What is it?
I know, not obvious from the looks, is it? This is the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The nameplate hasn't featured in the UK line-up for more than four years now, but it's going to make a reappearance next Spring. It's been built off a widened version of the CUSY platform that underpins the Alfa Giulietta and the Dodge Dart, and is powered in the US by slightly modified versions of the 2.4-litre four cylinder Tiger Shark and 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 that power the smallest Dodge.
Generally, you know how you feel about a car after about, oh, five minutes. Call it the fizzy nethers or simple gut instinct. But after 24 hours, 500 miles, and several of the world’s best mountain passes at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo 4C, we still can’t make the definitive call. Why? Because Alfa’s new baby is a car that manages to be both hugely seductive and irritatingly inconsistent, often on the same stretch of road.
Stretching the definition of ‘brand new' a bit, aren't you?
Yes, you're quite right. It's not actually brand new, more a thorough spruce up to keep the big ol' lug up to date.
- Distinctive and sporty lines a nice touch to the family-oriented hatchback, without compromising practicality.
- Generous headroom and legroom for five plus-sized adults, primarily due to Nissan’s emphasis in reduction of mechanical components.
- Eco-friendly features include “Idling Stop System” and “ECO Meter”, complementing a lightweight yet sturdy chassis.
- 1.2-litre, 78bhp naturally-aspirated alternative serves as the base variant.
Can our car of the year...
Hmm, didn’t you drive another tuned Toyota GT 86 recently?
No, that was a Subaru BRZ. Totally different. It was supercharged for one thing and this one’s turbocharged.
This isn't quite a competitor to the Mercedes CLS. Just as well really, given how late it is to that particular party. Instead it's bigger and more expensive - into Panamera territory. This makes it subtly grander than the Benz. (Well it would be subtle if this particular one wasn't trimmed in the optional dazzling white and queasy brown. Other decors are available.)
First of all, let’s solve the mystery of the name. BRZ stands for Boxer, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith. That’s pretty clear isn’t it? Well, the first two parts are, and as for Zenith, that’s just Subaru’s way of saying this is the best it can do. Personally I think Subaru Zenith has more of a ring to it than Subaru BRZ which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a dynamic name.
For a supercar, being fast and grippy isn't enough, is it? A simple ability to cover the ground rapidly is no longer a USP. You can get that in a saloon. We don't hear anyone accusing four_doors like the M5 or E63 AMG of being ‘a bit slow from A to B'.
It would be easy to dismiss the single-seat BAC Mono as another garage-build special, another ‘racecar for the road' from a British start-up company, with a supercar-crushing power-to-weight ratio and a chassis constructed from bits of old washing machine and blind hope.