Jaguar Redefines Marketing, A Movie Featuring You As The Star Along With The Car

Jaguar offers a full line of vehicles from sports cars to sedans to an SUV.
Jaguar offers a full line of vehicles from sports cars to sedans to an SUV.

Jaguar is taking to a big stage to let consumers know that their brand, an iconic heritage one, offers a modern line of cars that are very different from just a few years ago. This stage is not one of repetitive prime-time television ads, nor is it annoying pop up ads on your digital device. What Jaguar has done is put you in charge of their promotion, using the digital magic of the social share of a short video.

 

Jaguar features the iconic "The Leaper" mascot of the brand since 1938,
Jaguar features the iconic “The Leaper” mascot of the brand since 1938,

And here is where Jaguar got smart, they know that since this movie features you, you will share it on your social media channels. You become a star of a classic British Spy film, the talented British spy, the only thing you have to do is prove that you can drive. And what better to drive, then the iconic British Automobile, the Jaguar, in this case their new XE.

 

Jaguar worked with Facebook in partnership where you can make one of the scenes your personal Facebook Profile photo, a first for both companies. Jaguar is sure you will share it to your friends. And 85% of those that attend the Art of the Performance Tour do make the video and then share it via their social channels.

The Story Board for Jaguar's short film about you the British Spy and the perfect car.
The Story Board for Jaguar’s short film about you the British Spy and the perfect car.

Automobile companies have used ride and drive events as a way to showcase their cars, once you leave, all you have are memories, and a trinket. Any selfie images would be self-produced, and would not be as compelling as what #TheAudition creates with both you and the Jaguar. The process is simple, you review the story board, the script, practice facial expressions you will use in the scenes, head over to hair and makeup (yes you get made up like a movie star) and then head onto the sound stage where the director gives you the cues and gets you on camera. With rave reviews from the staff, like any star would expect!

Jaguar XE models ready to be taken out on the autocross course.
Jaguar XE models ready to be taken out on the autocross course.

Off you go to drive the cars on the street and an autocross course while they create the film. Stitching you into an already edited film, and you never end up on the cutting room floor. In just a few minutes you receive an email with a link to your film, and of course the Jaguar.com website.

 

Jaguar gives each attendee a key chain with the Jaguar mascot as a memento of The Art of Performance Tour.
Jaguar gives each attendee a key chain with the Jaguar mascot as a memento of The Art of Performance Tour.
Jaguar uses an RFID bracelet to identify visitors for their movie production.
Jaguar uses an RFID bracelet to identify visitors for their movie production.

Take a moment in the lounge to view your film on your own device and enjoy some cucumber sandwiches and proper English tea. While there you have a chance to access the Jaguar.com build site and talk with products specialists who are available to answer questions. One last digital moment is a photo with “the Leaper” Jaguar’s mascot, a Jaguar has taken the simple mass market demonstration event to the next level with the use of technology, what you do not see is the technology that makes it all happen. It starts with an RFID bracelet that you wear throughout the event. This tag identifies you and is attached to everything you do from each of your film scenes, your actual drive experience, to your memento photo and exit survey. This is what makes sure your digital content always has you in it.

 

Jaguar's Sports Car the F-Type and X-E Sedan.
Jaguar’s Sports Car the F-Type and X-E Sedan.

In talking with Kim McCullough Vice President, Marketing for Jaguar land Rover North America LLC, she spoke of how compelling this program has become bringing an event focused younger consumer to the brand with a very good return on investment. Jaguar had doubled their under 35 audience, as well as brought in many buyers new to the brand, looking for vehicles different from the traditional luxury and status cars that have become the mass-market norm. The Audition has exposed 92 million people via social sharing of this personal video where they co-star with the Jaguar in an action packed short film that is classically British, and ends in “Feed My Cat” which is a metaphor for the consumer to connect to the Jaguar brand.  And it turns

 

William West Hopper with the Jaguar Mascot
William West Hopper with the Jaguar Mascot.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

Note: This review was done during the open consumer days of Jaguar’s Art of Performance Tour. Mr. Hopper had the opportunity to spend time with Jaguar employees during this visit and was not given anything that was not available to the general public who attended.
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Topless or Hot Rod…. Three Mercedes-Benz Coupes!

