Jag CX75 built to beat Bond

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFILM - OS­CAR QUINE

RAC­ING through nar­row, cob­bled streets of Rome, tak­ing tight cor­ners with deft ease, a two-car chase scene gets the lat­est James Bond in­stal­ment off to a riproar­ing start.

But when it came to find­ing a car that could keep up with Bond’s As­ton Martin DB10, few were judged to be up to speed. So de­mand­ing was the task, in fact, that the 007 team turned to a car that tech­ni­cally didn’t ex­ist – the Jaguar CX75.

From Dr No’s Sun­beam Alpine to the sub-aquatic Lo­tus Elise from The Spy Who Loved Me, ex­otic ve­hi­cles have al­ways been a key com­po­nent of the Bond for­mula. With 671kW, a top speed of 352km/h – and a spec­u­la­tive price tag of £750 000 (R15.9 mil­lion) – the CX75 con­tin­ues that tra­di­tion. And while Bond’s As­ton Martin ends up at the bot­tom of the River Tiber, the Jag man­aged to find its way to a race­track in Sur­rey for a test drive.

It is, of course, a nippy ride. Be­ing a hy­brid, it feels in­cred­i­bly light and is as quiet as a bul­let shot through a si­lencer.

But, be­fore any­one could get be­hind the wheel, there was one ma­jor snag.

“The big­gest prob­lem was that the As­ton Martin and the CX75 didn’t re­ally ex­ist,” said Neil Lay­ton, 42, the film’s ac­tion ve­hi­cle co-or­di­na­tor. The Jaguar ex­isted only in pro­to­type form, while the DB10 was com­mis­sioned for Spec­tre. “That posed big prob­lems as we couldn’t eval­u­ate how they would han­dle. We had to mod­ify the sus­pen­sion for the stunts, but had no phys­i­cal car to mea­sure every­thing on.”

For the chase scene in Rome, di­rec­tor Sam Men­des’ team man­aged to shut down the cen­tre of the city six nights a week for five weeks straight. Mean­while, in Lon­don, West­min­ster Bridge was closed ev­ery evening for three week­ends to al­low film­ing of the fi­nal se­quence in which a he­li­copter crashes on the steps of the Houses of Par­lia­ment – af­ter an­other car chase.

While Jaguar Land Rover – as of­fi­cial part­ner to the fran­chise – sup­plied 72 ve­hi­cles for the film, it was not only top-end, turbo-charged mod­els that made the fi­nal cut.

“We have a lit­tle black book of friends and fam­ily who own cars,” says Lay­ton. “When we have a street scene, we give them a call. If they’re lucky they end up driv­ing with Bond – and they get a nice ap­pear­ance fee too.”

So what is the CX75 like to drive? First, with its low-slung body and just-so curves, it is a plea­sure on the eye. A Jaguar rep prom­ises me “in­stan­ta­neous power” – but quickly adds I will not be al­lowed to drive it at over 48km/h.

This seems a shame, con­sid­er­ing there is a 1.6-litre tur­bocharged four cylin­der en­gine un­der the bon­net. And the car can ap­par­ently reach 160km/h in six sec­onds flat. With the faintest touch of the ac­cel­er­a­tor, I get a sense of the power that could be un­leashed. Ig­nor­ing the ner­vous look from my es­cort in the pas­sen­ger seat, I push it to 64km/h, pull my best bad guy gri­mace and savour my fleet­ing mo­ment as a Bond vil­lain. – The In­de­pen­dent

● Spec­tre is in SA cine­mas from Novem­ber 27.

Spec­tre,

SU­PER SLEEK: Naomie Har­ris, who plays Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond film

and the Jaguar CX75.

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