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Jaguar Art of Performance: A date with the British Cats

November 21, 2018, 10:04 PM IST by Bilal Ahmed Firfiray
16771 Views

Jaguar Art of Performance Tour

I have waited a whole year for this event! Last year when Jaguar’s Art of Performance Tour landed in my city, I was as excited as a kid in a new toy store. Unfortunately for me, I was assigned to attend another event and I missed out on experiencing the potential of Jaguar’s entire line-up at their purest. So, this year, I vowed not to let go of the opportunity again. After all, it’s not every day that you are allowed to witness the absolute limits of such cars and that too on a go-kart track. 

For the uninitiated, the Jaguar Art of Performance Tour is an experience-drive where owners (both existing and prospective) along with enthusiasts like me are given an opportunity to drive and familiarise themselves with the capability of the Jaguar’s vehicles. These events are organised in nearly all the major cities across India. And at our disposal, is the entire Jaguar line-up, from the entry-level XE and mid-size XF sedan to the Luxo-barge XJ L, the F-Pace SUV and the mighty F-Type in the maniacal SVR guise. 

I reached the venue almost 30 minutes early. For the venue was a special one as well. The event was at the newly opened Ajmera Indikarting track in Wadala which is the second such facility opened by ace race-car driver and mentor Rayomand Banajee. The first one is in Pune. After a quick briefing by Rayo himself, we were directed towards the first course of action – the Slalom Dance.

The Slalom

The XE, XF and F-Pace were lined up for the course and ahead of us were interspersed cones forming a zig-zag slalom course. All we had to do was zip between the cones as fast as we could, come to a halt, take a U-turn and do the same the other way round on the way back. The purpose of the slalom test is to highlight the agility, acceleration, as well as, the breaking potential of the sedans.

In the spanking blue XE, the smallest of three sedans, I was asked by the instructor to put the pedal to the metal. But it also needed to be followed with specific steering input to manoeuvre through the slalom, which yours truly was too late to put in. But I did get a hang of it on the follow through, which the instructor (a former racecar driver) appreciated much. Next up was the XF and I could immediately sense the long proportion of mid-size executive sedan compared to the nimble XE. It was more luxurious on the inside, which meant that it was slightly heavier as well. But the direct steering response made the XF coast through the slalom without much drama. 

Then it was the turn of the F-Pace, Jaguar’s first ever SUV. I did expect considerable body roll from the high-riding vehicle but the F-Pace has the DNA of the sure-footed cat and it went through the slalom with utmost ease. The SUV impressed us with its composure on the slalom which is highly commendable.

Lane Change Manoeuvre

Next up was the most relevant test which these cars can be put through to assess their mettle in the Indian driving conditions – the Lane Change Manoeuvre. It is an evasive braking manoeuvre to replicate a panic braking situation. The course requires the driver to – accelerate hard, get off the throttle, switch the lane, brake hard – in quick succession. This helps in understanding the car’s temperament if someone jumps in front, or if the driver needs to dodge a truck’s absurd manoeuvre on the highways. One can experience the ABS working with all its might when braking hard in this test. 

After the slalom, it felt like a walk in the park for the XE and XF. Even the F-Pace proved itself yet again and remained in control while taking sudden turns. But the most important part of this experience was getting behind the biggest Jaaaaaaag! – The XJ L. At five meters in length, the XJ L is massive by all standards. It sits on enormous 19-inch wheels and puts out 296bhp from the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. It is opulent, to say the least, and weighs almost two tonnes! 

When I put the pedal to the metal in the Big Jag, the big fat cat turned into a ferocious feline and hurled itself down the course in no time. After letting go off the throttle I turned the massive steering wheel and the XJ L turned as if there was a shift in the tectonic plates. Once in the other lane, the XJ settled down like a Wall Street executive tidying up his/her outfit after a brawl. And when I pressed the brake with all my might, I could sense the modern-age electronic wizardry working overtime to keep things in check. Understandably, all the engineering and heritage associated with the XJ became apparent in this simple manoeuvre. 

SPEED RUN!

And finally, before I could fully comprehend the mighty XJ L, it was time for the Speed Run in the sensual F-Type SVR. It started with a rather slow U-turn to position the two-door monster for the run. It surprisingly felt easy in the rather tight space. And once I lined up the F-Type ahead of the long straight, Pratik Sonavane, my instructor, put the F-Type in Sports mode and asked me to whack it! It took some mental preparation and a whole lot of guts to bury the right foot in the footwell. And the acceleration of the fully-blown SVR was surreal. The sound of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 putting down 567bhp on the tarmac was spellbinding too. Before I could fully grasp my senses, it was time to brake, and I braked hard forgetting about Pratik’s gradual braking instructions. After turning it around for a second acceleration run, it was difficult for me to get down and walk away from such a charismatic car.

Epilogue

JLR also had a little experience zone for demonstrating the off-road capability of the Land Rover Discovery Sport.  Truly, the Jaguar Art of Performance Tour serves as an excellent platform for customers to experience what their cars are capable of. Moving ahead, we would love to be a part of more such events organised by Jaguar India for us enthusiasts and customers, both existing and prospective.

Pictures by - Bilal Firfiray and Kaustubh Gandhi

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