Cooley On Cars
Episode 18, Jaguar F-Type: Wide open on the back roads of England.We hit the road in the first really cool Jag since the swingin '60s, explain the suddenly complicated world of transmissions and show off the Top 5 concept cars from recent auto shows.
-Finally, a Jaguar that's a Jaguar again. So many transmissions, which is best for you, and the top 5 concept cars from recent auto show. It's time to check the tech. We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech, and are known for telling it like it is. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley, and welcome to the CNET on Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving. Starting off with something fresh and new this week from our partners at CNET UK in London. Well, they do some great car video. They go out and look for cars that have that certain X factor. In fact, they call them X cars, and we're gonna give you a taste of one of their most recent car ride in the Jaguar F-Type. -This, in case you hadn't guessed, is the brand new Jaguar F-Type, one of the most exciting cars Jaguar has released for years. -Let me explain why. You see, this car has been rumored for years, decades even, and there's been press speculation about a smaller, sportier Jag. There's been concepts. There's been internet rumors in forms, and all that kind of stuff, and this thing is so hotly anticipated. It's supposed to bring you, younger, more exciting buyers to the brand, but now, finally, after all the chat, it's here. And it's really rather special. There are 3 engines available from launch. They got 2 supercharge V6s, the F-type and the F-type S, and then you have the V8S. Now, the power in the V6s is 340 horsepower in the standard car and a 380 in the S. Now, the difference between the two is that in the S, you get a lot more of electronic trickery like adaptive damping, which measures your steering input 500 times a second and the precision of the wheel 120 seconds. So, the car knows exactly where you are and what you're doing, which is pretty smart. You'll also get things like Active Exhaust and stuff like that that makes everything a bit more exciting. Then in the V8S, you get 495 horsepower. Now, to put that into some numbers that can hit the [unk], the base V6, which will knot to 60 miles an hour in 5.3 seconds, it'll do just over 160 miles an hour. The V8S, the one we're in right now, that will do knot to 60 in 4.3 seconds, and it will do 186 miles an hour. And it sounds like thunder, and it's a bit addictive. As his name suggests, it has a very big parachutes to fill, the legendary E times. So is the F-Type where the success that you see is not just got to be very good, it's got to be best than that. It's got to be perfect. This whole car is so fluid and so beautifully balanced and wonderful to drive. The whole experience, the open-top nature of it, the fact that the interiors canted all towards the driver, is very driver focused, which is beautifully designed and everything about it. It just makes you feel brilliant. You know you're in a special car. Well, the 3 versions. The 2 V6s, a design more for handling. Even though they have 340 and 380 horsepower, respectively, the V6 and the V6S, all designed for sort of more twisty handling stuff, and is set up or so. I took a V6S on track and it felt incredible. I had such good fun in it. I really did love it. I then got into V8, and I need this noise in my life. Jaguar is feisty proud of its gearbox. It's an 8-speed [unk] and it is absolutely awesome, and it works seamlessly really. When you're really on it and really powering through, but this car would be awesome with manual gearbox. It just would be ultimately brilliant. That I couldn't help but thinking, just give me a clutch pedal and I can do it myself. And the thing that would make you a little bit more engaging, but even with absent manual gearbox with this one, it's still awesome. I still absolutely adore it. Jaguar has made a truly astonishing car here. Another wonderful thing about it is it can take on pretty much everything. The base V6 can take on a standard 9/11, whereas the V8 can take on the likes of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, of which there is now a roadster. It's brilliant, well-done Jaguar. It's for people who maybe didn't think Jaguar is quiet for them, now Jaguar is for you. This is a car that you can have, The X case is for old men with golf clubs. This, the F-Type, is a car for people that want fun. The F-Type is supposed to be the Jaguar. It's the car you are supposed to think of whenever you think of the Jaguar brand, but the big question is-- I mean, the really big question, it doesn't have the soul with full buttons. The F-Type really, really does. -We're gonna bring you more X cars in future episodes of CNET on Cars, and in the meantime, you can check out all their videos on their You Tube channel at XCAR Films. Well, it used to me, and if your car is making a funny noise, you had a problem. Now, it might just mean it's compliant with the law. And that's of interest to the smarter driver. The problem is actually a byproduct of a lot of high-tech innovation in power plants. As cars increasingly are hybrid or plugged-in hybrid or pure electric, they don't even meet those RO engine cues. I told you there's a car behind you. Sorry. And that means a whole lot more scenarios where them and you can come into contact in a bad way. 