The Jaguar Art Of Performance Tour 2018.
I responded to the email from Jaguar UK not expecting to get a place, but to my great surprise I did.
The Journey to Thruxton Race Circuit.
The journey should of taken 2 hrs and 20 min’s from door to door, but knowing the M4 like I do I left at 8 am to make sure I arrived on time for the event which started at 12.30. Not sure if it was my excitement of the day or just knowing the M4 but there was a terrible accident at Newport, it took me 2 hrs just to get to the seven bridge. After a quick pit stop at Leigh Delamere services I arrived at around 11.30 am, I was concerned that I wasn’t going to get there on time with the hold up.
As I was a little early for the 12.30 booking in time, so I was invited to take a F-pace 3ltr s out for a little test drive. It was my first ever drive of the 3ltr diesel and I wasn’t disappointed at all, what a fantastic drive to wet my appetite. I did notice that it was fully loaded including the heads up display, which I noticed in nearly all the cars I drove that day. Clever marketing?
The first even.
After the painless booking in and security checks it was off to the safety briefing, they tried very hard not to make it boring and succeeded really. The event was to push the new soon to be launched e-pace at the time, but there was never any pressure to buy, just as I was about to find out lots of fun and especially of all I learned a few things about car control and modern car systems.
The First Drive.
The main purpose of the day was to show off the new e-pace, to show us what it could do and to let us drive it so we could learn about the new vehicle. My first drive was in an e-pace r-Dynamic HSE d AWD with 178 bhp and lots of extras like heads up display and Fixed Panoramic Roof, the route was preset into the sat nav so you couldn’t get lost. The set route was very good because it lasted a round thirty minutes and took you on all types of roads with different speed limits, I did unfortunately notice that she was a little slow when putting your foot down when a overtaking opportunity presented its self , I believe that the press has commented on this as well.
The second drive.
This was my real first drive with and instructor who was great , his words were simple to follow. “just put your foot down you will not break it and listen to me”. So my first drive on the slalom course was in a f-pace s 3ltr diesel , the first run was on a straight line slalom course in normal road settings, there was a little body roll but nothing to worry about. On the way back it was a staggered slalom course and again there was very little body roll. On the second run on the two courses the cars dynamic control was switched on, the body roll was virtually nonexistent, wow what a system. We then changed cars, I jumped into the new XF Sport brake with the 2ltr 178bhp auto. We did the same two runs with the same results, the dynamic system is nothing short of fantastic, I couldn’t believe that the abs didn’t even come on once even with the heavy braking that we did.
The third drive.
Then we were picked up and taken over to the skid pad and self-parking area, this was very educational and lots of fun as well. I started off on the self-parking section, I have never used this system before so I had a lot to learn but the instructors were great once again. We parallel parked and backed into a parking spot using the on board systems, it was very difficult not to grab the steering wheel at times. The systems worked perfectly, but in the real world with impatient drivers everywhere would you get the time to use it? I really am not sure about it really.
Then it was the skid pan time, just crazy fun. First of all with the front wheels in a straight line we were told to floor the throttle, of course nothing happened except lots of wheel spin and no traction. Then we done the same with the front wheels at full lock to the left to represent a turn, of course nothing happened except lots of wheel spin and no traction again. We then done the same two exercises with the snow and ice dynamic turned on, wow what a difference. The computer instantly gained traction and we mage instant controlled traction, just unbelievable.
The fourth drive.
Up next was the mad smart cone challenge, never done anything like this before or since. I was sat in a new e-pace with a instructor spotting the next flashing lights to aim for, I have never driven on three wheels so much in my life. I didn’t set the world on fire but I had such fun, to hear the tyres squeal so much was great.
Video by Simon Gunning
Video by Simon Gunning
Drive five, six and seven were on the circuit.
Next up was the circuit section of the day, the bit that most people were looking forward to. I am not a very fast mad driver, but they weren’t my cars so I was looking forward to giving it some stick, boy I wasn’t disappointed at all. First up I was in a 3ltr petrol XE, my first ever drive in a XE and it was the top off the range s as well(the model has now been dropped because of emissions). An instructor was in the lead car giving instructions over the radio so we were all in contact at all times, he didn’t hang about I can tell you, three laps went in a flash well over public road speed limits!
Then I jumped into the new 2ltr 300ps f-type, it might be the smallest of the f-type engines but it didn’t disappoint me on the track at all. My confidence was high in my abilities and track knowledge, so my instructor was egging me on and I even managed to overtake a few people which pleased me no end.
Picture by Simon Gunning
The best is left to the last.
The last drive of the day wasn’t for me, I was a passenger with a professional racing driver in a f-type svr with carbon ceramic brakes. Being a F1, touring cars and rally fan I have seen a fair few live races and god knows how many on the tv over my life time. But the sheer acceleration, speed and handling was fantastic in every way and I was pinned in my seat until he started braking! Those carbon ceramics were working overtime but I just couldn’t get over just how violent the steering action was, his hands were working overtime. No wonder racing drivers are so tired after a race, I know he was show boating but my two laps were over far to fast. I saw 156 mph once on the speedo, a record for me but I had the upmost confidence in his driving.
Picture by Simon Gunning
The end of the day.
A fantastic day was had by all, the instructors reminded us to forget all that we had learnt on the track and drive home properly! Ha-ha. I was very lucky to get a place on the tour, but I was so glad that I did as I will never forget the day. A big thank you to Jaguar UK for running the event, I hope to do another one as soon as I can.
Big thumbs up to Jaguar uk