Jag CX75 built to beat Bond
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.
SUPER SLEEK: Naomie Harris, who plays Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond film
and the Jaguar CX75.