'Til the U.S. passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, it requires that quiet electrified cars intentionally make some kind of noise up to 18 miles per hour. Above that speed, tire noise and other mechanical sounds tend to have a sufficient audio signature to warn pedestrians. Now, what kind of sound is a question of much debate. Listen to some of the sounds the industry has toyed with and tell me you aren't in the transporter on the enterprise. Carmakers wanna be in charge of that decision, so the noise is one they feel as pleasing to their car owners, not annoying. -The sound is a major plus for the brand of the vehicle. So as electric vehicles could potentially sound like anything, manufacturers happen to think quite casually about what their electric vehicle should sound like. Others argue that all electrified cars should make the same noise so pedestrians can learn a consistent sound and know that's a car. -Specially designed directive speakers emit sound in the driving direction and nowhere else. -Where all this is likely to end up is probably somewhere in the middle, enough leeway for carmakers to sound what they wanna sound but within limits, so parking lots will end up sounding like a cellphone shop full of ring tones. How important is this? Our partners at State Farm point to a Federal estimate that there could be reduction of around 2800 injury accidents between pedestrians, cyclists, and this new quiet breed of cars over the lifetime of each model year. Coming up, between your engine and the wheels is one of the biggest car tech revolutions. That's when CNET on Cars continues. Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. You know, for the longest time, transmissions were pretty brain-dead simple. About all you had to know about them was PRNDL, and what those meant. Then came paddle shifters. Shift profiles, multiple clutches, and a whole lot of other things that add up to a revolution in the gearbox. That's why transmissions are our Car Tech 101. A transmission is a sort of crutch. Your car's engine wants to rotate in a fairly narrow range of RPMs, but your car's wheels wanna rotate over a much wider range. So the transmission sits between them and makes fist, matching up their different rotational needs. The most common transmission today is a traditional automatic. It's a hydraulic fluid-filled thing that shifts like it sounds. It's very hydraulic. It takes into account engine RPM, vehicle speed, accelerator position, and engine load, and whatever the various computers around the car demanding of it and selects a gear. Two parts in particular, the hydraulic valve body and the hydraulic torque converter, give the automatic its traditional smooth but often flabby driving feel. Hence, the rather derisive name that enthusiasts and purests have given the automatic, that of course would be slushbox. -Yes, get away with Merc-O-Matic almost defies description. It's so silky smooth, you're scarcely aware of what's happening. -But their convenience made them the hero of the industry. In the U.S., well over 90 percent of new cars ship with one. Now automatics used to have just 3 speeds, then after the 1979 energy crisis, a fourth gear became common as a fuel-saving overdrive. -Merc-O-Matic goes into overdrive cruising effect. You soar along smoothly, quietly, and without effort. Overdrive is any gear with an input/output ratio lower than 1 to 1. That allows the engine to run at low RPMs while the car is cruising at a high speed. Today, 5 and 6 speeds are common with 8 and 9 speeds at the cutting edge. So if more gears are better, why not an infinite number? Enter the CVT, continuously variable transmission. Instead of a specific number of gears or ratios, it uses variable pulleys to create almost any ratio. As the pulleys change diameter on the fly, they're turning a steel drive belt between them and that brokers the RPM between the engine and the wheels on a continuum instead of via big jumps between gears. -Conventional automatics hunt for the right gear going uphill, jumping between third and fourth when you really need to be in, say, 3 and a half. Well, because CVT chooses from a much wider range of ratios, it can nail that in between spot and hold it as you make a steady smooth climb to the top. -The knock on CVTs is that they have tended to feel even more slippery and bag than a traditional automatic and can't handle the output of the most powerful engines. But both traditional automatics and CVTs have made big strides and responsiveness, and today, automatics typically deliver the best 0 to 60 times and the best MPG at once, but purests don't care. For them, there's nothing like a manual. A manual transmission has typically 5, 6, or maybe 7 speeds, a clutch and a shift left. Now, manual transmissions have not changed much since the 50's to be honest, and all that makes it work is a clutch metal down there, a gear shift lever here, and all those gears I've mentioned are arrayed on a couple of shafts inside the gearbox. You may call the decisions. Using the clutch to momentarily break the connection between engine and drive line long enough to grab the next gear without grinding everything to pieces. The benefit of them is simple. They're direct. They're really robust, and they let you pick exactly the gear you want at exactly the moment you want it and hold it for as long as you want it. They are completely personal in terms of driving, but they're really an anachronism today. Manuals are pretty rare these days, found typically on very fast cars or very cheap ones. But the manual transmission is having a resurgence of sorts. Thanks to this guy. This is a dual-clutch automated manual transmission or a DCT here in this Audi RS5. It looks like basically an automatic and that shift gate would fool you, but beyond the lever, it's a very different animal, a computer and some servos are in charge of operating not just one but two clutches, and moving the gears around. It's called the dual-clutch because it actually has 2 clutches, allowing one to keep hammering power through the current gear while the other clutch decouples and selects the next gear on a different internal shaft. It's like having two manual transmissions in one box that hand off to each other. -The gear changes are so quick that the driver does not notice the transfer of torque into the other subtransmision during an upshift. -The results are lightning fast shifts and 200 proof power delivery. From high-end Porsches to hot Mitsus and now everything Ferrari makes, the dual clutch is the intersection of purism and tech. The bottom line is you get the precision and a direct power connection of manual transmission with really fast shifts, but also, the convenience of drop-it-in drive technology and just two pedals to deal with. Choose a transmission with these factors in mind, your driving style. Automatics