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabrio
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet

With the bright sun and crisp fall air, there is no better time than to take a convertible out for a drive, especially one with the Star on the steering wheel.

Mercedes-Benz C43 4MATIC Cabrio Coupe
Mercedes-Benz C43 4MATIC Cabrio Coupe
Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG Coupe
Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG Coupe

On a recent trip to Monticello Motor Club in the Catskills of New York State, there was a choice to test drive: an S550 designo Cabriolet, a C43 AMG 4MATIC Cabriolet, as well as a C63S AMG Coupe. After being impressed with the C300 Coupe earlier this year, I took out the C43 first.

 

 

Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 4MATIC Cabriolet proposed window sticker
Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 4MATIC Cabriolet proposed window sticker

The C43 4MATIC Cabriolet priced out at $66,965 with Premium 2 package and a few other goodies. My first impression behind the wheel was that it was very tight, especially on roughly paved roads. My only complaint was with the unbelted right passenger seat belt which flapped in the wind with the top down. Once that was taken care of, there was pure bliss in driving the topless coupe. Plenty of power, a very well appointed interior, and comfortable. For a C-Class, it seemed quite roomy inside, though the trunk did lose space compared to the C-300 Coupe.

 

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet (Euro-spec).  Photo by MBUSA

S550 Cabriolet, which from a quick glance is hard to tell from the C-Class. Once inside you appreciate the larger cabin, no question this is the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz line with the appointments that only the S-Class offers. The being one of the exclusive design models it commands a $161,675 price tag, with optional Swarovski Crystal Headlamp accents a $1,750 option, as well as other more mundane ones like the Sport Package with lots of decorative body styling details, and warmth and comfort package featuring heated steering wheel and front center and door arm rests, something special to keep you warm on the crisp fall days.

 

Mercedes-Benz S550 dash features two display screens.
Mercedes-Benz S550 dash features two display screens.

While these two Cabiros are similarly styled, they are appointed differently, and behind the wheel, you feel the difference in their size.  As expected the smaller C-Class handled nimbly, and the heavier S-Class, you felt the weight of a full size car. The S-Class is still quick to respond, both to steering and acceleration input, there was no question it is a heavier road car.

 

Mercedes-Benz C43 Dash
Mercedes-Benz C43 Dash

The C63 S AMG Coupe is a bit of both, the size of the C-Class, though the AMG’s muscular lines expand the C-Coupe in a good way. The bi-turbo 4.0 L V-8 engine puts a lot of power through the 7-speed automatic transmission with touch shift. This car has power that you hear through the growl of the exhaust and feel as you drive. And indeed it is heavier than the C300 or C43, though still as nimble as its lower powered cousins. The C63 S AMG Coupe starts at $75K, we did not have a sales sticker to see exactly how the one we drove was priced with options and destination fees.

Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG has a very muscular rear.
Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG has a very muscular rear. Which matches its very burly exhaust sound.

C43 Cabrio was the best all-around car for the money out of the bunch, power, luxury, comfort and all the bells and whistles you could want at an affordable price. While there was not a price sticker on the C63S AMG Coupe, with the full race track ready AMG aspects of it, no doubt put the price higher than the $75K base price of that model. And a ONE hundred and sixty-six thousand-dollar S-Coupe Cabrio, seems excessive, as nice as it was, gp for the less costly C43 and bank the other hundred grand.

Words and images (unless otherwise noted) are by William West Hopper

A Tale of Two Sporty Cars Under $30K

 

2016 Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition
2016 Subaru BRZ HyperBlue Edition

As the summer came to a close, both a Hyundai Veloster RSpec and a Subaru BRZ Hyper-Blue Series were delivered back-to-back, giving me a chance to compare these two under $30K 6-Speed Manual 4-cylinder powered sports cars. Each very different vehicles, both aimed at the younger enthusiast oriented driver, and quite available to folks of an older age.

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec in Pacific Blue. A lot of fun for very little dough!
The 2016 Hyundai Veloster RSpec.

