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Opinion

“At the minute, Jaguar Land Rover is the world’s hottest car firm”

Mike Rutherford thinks JLR are leading the way after witnessing the Jaguar F-Pace win the 2017 World Car of the Year award

Opinion - Jaguar F-Pace

New York, April 2017: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. And Jaguar just did. Big time. Half a century after England lifted the World Cup at a shabby Wembley Stadium, an English car company has just rocked the global motor industry by winning the World Car of the Year trophy at a glitzy ceremony in Manhattan.

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True, the Midlands-based Jaguar team did feature several top non-English players, including Director of Design Ian Callum (Scotland) and CEO Dr Ralph Speth (Germany). And to be fair, it’s these two who probably did more than anyone to claim England’s (or should that be Britain’s?) first outright World Car of the Year victory.

• 'Let’s celebrate our great car-making nation'

This is history in the making. So let’s savour the moment and put it into perspective. Alongside its mainly German premium car rivals, Jaguar is a comparatively small marque, with a limited budget and a tiny workforce. To reach the final was, in itself, cause for great celebration. To win was “priceless” Callum confided in me.

Meanwhile, Dr Speth was like the cat with the cream as he collected the trophy which is rated as the number one automotive prize on the global stage. The triumph for F-Pace really does confirm its position as the best car on the planet, and there’s the little matter of the same model securing the World Car Design of the Year trophy, too. Jurors across the continents have therefore decided this model is not only the finest car on sale, but the most handsome, too. They’re not wrong.

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An ecstatic Ian Callum said in a text to me a few hours after the double win: “I can’t exaggerate the buzz it has caused around Coventry, Whitley and Gaydon.” And that excitement will intensify when those “priceless” trophies are brought home to the Midlands. There’s even talk of them being taken down to the production line, so factory workers will be photographed with them. That’s a kind and classy gesture.

JLR won’t stop there, though. Minutes after winning, Jaguar’s sister brand Land Rover was first out of the blocks to ensure it has nominated itself and its imminent new car for the 2018 World Car Awards. F-Pace cleaned up this year; could Velar do the same in 12 months? Don’t bet against it. JLR has finally arrived as a hard, if not impossible, to beat player on the global automotive stage. At the minute it’s the world’s hottest mainstream car company blessed with the world’s hottest designers.

Would you pick a Jaguar ahead of its German rivals? Let us know in the comments section below...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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