Just got back from a Jaguar driving event. What an awesome experience. Jags have always been one of the best designed vehicles out there. They have not been always the most reliable vehicles out there, but their designs are always beautiful.
They had the XK, XF, XJ, XKR, XJR, XKR-S, F-Type, and XFR-S for us check out. They had four driving courses setup. They had a street drive in the XJ's. We were in the V6 equipped model. It was nice. Comfortable, but not enough time for a good impression.
Then they had us go to what they call the technology tent where we were able to see how their AWD and control systems handled non-ideal road conditions. They had us do two laps. The first lap had all the computers turned off. Just the AWD system functioning. First obstacle was a uphill start on snow/rain. They had us mash the gas pedal acting like an idiot 16 year old kid. The rear tires just spun sending tire smoke into the cabin through the HVAC as it slowly climbed up and over. The second obstacle consisted of a start on a slanted surface. Again mash the pedal, and the car started to drift side ways. Third obstacle mimicked an on ramp that was treated with sand. Pressed the gas to gain speed and the vehicle went into a front end skid. Final obstacle had us stopped with the wheel turned hard right to get a rear skid when we mashed the gas pedal.
The second lap had the computer systems turned on. Back to the first obstacle. Mashed the gas pedal again, but the car intelligently only applied enough power to climb up the incline from a stop. Same story with the second obstacle with keeping the vehicle on the incline without letting it slide sideways, prevented the front skid in the third obstacle, and rear skid in the final obstacle.
I must say though, it was the least invasive system I have ever driven. Vehicles I have driven would let the tires slip, cut power, and then reapply power. Something that is invasive and doesn't really help you keep the vehicle under control.
Then we did a 0-60 run in the XKR-S which has 550 HP and 508 lb.-ft. of torque. OMG does that thing go like crazy. I was thrown back into the seat and I was just grinning with the gas pedal pressed as hard to the floor as I could get it. Even though it was supposed to be 0-60, I felt like I was going about 75 MPH. This was recorded so I will have video of my run with my performance data by Wednesday they said.
Finally, they had a small track setup for us throw these cats around. I chose to take the "regular" XKR around the track. First lap was an introduction lap and the second lap was timed. The fastest person in your group would get a concept drawing of one of the Jags. I managed to get a time of 37 seconds around the track, which is sadly one second behind the fastest time in my group. I know where I made mistakes and was too aggressive with the gas pedal( gee, 500 HP is still a lot of power). Wished I had one more lap because I feel like I could still improve my time.
Overall, it was a great experience. I maintain that these Jags are one of the best designed vehicles on the market today. They are more beautiful than BMW's Audi's, Cadillac's, and other luxury car makers. They are arguably up there with Aston Martin's when it comes to exterior design. They drive great with a great interior and technology. Only thing holding me back from ever considering one is the fact I am still concerned about their long term reliability.