A recent panic regarding a pressing need for a tax disc for an ex motability car (hence unable to be taxed locally) and our driver snowbound saw me beetling up the dual carriageway to the nearby city one morning to visit the DVLA office and obtain said tax disc for a car which was due out later that day. The DVLA office is situated in the middle of a huge retail estate that also houses what must be almost every car marque currently available. Our group has four different franchises there alone!
Tax disc obtained it was time to leave, but a dicey combination of the bitter cold and middle aged plumbing left me in need of what I believe our American cousins refer to as a “comfort stop”. Unfortunately the only public facilities were a couple of miles in the wrong direction, but no matter, I had a cunning plan. I’d simply pop into a nearby car dealership on the auspices of picking up a brochure, and nip into the gents whilst I was there. Of course since brochures are free I had the run of pretty much any car make in existence to choose from so decided to go for a combination of nearness (I’m not getting any younger and pressing needs become ever more pressing with age) and prestige.
Just across the road I spied a Jaguar dealership. That’d do nicely.
Jaguar have come a long way even in the last few years. This once great marque was seen as close to the pinnacle of prestige many years ago, the chairman’s car, the prime ministers personal transport. But a combination of British Leyland influence (and build quality) in the eighties and bad product planning in the nineties (who on earth believed the X Type was a good idea) saw Jaguar limp bleeding into the noughties with an image that was more Arfur Daley and golf club wannabe than boardroom chic. Yes the prime minister still uses one, but Trousers Down Brown is hardly the ad exec’s dream brand ambassador.
Non the less I’ve always had a soft spot for dear old Jag, and I delight in their recent return to form with the cool and delightfully detailed XF and the Aston Martinesque XK. I hear they’re dropping the Jag wannabe X Type too, and I have very high hopes for the forthcoming XJ, a car that finally buries the whiff of tweed and pipe smoke forever.
I parked the company Fiesta (which, incidentally, has rather disappointingly stopped being vivid green and seems to have turned blue and sprouted an extra pair of doors) and pushed open the heavy glass showroom door. I was greeted politely by an immaculately coiffured salesman in an expensive suit and proper watch who enquired if he could be of assistance? I asked whether they had the brochure of the new XJ yet as my father had requested I pick one up for him. I did this for two reasons, firstly so that he wouldn’t want to take my details as a potential contact or engage me in conversation about the car (time and bladder were pressing), and secondly in case he’d clocked the Fiesta. I’d have hated for him to think I was some kind of timewaster who’d just popped in for a brochure and to use the loo’s…
Whilst he went to find me a brochure I popped to the loo and, mission accomplished, returned to the showroom. Our man from Jag had my glossy XJ marketing material all ready so I thanked him, bade him goodbye, and headed for the door. As I got there I stopped and took a last long reflective gaze at the beautifully furnished showroom, the glitteringly expensive cars, the church-like hush and the deep buttoned leather sofas that surrounded the expensive looking coffee table in the customer courtesy area.
And I thought “Hmmmm…”
PS. XJ Portfolio 3.0 V6 diesel, long wheelbase, in Lunar Grey, Cashew leather seats with Truffle contrast stitch and piping, Jet softgrain dash upper (anything too light just reflects in the windscreen on sunny days) and Canvas headlining, with Satin American Walnut veneers, and embossed Leaper on the headrests. 19″ Aleutian wheels, Bowers & Wilkins 1200w premium sound system, heated and cooled massaging seats front and rear, heated steering wheel with remote controls, adaptive front headlights, rear parking camera, DAB radio and digital television.