The only things missing were a red carpet rolled out in front of the hotel and a trumpet fanfare as he walked in to address the assembled hacks and various PR people. Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's design director, was something of a star attraction as far as his employers seemed to be concerned and, as we stood to listen to drivel about the "jewel-like qualities" of lamp clusters (blinged-up headlamps to the rest of us), it struck me that this current obsession with car companies' design chiefs is potentially worrisome in the extreme.
Land Rover is not alone in wheeling out the design studio bosses whenever there is a new car launch. Jaguar has been doing it for years with Ian Callum, Porsche does it with Michael Mauer (although he does appear to have the cushiest job in the industry), Aston Martin does it with Marek Reichman - they're all seemingly at it. So is exterior and interior design a massively important part of a new car's development? The carmakers obviously think so and so do I.
But the trend, for many years now with most manufacturers, has been to homogenise design, with the only differentiating factors between models being the actual proportions. Audi has taken this to extremes, as has BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and a whole host of others, resulting in mass confusion when it comes to identifying any new car when it's on the road. Is that a C-, an E-, or an S-Class hammering up behind you on the highway? A 3, 5, or 7 Series? An A4, 5, 6, 7 or 8? A Polo, a Golf, or a Passat? Any ideas? No, me neither most of the time.
It started to really become an issue for me in the mid-1990s when Porsche launched its first water-cooled 911, around the same time as the original Boxster. Physically identical from the tips of their noses right up to the A-pillar - where the base of the windscreen joins the rest of the car - there really was no way to know what you were looking at until the car drove past you. It was ridiculous for a company of Porsche's stature.
When I was a boy (yes, I know how old and past it that makes me sound), I had a framed poster of the entire Porsche range on the wall next to my bed. 924, 924 Turbo, 911, 911 Turbo, 928: three different model ranges, three entirely different designs, both inside and out. Yet they were all readily identifiable as being Porsches. They had that certain "something" about them, and each was appealing in its own way.
Nowadays, see a Porsche or, more upsettingly, an Aston Martin, and you'll struggle to identify the model for what it is, with only differences a total anorak would spot to tell them apart.
I understand the basic reasons behind this move to make everything look the same. I know a "family look" is important to a brand's identity. I know the importance of part interchangeability for keeping down costs. But I also know the importance of individuality and I know how detrimental boredom can be to even the most illustrious of brands. And I'm really very bored with car design right now, at least when it comes to production cars that you can actually buy.
If a clothing chain only supplied garments that looked similar to one another, would you carry on shopping there? Not likely. You'd probably vote with your feet and spend your money somewhere else. So why should cars be any different?
At the moment, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini and a smattering of others are actually getting it right by making each model look distinguishable from the rest. And Audi has decided, publicly, to start making its individual models exactly that in the future: individual. Yet the new Range Rover Sport is, sadly, little more in appearance than a bloated Evoque, and that harms not only the new model but also the still-startling two-year-old. Will that be a Sport or an Evoque about to overtake you this time next year? Unless your name is Gerry McGovern, you probably won't be able to tell.
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