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Tuesday 3rd April 2012

PH Blog: The curiosities of cold-start driving

Harris explores a curious trait of the latest Jaguars and wonders whether there are other cars out there with cold-running foibles



I'm spending a short time in this handsome Jaguar XF Diesel S*. Besides being, to my eyes, one of the best facelifts in living memory, it's a car that promises pretty much everything: speed, space, refinement and efficiency. I'll report back on its many skills later in the week, but for now there's something curious about it that I need to discuss.

In fact it's something particular to the three Jaguars I've run since the back-end of 2010 - they simply don't work for the first 10 minutes of every journey. By 'work', I mean the suspension feels like it has remained asleep. It must be a particular trait of Jag's adaptive damping system, because the XKR did it, as did the very wonderful XJ Supersport I used last year. This morning the XF, for about 15 miles, rode like it was on square wheels. Then suddenly, it was better. Albeit never truly supple, because this car has the full sports suspension package.


The way cars behave over those first few, stone-cold miles is always enlightening. My GT3 RS absolutely hates taking 2nd gear, the 205 XS is flat as a pancake (because you're attempting to use as little of the manual choke as possible) - then the moment it's remotely warm, bang, you have the best throttle response imaginable.

But these Jags must have something going on with their shock absorbers. It's a shame, because you rather dread those first few miles each morning.

Anyone else drive anything that suffers a similar personality disorder when cold?

*Well, not this exact car, but you get the idea...

Chris Harris
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Author Discussion

appletonn

Original Poster:

505 posts

146 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
Cold tyres with stiff sidewalls that take a few miles to warm up and relax a little?

mmm-five

6,305 posts

170 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
Wonder if it's something as simple as the choice of oil in the dampers (assuming they're not gas-filled), i.e. not flowing freely enough at cooler temps?

I know my Z4MC is choppier for the first 10 miles or so and the engine/gearbox are not as smooth initially.

danielj58

96 posts

60 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
I've known a few HGVs break various suspension components on the way out of the yard on (admittedly very) cold mornings, but I can't say I've ever had a car ride uncomfortably when cold. With that being said though, I tend to be very forgiving to my cars until they hit 12 o'clock.

Are Jag not one of these companies that go testing in the arctic circle though? Seems odd that they'd do that and it not be picked up on...

goron59

394 posts

57 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
My B7 RS4 used to be particularly unhappy when cold... it either wanted to be coaxed gently or utterly spanked, until it warmed up then was mostly OK. I generally ignored 1st gear for the first 10 - 15 mins or so.

With my R8, it's the tyres that feel the need for warmth initially, and the manual 'box is a bit clunky until properly warmed up.

All adds character, IMO.

Ozzie Osmond

16,221 posts

132 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
IMO it's a specification of sports suspension and skinny tyres which deliver a consistently lousy ride quality. It's just you get used to it after a few miles.....
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thewheelman

2,194 posts

59 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
Not the first time i've heard this about modern Jags, i know someone that ruled out buying a Jag for this very reason, they ended up staying loyal to Lexus.

Domf

227 posts

41 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
Agreed about Jag and Tyres. I'm on my 2nd X type Sport awd and the first ran on 45/225 on 17 rims pretty smooth ride, the current runs 40/225 on 18 rims and during the winter months feels rock hard for about 5 miles until the heat gets into the tyres. All season tyres aren't very supple below 7 degrees and small sidewalls really
make the car feel like it's got 4 blocks of concrete at each corner.
I think jaguar should sell F1 style tyre warmers (10% for the idea),to put around the tyres in the morning before going to work. Maybe a new kind of Kers were the heat from the brakes are dissipated directly onto the tyre walls with a flick of a switch on the dash, winter button

wolves_wanderer

8,921 posts

123 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
My old Leon used to be a right grumpy bd from a cold start. Very poor response and always felt like it wanted to stall. It was fine when warmed up and I always used to find it quite endearing tbh.

DanGT

732 posts

112 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
In know fords (focus) if moved say just 1 meter then stop. If you try to restart they will fail to start (over fule).

kaliber

42 posts

62 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
Does it not stand to reason that, if it takes fluids like oil etc to heat up and make gear changes and your engine smoother, then it must be the same with the fluid in the shocks. Couple of mins being warmed up by brakes,tyres and some from exhaust helps to cure it and gets you wafting in (relative with sports setting or what have you) comfort.

Short of a pre-warming type idea similar to what VW and others offer for cold morning to defrost windscreens etc then just something to live with. Bit of a sod if you drive it 15mins or less to work everyday.




P I Staker

3,140 posts

42 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
mmm-five said:
Wonder if it's something as simple as the choice of oil in the dampers (assuming they're not gas-filled), i.e. not flowing freely enough at cooler temps?
Even gas dampers have oil in them. smile


My mates classic Mini runs on three cylinders until its warm, does that count? hehe

Baryonyx

10,107 posts

45 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
My old MR2 Turbo used to idle at about 1800rpm on start up. I believe it was a throttle position sensor issue, common in MR2's apparently, and that was the only effect it had. The car would idle high for a few minutes before settling down. That was a car that felt better the more you drove it, you could almost feel the fluids loosening up as internal temperatures rose. The tyres certainly needed some warmth in them to give their best grip.

My Impreza GX has no cold start foibles, I like it for that. Feels slick and ready from the go.

thewheelman

2,194 posts

59 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
wolves_wanderer said:
My old Leon used to be a right grumpy bd from a cold start. Very poor response and always felt like it wanted to stall. It was fine when warmed up and I always used to find it quite endearing tbh.
I think that can be said of all cars, that they operate most effectively when warmed up.

E38Ross

15,178 posts

98 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
seems i'm fortunate, my car seems to behave exactly the same when cold (only driven it as low as -6, mind) than it does when hot, even the gear changes are smooth still. i treat it rather gingerly though when cold.

Bohally

918 posts

33 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
The wife.

Boonster

36 posts

88 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
I know what you mean as my XF does the same. My view is that it is the runflats, as I had similar experience on previous BMW's. The colder the weather the more pronounced which supports a lower tyre pressure theory.

NBRS2K

4 posts

32 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
Our Renaultsport Clio 200 (20th Ed) is unbelievably grumpy when cold - grumbling, farting and refusing to rev much over 2400rpm until warm through. I'm reliably informed that this is absolutely normal...that and the fact that it is an absolute peach once warm!

I wonder if its an ECU mapping issue? Or the relatively wild cam?

For the record, my S2000 (even more highly stressed N/A, 2 litre, 4cyl) has no such problems and is smooth as silk at any temperature...

Interesting

Chris Harris

489 posts

39 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
I'm in-and-out of pretty much every brand of car, but nothing changes quite the way these Jags do. They all run these Sportmax Dunlops - maybe that's the issue?

cuda

259 posts

126 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
E46 M3 exhausts sound like a bag of spanners when revved up cold.

My CSL's Larini back box sounds very angry when cold...

benny.c

2,402 posts

93 months

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Monday 2nd April 2012 quote quote all
The E46 M3 has a well known issue when cold. It coughs and lurches down the road for the first few minutes.
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