Track day afternoon with Jaguar Art of Performance Tour in Mumbai

A day spent being the cat whisperer

It’s days like this that are capable of causing a rift in our office – our perfect, utopic world nurtured with our love for gadgets, fast cars and more...

It is this mutual love for all things fast and furious that binds us, but when an invite like this comes along is when friend turns against friend and we all have our own Holy Mother of Jesus moment. A flip of a coin, a round of UNO, a handshake deal, and a special round of Jeopardy and Match Game – all to zero in on the participant for this one. Of course, winner takes all. When the prize was to spend an afternoon driving all that Jaguar has to offer, we all played our ace games. But, in the name of team spirit, let’s say Stuff came out the winner.

Come track day, mercury levels were scathing, but spirit was undaunted as we participated in the Jaguar Art of Performance Tour’s Mumbai leg and took our marriage to the wheel a step ahead in the relationship. Back home we’re victims of speed limits and endless potholes – it’s close enough to driving on the moon – so a series of activities on an open tarmac course [mind you, no traffic signals or potholes here!] with a bevy of cool cats to play with and it was a win-win for us.

ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER

The touch of a Jag does things to you and there’s no turning back from there. Pardon our innuendos and analogies, but that’s the one thing Jaguar takes pride in – seducing your senses from the get-go. To our brains, already-seduced by the fleet in front of us, it was a car-lover’s version of a teen-fantasy coming true. On the platter for the picking were the latest models by Jaguar in India – The XE, XJ, XF, F-Type and the latest one, the F-Pace. We definitely were warmed up for more than just a touch at this point…

Through a series of activities, we were to better acquaint ourselves with the big cat’s agility, stopping power and the multitude of stealthy tricks it carries in its arsenal. Acceleration, slalom, braking and the auto park assist, to be more precise. Gunning for the horizon at 240km/hr, you do realise that all good things must come to an end, rather rapidly. The F-Type’s brutal, back-pinning acceleration  and 335hp V6 motor managed to take us to new heights of pleasure in a mere 4-something seconds, a number we wished would’ve lasted longer but that would upset the speed:orgasm continuum, so we left the equation undisturbed.

MAXIMUM PLEASURE

Switching from the super-agile XE to the more sedate but entertaining XF and then to the indulgent XJ-L, we were ushered from one leather-wrapped cabin to another and asked to do dirty deeds to these machines. As expected, the slalom course wasn’t going to make the XE weak in the knees but what was really surprising was the braking and lane-changing agility of the XJ-L luxo barge. In its V6 guise, pumping out in excess of 300hp and 700Nm of torque, this car was a delight to be driven in or behind the wheel for the occasional outrunning at the traffic lights. In it’s updated form for the 2016 facelift, it also got the auto-park assist feature to keep it in line with the best that the Germans have to offer.

That aside, no doubt the Jaguar guys are capable of writing a seduction manual, if one ever needed to be written. They do know a thing or two about providing driving pleasure. Every model has a poised ride that doesn’t compromise on the handling and the direct and sharp steering response makes them a whole lot of fun chucking around bends too. It’s no surprise that the XE has emerged as the driver’s car in the segment and the XF and XJ can more than hold their own when it comes to mixing business with pleasure.

THE FAST PACED F-PACE

The Art of Performance Tour was also a platform to introduce us to Jaguar’s most recent addition to their luxury fleet, although this time in an SUV bodystyle.The first edition of the F-Pace R Sport. In this spec, it hides a 3-litre V6 diesel engine under the heavily sculpted hood, producing 300hp of turbocharged power being sent to all four wheels. The dynamic stance fuses traditional Jaguar design cues and the modern silhouette of the F-Type to prove a point - this isn’t no soccer-mom SUV to drop the kids to school. Sure, it can do that with some level of difficulty (no 7-seat option here), but it really comes alive on a good, winding road. All we had to prove its mettle was a slalom and braking test to whet our appetite.

One might assume that the tall and heavy F-Pace might be better at cobbled streets than carving corners but in the R-Sport spec that we had at our disposal, it simply shrinks around the driver and we were grinning from ear to ear feeling like heroes in the shadow of the sophisticated electronics and the optional high-performance braking system on this sport SUV.

MASTER OF THE WHEELS

Rayomand Banajee, Lead Instructor, Jaguar India had some vital information to share. Preparing for the thrill, creating a safe environment for Jaguar enthusiasts while you go zip, zap, zoom - an instructor plays a vital role in contributing to your confidence behind the wheel.

He told us, "We’ve got a pool of instructors – the ones who were with you in the car. It’s our duty to ensure that you have a fantastic experience and are capable of exploiting what our cars can do. All instructors are professional and experienced race drivers who have won before. That is our minimum requirement. Also, Jaguar has very comprehensive and intense guidelines and systems in place for everything that is done with the Art of Performance Tour. Few of us have just been trained by jaguar globally to conduct these programs. In turn we have trained the remaining instructors – they have all gone through some programs from Jaguar to know more about the brand itself."

His personal favourite from the lot is the XE. He considers the F-type brilliant too, but the way the XE handles is what Rayo loves. The maximum he has touched during the tour is 280km/h last month in Bangalore.