Wednesday, December 28, 2022


Would you push your $300,000+ Range Rover into off-road territory? Really? I mean this latest version looks a lot like a Louis Vuitton carry-all on wheels – too plush to mix it in creeks, rivers and streams on the back 40.


But, of course you could! After all it’s a product of the venerable Land Rover company and this smooth-lookin’ monster won’t falter at the first challenge. Loaded with all the dynamic capability we’ve come to expect from a Range Rover since 1969 – long spring travel, brilliant axle articulation, low-low transmission speeds, plus a diff lock and huge off-road tyres it’s just as unbeatable in the bush as its impressive forebears.

This evolution of the Range Rover image shows that the JLR management clearly understand the brand, its reach and its potential. It’s a great pity its Jaguar sibling has not enjoyed a similar quality of management, vision and expertise.

Mind you, the Range Rover I was fortunate to drive looked like it had just emerged from fording a mud pond, and the mud remained  to coat the surface – but, no! Matt paint finishes are all the rage, so with a company as fashion-conscious as it is serious about off-road performance, you’d expect Land Rover to match the moment.


My first exposure, before any bush-bashing, was a freeway run down the M1 motorway from Brisbane, and despite its hulk, the 2023 Range Rover is all about comfort and quiet – so quiet in fact there’s just the merest hint of wind rustling around the rear view mirrors.

The ride is outstanding thanks to the brilliantly-evolved air suspension, active ride control  and expensive dampers. It really is magic carpet stuff and heading off on a Brisbane to Sydney trip would leave you without any concerns to disturb your comfort.

Okay, so the latest Range Rover has got the goods, and is at least the equal, if not better, than its major competitors, but, oh! That price. And this is not even the most expensive!

Someone has been whispering in the Tata accountants’ ears that the potential buyers won’t batt an eyelid at the eye-watering prices. For the sake of the ROI Tata needs to make on its overheads I certainly hope so. Take a look at this bewildering price list.


Yes, there’s something for everyone, but as one of my friends at Road & Track commented, you still get the full on Range Rover experience with the base model! Which means, when you're paying close to AUD$300K for the car I drove, you expect a lot more. It delivers.


This experience however focussed me on the long association I have had with this outstanding SUV. I first came across a Range Rover in 1976, shortly after Leyland Australia took its first deliveries.


Of course, it was preceded by its stellar reputation from the British car mags, and the general ‘buzz’. At the time I was editor of MODERN MOTOR, but I was just as impressed as my British colleagues.

It would be another 12 months before I was appointed PR Manager for Leyland Australia, responsible for convincing the press that the vehicle lived up to the hype, however, it was another six months before I could cajole the Sales & Marketing department, to reserve one as a press car.

It also turned out that I had some history with the car that was allocated to the PR Department. You’ll probably not be surprised that every Range Rover that came off a boat was whisked through its pre-delivery and in the hands of its new owner PDQ.


So, imagine my surprise when the Sales & Marketing Director told me the VIN number of the car allocated for press use. Not only had a I seen the car before, but it was ‘secondhand’!


Here is a photo of my ‘new’ press car in September 1977. Parked under a tree near the Giles Weather Station in the Northern Territory, it was crewed  by a three man Leyland Australia tech team assigned to support the Mini-Moke which Hans Tholstrup and I were driving in the 1977 Singapore Airlines London-to-Sydney Car Rally!

It was supposed to be a routine service stop, but we discovered the Moke needed a new front tie rod, so my view of the Range Rover was somewhat truncated, as I spread out my sleeping bag under the trees to catch forty winks. Tiring stuff these rallies!


After the trip to the outback, the NSW service department ordered a full and meticulous detailing of that same Range Rover and delivered it to me with some ceremony. 

Thrilled to finally have a Range Rover press car I never questioned its provenance.

That Range Rover eventually clocked up more than 120,000km as a press car before it was replaced by two new cars. It was only then that I found out where I had seen it before.


The Range Rover started as a dream by brothers Spencer and Maurice Wilks and their nephew, the great, late Spen King.

Beginning with the go-anywhere skills of the original Land Rover, they wanted a car that farmers could use for farmwork, yet clean up and take the wife to a theatre performance or a day at the races. History tells us that not only was the dream realised, but look at where we’ve arrived today.


A $322,000 workhorse, with the style and panache of some exclusive Louis Vuitton luggage.

You’ve come a long way baby.

