Next Tuesday is going to be a weird day for me – because the BMW 1M is being picked up, never to be seen again. I’ve enjoyed every minute of running it so will be desperately sad to see it go.
Yet on the same day, my next set of wheels is due to arrive and, understandably given that it looks like this (see below), I’m pretty much beside myself with excitement about what happens next.
Don’t ask me how or why the (very) nice man from Jaguar has agreed to hand over the keys to an Italian Racing red XKR-S for six months. And I’m sorry if at this point you feel a surge of uncontrollable envy coursing through your veins. But the bottom line is, it’s on its way – so I thought I’d share my delight with you, because right now I feel like a teenager all over again.
I appreciate that running a long term car for a magazine like Autocar is a very long way indeed from owning one for real. No money is parted with, for starters, and no true pain is endured – by us – if and when things go wrong. But the excitement factor is still there in anticipation of the thing actually arriving, I can vouch for that right here and now. And in a way, the ownership experience is real to a certain extent, too. Over the next six months we will fuel, insure and get the XKR-S serviced in much the same way as an owner would. If things go wrong, we’ll write about them. And if they go right, we’ll write about those too.
The bottom line, of course, is that dishing out cars to magazines for long term assessment is, in the end, a calculated gamble by the manufacturers. Most of them are grown up enough to know that, warts and all, we will write as we find. Most of them, however, hope that what we discover, we like.
I already know how fast and how naughty an XKR-S sounds, but what I also want to find out during the next six months is, in no particular order; how much stuff I can squeeze into its boot, how well bolted together it will feel 15,000 miles down the line, how refined it will be on a truly long journey, how well sorted it will feel driven rapidly across a wet B-road, how other people might react to it compared with a 911, how much fuel it uses on my daily drive and what kind of touring range it will produce in give and take conditions.
Comparing the after sales of Jaguar and BMW will also be interesting to note, too, although quite how anonymous the car will remain I’m not sure. That’s always a difficult one with long term cars, although you’d be amazed how often we don’t get rumbled.
Turning up on spec and asking for something out of the ordinary to be looked at is usually the best way to slide beneath the radar. And it all starts for the XKR-S and me next Tuesday so, as they say, see you then…