TUESDAY - At the Millbrook test track in Bedfordshire I ran into Vauxhall boss Tim Tozer, who’d brought his ex-military Land Rover Wolf there for an outing. Knowing that I share a weakness for these tough old British bulldog 4x4s, he invited me into the car park to view it.
His is the ultimate army rag-top and in perfect condition, and he’s kept it original with things such as antenna mounts, radio racking, wing-mounted tools, authentic lug tyres and even a sign on the side admonishing troops not to ‘loiter’ near its antennae.
It’s surprising how many car company bosses own old Landies, but Tim is the only one I know who’s relaxed enough to let it go on the record.
WEDNESDAY - Getting more and more impatient to take a decent
drive in a Jaguar XE, especially after our recent five-star first drive verdict landed. I see our testers in action every day, so I know how thoroughly they have to be convinced that a car deserves our ultimate accolade.
So far, I’ve taken no more than a little trundle in one of the early 2.0-litre diesel prototypes (the 99g/km model that Jaguar hopes will do big business in the company car market).
What impressed me most was the fact that it didn’t feel compromised in any way, despite being an entry-level model. I have the distinct feeling that the Wolverhampton-made Ingenium engine family is going to be one of the greats, but I’m impatient to gather some more evidence.
THURSDAY - Invited to Oxford University in the evening to hear Audi boss Wolfgang Stadler deliver a lecture to students about his company’s commitment to future mobility.
I was a bit sceptical about his motives –
Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche did something similar
a few weeks earlier, so perhaps
it was fashionable – but after I was given the chance to question the Audi chief in
detail, I changed my ideas.
Stadler is convincing on the suggestion that digitisation and connectivity will drive car progress. The prize will be fewer accidents, a re-establishment
of inner-city order and the return of increasingly valuable time to car users.
Some city drivers spend a month per year in traffic jams, Audi says, and a week a year merely searching for a parking space. It can’t go on. If cars talked to one another
and were electronically
directed via lightly trafficked routes to reserved parking spaces (all of which “isn’t rocket science”), even cities as hopelessly choked as Mexico City could be transformed.
I liked what I heard.
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