Jaguar XJ LWB At The Nurburgring
PH gets taken for a ride by the 'fastest PR man in the west' - in a very inappropriate car
Luxury limo plus the Nurburgring - it shouldn't work, but it does
This is an unusual CV for a chap on the marketing/PR side of the car business, but it does rather suit Jaguar's recent reinvention of itself as a sportier, younger brand - and dovetails nicely with the company's own development centre based at the Nordschleife.
Any concerns I have over either Frank's or the XJ's suitability for the Nurburgring are dispelled seconds after we hand over our ticket at the barrier where ordinary punters are allowed onto the track, as we accelerate the 503bhp 5.0-litre V8 full-pelt onto the track and seemingly immediately skim past armco with centimetres to spare, then brake over a kerb before pitching it onto the short straight where the original start/finish line is and out onto the circuit.
Soon we're catching and passing various Nurburgring-attack specials, including a couple of modified Skylines, a new-ish 911 and a tarted-up Audi TT. The only thing that could make this more amusing would be to see the expressions on the faces of the drivers as they see us in their rear-view mirrors, furiously flashing our headlights.
The XJ seems equally at home. Yes, it might weigh close-on two tons and stretch to more than five metres on length, but the XJ is blessed with an agility that seems to belie its size. It hides its kerb weight, as I find out when I get a go after my high-speed passenger run, through a mixture of delicate steering, deliciously controlled damping and an innately neutral handling balance.
The appointment of a PR/marketing boss with such a wealth of experience at the Nordschleife as Frank is apt, as the Nurburgring is an important place for Jaguar.
Jaguar has been testing at the 'Ring for two decades and, in 2003, opened a million-euro test centre a literal stone's throw away from the twisty, bumpy, hilly track.
Of course, the Nordschleife isn't the only place Jaguar tests, and the knotty B-roads of Warwickshire and Wales are what give Jaguars - and the XJ is no exception - the ability to soak up bumps in supreme comfort.
Apart from the link to the 'Ring, it seems an odd fit to put a German in such a senior PR position at such a quintessentially British company but, just like the Nurburgring, Mr Klaas seems to suit Jaguar surprisingly well. More to the point, it's nice to know that Jaguar's public relations are in the hands of such a committed car guy.