Back to the Smoke after a fine week in Yorkshire putting 1200 miles under the wheels of our Jaguar F-Type R Coupé, which turns out to be quite a hard-edged car to take on holiday. The enormous performance makes it fun, but you can’t always find the road to give such a firmly sprung car a decent long run. And as I’ve said before, there’s too much road noise for effortless day-long enjoyment.
Biggest strengths are the steering and seats (both available in lesser F-Types), although the glorious snarl definitely validates our choice of a V8. I love the way, as familiarity grows, you drive the F-Type with smaller and smaller steering inputs, putting your faith in the accuracy, stability and superior suspension geometry that keep the car tracking like an arrow.
Why does a bloke come to work? To pick up a new Ferrari, of course. With Mr Chief Photographer Papior, I took myself at 10am to the Egham premises of Maranello, the Ferrari dealer located on the western edge of London’s orbital M25, to pick up a 13,000-mile Ferrari FF that we’ll be running for the next few months. This is a familiar car in road test circles, but there’s no such thing as familiarity with any Ferrari, at least not in the sense of taking it lightly. More soon.
Delighted to see Gordon Murray negotiating another gateway on his mission to preserve our freedom of mobility by simplifying cars and the way we make them. As you’ll see elsewhere, Murray has struck a new partnership with oil giant Shell and former Honda Formula 1 engine designer Osamu Goto to design a simple, practical, super-frugal, petrol-powered city car concept, building on his existing T25 but re-examining every single efficiency aspect of it. Called Project M, the idea is to “inspire thinking about maximising personal mobility while minimising energy use”.
Once we’ve recovered from the impact of the announcement, it’ll be interesting to study the priorities of the various partners in this deal. Is this Shell showing us that a gallon of gas remains one of the wonders of the world? Has Goto uncovered some new secret of internal combustion? Can Murray really do better than the T25, already optimised for weight and proportion, or does he see this primarily as another opportunity to persuade Big Industry that his iStream process is the best way to build future cars?
Bottom line: I suppose I’m a bit disappointed with another concept that merely “inspires new thinking”. We’ve known for a decade that more efficient city cars are vital. Isn’t it time to start building ’em?
As the Steering Committee will tell you, I can get quite boring on the subject of car refinement. Wind noise from ill-fitting door seals, buzzes from behind the dashboard, mid-corner clunks as an unattached metal seatbelt tongue hits a car’s B-pillar – they’re all deeply annoying. Luckily, today’s car makers side with me on this: they employ teams of noise hunters bristling with microphones and stethoscopes, all even more obsessed than I am.
The best thing about being so bothered is that easy wins are possible, and today was typical. Setting off to enjoy the serenity of a three-pot Vauxhall Corsa, I was horrified to discover that the car’s previous inhabitant had left a passenger’s door pocket full of assorted junk, including an annoying pencil that jumped on bumps and rolled about infuriatingly on corners. Worse, he/she had left the rear seats down, which both allowed extra road noise through from the boot and produced a series of infuriating squeaks. But what joy it was to be able to quell the whole cacophony in a minute at the roadside by first erecting the seats and then lobbing the detritus into a roadside bin.