There’s a stale at­ti­tude per­vad­ing the in­ter­net fo­rums, and re­vi­talised Jaguar is the vic­tim. Porter takes aim at the naysay­ers

Evo - - DRIVEN -

OLD FARTISM SNEAKS UP ON YOU. ONE day you’re young and vi­brant, the next you make a noise when you sit down. The tran­si­tion hap­pens fast, es­pe­cially once you have kids. As soon as all your clothes are cov­ered in snot smears and you find your­self re­fer­ring to ‘please’ as ‘the magic word’, Old Fartism gains a hold from which you may never es­cape. Where once you went club­bing and en­joyed long, lux­u­ri­ous hol­i­days, sud­denly you find Ra­dio 1 so ba­nal it causes you to shout ‘text it up your arse’ in a sand­wich shop.

You can, how­ever, make a con­scious ef­fort to re­sist some of Old Fartism’s most mis­an­thropic ex­cesses. Just be­cause you think ‘bae’ is a de­fence and aero­space con­cern and be­lieve ev­ery­one un­der 30 has ru­ined their jeans by fall­ing over in the play­ground, it doesn’t mean you need to de­velop a seething re­sent­ment of mil­len­ni­als. And, far more im­por­tantly, just be­cause you’ve passed 40, it doesn’t mean you have to think that Jaguar is the Na­tional Trust of car mak­ers.

Yet I see this par­tic­u­lar branch of Old Fartism a lot, most re­cently at the an­nounce­ment of the new E-pace SUV. To my mind, this is a hand­some lit­tle thing. It seems to have an at­trac­tive spec and, while I don’t par­tic­u­larly want one my­self, I can see why it has come to ex­ist. But take a dive into the com­ments sec­tions on­line, where Old Fartism spreads like a har­rumph­ing, self-right­eous virus, and you’ll dis­cover a whole flotilla of bores who think Jaguar should only make the 1968 XJ6 sa­loon.

No doubt, this was a tremen­dous-looking car, and so were its de­scen­dants. I’d take a Se­ries 3 with the V12, if you’re ask­ing. I like the way they look, and so, clearly, did the peo­ple who de­signed the mid-’90s XJ, which went back to the fluted bon­net and slen­der tail lights of the car from the ’60s. I en­joyed this in­ter­pre­ta­tion so much I bought one – in black with cream leather and a won­der­ful su­per­charged V8 at the front. To this day I have pangs of re­gret about sell­ing it. But that doesn’t mean I want the E-pace stricken from the record, the F-pace driven into the sea, and Jaguar’s sa­loon-car range re­placed with retro fac­sim­i­les of the ’68 XJ.

Pish and posh splut­ter the Old Farts of the fo­rums, that’s what a ‘proper’ Jaguar looks like. Yeah, well I’ve got a thought for you chaps: if you liked ‘proper’ Jags so much, why didn’t you buy one? Be­cause it’s pretty clear from the sales fig­ures that most of you didn’t. Oh, ev­ery­one liked the idea of back­ward-looking Jags all flutey and chromey and slathered in hide, but the sales fig­ures were lousy. It’s what you might call VW Cor­rado syn­drome. Ev­ery­one likes the idea and wails with sor­row when it gets taken away, but few slap down the cash when it mat­ters. And that’s how we end up with the E-pace. Jaguar has to make cars that the mar­ket wants and in a con­tem­po­rary style be­cause, as it turns out, most peo­ple don’t want retro Jags, they just want to be­moan their ab­sence. What’s worse is that, in its day, the orig­i­nal XJ6 was not tweedy and safe, it was mind-bog­glingly fu­tur­is­tic. So too the XJ-S – a lit­tle too much since it re­mained un­tainted by cus­tomers for much of its life and only the pas­sage of time has made us re­alise it’s ac­tu­ally quite ex­cel­lent. I imag­ine Old Farts would have spent much of the pe­riod 1975-96 whing­ing about how it didn’t look like a Se­ries 1 E-type. All the best Jags, even thee arly,digi- di­alled, rec­tan­gu­lar-head­lamped XJ40S were for­ward-looking cars. And now we have the E-pace, which has the fash­ion­able tech and is of the most fash­ion­able genre of car. It’s not fu­tur­is­tic, but it’s cer­tainly on the money. It’s a car Jag has to make and, as­sum­ing it hits the mark on sales, it pays for the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of the snorty, naughty F-type, which is ex­actly the sort of cad­dishly wicked and dy­nam­i­cally amus­ing car we as evo- heads want to see. It’s Jag’s ver­sion of The Porsche Cayenne Equa­tion.

I sus­pect this doesn’t cut it with Old Farts. They want Jaguar to be pick­led in as­pic and per­fectly pre­served from a time when Harold Wil­son was prime min­is­ter. Well it won’t do. This mo­ronic, misty-eyed, back­ward-looking be­lief that ev­ery­thing was bet­ter in the past will be the even­tual ru­ina­tion of Bri­tain. Hanker­ing af­ter a myth­i­cal time when chil­dren were po­lite, po­lice­men stood on street cor­ners and ev­ery Jag had a plank for a dash is only pre­vent­ing us from mov­ing on­wards.

I can and do moan about this stuff be­cause I’m in­creas­ingly an Old Fart. But while I’ll hap­pily rage about apos­tro­phe mis­use and the baf­fling mys­tery of Snapchat, I can prom­ise my chil­dren one thing: I only want new Jags to be mod­ern.

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