PS: Since picking up this car, I have received accurate pricing information from Jaguar Land Rover. The car you see here is a 'First Edition' model, and the base price is AUD$321,875 - however, with all the extra features loaded on to the base pricing, the retail price has been hiked to: AUD$332,525! Yikes! I'm glad I was respectful during my short off-road exploration.


Monday, December 26, 2022

WILL 'BOLT' FOLLOW 'VOLT'? by John Crawford

Just as the EV acolytes put considerable pressure on me to accede to the prospect that I will, must, eventually join the shift from ICE to EV, I offer the following documentary evidence that now is not a good time.


A friend in the USA owns a 2016 Chevrolet Volt hybrid. This was GM’s cheapest EV, and they’ve sold in solid numbers, despite the fact it’s a small hatchback.

 Recently the battery died, and off he went to his friendly Chevy dealer to discuss a replacement – battery, not car. He liked his Volt. It suited his personal mobility agenda, he lives alone (with his dog), and only travels around Fort Myers, Florida – so he shelled out for a new battery. 


Here’s the invoice:

But, is there long life after a new battery?

The Volt advertises a paltry 230 miles of range, and GM has copped a lot of criticism over short battery life. The Volt hybrid was rocking along okay (just), until mid 2019 when GM pulled its plug, saying it needed to make way for a new small EV – the Bolt!

However, now the Equinox EV is entering production, and will price out very close to the Bolt, what happens next? It will be all about dollars, profits and losses. GM has already injected USD$7 billion into the production facility for EVs in Orion township in Michigan, and GM says the Bolt will continue alongside the Silverado EV and the electric GMC Sierra (for now).


GM is the US manufacturer probably the most completely committed to EV production, so Chair Mary Barra will be watching the corporation’s financial performance even more microscopically. It was money that finally killed the Volt - it was too expensive to make, and GM lost thousands on every car!

So, did she and the Board make the right decision to base GM’s entire future completely around EVs? The decision to invest squillions into Cadillac EVs was one hell of a roll of the dice.


However, Barra has shown no sentimentality when it comes time to make big cuts, or dump a division.


But, for me it’s the price of that battery which is very sobering. I’m sticking with my ICE!


Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Okay, so Akio Toyoda shows off a Toyota’ Hilux EV concept (with no word on when, or if, it will go into production), but he accompanied the reveal with wise words which merely endorse the fact that as far as carmaker CEO’s are concerned, he’s still 'The Smartest Guy in The Room.’


And, as Toyoda points out, EVs will not reduce emissions if the electric power being supplied isn’t generated from carbon-neutral sources, something Toyoda admits, but few automotive CEOs will.


Quote from Akio: “‘If the energy that powers vehicles is not clean, the use of an electrified vehicle, no matter what type it might be, would not result in zero CO2 emissions,” Toyoda said last week.


He still believes there will be a place for ICE vehicles and hybrids long into the future and is ensuring that whilst everyone indulges in ‘Group EV Think’, Toyota will be there to pick up the profits from the failure of EVs to totally replace ICE.

Toyoda added: “Toyota does not take a one-size-fits-all approach to our products or our powertrains. In fact, I am often criticised in the press because I won't declare that the automotive industry should commit 100 per cent to BEV.

“Because just like the fully autonomous cars that we were all supposed to be driving by now, I think BEVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than the media would like us to believe. And frankly, BEVs are not the only way to achieve the world's carbon neutrality goals,” he said.

I’m not sure Akio and I will be around to witness it, but I’m sure of two things. Driven by his attitude Toyota will be at the forefront of developing real carbon-neutral vehicles, and also, I believe Toyota’s bank balance will be healthy enough to support the design of those truly carbon-free alternatives to BEVs.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022


If you read my Blog regularly, you’ll know I have a lot of respect for one of the world’s best-known small car makers – Suzuki.

It’s a minnow compared with Japan’s most prominent car producers, Toyota and Nissan, but not only has it survived by ‘sticking to its knitting’, but it also makes good profits from either developing new models for other car companies, or re-badging its own cars for another brand, for example the Fiat Sedici, otherwise known as the Suzuki SX4.


In this way it has survived and prospered. Of course it also has another great revenue stream from its huge range of motor cycles.


There have been a few occasions when it has strayed from its mainstream business activities, like the time it introduced the Suzuki Kizashi compact sedan.

Kizashi launched in 2009 to rave reviews from around the globe for its daring design, great powertrain, fanatical attention to detail and because it was so different to any other Japanese compact sedan.


