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[REVIEW] 2014 Jaguar XKR – Ferocious, Flawed, Fantastic



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A lot of people say that you can’t have emotional relationships with cars. They say that cars are inanimate objects. Machines that get you from point A to point B. How can you possibly have a relationship with a machine?

But with every car, there are pros and cons. Good times and bad times. Beauty and flaws. Aren’t those the same qualities we use to describe our partners, our spouses, our soulmates? Aren’t these the very things that we consider “human”? How can one NOT have a relationship with a car with this in mind?

Over the course of my week with the Jaguar XKR, I would be frustrated over certain simple shortcomings that one would expect in a car today. Especially in a car with a chassis that is engineered to be this good and at this lofty price range.

But the more I drove the XKR, the more I would grow to love its character and put up with its flaws. Like a fine wine it only got better with age.

Keep reading to find out why I would ultimately want to keep this car in my garage permanently, and why I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone shopping for a $100,000+ hot rod grand touring sports car.


First, the looks

Jaguars have always been gentlemen’s cars. You can be driving down the South of France or on the streets of Vancouver, and you’d still equally feel like a “right ole English gentleman” behind the wheel of a Jag.


Designer Ian Callum was reported as saying, “Kate Winslet is my ideal woman. She is naturally a very shapely woman, very British with an underlying integrity and ability. Like a car, she has got substance, she is not just a pretty face”.

“I designed the new XK body with her in mind. The interesting thing is that so many woman find sensual cars more appealing as well”, Ian said.


And it’s not difficult to see what Mr Callum is on about. The XK’s shape pure automobile pornography.

I think it looks absolutely spectacular especially in profile from the side, and from the three-quarter rear angle.


With its muscular bulging rear fenders, it looks like a cat poised alert on its hind quarters, ready to pounce on its prey at anytime.

“I’m Pussy, Pussy Galore” indeed!


With its long hood and body lovingly painted with Polaris White paint, and the huge gloss black 20” Kalimnos wheels as part of the optional Black Speed package (which swaps all of the exterior chrome for gloss black bits), the XKR looks like it just drove out of a James Bond movie set in Monaco.


I normally don’t like black wheels, but with the gloss black finish and exposed silver rivets, it certainly looks the part. Surprisingly, the ride quality is very good despite the low sidewalls and huge rims. Credit to Jaguar’s suspension engineers.


I mentioned in a previous review of the Ford Fusion that the Ford was a car that made me think “damn that’s a good looking car” upon approaching it every morning.

The XKR kicks that up one notch further, beckoning to me like a desperate sailor to the mythical siren’s song. But unlike with the Greek plays, there is no tragedy here.

Upon first sight of the XKR each time, I could not resist saying yes to getting into the cockpit for a drive, long or short.


A real crowd pleaser and head turner

In my Ford Mustang GT V8 review last year, I likened driving that car to that of an excited 5 year old boy drooling over the newest sports car on the block.

When walking up to the XKR for the first time, I certainly felt like that 5 year old small boy again. Except this time, that little boy had gone through a private school’s etiquette lesson (or two).


And this analogy wouldn’t be too far from the truth either as the XKR appealed to 5 year old school boys and senior citizens alike.

Bringing smiles of delight everywhere I went, the white Jaguar turned heads whether it be in the mall parking lot to the high streets in downtown Vancouver.


If people didn’t see the Jag approaching, they certainly heard the roar of the meaty V8. But more on that later.


So what is it like to drive a 510hp car everyday?

The XKR is all about touring around, not trashing about. Driving around with its 510hp powerplant in everyday traffic is surprisingly very normal. Really!

It’s amazing what properly engineered and tuned electronics can do these days to change the character of a car. You can tell that this is what you’re paying the extra money for. The chassis engineering and drivetrain technology.

The XKR feels equally comfortable being a loud hard-edged V8 sports car or a comfortable and quiet grand tourer that you can take on a 1000 kms weekend trip.


With Jaguar’s advanced Dynamic Stability Control system and selectable Winter/Normal/Dynamic modes, with just a simple push of a button, the XKR can be made to be as docile as a floor feline, or a ferocious wild cat.

The throbbing heart of the Jaguar XKR lies underneath what some in the trade call the “plastic beautification panels”, which in turn lie beneath the lightweight clamshell aluminum hood.


Performance is, in a nutshell, ferocious. The supercharged 5.0L V8 pulls relentlessly like a locomotive until its redline. Between 1800-1900 rpms, the big V8 elicits an intoxicating powertrain moan that resonates throughout the entire cabin. Sublime!

