rear seat backrest.

There’s a light, airy feel inside the car that underscores its spaciousness while the design appears restrained and clean, focused on the essentials. The dash panel is lowered towards the interior in several stages. Unlike in a conventional interior, it is not connected to the centre console, which is located as a separate component between the front seats.

The ID.3 is packed with innovative features that underscore its position as a leader in its field. Intuitive assistance systems, state-of-the-art connectivity and extensive safety technologies combine to make this Volkswagen a highly sophisticated yet simple-to operate electric car. The ID.3 interacts with both its driver and its immediate surroundings.

Aside from the cockpit display, a newly developed, centrally positioned, 10-inch touch display provides access to a vast array of information clearly and concisely. ID. Light supports drivers with an LED strip during navigation and can, for instance, prompt them to brake in the event of an imminent danger ahead. An optional augmented reality head-up display also projects carefully selected relevant information directly onto the windscreen – although to the driver’s eye this information appears visually positioned within a range of around three to 10 metres ahead.

“All controls – including those on the electrically adjustable multifunction steering wheel – are operated using touch, featuring touch-sensitive buttons”

All controls – including those on the electrically adjustable multifunction steering wheel – are operated using touch, featuring touch-sensitive buttons. Only the electric windows, door mirrors and hazard warning lights are operated using conventional tactile switches. Meanwhile, intelligent natural voice control also plays its part in simplifying yet enhancing the ID.3 travel experience.

Drivers or front-seat passengers can speak to the ID.3, simply by saying “Hello ID.” before giving a verbal instruction. Visually, ID. Light signals to who the ID.3 is currently responding. Thanks to App-Connect, it is also possible to connect the ID.3 to a smartphone in seconds.

There is a range of battery sizes and electric motor power output levels to choose from to suit different requirements and budgets with the highest option offering a 77kWh battery and a range of 550 kilometres and an electric motor generating 200bhp and 310Nm of torque, enabling the ID.3 to sprint to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds.

In both cases, the ID.3 is rear-engined, and rear-wheel drive. Harking back to the earliest engineering roots of the brand and the debut of the original Beetle, the ID.3’s electric motor, capable of spinning up to 16,000 rpm, sits above the rear axle just ahead of the rear wheels and sends its torque to a single-speed gearbox with differential.

The permanently excited synchronous motor (PSM) in the ID.3 is extremely efficient, too, which is measured at above 90 per cent in almost all driving situations. VW has supported this engineering achievement by using an innovative technology in the engine’s production – flat preformed copper coils are inserted into each other, allowing them to be manufactured in large quantities while also saving valuable space in the stator.

It follows that the drive motor in the ID.3 should be compact and comparatively light: the motor block including gearbox, as well as power and control electronics, weighs less than 90kg. Furthermore, the drivetrain is so quiet that it can barely be heard outside the car. Indeed it is so noiseless that a loudspeaker emitting a synthetic electronic engine sound up to a speed of around 15 mph is needed in order to warn passers-by that the car is operating near them.

The power and control electronics convert the direct current of the battery into three-phase current for the electric drive motor and perform the opposite function during brake energy recuperation. Recuperation of up to 0.3 g is available in the ID.3. The driver decides via a rocker switch whether the car should recuperate energy when the accelerator is released. If the D (Drive) position is engaged, the car will coast in most situations – the electric motor is not supplied with current and rotates freely.

In the B (Brake) position, the electric drive motor functions as a generator and feeds power back into the battery. This also happens when the vehicle is braked: the electric motor performs deceleration on its own up to around 0.3 g, which represents the majority of everyday situations. The conventional hydraulic wheel brakes also come into play above 0.3g, and the transition to assisted braking is practically unnoticeable.

The ID.3 sports a low centre of gravity that naturally helps to deliver the car’s dynamic handling. The rear-wheel drive set-up and packaging of the ID.3 create ideal prerequisites for what some might see as surprisingly sporty driving characteristics. The vehicle’s high-voltage battery is located between the axles at the lowest point of the car, and regardless of trim variant the ID.3’s weight distribution from front to rear is very close to the ideal 50:50.

But the new car is not just environmentally responsible to drive: VW is building the ID.3 with a climate-neutral balance. The Zwickau factory in central Germany, the largest and most efficient electric car factory in Europe, uses 100 per cent ‘green’ electricity. The site includes a highly efficient combined heat and power plant. Production of the battery cells, which is externally sourced by Volkswagen, is unavoidably energy-intensive. That is why Volkswagen has obliged its cell supplier to use exclusively green electricity for manufacturing.

Just recently the ID.3 was awarded carbon-neutral product status by the independent body TÜV NORD CERT. The entire supply chain, the manufacturing process, logistics and our climate compensation projects have been carefully examined. Put simply this means the ID.3 is handed over to customers completely carbon neutral.

Like the Beetle and the Golf before it, the ID.3 is destined to become the people’s car for the future. While initial pricing on the launch models is expectedly steep, this is set to decrease as more options and variants become available so that customers can customize the specifications in line with their specific requirements and budgets.

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Intelligent, innovative and sustainable

With the ID.3 a new era of mobility at Volkswagen has started – intelligent, innovative and sustainable. The radically new design involves pioneering technologies. The ID.3 combines all the strengths of the modular electric drive matrix in a vehicle length of a just 4.26 metres – it offers plenty of space in the vehicle interior and the operating concept is intuitively simple. The high-voltage battery has been installed low down in the underbody, ensuring agile and nimble handling.

The interior is also revolutionary. The long wheelbase of the modular electric drive matrix layout and the very short overhangs result in a strikingly large vehicle interior.

Video: Paqpaq

Digital displays and controls make it easy to get your bearings behind the wheel. The ID. Light – an LED strip in the cockpit – visually communicates with passengers. The ID.3 is almost exclusively operated using touch-sensitive buttons and surfaces or the intelligent natural voice control.

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Voge Motorcycles: a pleasant introduction

Voge is the high-end brand of Loncin, the company that builds engines for the BMW 750GS, 850GS and complete C400X and C400GT BMW scooters. It also collaborates with MV Augusta.

Tonio Darmanin rode the Voge 500R, a naked mid-sized road bike which focuses on design, reliability and value for money. The bike uses top components like KYB suspension, Nissin brakes, Bosch ABS and Pirelli Tyres. Its short wheelbase, nippy 47bhp engine and great riding position make it an absolute blast to ride.

Video: Paqpaq

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