While both were blue in color, each one was as different as their azure color. Both have plenty of power from 4-cylinder engines. The BRZ has a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter premium fueled Boxer Engine that Subaru is so well known for, the Veloster a smaller 1.6 dual-spool turbo (axis) that runs on regular fuel. Both 4-seaters, the BRZ a classic 2-door with a trunk, and the Veloster an unconventional 3-door hatchback. Both share limited rear passenger headroom, the Veloster offers leg room for the rear seat passengers, where in the BRZ to provide back seat legroom involves taking it from those in the front.

 

Onboard technology; the Veloster has a multi-display dash easily controllable from the steering wheel, and a 7” center stack screen that provides information on vehicle operation as well as the audio system.  The BRZ is very driver-centric, with the tachometer being front and center, and the speedometer off to the side, but also shown digitally so you know, that you are exceeding the speed limit. The BRZ provided basic info, mileage, mpg’s, but not a complete suite of information like the Veloster’s cluster did, which provided on both the dash and center display. Both vehicles featured all the latest from side-curtain airbags, backup camera, and very visible LED lighting.

 

Interior design, both used materials that were nice to the touch, with a layout that was focused on the driver, and bolstered sports seats. In layout and design, the BRZ was more race-car inspired, while the Veloster is more mainstream as a sporty vehicle. Both cars have touch screens in the center stack, the Veloster required less distraction from the road to use it, mostly due to the having the controls on the steering wheel, while the 2016 BRZ did not have controls on the steering wheel, the 2017 model does. I find having those controls located on the steering wheel helped the driver keep their eyes on the road.

So where is the difference in the two BLUE Sports Cars? Design, Price, and Drivability, would be the answer. Design: BRZ is the more classic sports car with the long hood, with an interior that favors the driver and front seat passenger with small cargo space. While the Veloster design is like a drop of water in the wind, with interior space for driver and all passengers and cargo area that can be expanded by putting the rear seats down. The BRZ wins for a sexy sleek design, while the Veloster wins for functionality.

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Drive Train: Veloster RSpec features a 1.6 turbo that runs on regular fuel, which gives it plenty of pep to a six speed transmission which gives it plenty of control, and front wheel drive, which can be a bit temperamental, (tire spin). The BRZ has a powerful 2.0 Boxer premium fueled engine, that shifts through the 6 speed manual with ease. The rear wheel drive is more of a conventional enthusiast sports car.  While I liked both cars for performance, I felt more exhilarated by the Veloster in performance.

On-board Technology: Both feature center mounted touch screens, the BRZ’s 6.2” provides basic infotainment information and connects to your phone for Bluetooth operation, while the Veloster’s 7” provides infotainment and vehicle operation, as well as Bluetooth telephony. Both dashboard clusters feature analog gauges, the Veloster’s info screens give more info than you need. The BRZ features a basic digital speed display, odometer, fuel economy, nothing fancy.

Price: Veloster is the lower priced of the two with a delivered price of $22425. BRZ HyperBlue Series at $28,485. Both have lesser and higher cost options, depending on how you equip the vehicle. Long term value, insurance value, and deprecation have not been considered, but for just the numbers, the Veloster wins this by rolling off the dealer’s lot six-thousand dollars cheaper.

Drivability:  While neither would be a choice for a long road trip, due to their tight sports suspension and race-style bucket seats. Both are a lot of fun to drive with the 6 speed, and even with 4-cylinder engines have plenty of power band for routine driving. The BRZ has a noisier cabin, with road and gear noise from the mechanicals. The Veloster was a bit smoother ride with a quieter cabin. My choice here would be the Veloster, even though the driver’s seat was uncomfortably tight on my derriere’.

Flash and Noticeability, the BRZ in the Hyper-Blue Series trim with black spoke wheels drew plenty of attention where ever it went. The Veloster slipped by with a bit more obscurity. BRZ for the win here.

Over all, both are a lot of fun to drive. If you are a tight-wad like I am, the Veloster is my choice. But the BRZ has a lot to offer, though at a higher cost.

Words and images by William West Hopper

Subaru BRZ, A Driver’s Sports Car for Under $30K.

 

2016 Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition
2016 Subaru BRZ Hyper-Blue Edition

Pulling into a driveway with the 2016 Hyper-Blue Edition Subaru BRZ  the first response was, “That’s a pretty car, what is it?”  I said, “A Subaru!”  “I thought Subaru’s are for trekking in the woods” was the surprised response.