It’s truly one of the greatest automotive sounds of the 21st century.


With 461 ft-lbs of torque on tap, a heavy right foot mid-corner will provoke the XKR into eagerly stepping its rear end out sideways, especially on wet roads.

People who have the money to spend $117k+ on a car like this generally have more than one vehicle in their garages for the foul weather months. So the XKR is likely to be a fair weather weekend plaything anyway.

But as luck would have it, my year end loan with the XKR included 4 days of clear weather, 1 day of rain, and 1 day of snow. I definitely had the opportunity to put the XKR through all sorts of Vancouver weather conditions!

In summary, keep the traction and stability control systems in Winter mode and you will almost never get in trouble on wet roads. In this setup, the computers dulls the sharpness of the throttle pedal, softens the suspension for more tire grip, starts the car off in 2nd gear, and lowers the threshold at which the traction and stability control activate.


With only summer tires fitted to my test car though, all four wheels remained firmly planted on my driveway on the day where the white stuff fell. It was only until the snow had fully melted (thankfully within 24 hours) and the temperature had risen above 5 degrees Celcius that I drove the XKR.

With dedicated performance winter tires though, you can probably manage just fine in most winter situations that don’t involve steep hills. The traction and stability control systems are that good!


Conversely, one press of the Dynamic Handling button does the opposite to the Jag’s driving dynamics. Think of it like uttering the words “want to go for a walk” to your dog and you’ll get the idea.

In Dynamic mode, it’s almost as if the car sits up and goes “alright, about damn time we have some fun. Come on govenor”! This selection firms up the CATS (Computer Active Technology) Suspension, sharpens steering feel and throttle responses, and opens up the valves in the active exhaust system. In typical British formality, the dashboard indicates “Dynamic Handling Confirmed” when activated.

With this setting in play, the V8 exhaust note sounds truly glorious, cracking and popping like a 1960s American muscle car. But the noise is always sporty and performance character building. Never unrefined. It’s purposefully aggressive, but never loud or droning.


As a special note to all of you track drivers out there, I wanted to mention that unlike modern Mercedes-Benzes or BMWs, you can actually turn the DSC fully off in the XKR.

Hold the DSC button down for under 10 seconds, and the system goes into Trac DSC mode, shutting down traction control but still allowing for stability control intervention (albeit at a much higher threshold) if things go pear shaped.


But hold the DSC button down for more than 10 seconds and the system gives you a warning chime before turning off both traction and stability control systems completely. Use this tip at your own risk!

Handling-wise, the XKR doesn’t disappoint. This is still a big car after all. But with a highly advanced lightweight aluminum body architecture, it weighs a relatively svelte 3770lbs allowing for surprising agility on the road.

Weight distribution seems to be relatively even, with the car always feeling light on its feet for its size. It’s an easy car to drive fast, perhaps a bit too easy.

With its active suspension and meaty 285/30R20 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rear tires and 255/35R20s up front, the car impressed with its levels of grip on the twisty bits.


If things do get leery, the absolutely massive brakes are there to haul you down from whatever speed to naught. With 6 piston Alcon front calipers and 4 piston rears, the clamping force is certainly proportionally matched with the large diameter rotors (which are as big as the wheels on cheap subcompact cars) all around.

Last but not least, the 6 speed automatic transmission is nicely sorted with its balanced gear ratios making the best of the vehicle’s full range of horsepower and torque.

I liked that the tall 6th gear reduced engine and exhaust noise when cruising at highway while increasing fuel consumption (relatively speaking).

In sport mode, up and downshifts via the steering wheel mounted paddles are very fast, raising the question as to whether one needs an expensive double-clutch gearbox with a slushbox this good!


The interior…beautiful but flawed

There is no oldie English gentlemen’s club feel here. No wingback chairs sir!

For the most part, the Jaguar XKR’s interior is a very nice place to be. With the softest full grain Charcoal leather adorning the dash/doors/seats, Ivory contrasting French stitched seams as far as the eye can see, black gloss piano wood trim, it is fully modern. Fully luxurious and expensive.


To cap it all off, the headliner and pillars are finished off with sumptuous black Alcantara suedecloth. There are 4 star hotel rooms that could seek to learn a lesson or two.


I especially loved the knurled gungrip textured Jaguar DriveSelect gear knob that was the show of the centre console. Watching the knob rise up like a phoenix upon start-up never ceased to amuse me.