However back in 1989 Suzuki had achieved notable status with another daring concept car. It was Suzuki’s peek into the future at what a 21st century crossover SUV may look like. Suzuki’s launch theme was “A stylish sports sedan in the city streets and a versatile cross-country car over snow and off-road terrain.”


The car was pretty much lost among concepts from more than 330 exhibitors who were fighting for visibility and media oxygen at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show and despite its innovative credentials and imaginative design concept, the Quad Raider Constellation failed to make it to production.

Check this out. The Constellation was powered by Suzuki’s own twin-cam, 3.0L V6 producing 220bhp (160kW), with a four-speed full automatic gearbox, four ABS-enhanced ventilated disc brakes and Suzuki-developed full-time AWD, with an (in-house) hybrid air/hydraulic suspension – which allowed the ride height to be raised by four inches (10cm) on demand!

The smart thinking didn’t stop with mechanicals. Suzuki was looking way into the future inside the car too. There were THREE screens. First, a CRT in the instrument panel; two LCDs in the centre console and rear of the front seats.

There was even a ‘mouse’ for the driver to change settings whilst driving at high speed (not sure about this concept), projector headlamps, four airbags and a CCD video camera to monitor the back seats.

In true late eighties Japanese concept fashion, Suzuki's pink wonder also had a multi-media system capable of handling DAT, compact audio and 8mm video cassettes, as well as CDs and a TV feed. What more could one ask for?

Suzuki – for me, it’s the little company with big ideas, and remains highly-respected in the automotive industry the world over.


Saturday, December 17, 2022


All this dashing around the globe to enjoy luxurious five-star hotels, can often lead to ‘wasted nights’ - when I am jet-setting all over the world, whilst my bride awaits my return home, listening to my tales of splendour and luxury.


There have been many incidences of spending just one night in a 5-Star property, because the press launch event is just one night, followed by a day’s driving, then departing the location in late afternoon or early evening.


It reminds me of a great Aussie character observation: “Check out this guy will you? He flew over London, came back with a cloth cap and a Cockney accent.”


The first I can remember is the Hotel Parco dei Principe in Roma, located alongside the splendid and impressive Borghese Gardens, just across the Tiber from the Vatican in Roma’s First Municipality. It had an excellent view of St. Peter's cathederal.

Designed by Gio Ponti, the hotel was built in 1964 and the décor reflects a 17th century influence. My room could only be described as sumptuous luxury.


Then on the same trip, hosted by Alfa Romeo, there was just one night in the exquisite Quisisana Hotel on the Isle of Capri. Not a lot of road testing on that visit – just enough time to take a beautiful wooden dinghy to visit the Grotta Azzurra.

My bride was impressed by the photos, but unimpressed with missing out – we did however visit Capri, in 2005 – marriage saved!


My visit to Monaco for the 1976 F1 Grand Prix was, however, less auspicious.

A last- minute decision, I had to settle for the extremely humble Hotel Richelieu 2-Star, in the French Mediterranean village of Menton – a 30 minute train ride from Monaco. After watching an exciting GP, it was back to my very basic room, with cardboard walls surrounded by noisy Austrian’s revelling over Niki Lauda’s magnificent victory! Not much sleep that night. The bride would not have been impressed, but she did celebrate my come-uppance!


However, Monaco 1981 lands at the opposite end of the scale. The Williams F1 team contacted its UK travel wholesaler, Page & Moy, asking them to allocate me a room from its block at the Hotel Negresco in Nice. Sitting in Nice’s Top3, sadly the only available room for Saturday and Sunday nights was ‘The Bridal Suite’ – located in the pink rooftop cupola. The racing was great, with World Champion AJ a close second, but back at the hotel I just watched TV – with room service - alone!

I think the grandest room assignment was during the Geneva Salon in 2002, complete with breakfast in bed! Volkswagen’s travel wholesaler, which also booked Bentley’s accommodation in Geneva, called to say that the suite it had assigned to VW’s Chairman, Dr. Piëch at the uber-luxurious Beau Rivage 6-Star hotel, was free because Piëch did not attend.


The room was already paid for, for two nights, did I want to upgrade from my gold-trimmed broom closet? Too right! Located on the top floor the three-room suite had a beautiful view of Lac Leman and the Jet d’Eau – and the omelette was parfait too!

I mean, 'someone' should have the room! Right? Probably unnecessary to point out Geneva hotels
 never give refunds!


Sunday, December 11, 2022


George Bernard Shaw once observed that "the British and Americans were two great countries separated by a common tongue", and having worked in the automotive industry in Australia and the USA, I’d have to say the same applies to Down Under and the Americas.