While we Americans have long had an image of the Subaru brand as being one that is utilitarian, sturdy, and dependable with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and boxy design, many are not aware that the brand is so much more, and this 2016 Hyper-Blue Series Subaru BRZ is a great example that not all Subies are set for rough roads.

 

Subaru SVX, one of the early sports cars of the brand.
Subaru SVX, one of the early sports cars of the brand. (photo credit, unknown)

 

While you may not think of Subaru as high-performance muscle cars, it has a long history of sporty cars, and even “sport trucks,” think the original Brat from the 1970’s or the SVX of the 1990’s, not to mention the ever popular rally and autocross favorite the WRX, which is often seen modified and street racing.

 

 

Fraternal Twins, Scion FRS & Subaru BRZ.
Fraternal Twins, Scion FRS & Subaru BRZ. (photo credit Sofyan Bey, Redline Reveiws)

The BRZ shares a platform and design with the Toyota 86 (previously known as the Scion FRS,) in a classic sports car shape. These are the collaboration by two automakers, bringing the best of each brand to the build. Subaru’s legendary Boxer Engine, Toyota’s long history of sports cars, combined into a sporty riding and handling coupe,

 

 

 

 

Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition features stitching on the steering wheel, and seats that match the exterior paint.
Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition features stitching on the steering wheel, and seats that match the exterior paint.

The BRZ is a young auto enthusiast’s car, it could be considered pretty lean for most modern auto consumers. While it has plenty of standard features, this car is a driver’s car, and really nothing more, creature comforts are basic. The BRZ is noisy, you hear not only the road, and what sounds like a number of the mechanicals from the engine and transmission, though in a good way, almost to the level of a decades earlier import mini-pickup truck noisy.

 

 

Subaru BRZ touch screen info center is not as intuitive as it could be.
Subaru BRZ touch screen info center is not as intuitive as it could be.

While most American driver’s will just turn up the radio to drown out any unwanted sounds, the BRZ’s radio is not an audio enthusiasts dream, and the touch screen controls were hard to use, and required you to take your eyes off the road. This has been changed with the 2017 model by putting audio controls on the steering wheel.

Subaru BRZ rear seats are in name only, leg room is not optimal.
Subaru BRZ rear seats are in name only, leg room is not optimal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the BRZ has seats for four, but best fits two, a driver and a passenger, as the back seats have almost no legroom, fine for packages, but little else.

Subaru BRZ trunk space can be enlarged by putting the rear seat down.
Subaru BRZ trunk space can be enlarged by putting the rear seat down.

 

 

Trunk space is small though adequate for a simple over night trip,  don’t plan on using it to load up at the big box store, that is what the Outback or Forester is for.

 

 

 

 

 

Agility is a big part of the fun of the BRZ, steering inputs are immediate and put you exactly where you aim the wheel.

Subaru BRZ has a short throw 6-speed manual shift, though an automatic is an option.
Subaru BRZ has a short throw 6-speed manual shift, an automatic is an option.

With short shifts, that are very solid and intentional, it did take a while to learn where each of the six-manual-speed shifts were located.  Revving the 2 liter normally aspirated Boxer engine was not a problem when you missed a shift, (it sounded great) and was very forgiving. This street racer was quite secure on the road, and provided an economical 29 mpg on premium (91 or higher fuel) after a week of driving on both straight line highway and twisty country roads.

 

Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition featured very nice black wheels, a Brembo Brake caliper option is also available.
Subaru BRZ Hyper-Blue Edition featured very nice black wheels, a Brembo Brake caliper option is also available.

Do not think this car is going to let you slip by unnoticed, the attention factor is high, especially in this Hyper-Blue (a bright powder blue) color with shiny black wheels. I found that this car got attention from everyone from young boys, to the highway patrol, which means you have to be careful how you drive it.

 

It is indeed a driver’s car, and for under $30K, it is a car that you will enjoy if you enjoy spirited driving. It is not a car where you set the cruise control and get to your destination without thought. This is a car that is all about the road, as the fun is in the driving, and the destination is just where you end up.

 

Words and Photographs (other than where noted) by William West Hopper.

wwh-in-brz-tux
William West Hopper in the Subaru BRZ Hyper- Blue Edition prior to attending the Radnor Concours d’ Elegance Black Tie Dinner.