While it seems a bit gimmicky at first, it’s the little touches that are needed and expected to make a car feel special in this price range.


The front seats are both heated and cooled, with adjustable side bolsters that will grip you tighter than your 6 year old on his or her first day of school. The back seats? Don’t even bother unless they’re small kids or backpacks.


I thoroughly appreciated the heated steering wheel as well as the $300 optional heated windshield on the frosty mornings. What I didn’t like was how the system would automatically turn on the front and rear windscreen defrosters if the ambient temperature was low enough. Fortunately there is a way to turn this setting off.


There is a surprising amount of trunk space in the XKR. Due to its hatchback design, the liftgate makes the entire space accessible in just a pinch.

Since this car is likely to be purchased by a successful real estate agent or two, I thought that it would only be fitting to test out the available space with a standard 24 x 36” sandwich board sign holder. Guess what? The cavernous space swallowed it up with no problems! Golfers need not worry either!


However, not all is well in the cabin I’m sorry to say. There are a few cheap parts and ergonomic flaws that let down the otherwise beautiful and functional interior.

My main complaints revolve around the navigation system head unit. While all the modern conveniences are there and the system has a relatively large 7” touchscreen, the software all seems very 2006. The system is slow, low resolution, and unbecoming of a vehicle in this price range.


In this day and age where the latest Audi’s head units integrate NVidia computer graphic chipsets, 3D Google Earth maps and stunning high resolution screens, the Jaguar unit with its animated menus just seem old and antiquated.


There isn’t even Bluetooth audio streaming, something that one can find in a basic Toyota Corolla these days. This is a disappointment in an otherwise nice place to be.

It’s a good thing that the V8 soundtrack was far more amusing than anything in my music library or this would’ve been a bigger issue.


But there is light at the end of the tunnel. I had the opportunity to test drive the 2014 Jaguar F-type S as well (for an upcoming review), and the head unit was centuries ahead. So there is hope for future XKs!

Fortunately, once you get over the fact that you have to manually dock your iPod within the centre console or use a CD (gasp!), the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system will blow your socks off.

With the Jaguar’s quiet cabin, there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy the 525 watt surround system equipped with various DSP settings including Dolby ProLogic II. This system is specially tuned by Bowers & Wilkins for the cabin of the XK and includes high output, low distortion Kevlar mid-range speakers and specially designed aluminum-dome tweeters that deliver superb mid-range and extended high-frequency responses.

However since I’m not a professional audiophile, I’ll leave the audio review to the experts at Needless to say, they too were very impressed, and not just by the yellow cones in the door speakers.


My other minor interior foibles include the window switches and wiper control stalk that seem to have come from the era where Ford used to own Jaguar.


Summary – Parting is such sweet sorrow

They say that grief is the price we pay for love don’t they? This is a sentiment that definitely rang true as I reluctantly turned in the keys to the XKR.

Jaguar has always prided itself on building cars that are spacious, comfortable, fast, and easy on the eye. The XK is no exception to the rule. It is almost the complete package with a great blend of performance, luxury, and image.


It is a full-on hardcore sports car when you want it to be, arguably approaching supercar levels. But cleverly, it never loses sight of the fact that it can be a serene grand tourer.

As perhaps a bonus, this is also one car that you’ll want to drive alongside mirrored windows all day long just to admire its profile.

And it’s certainly a car that anyone would be proud to have on his or her driveway.

With Jaguar slated to release more vehicles, including a SUV in the near future, I can’t wait to experience what else this brand has to bring for years to come!


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Andrew is a proud car and tech geek who has worked in Surrey for over the last 10 years. He comes from a communications/marketing background and has worked for automotive-related companies such as, since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all! When he’s not reading about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town.

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North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex Hosts Official Grand Opening



Surrey, BC – The North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex marked its official grand opening today, with a community event attracting over 500 guests to the state-of-the-art facility in the Bridgeview community. The celebration included free skating and rentals, access to the fitness centre, family entertainment and an artist talk with Katzie Nation artist Trenton Pierre.

“The North Surrey area of our city has long been underserved when it comes to having recreational facilities and programs close at hand,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “With the opening of this new complex, that all changes and I invite everyone to take the opportunity to visit and make full use of this state-of-the-art facility. This new complex is also an illustration of how Surrey is combining thoughtful and advanced design to ensure that our spaces provide accessibility for all ages and ability levels. The City of Surrey is continually pressing forward as one of Canada’s most accessible and livable cities, offering recreational opportunities for everyone.”

