This week's task involved chasing a big black cat in a big black cat, in one of those painfully tenuous story hooks where I took the Jaguar XKR on a futile hunt for the Beast of Bodmin Moor.
There are about three grainy photos, a long distance video of what looks like a housecat and very little else to prove the existence of what is thought to be a family of Pumas living out in the most depressing territory known to man. Even the Royal Air Force failed to find them with night-vision equipment and a cynic might be tempted to believe that one bedraggled cat died many years ago and is being kept alive as a myth to pull in the gullible few.
I was starting to feel the same way about the manufacturer. Even by Ford's standards Jaguar is a black sheep and has lost more than $1 billion a year almost every year since joining the Blue Oval's portfolio. And while Aston Martin is being hawked off to pay the bills, Jaguar as it stands anyway, isn't even worth sticking on eBay.
Who among you, under the age of 40 even thinks about buying a Jag these days? We all have our sights set on a Beemer, a Merc, an Audi, even a Lexus, Yes we all have an E-Type in our dream garage, or an XK120, forgetting that they're hateful little shits that will rip you limb from limb faster than a white tiger at a magic show, but before the new XK, did you really think about a new one? If you did I bet you wear beige pants and eat at the wealthy equivalent of Country Kitchen Buffet.
Jaguar's customers are sitting in a retirement home while a bag goes to the toilet for them. That's where Jaguar's sales have gone, they're waiting for God or have met him already.
Jaguar woken up to the problem far too late and the X-Type was a hamfisted attack on the Yoof market that almost killed the brand altogether.
The XKR, though, is a fantastic bit of kit. It's quick, courtesy of the Supercharged engine, it looks almost good enough to justify those self-congratulatory 'Beautiful' adverts. Next to this beast, the BMW M6 and big power Mercedes look like candidates for Extreme Makeover, the ones that even the plastic surgeons wince at the sight of.
It will go faster than the AMV8, with far more comfort, and put it on a track and it will turn drifting into your new national sport. It's that damned good, and you don't have to be "this age or higher" to take the ride. This is a car that a young, thrusting executive would be proud to own.
The same goes for the upcoming X-CF saloon car, finally a saloon car with the big cat on the bonnet that doesn't come with the unmovable smell of urine and butterscotch candy. It's a cool car and if it drives half as well as it looks then it will be a superstar.
Putting brand in the black might be a bit too much to ask for these two cars, but as a driving force Jaguar is back.
WCF Test Drive: Jaguar XKR [World Car Fans]