Steve Cro­p­ley

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

Se­cret mis­sion in a Jaguar I-pace

MON­DAY

It’s Christ­mas! At least, it is at our place. You prob­a­bly know the Au­to­car tra­di­tion of pro­duc­ing a bumper is­sue for the fes­tive sea­son, our biggest seller of the year. Well, hav­ing scored a king-hit last year, Mr Ed­i­tor Tis­shaw is des­per­ate to do it bet­ter for 2018. All of which, in a round­about way we’ll ex­plain soon, is why I found my­self in a Jaguar I-pace at 5am this morn­ing, driv­ing to meet Prior, Saun­ders, Prosser and Frankel at a se­cret Ex­moor pho­to­graphic lo­ca­tion.

Nat­u­rally, charg­ing is­sues oc­curred on my 450-mile round trip. At present, you don’t go any­where in an elec­tric car with­out learn­ing new stuff. This time, I learned that the ex­clu­sive deal Ecotric­ity ap­pears to have to equip mo­tor­way ser­vice ar­eas with charg­ers badly needs open­ing up to oth­ers, that the I-pace’s real range is 220 miles and that the town au­thor­i­ties in Tiver­ton, Devon, de­serve much praise for equip­ping their con­ve­niently lo­cated sports cen­tre with life­sav­ing fast charg­ers. One con­stant: the I-pace is lovely. Could I live with one? Cer­tainly.

TUES­DAY

Sneaked into our road test car park to swipe the car that has be­come ev­ery­one’s dar­ling, the new Suzuki Jimny. Took it for an hour’s fun drive, first on the M3, then onto some rut­ted slopes and rough roads. It was okay on the mo­tor­way, with a de­cent 70mph cruise, no noise is­sues, a crisp gear­box and roomy driv­ing po­si­tion. But in steep, tight, rough go­ing, it was much more se­ri­ously ca­pa­ble, do­ing ev­ery­thing with ease and a smile on its face. Ev­ery ma­noeu­vre was en­hanced by its small size, zero over­hangs, low weight, huge strength and builtin sta­bil­ity. Gave it back with re­luc­tance, wish­ing my life­style con­tained a job one of th­ese could do.

THURS­DAY

What’s the fu­ture car I’m most look­ing for­ward to? Has to be the new mid-2020s Mor­gan su­per­car, pre­viewed in th­ese pages last week. What both ex­cites and re­as­sures me is the way tra­di­tion­al­ist Mor­gan is adapt­ing it­self to make such a se­ri­ous car while pre­serv­ing old val­ues like wood­work­ing, hand man­u­fac­ture and treat­ing its own­ers as in­di­vid­u­als. On my visit, I glimpsed a lit­tle more of the new car than we were able to show – enough to know that this is go­ing to be very dif­fer­ent from oth­ers in the price class, but en­tirely in char­ac­ter. In the mean­time, Mor­gan is go­ing to treat us to a run of mod­els un­der­pinned by an all-new alu­minium chas­sis and sus­pen­sion. Hop­ing we’ll see more in Geneva next March.

SUN­DAY

Were you watch­ing the ‘team bosses’ fo­rum’ that pre­ceded Chan­nel 4’s cov­er­age of the United States Grand Prix? Three deeply un­will­ing team bosses – Red Bull’s Chris­tian Horner, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and the new bloke from Force In­dia – were re­quired to slump in weirdly in­ap­pro­pri­ate white arm­chairs to dis­cuss For­mula 1’s al­legedly burn­ing is­sues with re­porters David Coulthard and Mark Web­ber.

It was ex­cru­ci­at­ing. Horner set the tone by stat­ing that he “never talked about any­thing with th­ese guys”. Toto looked so bored that I was con­vinced he was about to get his phone out. The Force In­dia bloke did his un­con­tro­ver­sial best, which meant no one cared about his an­swers. Web­ber, whose prob­lem is de­cid­ing whether he wants to be an in­ter­viewer or an ex­pert com­men­ta­tor, asked long-winded ques­tions re­warded with curt, un­help­ful an­swers. Coulthard’s more sen­si­ble ap­proach did lit­tle bet­ter. Only when we got into the bliz­zard of ad­ver­tis­ing that sur­rounded this trav­esty was it clear what was go­ing on. TV needs ‘con­tent’ around which to wrap its cruise and car­pet ads. The idea and ex­e­cu­tion of this were both ris­i­ble and made me fear for F1’s au­di­ence on TV.

Did you see the ‘team bosses fo­rum’? It was ex­cru­ci­at­ing

All-new Suzuki Jimny is a star per­former in rough, tight ter­rain

Tiver­ton sports cen­tre: fast charg­ers

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