The North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex features three sheets of ice, spectatorship opportunities for large-scale events, a state-of-the-art fitness studio and weight room, outdoor activity areas, multi-purpose room programming, rentals and food services. First Nation artist Trenton Pierre’s public artwork, Guardian Spirits, wraps the building exterior, which is mirrored inside the facility from the windows of the modern fitness studio.

Accessibility features include:

  • Level access to the ice from dry surface, built to para ice hockey standards
  • Players boxes and penalty boxes made of clear lexan, instead of regular puck board, allowing para ice hockey players a clear view from their sledges
  • Removable benches in the players boxes, allowing for para ice hockey players to remain in their sledges when off the ice
  • Universal hook heights and depths of benches in dressing rooms
  • Fully accessible change rooms, referee rooms, sound room, multi-purpose and fitness studios
  • Fully accessible washrooms
  • Vehicle drop-off area accommodates side-loading vans

Utilizing the three sheets of ice, large-scale spectatorship seating capacity and meeting rooms at the new facility, Surrey will host Olympic Gold Medalist Hayley Wickenheiser’s WickFest Tournament from January 30 to February 2, 2020. This is the tournament’s second year in Surrey, which has now expanded from hosting 800 young female athletes to 1500, as a result of North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex’s increased capacity for ice and meeting space.

Click here for a message from Hayley Wickenheiser about WickFest 2020 at the North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex.

For more information, visit

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[REVIEW] 2020 Nissan Armada Platinum



Nissan has had a storied history when it comes to building four wheel drive vehicles. The company’s first such vehicle started with the Japanese domestic market-only 4W60, which had overall styling similar to the Willys Jeep.

In 1958, the first use of the “Patrol” nomenclature appeared with the Nissan 4W65 Patrol. The four wheel drive vehicle had a “Nissan” badge on the grille and “Patrol” badges flanked the sides of the bonnet.

Fast forward over 61 years and the iconic “Nissan Patrol” lives on as the “Nissan Armada” in North America, having been launched in its current second generation in 2017.

Known for its durability, reliability, premium design, safety, comfort features and unmatched all-terrain performance, the Armada remains the flagship of Nissan’s extensive 4×4 and crossover lineup.

Engineered from the wheels up to tackle the most demanding driving conditions on the planet, over the years, the Nissan Armada has more than earned its reputation, providing the same outstanding level of comfort cruising on the Trans Canada Highway, or negotiating rocky mountain terrain.

It is interesting that Nissan Canada has decided to continue to bring the Armada here despite the fact that it is almost identical to its much more expensive twin, the Infiniti QX80. This platform sharing has both its positives and negatives.

Updates to styling and cabin technology…just not in Canada just yet.

In late September 2019, Nissan unveiled the new 2020 Nissan Patrol in the Middle East, its largest market, with a facelifted model and upgraded infotainment system.

These changes have not carried over yet into the 2020 Nissan Armada, which remains unchanged since the 2017 model year. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Nissan’s V-motion grille and strong angular front still look surprisingly bold and in line with the rest of the company’s products.

The Armada may not be the most popular large SUV on the Canadian market, but Nissan’s reputation for quality, the vehicle’s attractive bold exterior and serene interior are underrated compared with more mainstream vehicles such as the Toyota Sequoia, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and the Ford Expedition.

Inside, the Armada’s classy outer shell, its cabin is extremely well insulated from outside noise.

Material quality is almost indistinguishable from its QX80 twin, a boon for owners.

My top-of-the-range Platinum model added top grain leather surfaces and a lot of chrome surfaces among other things.

Unfortunately, some of the glossy wood trim looked as dated as the infotainment system.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are not yet available, nor is a colour driver’s info display in the gauge cluster.

If you’re a hater of touchscreens but a lover of hard buttons to control the climate control and infotainment systems, you won’t be disappointed as there are plenty.

Pushing some of these control buttons will also reveal the thunderous 13-speaker Bose audio system.

My three-row Armada Platinum test vehicle easily accommodated seven passengers with its second row captain chairs and massive centre console. The chairs folded easily and quickly with a handle that springs the seat forward.

Third row seats are power folding on the Platinum model, controlled via buttons in the cargo area or on the third row’s armrests. Just don’t plan on doing this action if you’re in a rush as the motors move at a snail’s pace, if not slower.

