Last week, for the sake of others, I was compelled to spend some time driving and reviewing the Jaguar F-Pace. I know what you're thinking, but it's really not that hard. Someone has to.
There really is no need to thank me.
The car in question was a big blue SUV, lined with nice leather. The engine shown was one of Jaguar Land Rover's new 177 bhp 'Ingenium' diesel engines, running through an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Not particularly fast but full of meaning.
The ride was quiet and smooth, and made much better by selecting 'Dynamic' mode on Terrain Response and 'Sport' on the gearbox. A real Jaguar.
British life is like a box of chocolates
British life is like a box of chocolates
The car's visit coincided with late summer weather, characterized by a level of humidity not very often encountered on the British Isles. You move; you sweat. That Wednesday, the atmosphere was so heavy you could cut it with a knife. The idea of a fiery and hair-raising ride in a Jaguar did not appeal. Instead, it was just the right time for a cool twist on climate control and quiet enjoyment in some of our beautiful, varied countryside – the kind featured in the picture on a box of luxury chocolates.
Turn a corner and you never know what you're going to get.
Wiltshire, the county I call home, is landlocked in the middle of England and pleasantly free of amusement parks and cheap entertainment. At first glance, Wiltshire may not be your first choice for a holiday destination and yet it has so much to offer discerning travellers, especially if they love history.
Our rural landscape is, in fact, largely human-made through centuries of agriculture. Unlike America, we don't have much wilderness left; there is simply no place for it. The result of all that farming effort through the ages has given rise to the countryside we all know and love - much like Downton Abbey (filmed not far from my home) - but Mother Nature herself couldn't have planned better. .
The truth is that nature had some help. We drove through our typically English landscape and traveled a road we hadn't used before. En route to our destination of Bowood House, the Jaguar F-Pace purred past the puzzled Silbury Hill. The largest man-made mound in Europe, the mysterious Silbury compares in height and volume to roughly contemporary Egyptian pyramids. Probably completed around 2400 BC. the woodlands of the historic Bowood House, one of the finest examples of engineered landscaping in the world. The park and lake are the work of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, created over five years between 1763 and 1768. It was early and the place had just opened.
Bowood House. Photo: DriveWrite.
Many British stately homes, once the exclusive and private domain of the aristocracy, are now open to all, although in this case the family still resides at home. Paying visitors contribute to the cost of maintaining this remarkable property in pristine condition. The interior is as historic as the exterior is magnificent. One of the rooms is where, in 1774, Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen.
We had also been using it all this time. Who knew?
As the dark sapphire blue Jaguar F-Pace quietly swept away the heat of the journey in the nearly empty parking lot, we discovered that we had the park practically to ourselves. Who said it was a crowded island? The outside world is millions of miles away in this oasis of tranquility. On the other side of the lake, a small squadron of geese took flight, breaking the silence. Coming out of the green lawns, we ventured into the woods and discovered a hermit's cave, a Doric temple and a secret waterfall; undoubtedly a meeting place for lovers of yesteryear.
Secret waterfall. Photo: DriveWrite
Despite the small land mass, the British Isles have a great diversity of landscapes and features. Bowood House is a gem but not the only one. Our ribs range from gentle to dramatic. You can wander to the top of the cliffs where Ross Poldark walks (he doesn't really exist - that guy who keeps taking off his shirt is an actor). You can savor the ancient delights and faded elegance of traditional beach resorts. You can visit huge towns and remote hamlets and best of all, nowhere is more than a day's drive away. You can take domestic flights of course, but you will miss so much.
Small towns hold big secrets.
Jaguar is also a legendary part of our heritage. Rolling the autobahns in a fast, luxurious F-Pace with a 380-watt audio system is the way to see the country. Turn up the volume on the highways, turn it down when you're in the countryside.
Ultimately, you are listening to the sound of the story.
Geoff Maxted is a writer, automotive photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: @DriveWrite
Jaguar F-Pace. Photo: DriveWrite.
Photo: DriveWrite Car