I’ve just spent a couple of days driving to, around, and back from North Wales. Two of the cars on the trip were Autocar’s long-term Jaguar XJ V6 diesel and Range Rover V8 diesel and I relished the chance to extend both of them on the open road.
With hours behind their respective wheels, I also had plenty of time to ponder the state of the British car industry, particularly after piloting what I personally regard as two of the best cars ever made in this country.
As I motored up the M54, it struck me that just over a decade ago the British car industry was in pieces all over the floor of the UK Plc workshop.
Heavily loss-making Rover Group had just been broken up and sold off by BMW after the Rover 75 - the re-invention of the classic British saloon had been well-received, but proved a retail disappointment.
Land Rover was sold to Ford, with a poor track record in the unreliable Range Rover 2, the flaky Discovery 2 and the best-selling but fragile Freelander.
Jaguar was also stalling after 10 years under Ford ownership. The oddly-styled and insubstantially engineered S-Type was unimpressive, the XJ40-based XJ8 was struggling manfully onwards and the new Mondeo-based X-Type was dividing opinion and under-shooting its sales targets.