Nonetheless, when you’re back in either the second or third row, you’ll find competitive amounts of legroom and cargo space.

My vehicle was also equipped with the rear-entertainment system option with wireless headphones, sure to be a hit for whomever is occupying the rear seats on long road trips (or for wary parents sitting up front).

Active safety systems

The 2020 Nissan Armada also stands out for its extensive suite of advanced safety and security technologies.

In addition to the Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies already available, the Armada is also equipped with Nissan’s latest Intelligent Emergency Braking system with pedestrian detection, Intelligent Cruise Control, and an Intelligent Forward Collision Warning system.

Like its more expensive Infiniti counterparts, just a push of the steering wheel button activates the majority of the systems whether or not you actually have a cruise control speed set. One could conceivably drive the vehicle with just one pedal in stop-and-go traffic, making the day-to-day driving tremendously more relaxing.

New from the 2019 model year onwards is Nissan’s Rear Seat reminder feature. Also found in other Nissan vehicles, Nissan’s system detects if a rear door was opened or closed before the car was started, but then wasn’t re-opened again after the vehicle was put in park and turned off. The system notifies the driver with display notifications in the instrument panel of the car.

If the driver still fails to open the rear door, the car will then emit subtle but distinctive chirps of the car horn.

The idea came from Nissan engineers Elsa Foley and Marlene Mendoza who wanted to find a way to remind drivers to check the backseat before leaving the vehicle. It is part of a growing effort by automakers to help tackle the problem of children dying of heat stroke from accidentally being left in vehicles.

Drivetrain and NVH

One engine choice remains, a smooth running 5.6-liter “Eudurance” V8 producing 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. Both work through a very civilized seven-speed automatic transmission.

However don’t look for paddle shifters or selectable drive modes, such as with the Ford Expedition, as you won’t find any. Fuel economy was also below average even for a big SUV with me averaging a high 19L/100 kms in mostly city driving.

However, what the Armada lacks in engine options it makes up in acceleration. 0-100 km/hr runs take only 6.1 seconds with the powertrain making hearty exhaust rumbles while doing so.

For comparison, this 0-100 km/hr run is roughly equivalent to what you will find with the Nissan Maxima sedan.

There is a selectable “tow” mode on the transmission which holds the shift points to higher revs, and the Armada is capable of towing a trailer up to 8,500 pounds.

You will have to add an aftermarket trailer brake controller though as there isn’t an option for an integrated OEM unit.

Also unchanged for 2020 is the Armada’s excellent all All-Mode 4X4 system with high and low range. As before, the advanced system lets the driver select various modes which have been designed to handle different on- and off-road conditions.

Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control ensures a more comfortable ride thanks to the improved suspension and vibration reduction.

Despite what its size suggests, the Armada handles surprisingly well. Sure, its soft suspension has an air of floatiness, but that doesn’t negatively affect the driver’s sense of control. My test car had a very comfy and quiet ride even though it rolled on large 20-inch wheels fitted with softer compound winter tires.

While it is far from sporty, the Armada feels more refined than its GM rivals; those alternatives, however, have much better steering feedback than the Nissan’s slow and imprecise steering rack.

Parting thoughts

The 2020 Nissan Armada has the content and capabilities to deserve some attention for those in the market for a big three-row SUV. These customers will likely be looking for the small choices of SUVs on the market that that can carry a load of cargo and seating for seven or eight while still towing a boat or a trailer.

The Armada’s quality cabin is a nice and quiet place to chew up some highway miles as long as you don’t mind passing up on the latest in driver technology.

Nissan’s solid predicted reliability will also attract those who have been burnt in the past by domestic brands who haven’t fared quite as well in this category.

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[REVIEW] 2020 BMW M340i



The British statesman Joseph Chamberlain is known for his famous quote, “we are living in most interesting times”. The father of future Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain and future diplomat Austen Chamberlain, Joseph’s speech in 1898 assigned a complex meaning to “live in interesting times” with connotations of opportunity, excitement, anxiety, and danger.

And indeed we are living in most interesting times when it comes to the future of sports sedans. Once Munich’s bread and butter car, the BMW 3 Series invented this category, blending versatility, balance, power, rear-wheel-drive, and most of all fun.

But times they are a changing and the question that will be is whether anyone still cares about such factors. Long a stalwart support of the manual transmission, BMW was one of a diminishing number of car manufacturers that held onto their manual gearboxes.

