Jaguar Cars

Puss on boots

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 2010, 12:00am


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To the launch of the Jaguar XJ - and what a let down. It is sleek and beautiful and a far cry from the Mondeos-in-cat's-clothing churned out when Ford owned the company. The marque now belongs to India's Tata and is getting its purr back. But where is the leaping cat?

As the sheet was pulled off the vehicle I was struck by the jaguar's absence from its customary spot atop the bonnet. The cat is now stuck on the boot, like a butterfly flattened against a windscreen. I stalked Jaguar's head designer, Giles Taylor, and, as he reached for a canapE, I pounced.

'We had to put it on the rear because of Hong Kong laws,' he explains. 'Local regulations ban what apparently are called 'people-impaling devices'.' I thought he meant minibuses but, no, these are 'people-flattening devices' and are perfectly legal in the city.

Luckily, mainland legislators are not so daft (or have not followed the American path, where designers are constrained by the abject fear of litigation). Across the border, the XJ can sport the jaguar in the proper place - and drivers will be able to impale pedestrians with abandon. As the leaping cat has also been banned in Britain and the United States, it would seem, on this issue at least, the mainland is now the land of the free.