I have been in love with Jaguar since first driving my dad’s 1965 E-Type. But I couldn’t see myself purchasing the then current lineup, until the F-Type arrived. Since Jaguar has used our E twice during the Monterey Car Week (2011 and 2012), they have been more than generous with invitations to special events and the like. Recently I received an invitation to take part in a Jaguar Driving Experience near me, and I accepted without hesitation.
Knowing how Jaguar puts on an event I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Walking into the large tent I was greeted and handed a badge with my name on it. Past the doors, there was plenty of seating, food and a gorgeous F-Type Coupe R sitting center stage. After waiting a few short minutes, my 9:30 am driving group was guided into an outdoor area with the entire Jaguar lineup to look at. Once we were educated on all things Jaguar I headed over to my first driving experience.
First up was the V6 S (380hp) Convertible. No Coupes were available to drive because they are too new. I have driven the F-Type Convertible once before so I knew what to expect: plush leather, gorgeous exterior and an intoxicating exhaust note. Little did I know that my one lap around in the V6 S would be my only one. From my brief romp in the car I experienced a smooth ride, adequate power and a wonderful sound. Just wish I had more time.
But the V8 S was up next and from the minute pressure applied to the accelerator I could tell this one was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Now that I had figured out I only had one lap, I decided to drive the V8 S more aggressively than my first go-around in the V6 S. I’m not one to say “x-amount of horsepower is too much,” but the available 495hp in the V8 S was a little much for the small course. I felt like I was riding a wild bull that was saying hold on tight or get out. I love horsepower of all kinds and the higher the better. But for street use and for a weekend driver/long trip car the V6 S seems the wiser choice.
With the possibility of the V6 S and manual transmission combination coming out, the shift-it-yourself crowd should be more than pleased with the power output and the torque delivery.
XK and XJR LWB:
The next set of cars were there to demonstrate the power of different Jag models. The course was longer and faster than the F-Type course and really gave me a taste of just how dynamic the Jaguar lineup really is. While I have a special place in my heart reserved for the F-Type I came to appreciate these next two models.
The XK Coupe embodied elegant and sporty styling in relatively small package. While I wouldn’t call the XK a cheap car I felt the interior lacked the “wow factor” that the F-Type interior had in spades. But moving past the lacking interior, the exhaust note that resonated into the cabin was truly awesome.
On the makeshift back straight of the course, the instructor I rode with told me to floor it and not brake until he said so. I did and was in love with the sound. The Coupe’s cabin was filled with the wonderful roar you expect to hear from a Jaguar. But almost as soon as I planted my foot on the accelerator, the ride was over and I was on to the next car.
I asked to drive something completely the opposite from the XK and ended up with the XJR LWB. What a completely impressive and beautiful interior. Every surface was covered with elegant materials but it didn’t let you forget you were driving an R. At the very front of the dash a long strip of carbon fiber with a bold “R” followed the line of the windshield.
One negative thing I noted was that the gear selector dial in each car was difficult to navigate and kind of a pain to use. For some gears you need to press down and for others the selector just spins easily. If a car is going to be automatic I prefer the look and feel of a traditional gear selector, such as what you see in the F-Type.
The instructor reminded me not to underestimate the power of the large sedan. As soon as I pressed the pedal to the floor it seemed as if all 550 horses came alive, screaming down the back straight and molded a giant smile across my face.
It was rather nimble through the turns and just completely impressed me. I will no longer underestimate the capability of a Jaguar sedan.
The last and the most technology packed car was the XF AWD. A course was set up to demonstrate the various technological advantages associated with the AWD system.
First was a bumpy road setup to show how smooth a ride you can get with the XF. I wasn’t overly impressed, but compared to my Lotus anything is smooth. Next was a hill soaked with water. The first go around I was asked to floor it and see how the car behaved with the system off. It of course slid a little. After exiting the soaked hill, the instructor asked me to turn the wheel all the way to the left and floor it. The car started to spin and I unconsciously corrected.
The next go around all systems were engaged. Over the bumpy road I noticed little if any difference. Up the soaked hill there was no wheel spin and when the wheel was turned all the way to the left and the accelerator floored, there was also no wheel spin.
This technology, in my opinion, gives consumers in winter weather climates more options in the luxury segment.
Jaguar put on another fun event for automotive enthusiasts and curious buyers. While I hoped for more driving, I did appreciate the opportunity to test and explore the current Jaguar lineup. I’m looking forward to the next one!