From India, with love
If you mind your own business and stick to what you’re good at, you can achieve great things. This is a life and business lesson taught by Ford and Tata, writes Justus Visagie
Jaguar XF 20d Prestige R743 600
In the previous two decades, it was fashionable for multinational car companies to gobble up smaller ones and sometimes “manage” them to extinction. General Motors did that to the wonderful Swedish company Saab and nearly to Opel too. Ford, which owned Jaguar Land Rover, steered the British company into intensive care.
Luckily, Tata of India came along and, in a beautiful twist of fate, adopted Jaguar. Tata was clever too. It didn’t meddle in Jaguar’s business, but allowed it to shake the old tweed cap-and-pipe image and flourish. Very much like Chinese company Geely is doing with Volvo.
It was conceived before the sale to Tata, but the Jaguar XF 20d Prestige truly represents the contemporary dynamism of the brand. Though it goes head-to-head with the limousine-like BMW 5-Series, the Jaguar is a different animal, especially in its latest incarnation. Its cabin might not be as stylish as that of the Beemer, but it drives like a true luxury sports sedan – more so than the German. It can shoot from corner to corner like a cat chasing a laser beam. This is in no small part thanks to its strong and lightweight aluminium-intensive construction. The lighter a forwardmoving object is, the easier it is to change its direction.
Sporty handling might be the XF’s party trick, but it also offers enough room for four tall adults. However, it doesn’t come cheap. If you can make do with less interior space, its smaller, even sportier sibling could be the solution. It starts at a whisker under R600 000. Ford Figo 1.5 TDCi Ambiente R194 000
The standout feature of the Ford Figo 1.5 TDCi Ambiente is its powerful engine. It moves the Figo along with such zeal, you forget it’s a grocery-store hatch and imagine yourself piloting a V8 Mustang. All that power, combined with a lightweight body, makes for a car that will get you into trouble with the law without even trying. For a “budget” car, it’s roomy inside, but that budgetness is also evident in the flimsy inside door levers and manual-wind windows.
But these are First World problems to be ignored, unlike the purchase price. At a stiff R194 000, it puts this budget car close to a more sophisticated, premium rival like the Mazda2 1.5 Active (R198 500) and well above really good, but less powerful cars like the Tata Bolt hatch 1.2T XT (R157 000), Hyundai Grand i10 1.25 Motion (R175 000) and, within its own family, the petrol-driven Figo for R163 000.
THE NEW JAGUAR Handles like a cat chasing a laser beam
THE NEW FIGO Feels more like a V8 Mustang