I was intrigued by the choice of Bond cars used in the latest Great British spy spectacular.
Did it really make sense for both lead cars – the Aston Martin DB10 and Jaguar C-X75 - to be concepts? Momentarily, I even wondered if it pushed the limits of reasonable product placement a tad far, and perhaps risked jeopardising the believability of the film.
Then I came to my senses and realised that we were talking about a franchise of films where someone can be doing high-speed jumps in an Aston moments after a cardiac arrest, and – most laughable of all - a Land Rover Defender can keep up with a speeding train. I mean, come on…
Credulity doesn’t come into the Bond vocabulary and, frankly, that’s as it should be. It’s also exactly why these films are where a concept car belongs. It makes more sense than a motor show stand, in fact.
So, here is the perfect platform for brands to put out their finest flights of fantasy and, having spent a few minutes in the Jag C-X75 recently, I can see why this and the DB10 have stirred up such a furore. In the low-speed photography session I did in the Jag, it really did seem to me to speak of modern XJ220. Even the styling seems reminiscent of that illustrious spiritual predecessor, with its long, flat rear deck.
Granted, the C-X75’s twin electric motors and 1.6 petrol engine (inspired heavily by the Williams-aborted four-cylinder F1 engine) is rather different from the XJ220's raw brawn, but a ‘proper’ drive that Autocar had in the C-X75 a few years back suggests that it lives up to expectations. A 1.6 with a 10,000rpm limit and hybrid power, combining to give it performance to rival a Porsche 918, sounds like it’d struggle to be anything but riotous.
Should Jaguar make it? It goes without saying I’d like it to. Any enthusiast wants to see such extrovert design and engineering on the road. If I were holding Jag’s purse strings? I’m not so sure. Maybe it’d pay off as a brand image boost, or maybe it’d be foolhardy to splurge so much on such a niche project when there are still new models to be launched that will have a much bigger impact on profit margins and market presence.
Perhaps Jag would even be better off spending those millions on getting back into top-flight endurance racing – something that’s been cropping up in the industry crystal ball for years now. Arguably, the technical progress and associated brand kudos would potentially do more to further Jaguar's image and technical progression.
If I had to choose between putting plates on the C-X75 or an LMP1 car on the Le Mans grid, my vote would be firmly in the Sarthe region. Realistically, neither may be a good business proposition for Jag right now.
Regardless of all my prevaricating, it’s clear to see how the predatory beauty of the C-X75 could trickle down to production cars, and that in itself makes the car more than worthwhile.
At the same low-key gig in Surrey, I also bounced up the road in the Defender from Spectre, complete with ludicrous 37in tyres. This version of the old Landie was even more objectively flawed in its bouncy, uncomfortable, noisy on-road manners. Yet I have an enduring love of the Defender, and in the same way that the discomfort was amplified here, so was the intimidation factor that this version possesses, which appeals to a rather anti-social side of me.
I haven’t actually seen Spectre yet, but needless to say I enjoyed my brief dalliance with a couple of the cars that star in it, and it’s just another sign that JLR is still in the ascendant. Long may it continue.