As consumer preferences evolved though, one by one, BMW started dropping it from their models.

With the arrival of the seven-generation 3 Series, the manual is gone in North America. It’s difficult to blame BMW though. Statistics don’t lie and not only do a lot of great cars not have manual gearboxes anymore, but people simply aren’t buying them anymore.

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as dealers aren’t willing to take the chance to stock manual transmission cars as they take longer to turn. Therefore, willing customers find themselves having to likely wait months for special ordered manual transmission vehicles, which likely will cost more as dealers are less likely to offer discounts on special ordered rarer vehicles. And so most customers conceded and opt for automatic gearboxes and thus the vicious cycle continues.

Why the “M” in front of “340”?

A couple of years ago, BMW introduced their M Performance line-up of vehicles. While not the full tilt hardcore BMW Motorsport models, M Performance vehicles were still factory designed and spec’ed, offering greater performance than standard BMWs.

Fast forward to present day and the M Performance line-up has proven to be so successful that it has grown to include not only the M550i, but also the X2 M35i, the Z4 M40i, the X5 M50i, etc., and of course the M340i.

The M340i xDrive actually is the only remaining model in the current 3 Series line-up with six-cylinder gas power. With BMW’s M division still applying the finishing touches to the next-generation M3, this is currently the hottest member of the new G20-generation 3 Series.

This M-tweaked hot halfway house joins the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C43 and the Audi S4, all of which serve as understudies to more established more powerful flagships.

Like BMW, those companies also have had their top engineers applying parts and development from their esteemed performance divisions, making this an interesting time to be a customer.

Beyond the name badge

While the 330i puts out a respectable 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, the M340i offers up a significant bump in power to 383 horsepower thanks to its new turbocharger and particulate filter among other detailed changes.

The B58 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine offers up a healthy dose of torque too, 369 lbs-ft to be precise, between 1,600 to 4,500 rpms.

With peak torque tuned to be available throughout such a large portion of the rev range, the M340i always feels eager and ready to go.

Combined with BMW’s tried-and-true ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox, the vehicle never feels breathless, no matter what the situation.

Paired with xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive, the M340i is the perfect sports sedan for all-round use in Canada, be it sunny, wet, or snowy conditions. According to BMW, the M340i just edges out the Audi S4, Genesis G70 3.3T, and Mercedes-AMG C43 in 0-100 km/hr runs by about 1/10th of a second.

The M Performance badge doesn’t just buy you an uprated engine combo. Improving upon the standard 3 Series’ platform, the M340i gets a standard torque-vectoring rear differential, firmer springs, thicker anti-roll bars, a lower ride height, more wheel camber, and adaptive dampers.

The latter has four levels of dampening stiffness via Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes to provide what BMW describes as “sporty and authoritative” handling.

What about the tech toys?

The M340i brings along with it seven generations of legacy, and with it, some high expectations. In fact, there seems to be a setting to adjust pretty much every aspect of the car’s behaviour.

Open the driver’s side door and you’re met by a classy-looking cabin with an upmarket air. There are digital gauges, expensive-looking chrome or satin trim bits, and a 10.3 inch infotainment touchscreen.

While it all feels sporty, the cabin doesn’t feel as special as it would’ve in the past. This is in part because Audi’s and Mercedes’ interiors have caught up in recent years.

Ironically, BMW’s brand new virtual cockpit is less configurable than Audi’s, but overall it still displays an impressive range of information, including a full range of driver assistance systems.

My test vehicle was also equipped with BMW’s latest Assisted Driving Assistant system, which provides semi-autonomous driving.

This impressive system allows for hands-free and pedal-free driving at lower traffic speeds (below 60 km/hr) thanks to a variety of radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors.

There is even an infrared and optical facial recognition camera that is pointed towards the driver to ensure that the appropriate attention is being paid to the road in front.

With the combination of all the aforementioned systems, if the conditions are right, the M340i can even automatically change lanes by the activation of the turn signals when the Assisted Driving Assistant is active.

The G20 3 Series’ centre console and gear lever area now houses the familiar iDrive controller, a wireless phone charging pad, the Driver Experience modes buttons, as well as the engine start/stop button.

The latest iDrive 7.0 operating system is easy to operate and premieres BMW’s new personal assistant activated by saying ‘Hey BMW’. Creatures of tactile habit will rejoice that BMW has still seen fit to include an appropriate number of hard buttons for frequently used functions for the climate controls and infotainment system.

iDrive is now more intuitive (and more feature heavy) than ever, and adjusting the various controls via the iDrive controller or touchscreen soon becomes second nature once you take the time to understand its various menus and submenus.

