JessicaThe Jag has passed a girl challenge today……
Once the many seat buttons have been pressed, in house massage parlour engaged, music selected, mirror adjusted (yes the Chanel nude lipstick works for a weekend) , it is time for the car park challenge.
The prize for negotiating the spiral entry ramp and numerous pillars of the Cheltenham multi-storey with no scratches or dents, is a delicious cup of exquisite loose leaf Lapsang Souchong with cakes (mine an award winning fruit cake) from Huffkins.
The car was immaculate, it is a pleasure to drive, responsive, fast and smooth. There is a sense of power that is easy to manage with the fun of paddle gear shift and an excellent braking system.
……….arriving at the challenge point……. yes we made it onto the car park (slowly) around the very tight, long, narrow spiral car park ramp, then easily manoeuvred into a tight space beside a pillar. There was much bleeping and flashing from the car which clearly did not believe I could negotiate such a testing space.
All in all a lovely afternoon, cake all round and a spin home across country in the spring sunshine.
I will be sad to see this car go as it is a luxurious experience to drive, though I still don’t understand why the rear end of this lovely car looks like an old Ford Sierra!
Jeremy You might imagine an actress who has starred in films like Brassed Off, Sirens and Hear My Song would be used to climbing in to luxurious limos like CarCouture’s XJ. However, Tara Fitzgerald loves her old Volvo estate and admits to us that she hasn’t been in anything quite as swanky as the Jaguar in years.
“I walk as much as I can around London but when I go down to my house in Cornwall, we cram everything in to the Volvo.”
I collected Tara from Milton Keynes, where she is currently staring in an RSC production of The Winter’s Tale. We are supposed to be walking and talking in the countryside near Silverstone, for a feature in the Financial Times. Then it started raining and didn’t stop.
By the time we return to the Jaguar, the Waking the Dead actress has boots caked in mud, a sodden coat and is drenched. “That’s the trouble with a car as posh as this – you feel bad about making the seats muddy and spoiling the leather.”
I show her the XJ’s massaging heated seat button and ask if she likes the car. “It’s incredibly plush but when I think of a Jaguar, I have a certain image in my mind and it isn’t shaped like this car.
“Maybe Jaguar wanted to move on from the classic design but this model doesn’t stand out in the crowd. I wouldn’t have known it was a Jaguar until you told me.”
Tara is about to star in the third series of Game of Thrones on Sky. “It’s the biggest production I have ever worked on. There were about 100 people on set and it has been filmed in incredibly exotic locations all over the world. However, they shot my scenes in Northern Ireland!”
Would she buy an XJ? “It’s not really my sort of car. I love the interior and the gadgets but I’m used to something slightly more practical.”
Jeremy Jaguar isn’t the first manufacturer to ditch an analogue dashboard display for something entirely different. Back in the 1980s, my father’s Citroen CX had a bizarre rotating ball that spun slowly as the car picked up pace. Inside our XJ, the standard dials have been replaced with a digital dash that looks so realistic it takes a few moments to realise that you are staring at graphics, rather than the real thing.
It’s just one of many features inside the XJ that help make the cabin a design masterclass. It may not be as roomy as some of the German competition but this is a sophisticated and very grown up interior. Wood, high quality leather and soft-touch materials adorn the cockpit – and there are so many neat touches it’s going to take the next seven days to tell you all about them.
The ignition key alone lets other people know you have arrived. It’s a solid, chunky rock of loveliness that’s heavier than my wallet – not a problem if you can afford the £72,000 price tag of our sparkling white test car. Then there’s the rotating gear knob that sits proud on top of the centre console. It is tactile, easy to grip and dispenses with the need for any kind of transmission gearstick.
I sat in the passenger seat while Jessica drove us across the Cotswolds. The centre touch screen display may not be as high res as the dashboard but using wireless headphones, I was able to listen and watch television as she enjoyed the V6 engine to the full. Dangerous for the driver? Not so because some clever gadgetry means the driver can only see button controls for other car-related functions on the same screen that I was watching TV. Next time I’m going to sit in the back seat and let you know what David Cameron feels like in his armoured XJ…