My job, wrangling automotive journalists from both countries, on international press launches has taught me many of the idiosyncrasies of both cultures, and quirks that can only become apparent when the ‘wrangler’ comes face to face with the essential differences.


First of all, let’s hear it for the Yanks. By and large my mates among the American motoring media are always on-time, well-behaved, well-mannered, and mired in homegrown customs - but really pleasant company.


The Australians? Now there’s a contrast in cultures. They are loud, eccentric, each of them with wildly different personalities, which requires a lot more ‘management’.


Of course, there’s always the outlier in every group. Take the launch of the Jaguar XJ-S V12 convertible in Juan-les-Pins, on the Côte d’Azur in 1992. The American group and I are all gathered in the lobby of the beautiful Hotel Juana for the coach trip to Nice Airport, and the short flight to Paris to join our ‘Air Chance’ flight back to New York.

Head counting takes place, and the coach driver is agitating to get going – the morning traffic is ‘affreux’ (awful). Right, one head, I’ll call him Matt (in the group above), is missing! One of my Jaguar UK PR colleagues is assigned to find our missing motoring writer. The rest of us board the coach, and head east to Nice airport.


We’re about halfway to check-in, and I look out the rear window of the coach and see an XJ-S speeding up behind us with Matt dozing away in the passenger seat. At least I thought he was dozing. My PR colleague later pointed out he was really mostly comatose from the previous night’s excessive consumption of champagne and cognac. Well, of course, after the coach dropped us and the group trooped into the check-in desk, a somewhat bleary Matt summoned a half smile, admonishing us: “God, guys, what kept you? We have a flight to Paris in 20 minutes!”


Then, in 1993, there was Don. On one occasion after flying into JFK from Europe I was called back during disembarkation by a member of the cabin crew. Indicating a sleeping giant in a Business Class seat the stewardess said: “I believe he’s one of yours.”


“That’s true,” I replied. She said: “Well, you’re responsible for getting him off the plane and into the terminal.” Now, Don (in the group below) is 198cm (6’5”) and I am 162cm, weighing about 68kg, but I do manage to rouse him.

Somewhat bleary-eyed he was eventually coaxed to his feet, and as he rose, there was revealed, on the seat underneath him ten empty miniature Gin bottles. He leaned heavily on me as we both stumbled along the airbridge.


Don decided not to travel with us again, but providing I brought home a Press Kit and photos, we would get a great feature on a car he had yet to drive. I wasn’t complaining.


One quaint American custom is the time dinner is served in many American homes – say, 6pm. Whereas your average European may not sit down to dinner before 8pm. The Spaniards? More like 10pm!


It's September 2003, and I am ‘herding the fleas’ around Paris, on the occasion of Bentley’s big news – the launch of the Continental GT coupe, and we’re planning the schedule for the remainder of the day, leading up to dinner at a flash Parisian brasserie. I say to our French PR guy: “You have told the restaurant we’ll be there around 6pm, haven’t you?”


The response is, I should say, what I would expect from a Parisian: “Sacre bleu JC, six heures? Tu blagues (you must be joking)!”


My response is: “I already told you they like to eat early!” He replied: “If this was England, that would be afternoon tea.”


Yes, I have a major cultural problem. The French PR guy refuses to get involved, he’s too embarrassed to talk to the restaurant manager. He says the kitchen and waiting staff probably don’t turn up until 6pm. If I want to alter the reservation, I can do it myself. He provides the restaurant’s phone number, and hurriedly departs to join his girlfriend for an aperitif over on the West Bank.


I call the restaurant, and whilst the manager sympathises, there is no way we can eat before at least 7:45pm. Thus, I concoct a sort of a plan. I tell the coach driver that instead of heading west from our hotel to the brasserie, he should go east, drive along the Champs Elysees, past the Louvre, to the Place de la Nation in the 11th Arrondisment, north along Avenue Parmentier, up to Sacre Coeur, where everyone will leave the coach to walk to the Basilica, and then check out the view of Paris. All this should soak up at least an hour.

It turns out, Sam, the driver is just that. He normally has a guide on board who will point out the famous highlights of the trip, so of course it’s up to me to provide the running commentary. We’re about 45 minutes into ‘le tour’ when a loud voice from the back of the coach says: “When do we get to the restaurant, I’m starving!”


I speak to the driver in French, and then reply: “The driver was under orders to give us a brief tour of the city, so it’ll be about another 30 minutes, if the traffic is not too bad.” The group groans in unison.