As before, BMW continues to be the only auto manufacturer that supports wireless Apple Carplay, allowing the system to just work (via WiFi) once you step into the vehicle. Place your phone on the wireless charging mat to keep it juiced up with no cables to fiddle around with.

The instrument screen can be modified to show navigation, active safety programs, G-forces, or be minimised altogether. The head-up display, jacked from the 7 Series, is industry-leading for clarity and quality.

Still the Ultimate Driving Machine?

The M340i is one rapid driving machine with the engine revving eagerly up to 6,800 rpms. To be precise, it’s a full 0.5 seconds faster than the old 340i despite its larger dimensions.

To put this in perspective, the M340i is just 0.3 seconds slower than the outgoing fifth-generation M3, whose twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder punches out a greater 425 hp and 406 ft-lbs of torque.

While there is no more manual transmission gearbox, BMW has equipped the M340i’s eight-speed auto with its own unique ratios and an integrated launch control function.

The exhaust note is nicely tuned, goiing from whisper quiet to throaty, depending on which driver experience mode is selected.

While the M340i never feels as precise as that of a true M-badged car, stability and refinement are clearly amongst the car’s strong suit. Challenging roads are where the car shines, and the directness of its handling reins supreme. Until the M3 arrives later this year, this is the most agile member of the 3 Series family.

The M performance brakes are also well worth the upgrade, firm, confidence inspiring but with a strong initial bite and progressive pedal feel.

While some auto critics have criticized the 3 Series for trying to be all things to all people, to me, it simply feels like it has grown up more to suit the tastes of its audience. Those who want something even more engaging can wait for the M3.

Parting thoughts

Times they are a changing. Perhaps what is the most astounding is that no longer does one need to buy the most expensive BMW in the line-up to get access to 90 per cent of the tech gadgets. You can pretty much have it all on the M340i.

While there might not be heated armrests or built-in fragrance pods, you can still enjoy semi-autonomous driving, BMW’s novel “caring car” relaxation program within the iDrive system, Laser headlights, adaptive dampers, self-parking, and even the ability to use the BMW Connected Drive app to check out what is going around your vehicle remotely via your smartphone.

It’s all there…on a 3 Series!

While the M340i may no longer be the only player in the sports sedan segment and the BMW design language has arguably evolved to be a bit derivative, the M340i still feels polished, confident, and the one of the best combinations of status, performance, tech, luxury and value.

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REVIEW – 2019 Ford Expedition



The 2019 Ford Expedition is a great choice for those with a small family or perhaps just want a mid-range SUV for camping and other outdoor activities. The 2019 Ford Expedition weighs in at 5,900 pounds and offers you up to 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. It seats up to eight people comfortably and has plenty of storage in the back and even more when the seats are folded down.


The 2019 Ford Expedition comes with a 3.5L EcoBoost engine that feels the most responsive of any sport utility vehicle on the market today. The direct injection helps maximize the amount of power squeezed out of the EcoBoost engine and it even has twin air-to-air intercooled turbochargers for a boost of power when you need it.

The 3.5L EcoBoost gets up to 375 horsepower and produces a stunning 470 pounds per foot of torque.

The 2019 Ford Expedition also has a best-in-class towing ability with up to 9,300 pounds of towing capacity when the Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package is installed.

Trim Levels

The 2019 Ford Expedition for sale at a new car dealership comes in three available trim levels — the XLT, Limited, and Platinum. Each of these trim levels comes with a six-cylinder 3.5L EcoBoost engine with twin air-to-air intercooled turbochargers. The XLT, Limited and Platinum trim levels all seat eight people and all come with a 10-speed automatic transmission. There is also an extended-wheelbase version of the XLT and Limited called the Max.

The XLT is already equipped with 18-inch alloys, running boards, an 8-inch touchscreen, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and the choice of four-wheel drive. There are four USB ports and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio as standard.

Move up to the Limited for 20-inch wheels, parking sensors, heated seats throughout, and an upgraded Bang and Olufsen 12-speaker audio system.

The Platinum builds on the Limited and adds interior wood accents, an improved leather trim, noise cancellation, and the ability to increase horsepower and torque when 93 octane fuel is used.

