There’s an incredible amount of bullshit in the car industry. Thankfully the average reader’s intelligence is high enough to to keep the more specialist car titles honest. A sense of professional pride keeps most of the journos I know straight as a die.
But it’s not a desire to regurgitate corporate flim-flam that’s the real danger to the stories we all love to read (or watch). The problem comes when you’re dealing with the mundane stuff day after day. Avensis, followed by Touran, followed by Carens. Fifty shades of beige, guaranteed to drive even the most car-loving journo to the edge of sanity. It’s easy to imagine that after a few years of covering these joy-sucking soul-holes, that some flash of red trim or a sports seat could genuinely force an otherwise reasonable reporter to describe a people-carrying sh*t-box as ‘sporty’.
And that’s why covering real sportscar stuff is awesome. Corporate fertiliser levels recede gently to ankle level or below for most sportscars, as the guys in charge let the product do the talking.
Nowhere was this more evident than in Estoril last month when Jaguar revealed the new AWD and manual gearbox F-Type. The V8 version in particular is utterly bat-guano. It’s mental. It’s ridiculous. It’s a joy to drive, and it’s a joy to write about. The vastly differing personalities of both the V8S AWD and the manual V6 were strong enough that nobody had to try and control the press agenda.
Where else can you get this luxury combined with this performance at sub-£100k prices? F**k you, normality. I’ll take an F-type, thanks.
Then there was the next day. Because this was a double-header trip, with both F-Types on day 1 and the new XE saloon on day 2.
The weight of expectation, the pressure of performance. It all sat heavily with some the staff, and on the corporate messages injected into every technical presentation. It wasn’t that bad, but it was significant enough to be obvious and the bullpoop levels rose gently back to the ankles. Add to that some pressure not to f*ck-up on my part. To try and assess all the important stuff in total and utter isolation while the clock ticks.
The absurdity of this situation surely isn’t lost on the bigwigs, as they watch several million pounds worth of highly-engineered prototypes being assessed by a bunch of none-professionals* clad in denim and t-shirts. In a location that would make a damn fine holiday destination. Fair to say, that sense of pressure made the world’s first XE drive a little bit tougher to write than the F-type review.
So if you’re wondering where I’m going with this little blog, then basically it’s a prayer of thanks. Thanks for my position as contributor for Pistonheads.com, thanks that we care more about V8 Jags than Kia Caren people carriers. And even bigger thanks for the new internet age, where instant feedback and critique keep us journos even straighter than ever before.
* I might have spent the last 15 years in consumer journalism, but I didn’t have to do medical school for 7 years or sit the bar to do it. So by classical definitions, not contemporary, I’m professional, but not a professional.