by: Jag Dhatt
Pitt Meadows, BC: These days, buying a vehicle is probably the second biggest investment for most people. After the deal is done, hands shaken, insurance bought, buyers get a quick review of the features of the vehicle…and that’s usually about it. If you’re buying a luxury vehicle, there’s often a little more time spent with new owners. However, some manufacturers make it a point to take clients, current and potential, on closed circuits to really show what their vehicles can do.
When the F-Pace was launched last year, it was put through one of the most daring challenges; if you saw the video (it’s still on YouTube), the F-Pace did a 360-degree loop, and it was spectacular. In case you need to be told, here’s a disclaimer – if you have an F-Pace, don’t try it…well, unless you have a tested, engineered loop on your acreage.
Last week, as both a Jag owner and media, I was invited by Jaguar Canada on their cross-country “Art of Performance” Tour. Jaguar Land Rover doesn’t just want to sell you a vehicle; they want you to enjoy it for all its worth. There’s times when I want to open up my Jaguar and let the cat just purr; but then the thought of the boys in blue giving me a nice ticket throws a wrench in my idea. Thankfully, the “Art of Performance Tour” allowed me to push some Jaguars and Range Rovers to their limits.
The “Art of Performance Tour” has four components: a slalom course with the XE and F-Type Coupe R; a Smart Cone course that tests your driving abilities; an F-Pace drive course; and finally, a Range Rover hydraulic-based agility test.
The Jaguar XE is the newest vehicle added to the line-up and it stacks up nicely to the competition, mainly the Benz C300 and BMW 3-series. The F-Type Coupe R is a monster of a car that delivers amazing performance. Driving both of these through a slalom course gave two different experiences, for obvious reasons of course. Even though the front end setup is the same for both vehicles, the F-Type Coupe R just rocketed through the course. I thought my driving was pretty good until a professional driver humbled me, lowering my (driving) self-esteem down to the size of a peanut.
Next up, the Smart Cone driving challenge. Most drivers think that the faster you go, the better the score; but for this challenge, drivers had to command a XE through a course by paying attention to which green gates were going to open next. Points were given for driving accuracy, speed, and total distance travelled. I faired pretty good, and much better than one private driver who hit many a Smart Cone and screeched tires all over.
Component three matched drivers with the new F-Pace, a great looking SUV that Jaguar emphasizes is performance oriented. Our fleet of F-Paces was equipped with the S-package, which gives bigger wheels and tires, more power, and some other interior and exterior upgrades. Whilst going through the course, I noticed the responsive steering and good amount of power. It’s safe to say that Jaguar’s first SUV will have solid sales numbers.
I’ve saved the next segment for last and for good reason. Land Rover has always expressed that their vehicles are not just capable, but very capable. However, not many Range Rovers will find their way to the kinds of environment for which they were built. But if you had to, boy are you in good hands. The course for the Range Rover took us through a PNE-styled hydraulic ride that showcased the SUV’s crawling abilities when encountering extreme approach and decline angles. Put the vehicle in automatic mode and you don’t need to press the gas or brake peddles – the Range Rover does everything for you. Honestly, it was quite the experience. Immediately after, the Range Rover crawled through a platform that teetered, yet balanced, the SUV on two wheels. And, if needed, during your outdoor adventures, the Rover is fully sealed for traversing water depth of up to 33.5 inches, while keeping the luxury interior nice and dry.
For many drivers, the daily commute isn’t one that raises the eyebrows or gets the adrenaline pumping. It’s usually the same schedule: drive to work, come home, take kids to soccer practice, and on the occasional weekend, take a trip…and repeat. Vehicles nowadays, although treated as utilitarian, have much more capabilities that are never experienced.
Land Rover Jaguar builds some of the best vehicles in the world and if you ever need to experience what they are really capable of, sign up for an “Art of Performance” Tour. If this is not possible, the manufacturer has many other drive experiences that really put you in the driver’s seat – you’ll be glad you did. I know I was.