Track talk

On to the Motorland Aragon. Graduating from the road- friendly V6 to the track-crazy V8 seems logical enough after getting to terms with the Jag’s ways. The smaller- engined car may be lighter, but the full-fat version doesn’t give up any of the agility for the added grunt it packs. Jaguar engineers have graciously added ‘hero serum’ to the mix here, making you do unthinkable things at ridiculous speeds before reality sets in.

Jargon like Torque Vectoring by Braking and Second- Generation Electronic Limited Slip Differential are just some of the systems that are working a dog’s-day afternoon while I mash my right foot down all the way to the start/finish line. Obviously, putting a journalist in a 550bhp supercar on a completely unknown race track isn’t the smartest move, and so, able instructors prove to be the guardian angels sitting shotgun and guiding me through the first couple of laps.

Designed by F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke and ex-F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa, the Aragon consists of 16 corners and a total length of 5.4km, full of technical challenges. A lot of the corners are blind due to the elevation changes and the ones which are not succeed at turning your knees to jelly.

The long, back straight that leads into the penultimate corner can allow speeds of up to 270kmph in the F-type, and the markers that indicate braking points whizz by as the mental driving instructor keeps pushing me to ignore them and keep going. It takes a lot of faith in yourself but even more in the car to approach a barricade head-on at Formula One speeds.

There are different performance braking systems on offer and the track-ready R model comes with Jaguar’s most extreme package ever. A ₣12,000 option (that won’t be making it to the Indian option list) – the carbon ceramic brakes are identified by the bright yellow calipers and glowing red discs during a hot lap. Besides their fade resistance and consistent pedal feel, they also knock a massive 21kg off the car’s weight, and if you know anything about sportscars, you’d know that throwing the passenger out of the window results in much better handling.

The famed aluminium construction adds to this idealogy but shockingly, the hydroformed roof structure now adds a massive 80 percent stiffness over the Convertible. Out on the track, this is clearly evident right from the first flick around the corner.

Mode for every mood

There is no prerequisite that Jaguar has for selling you this car. Clearly they’re not concerned about your driving skills. But they certainly are concerned about your safety. And enjoyment. The Winter and Dynamic drive modes offer just that in equal measure. As expected, the track seems to be the ideal setting to wake up the electronic nannies. The aircraft-style toggle switch lets me shift to Dynamic mode, it sharpens up the throttle response to head-spinning levels while the gear shifts are even more aggressive, and makes sounds your ears will thank you for. Steering, which is already very direct, achieves a sharpness that belies the nose-heavy nature of a V8 engine.

None of this, of course, can make you a natural racing driver and while I struggle to take the right line across the fast, sweeping Turn 9 and 10, a tiny dollop of extra throttle can swing the tail out of sync. Just in time then, the Torque Vectoring System brakes the inside rear wheel and realigns the car to my line of sight. Staying committed on the throttle across the bend, I can tell that the electronic differential and adaptive dampers are doing their job to keep this car stuck to the asphalt.

Sensors measure body roll, pitch and steering wheel position hundreds of times every second and make decisions faster than any human could ever make, all to keep your shiny investment safe and your curdled brain within the confines of the helmet. The active spoiler is deployed at speeds over 80kmph and, at full bore, can add as much weight as two full-grown Jaguars to the back of the car, making it hunker down and grip the road like it has claws on a capybara. To surmise, this is not only the best handling Jaguar sportscar ever, it may also be the most fun sportscar currently on sale. Period.

Cat in the bag

Jaguar loyalists should have reason to rejoice. The 50-year wait for the next big Jag has finally ended. This is a car that is so much more than the sum of its parts, it almost feels organic and, as the campaign rightfully claims, it feels ‘alive’ under your hands and feet. Every detail about the drivetrain, transmission and exhaust has been designed to put a smile on your face and that alone is enough to forgive its minor oversights.

From the deep burble of the engine on start-up to the operatic pops and cackles on the overrun and downshifts, there never is a dull moment behind the wheel. Even the passenger might have a good time if he or she has the appetite for some surreal G-force entertainment! The Coupé also lets you carry a spare change of clothes over the Convertible’s toothbrush- only policy. At ₹1.3 crores and ₹1.8 crores for the V6S and the V8R models respectively, it might seem like a hefty packet, but until the personal jetpack is invented, the F-type may well be the most fun you can have with anything that has an engine.