The Blog

Does My Bum Look Big in This?

One of my favourite games to play whilst I am riding shot gun at night along a motorway is 'what car belongs to that tailgate light'. In my opinion it is one of the best games you can play especially if you are on duty to help your driver stay alert and to stop yourself from going to sleep. I love the handicaps of rain spray and motorways with the invisible umbrella men where, all the cars are going at approximately the same speed and you have to name the car within a time limit. This game works really well in the winter too when the sun is low, the roads create extra dirt on the car and the challenge is all the more the greater.

I had the chance to drive some of Jaguars latest editions to their stable, the XJR 5.0 V8 S/C with 550 BHP, the XF R-Sport 2.0 i4 with 180 BHP and the XF 3.0 TDV6 with 300BHP. All three vehicles being very different in their spec and all with outstanding qualities and all with different rears. So now my game has just got harder and I perhaps ought to know which rear belongs to which model.

However, it is the internal functions of the car that I have an interest in here. It was only recently when I worked with the Jaguar Land Rover Connected Technologies department, for my Car Stories exhibition at the British Motor Museum, did I realise actually how much information is computed in the operational systems within the centre console smart screens, that helps to create the exterior of the car.

From the concept and programming of that initial idea to customer interface, the Connected Technologies team have the opportunity to create an easy to use and functionality based product that will enable the driver (user) to not have to spend any time thinking about what it is they want and get on with the driving. In fact it is all to do with road safety, and keeping your eyes and mind on the road.

With my Car Stories exhibition, I asked the team to create a system that would enable you to listen to a series of recordings and navigate the system with ease. Simple enough for a child to use and without any thrills and frills. This is exactly what they created, on an analogue tablet device the British motor Museum Logo welcomed the user to begin the series of choices to be able to listen to the car stories of which I had previously recorded.

A far cry in simplicity from the on board system in the new Jaguar XF navigation cluster on the dash board, now with an option for a satellite navigation display, the area initially devised for the speedometer, which of course is still there... visible and easy to see - all allowing you to keep your eyes front, on the road. And yet, despite the complex programming behind this dash, the user interface looks simple.

"That is part of the trick," says one of the Connected Technologies team, "it is our job to make everything work fluidly, without the driver even knowing what it is working on behind the scenes."

Another connected aspect on the new Jaguar XF is the adaptive full-LED headlights. Featuring two banks of LEDs and reflectors - one for dipped beam, the other for main beam - they generate light with a colour temperature close to that of daylight, delivering super illumination. At the same time, energy consumption is reduced by not using the old lighting systems. So efficient are they that, unlike first-generation designs, cooling fans are not needed. The whole car is connected to its surroundings with cameras and visible measurements of objects in the distance, that lights, satellite navigation and breaking systems (already established for a while now) are all working as one entity in the car.

Well now I know at least one of the rear tailgates, the LED rear lights on the new XJ, feature a new J-signature tail and position light graphic, and the rear bumper now features a gloss black valance and a slender chrome insert along new LED taillights and oval exhaust finishers. I have yet to study the rest of the range. I will get back to you when I do.

My Car Stories Exhibition is on until June 2016 at the British Motor Museum, Collections Centre, where you will find the Audio Station that the Connected Technologies Team at Jaguar Land Rover created for me.

(Photos Courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover Press Office)