This week, Steve shares his thoughts on Merc’s latest leccy van (spoiler: it’s better than you think), reflects on a recent chat with Gerry McGovern and explains why there might be a silver lining to the bumping of the Ford Mondeo.
It was much more fun than I expected, cruising local roads in the new Mercedes-Benz EQV, an electrified, luxury version of the V-Class people-carrier that you can read about in this week’s Autocar. Its neat steering and smooth performance contrasted with its sombre black colour inside and out.
Although people keep assuring me that EV range isn’t the bother it used to be, I still find the variation between range promise and range delivery to be a serious issue, so I decided to give this Mercedes a decent trundle to form an opinion about how far it could really go. The result was a pleasant surprise.
The route took me north from home, on a circuit of Cheltenham and back: a mixed-surface journey of about 75 miles in typical territory for a machine like this. The traffic dawdled past the Cheltenham crematorium and suddenly I saw why: a dark-suited man was standing in the middle of the road, directing likely-looking cars inside for a funeral about to start. When I failed to respond, he became peeved, presuming I could only be a mourner in a vehicle as black as mine. I had to stop and lower my window before he would accept that I wasn’t part of his planting party.
My highlight of the year so far is this week’s chat about Jaguar with Gerry McGovern. Under new JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré’s radical Reimagine plan, McGovern is now the company’s chief creative officer, looking after both brands, rather than just Land Rover.
I’m betting that the combined efforts of Bolloré, McGovern and Jaguar design boss Julian Thomson will produce some wonderful EVs. McGovern repeatedly used two emotive words – visceral (meaning deeply, almost physically felt) and exuberant (uninhibitedly enthusiastic) – to characterise the new cars. I looked them up especially to get the right shades of meaning.
I must say that I find the prospect of 2025’s new-generation Jaguars very exciting indeed. Whenever I’m with McGovern, what impresses me is the way he always says things with all the passion that he reckons they deserve. Knowing he will probably get criticised (what’s easier than taking the mickey from the safety of your home?), he still gives it everything. That takes courage.