I am about to instruct the driver to avoid the Peripherique (because at this hour of the late afternoon, traffic will be at standstill), but then I have a flash of inspiration, and tell him to join the road which encircles Paris, at the Porte de Clignancourt, and stay on the Peripherique until Porte Maillot. Yep, we join a southerly traffic pattern that is mostly alternating between dead stop and 5 km/h.

That soaks up some more time. We exit and wind our way through the narrow streets of the 16th Arrondisment to the restaurant.

We arrive at 7:30pm, while the staff are still laying tables. We shuffle in, straight to the bar, where at least the barman has opened some champagne for the group.

I speak to the Maître de, and we devise a time-wasting procedure of studying the menu and taking orders. The first dishes arrive at the table at 8pm – but the boys are not happy. Still, the subterfuge appeared to be superficially accidental!


The Australians are a completely different bag. The ‘incidents’ which arise during ‘flea herding’ are always many and varied, so one must be alert to be able to spring to a new course of action.


It’s 1988 and we are on a coach returning from a Group C sports car race at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, to our hotel in Wiesbaden (about 40km west of Frankfurt).

One of our Aussie group, I’ll call him Wayne, refuses to eat pork in any form, but he LOVES Wiener Schnitzel graced by a fried egg (Holstein Schnitzel), so before we depart to Spa I speak to the hotel chef to ensure he has genuine veal for Wayne’s dinner that night.

After a day of cheering on the Silk Cut Jaguar team, and the constant flow of high class food and drink, our weary troop boards the coach. One of the group says to Wayne, “I’ve looked at the restaurant menu mate, and they are serving Schnitzel vom Schwein, so you’ll be having steak tonight, right?”


“Nope”, says Wayne, “I’m all sorted. JC made sure the chef had the right stuff.” At which point, overhearing the word ‘Schnitzel’ everyone chorused, “Sounds great, let’s all have schnitzel!”


After a day of being fed Foie gras, Faisen and Frommage (Paté, Pheasant and Cheese), washed down with excellent wines, I’m not sure any of the others ever realised they were dining on Pork Schnitzel – but Wayne was happy!


On the subject of dining, there were two Aussies who made a habit of missing the planned lunch stop during a media drive event. Let’s call them Mike and David. These two were definitely the oldest, and most experienced scribes in the troupe, and prided themselves on their good taste in restaurants.

Both Mike and David are in this group below enjoying a Sydney Harbour cruise with Jaguar's Lofty England.

They would inevitably pair up for the test drive, and after a quick scan of the route notes, one would say to the other: “Do you know this restaurant where the lunch stop is?” If there was any doubt, one may say: “Hey, aren’t we close to that great Italian restaurant we ate at last year on the BMW event?”


The other would reply: “You’re right, so let’s get away before everyone else.” That was usually the last we saw of Mike and David until the drive route ended at the hotel night stop, when they would eventually traipse in, the car with an extra 200km on the odo, raving about the Osso Bucco and the light, dry Pinot Grigio.


If one or the other wasn’t attending the event, they would typically harass the poor unfortunate who was assigned as their co-driver into departing from the planned route to ‘try this fabulous little place I know’. It didn’t only happen in Australia, I can remember numerous occasions when this happened in Europe, and I would have the European PR team urging me to find them! But, I was always confident they would find their way to the hotel, and all would be fine, providing they were able to make an appropriate ‘entrance’ telling the rest of the group what a great little place they had found for lunch!


However, behaving badly was also on the cards with the Aussies, and there were two, in particular, who were always the ring leaders. Let’s call them Davey and Will. Their misadventures are too numerous to recall, but this photo taken in the pretty Cotswold village of Broadway will give you the idea!


However, I can truthfully say I was never fazed by the antics of the Yanks and Aussies. They were smart, erudite, good-natured, funny and very enjoyable to travel with. It was a huge part of my enjoyment of my job.


There are, however, big differences in reporting styles between the two tribes. First of all, let’s look at my own Aussie journalists. Australians possess a secret weapon, which I have rarely seen deployed by many American journalists. Aussies have a built-in BS detector, and when attending a new car launch it’s important that the car company PR team are aware that everything they, or their management say, or write, publish or comment on will be treated right from the word GO with the greatest scepticism.


Whatever claims are made, they’d better be right, because otherwise the product, comments, or PR kit will be treated with great derision, derogatory criticism and occasionally hoots of laughter – right there, at the press event!

