Alex Inwood (AI): I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve always thought that ‘owning’ a supercar would bring certain social drawbacks. You know, the kind where people label you a ‘tosser’ and make funny hand signals with their pinkies. I once witnessed a previous editor of Wheels emerge from his house to find the Lamborghini he’d parked out front now covered in eggs. For some reason, however, this doesn’t apply to the McLaren. People absolutely adore it.
Cameron Kirby (CK): Look, I don’t doubt the Macca is a neck snapper, but I have been getting the same kind of reaction in the Jimny – and I didn’t even have to pretend I’ve got the GDP of a small nation hidden down the back of my couch. Blokes in dual-cab utes have stuck their heads out the window to catch a glimpse of the Tennis Ball in traffic, people slap their friends on the arm and point as I drive by – commuting is a truly conspicuous experience.
AI: Conspicuous? Try standing next to the McLaren on a fuel station forecourt when a burly truck driver starts charging towards you, shouting “Mate, are you kidding me!” At first I thought he was mounting some kind of attack. He was huuuuuge, heavily moustached and approaching at a speed that made escaping inside the car impossible. But then: “This thing is incredible! I can’t believe it. We never see McLarens. Quite a few Porsches and Ferraris but McLarens are rare. How’s it go?” That rarity, and the fact it looks otherworldly – is there a more visually dramatic car maker right now than McLaren? – seems to be the reason people are drawn to it.
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CK: There doesn’t seem to be one single catalyst for the Jimny’s attention-hogging ways. For some, it’s the delightfully retro looks and Tennis Ball colour combo, but I suspect much of it is carried over from the cultural impact of the preceding three generations which had an enviable reputation for being infallible both out bush and in the high country. Oh, and it’s just about the antithesis to everything else you can buy today. It waves a pint-sized middle finger to making a sensible purchase, and people like that.
AI: One of the best things about driving cars like this is getting to share them. I once parked in a McDonald’s and couldn’t leave for 30 minutes because of the wave of prepubescence that descended upon it. Some of them knew it was a McLaren but most didn’t. They were drawn to its looks. Few supercars have this much drama sitting still.
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CK: While the Jimny doesn’t have those bedroom poster looks that kids love, there doesn’t seem to be a gendered split in attention when it comes to the Jimny. Everyone just adores it. I was accosted in a car park by a trolley-pushing mother who wanted to know exactly what the new Jimny was like. Turns out she had owned one in her youth and had always regretted having to let it go. But the most exuberant reactions have been from other Jimny owners. A female third-gen Jimny owner looked like she had just won the lotto as we crossed paths one morning, flashing her lights and waving with so much enthusiasm I thought her hand might become detached. Two gentlemen in a fourth-gen lined up against me at the lights with windows down, and bellowed “JIMNY POWER!” in sheer delight. I bet you don’t get that in a McLaren 570.
AI: Final point on goodwill. Lots of it comes your way when you’re swanning about in the McLaren. People don’t resent you as a rich wanker. In my experience, they see you as someone to share in the thrill.
CK: So, any chance I can have a spin?