The day started with a very long train journey into the depths of London and out again. By late morning I’d already seen a man on the tube wearing a Batman t-shirt, setting the day off to an appropriate start.
The Experience Begins
The arrival at Marylebone station found a Jeep Renegade waiting to shuttle the event-goers to Bicester Heritage. Jeep had recently partnered up with Warner Bros. Pictures, thus this incredible Jeep Renegade and Batmobile experience was born.
The drive to the event from the station was sadly short, I hadn’t realised how close they were to each other, so my first impressions of the Renegade were kept to a minimum. No panic; it would be made up for later. The driver took us on a small tour of the grounds though, making the drive longer and definitely better, what with the enthusiastic running commentary all the way round and there was classic cars everywhere. In hindsight, I wish I could have asked him more about the cars we were seeing during the drive but there was so much to see. Later on I did go for a walk around the grounds to get a better look at some of these classics. There was a magnificent white Ford GT40 I had seen briefly on the tour and I wanted a closer look. Much to my dismay but understanding it had been tucked away for the night.
Bicester Heritage is a really unusual setting. I had found out that it had been used in the film, The Imitation Game, so I knew it would be picturesque. I just hadn’t counted on the classic cars galore lying around the grounds. Being an old RAF base from the war there is already an atmosphere that comes with it, made more ‘olde worlde’ by the classic car businesses now residing in the old RAF buildings and hangers.
Everyone met up at the tea, coffee and nibbles area, had a catch up and a chat and then set off for the first part of the day; taking the Jeep Renegade on the obstacle course. I wasn’t sure what to expect here. Being a passenger I didn’t experience the car-to-driver feeling that driving gives but I had a good point of view of how the Renegade was performing. It started with some standard ramps outdoors, testing the Renegade on its off-road abilities.
The car easily handled what seemed to me to be an impossible combination of angles. What followed was the coolest part of this section, the nifty indoor film set imitation. A similar premise to the outdoor experience but with smoke machines, a few props, atmospheric lighting and dramatic music, all making for a Batman-esque setting. As well as obstacles, this section included different terrain types, one made up of rocks and another of tyres. The Renegade performed well with everything thrown its way.
The Highly Anticipated Batmobile
After this we drove to the location where the Batmobile was being displayed for the day, up on the track. Here we waited for our Jeep Renegade track experience with a professional driver while getting completely distracted by the monstrous beauty that is the Batmobile.
It looked incredibly imposing, definitely worthy of Batman. The tyre size was insane, the paintwork rugged and the angles downright predatory. I found out that it was actually drivable too, not at high speeds of course but just the fact that this was not a prop was pretty impressive. We took a few photographs, chatted and – maybe this is just on my part, but somehow I highly doubt it – daydreamed about driving the beast.
The Jeep Renegade Track Experience
Once again I stepped into the Renegade as a passenger. Just to clarify, there was the option to drive but I thought seeing the Batmobile and experiencing a Jeep from the back seat for the first time was enough for one day, personally. My driving history of a 1992 Peugeot 106, a 1996 VW Golf CL and a brief hire car stint in a Hyundai i40 has not quite made me comfortable with driving modern cars as of yet. I didn’t really feel like an obstacle course and track run with a Jeep Renegade and amongst a crowd of people with cameras was the best time to start experimenting.
The track experience was unashamedly exciting. There’s an onboard video of the track experience that shows my genuine reaction above. I hadn’t realised there was a microphone on the tiny TomTom Bandit. Lesson learned. On the final lap of the track the pro took over the car and went to extreme measures (in my opinion!) to show off the Jeep Renegade’s skills. The pro actually turned out to be F1 driver Martin Donnelly and boy, did he show his talent.
Pleased As Punch
After a much needed strong cup of tea and a meet and greet post-experience – which included a lot of grinning and excited babbling – I went home with a smile plastered onto my face. This was a day I won’t forget.