and the CVTs win on convenience, hands down. Dual-clutch gearboxes can give you their convenience with the manual's responsiveness but had a cost, and a manual transmission is great if you really like driving, know how to drive one, and miss things like the cold war and insult. MPG: Transmission choice can make a big difference in a car's fuel economy. Compare the MPG of each transmission offered in a new car you're looking at. Cost: Automatics tend to cost a little over $1000 when optional. Dual-clutch gearboxes can be to 2 to 3 times that. And serviceability, automatics and CVTs are often maintenance-free sealed units these days. Manuals will need occasional clutch replacement, but they're highly repairable. Concept cars, the stuff you wish they brought to the showroom. I'll roll out my top 5 when CNET on Cars rolls on. -Here is Allegro, an experimental car that could be called a practical dream car. -Ford's Allegro concept envisioned a steering wheel hung off a cantilever arm from the middle of the car. -Here is a new concept in driver convenience, a unique cantilevered-arm steering wheel with a memory unit. By pushing buttons, the driver can raise or lower the steering wheel and move it for or apt to his most comfortable driving position. -Today, we take for granted memory buttons. Let's see, wheel, sit, mirror, even pedal position, and car keys that invoke our own personal audio and navigation preferences. And while Ford never made the Allegro, their MyKey technology came along a few years ago and pioneered customization of maximum audio volume, lower vehicle speed limit, and higher fuel lights sensitivity, all based on a particular key, aimed at teen drivers, who I bet would love to have a car that looks like an Allegro today. Now, we, here, on the CNET car tech team get to a lot of auto shows, as you know. We see a lot of concept cars. Some of them of tantalizingly close to production that we'd like to see in showrooms. Other has seemed to have dropped from Mars than we'd like to see them go back. Nonetheless, I was able to put together a top 5 of my favorite concept cars from recent auto shows. Check them up. Number 5, the new concept, Subaru WRX. Now, the WRX is Subaru's hero car. Without it, they really wouldn't have less street cred, they have none, at least none 'til the BRZ earns its legendary strikes. So the WRX concept that came out of the 2013 New York Auto Show has a distinctive and appropriate new style that's important to notice. In other words, it looks bad ass and not in that sort of hotly homely way that the current WRX does. Sorry owners. No details have been confirmed about its future power train, but I'm not gonna stray far from the boxer turbo all-wheel drive combo of the current car. Number 4, the Lexus LF-CC. The LF-CC makes my list because it could redefine a big piece of what you think when I say Lexus without being utterly unlikely for that company to get its head around. It was launched at the 2012 Paris Show. It's got this high-strung 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine plugged in to the most popular hybrid system in the world, Toyotas. LED headlights nestle behind the best iteration yet of that Lexus spindle grille, and a center console with a huge vertical main LCD screen really anchors the inside. You would laugh at that feature if it weren't for the Tesla Model S already doing it. So this is a car to watch. Number 3, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo concept. Now, if Porsche calls this Panamera concept the sports car of tomorrow, what does that leave to 911? Let's not think about that. Instead, let's focus on this Panamera concepts, but the most hideous part of the current car, Porsche did what they should have done in the first place; it made it hot. This is also envisioned as a lithium-ion plug-in hybrid last to a 3-liter supercharged V6, which is sort of what they do now in their hybrids. LED headlights upfront and the tail lights are ripped off from the latest 911 out back. Finally, it's not a pain to look at. The number 2 car on my list is not a car though. It's a truck, the Ford Atlas concept. It's clearly an accurate weather vane of where the next F series is gonna land. When it arrived at the Detroit Auto Show, the 2013 in January, we noted how Ford plans to keep moving V8 out of the spotlight. That was once considered the third rail of pickup truck design, but now, Ford's turbo V6 trucks handily outsell their V8. The Atlas envisions that kind of efficient power with active body aerodynamics like this cool louvered grille. The power ladder brace in the back, probably not going to production, but in around the view camera system, very likely will. There's trailer backup assist to help you kind of make sense with that backward world of backing a trailer up and turning the opposite way that you think you should. That always throws me, and there's also tech to coordinate the hitch with the actual pickup on the back on the screen display so you can line things up when you're hitching up by yourself, keeps you from looking like a fool. My number one concept car recent times is the Nissan TeRRA. The TeRRA SUV is way out there. It's a real concept car in case you didn't notice. Suicide doors and fuel-cell power and that face, give it away, but what made a lasting impression on me at the 2012 Paris Show was how the TeRRA envisions some bold but believable trends, like the idea that a tablet docked inside becomes the instrument panel, the navigation and the entertainment system. It's even the way you unlock and start the car. Putting electric motors at each of the 4 wheels is also an idea whose time has likely come, offering this highly addressable powertrain and a reduction of weight and mechanical complexity. Now, they just gotta throw out that sheet metal and start again. Thanks for watching this episode. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you wanna see more of them, there's a bunch waiting for you at CNETonCars.com, and when you get there, you'll also find our links for social media, our RSS and iTunes feed links. Go get hooked up. We'll see you next time with Check the Tech.