Press conferences rarely go the way the CEO may expect. He or she will be called on to explain to the media troupe the veracity of all claims, assertions or declarations. If the responses are deemed unsatisfactory, then the report which follows will start with the BS that was detected by the scribes. The report will then go seriously south, and turn out to be about as bad as you could expect. Another great potential PR victory ‘down the gurgler’.


Now, my American friends are way too polite for their own good. Firstly, they accept everything in the Press Kit as gospel. Bad idea! The Kit may be full of hyperbole, even blatant BS, but the Americans are willing to give the benefit of the doubt. I can remember many, many years ago when I was a motoring journalist driving new cars in Europe and saying to my American co-driver: “This car is crap, I’m going to call them out when we get to the press conference.” This usually caused my companion to turn red in the face, and say: “You wouldn’t. Would you?”


Too right I would, otherwise the car company gets a free ride to a good report it doesn’t deserve.


So, this is not so much about differences related to nationality, it’s more about cultures. Keep in mind Australians are descended from either convicts, or crooked policemen, whilst Americans are descended from puritanical, pious settlers who take everything at face value as honest and true. Bad idea!


How do you think it was possible for ordinary Aussies (during World War II) to be able to sell a chunk of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to unsuspecting American servicemen on leave?


Wednesday, December 7, 2022


The chartered Dassault-Falcon 30 took of from RAF Northolt, jetting through a clear blue sky toward our destination, Aeroport de Nice. On board one of my best mates from the Jaguar PR team at Browns Lane plus six Pommy motoring scribes, and my media contingent from the USA, made up of six of my best friends.

Just short of two hours we pull up at the Nice executive jetport, and the only downside of this, so far, private jet journey is the coach ride to the hotel. But, what a hotel – one of the most famous of the original 5-stars in the exclusive enclave of Juan-Les-Pins. Designed in 1931 for businessman Alexandre Barache by renowned French architect Georges Diganski, the Hotel Juana has hosted the Aga Khan, Winston Churchill and artist Marc Chagall among a cadre of famous personalities.

The Juana won another distinguished honour after its restaurant became a reference for gastronomy when it was the first of the Cote d’Azur hotels to be awarded two stars in the 1984 Guide Michelin, thanks to a young Alain Ducasse who was then just 28.


The following morning we are greeted by the Jaguar team after a delightful petit dejeuner on the terrace, plus a selection of Jaguar XJ-S convertibles arrayed on Avenue Georges Gallice.


Ahead is a 300km round trip taking in the regional city of Draguignan, and the fabulous, fortified hilltop town of Fayence – which is the coffee stop.

The test route is typically a David Boole-designed driving event, taking in autoroute, gentle climbs, twisty, mountainous sections heading up to Fayence, then some long and testing curves back from the hills toward Juan-le-Pins.

David and I first met in 1979, and enjoyed a close friendship until his untimely death at 48 in 1996.

He was the visionary Director of Public Relations who skilfully guided Jaguar through two tumultuous eras, both as part of British Leyland and then as in independent company.


David had a great vision for Jaguar media events and managed to always choose not just great driving routes, but great (and famous) hotels, inspired presentations whilst always ensuring a low-key presence of Jaguar’s senior executives led by the Chairman John Egan.

The events always delivered essential technical details, but were underscored by outstanding journalism validating Jaguar’s rightful place in the luxury car spectrum.

The hills above the Mediterranean coastline are known as Les Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and the contours seem ideally sculpted for Jaguar driving, especially the impressive torque from the XJ-S’s V12 engine. Returning to the Juana we enjoyed a typical five-star lunch, followed in the evening before dinner by a cute little tourist train ride through the environs surrounding the enclave.

 Juan-les-Pins is wall-to-wall money with luxury villas often occupying two building lots allowing for large homes set in bountiful, semi-tropical gardens.

What an ideal setting to welcome Jaguar’s latest iteration of the XJ-S, despite early criticism that its styling was not redolent of its predecessor, the E-type.

However, the XJ-S went on to be a huge commercial success for Jaguar, after the V12 coupe and convertible was followed by a new inline six version, known as the AJ6.

As our time at the Juana came to an end, it was back to earth momentarily as we motored off to Nice Airport for the return flight to London.

Some of us in XJ-S convertibles, others on a bloody coach, devoid of character, but including the French driver who serenaded us with pitifully-sad Edith Piaf hits.

The Luxe Life may only last a few days, but it’s been a great element of my career associated with legendary brands like Jaguar and Bentley.