There is also a variety of small upgrades such as aluminum wheels as opposed to hubcaps that can be chosen on the Limited and Platinum models.


Every part of the interior is classy and looks immaculate. The tasteful chrome accents and light tan leathers make the 2019 Ford Expedition a pleasure to be in.

The 2019 Ford Expedition is loaded with technology for modern times with a Wi-Fi hotspot build in that can connect up to ten devices at a range of 50 feet, a wireless charging station, and an 8.5-inch infotainment system at an easy to reach level.

The seating arrangement benefits from the added dimensions of the body and the 2019 Ford Expedition is roomier than ever before.


One thing that Ford has changed about the 2019 Ford Expedition is the seams and contours of the different panels from the quarter panel to the doors. Now the vehicle feels even more seamlessly connected than before. The great line work in the Expedition shows the level of sophistication that modern sport utility vehicles are capable of.

Newly designed front grilles with LED headlamps cut through the snow and fog.


The 2019 Ford Expedition is one of the safest vehicles on the market in the sport-utility division. There is nothing but great safety technologies between you and the roadway when you’re driving the 2019 Expedition. The NHTSA has given the 2019 Ford Expedition a five-star overall rating.

Features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go make driving a hassle-free experience and help prevent collisions with its many sensors. There is also a Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection system that will automatically brake in the event that the driver fails to do so. BLIS, or Blind Spot Information System, is another excellent feature that reduces common accidents by showing drivers what is in their blind spot.

It is hard to choose which color looks best on the 2019 Ford Expedition, but if push comes to shove the Blue Metallic is looking like a very nice choice. There are a host of other colors to choose from such as Stone Gray, Silver Spruce, and Ruby Red.

If you haven’t been won over by the 2019 Ford Expedition yet just take one for a test drive and you will feel what it is like to ride in comfort and class without sacrificing any of the power we have come to expect from a sport utility vehicle.

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Is It Safe to Work Under a Car on Jack Stands?



Any auto owner needs to access the underside of their vehicle, at least occasionally. However, lying under a heavy object poses risks. Manufacturers of modern ramps, as well as jack stands, guarantee safety. But is there truth in advertising?

Of course, nothing can beat a professional hydraulic system. In general, ramps are regarded as more reliable. Consider some of the top low profile car ramps sold on Amazon. Jack stands, though, will also be safe as long as you follow these basic guidelines.


Whatever maintenance you are planning, begin by choosing the surface. Your car must be placed on hard and even ground. Under no circumstances is it possible to perform the work on gravel, dirt, let alone a slope! The same gravity that keeps your automobile steady may cause it to roll back down.

If you think lack of hardness may be compensated by sliding wood under the jack, think again. Another mistake that could prove fatal is propping a vehicle with breeze blocks, bricks and similar items that may crack.

Which Jack is Best?

It may be tempting to go with the device that came with your vehicle. Although it may be suitable for tire changes, relying on it for something more complex is precarious. Therefore, always choose a top-quality support system. Never work under a car which is supported by a single jack!

Base your choice on objective criteria, including the weight limit. Remember that you will not be lifting the entire weight of the vehicle. A two-ton device may be strong enough to raise a car weighing two and a half tons. Ensure a certain safety margin is allowed. Generally, use stands capable of supporting no less than half of the weight.

The second dilemma is the choice between low-entry and high-lift models, which are suitable for low and higher vehicles, respectively. Thirdly, remember that a large jack is heavy, so make sure you can carry it from the storage to the car. It may be best to choose a lighter model provided it can support the required weight.

Additional Precautions

Overall, these tools are less safe and more difficult to use than car ramps, as confirmed by reviews on jonsguide. With the necessary precautions, you can ensure a safe working environment. Here are three important conditions.

  1. Extra Support
    Although a jack is supposed to ensure safe access to the underside, it should not be used on its own. Use additional supports, such as a trolley jack. This will prevent potential damage to the sill, even though a standard jack should fit into the corresponding jacking points.
  2. The Right Points
    Refer to your guides for both the car and the supports to identify safe points. Avoid raising the vehicle by placing the supports under its gearbox, engine or plastic undertray. The perfect locations include chassis rail, subframe, and suspension mounting point.
  3. Chocks
    Chocks provide support regardless of their material. They may be produced from rubber, metal, wood or plastic. Once your transmission is in the park or in gear, place two chocks around the wheel on the side opposite to the one being raised. One of them is put in front and the other one behind, so the wheel is firmly secured.
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