Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Jaguar Experience Thruxton Race Circuit Tuesday 22nd October

Jaguar say in their blurb that if you’ve ever dreamt of roaring around a racetrack behind the wheel of one of their cars, this was the day to get the pulse racing. Jaguar offered to show me how to get the most out of their cars on the track – accelerating hard on the straights, sliding through corners with ease and getting to grips with the cars’ active safety features in real life scenarios. 
This was promoted as the Jaguar Experience, an exclusive and complimentary invitation to be down at Thruxton Race Circuit in Hampshire at 9am for a day of exhilarating driving activities, both on and off track, designed to showcase the breadth of capability of the new Jaguar range.   It seemed to fit particularly well with my theme of “Great Brands makes Britain Great” and I was firmly "into cars" after my recent day at Mclaren. 
After a welcome cup of coffee and light breakfast, under the watchful eye of professional Jaguar drivers, male and female, I was able to put some exciting new Jaguar cars through their paces, albeit at a somewhat steadier speed than some of the chaps.
Pride of place had to go to being in the driving seat of the new Jaguar F-TYPE and equipped with crash helmet I was able to try out both the 3 litre V6 and the heavier 5 litre V8.  This is a beautifully designed car totally in the footsteps of its famous predecessors – the C type, D type and E type.    I don’t pretend to have taken the car to anything like its limits on the track but it was a lovely car to drive – as much fun and rather more predictable than our own forty year old E type convertible sitting at home.
I was also given the opportunity to take the XJ Supersport around the circuit a couple of times – challenging as the course had been subject to a constant downpour that morning and there was standing water as well as spray from passing cars.
For the XF Sportbrake Diesel S we had a slightly different experience – that of manoeuvring the car around bollards at speed and being impressed with its superb handling.  From a practical point of view this would probably have been my car of choice, head ruling over heart.
For the XFR, I was instructed to accelerate fast up to 45mph and then slam on the brakes and at the same time steer the car “out of trouble” around some bollards.  Miraculously the car seemed to go exactly where pointed despite very heavy braking – all due to its incredible ABS braking system.  This apparently brakes each wheel just to the extent needed and they never lock.  In an emergency situation, this car could stop and avoid a collision where other cars simply could not.

And then (above) to the highlight of the morning – being taken around the circuit in a blue  
XKR-S by one of Ja
guar’s professional driving team, demonstrating in a couple of laps the awe-inspiring performance of their fastest and most powerful production car.  This was the fairground ride to beat all fairground rides as we touched on 145mph in wet conditions feeling the back end sliding as well as the front end, taking the track at maximum speed.  The car may be incredibly fast but my main appreciation is of what it really takes to be a professional driver, able to take a car to its absolute limits whilst always maintaining total safety and control.  It was an exhilarating experience!
Jaguar say The Experience is where their cars truly come alive. It left me impressed with their hospitality and over-awed by their cars.

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