Published Verve Magazine, November 2014

An agile machine that can pamper you on the go. What’s not to love?

When the team at work started talking about ‘automated luxury’ my thoughts ran to my fond-of-the-good-life cousin’s latest acquisition. The Jaguar XJ, a sleek beauty of a car, purrs and moves like a panther. It is a vehicle for people who don’t pride themselves on the obvious, and one that is as much the driver’s as it is the passenger’s. Much like the first class cabin of a premium airline, it is docked with all the features you can think of and some you may not. Four-zone climate control, individual television screens, soundproof against the noise on the street, desks to work on in the back, in-seat massage facility for each passenger, footrest and winged headrests, front and back touchscreen control panel to ‘manage’ your experience…the list of goodies that would be on any ambitious car owner’s bucket list is easily check-boxed here, as I discover while taking a casual turn in it.

While we speak of the current state of the country vis-a-vis places abroad, we turn on the television, which with some telepathic sense (really, this car can read minds and tune into conversations now!) starts up a live feed of Narendra Modi’s charismatic speech at Madison Square Garden. As the driver and the front-seat passenger share a TV panel (first world pain!) the car is tuned in to protect the security of its passengers while providing them a world of comfort. So, while the car is idle – read waiting at every corner either for a signal or for traffic – the driver is able to watch the screen. The moment the car springs to life to move on, the screen will perpetuate an automatic invisible block for the driver, so that he may be able to listen, but he cannot watch any more, while the passenger, of course may continue boob-tubing.

And while I watch, I set up the touchscreen to experience my individual massage that can be controlled for intensity and heat. And, of course, because we are in a tropical climate, it can also shoot out cool air to soothe our fragile skin that must have been tempered like fine chocolate in the few seconds that it took to hop from one perfectly air-conditioned space to another. Not to mention the cooling or warming of the steering wheel to adjust to the outside temperature.

In ensuring that all senses are engaged, it is wise to point out that this fabulous machine has all of 20 speakers and 1000+ watts of surround sound blasting power. You read that right, no less than 20 speakers. My dear cousin has found 16 and is still trying to track the remaining four down. The mysterious pursuits the car provides as a bonus are indeed remarkable. Every passenger may watch their own individual television screen while not disturbing the other, via wireless headphones. I’m quite diverted by the fact that the plush headphones are lovingly closeted in a soft cloth pouch much like you would your Bottega Veneta Knot.

I am still trying to think about where the remaining elusive speakers could be while I am being informed about cylinders and horsepower, which is just Greek to me. But I can say that it did a pretty smooth 200+ on Mumbai’s sea link, which you must admit is a feat. And that isn’t even while engaging the sports gear, which is just a stomach-clenching head rush. Even if our city roads provide a challenging environment for the wishful driver, this little vehicle makes it a ride so smooth, it could be an ad for Silk. All I’m left with is the sense of wonderment – in much the manner of people’s response to Apple products – if this one is this good, what’s the USP of the next version? In-built shower cubicles…or the ability to go on land, water and air?