Racetracks and Jaguar’s
Formerly known as the Swallow Sidecar Company, it was only after World War II that the company decided to change its name to Jaguar, to avoid any negative connotations with the SS initials. From building motorcycle sidecars to some legendary vehicles, they’ve come a long, long way.
Having snagged the opportunity to spend a day with the Jaguar team and some of their vehicles at Yas Marina Circuit, our day was divided into two sections; track driving and an obstacle course along with a demonstration of the traction control system. On the track, it was the F-Type Convertible and XFR-S that we would be navigating, while the obstacle course and traction control demonstration, would see us behind the wheel of the standard XF and XJ respectively.
The F-Type is a two-seater, front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car that is available with a decent V6 or an extremely potent V8 engine and is based on a shortened XK platform. When introduced in 2013, the F-Type created quite a stir amongst the motoring press and was regarded as quite possibly, the best looking convertible on the market at the time.
After parking ourselves into the snug leather wrapped racing seats and pushing the ignition switch, the V6 came to life. Powered by a 3.0 litre supercharged engine, the standard F-Type convertible chucked out 340 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque; more than enough for a decent bit of fun on the track. Holding its ground and sticking in the corner’s, the V6 was peppy enough to bring a smile to our face. Mated to an eight speed ‘Quickshift’ tranny, a simple tap of the magnesium paddles behind the wheel and the V6 would instantly shift cogs and accelerate effortlessly to its 260 km/h top speed. However, there was something fundamentally wrong. Just like a pizza without cheese, or a movie without any audio, the standard V6 F-Type Convertible was missing an integral element of a true sports car; a kickass soundtrack.
Following two laps in the standard V6, we gladly hopped into the V8 variant. From the moment you push the start button and hear that gnarly snarl from the exhaust tips, you’re almost guaranteed that the V8 variant is going to make up for all the shortcomings of the V6 version. With 495 horsepower, 625 Nm of torque and a top speed of 300 km/h, the 5.0 litre supercharged engine is a big, big jump from the V6. Accelerating to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds, there was never a time when the 1,665 kg British beauty felt underpowered. More than carving up corners and kicking its tail out at every depress of the accelerator pedal, we enjoyed the true sound of motoring symphony, with every pop and burble from the quad exhausts as we progressed through the eight speed transmission.
Finished in a pearl white hue and showcasing slits in its hood, a blacked out mesh grille, quad exhausts, an aggressive rear diffuser and a rear wing, the XFR-S indiscreetly suggests the insane amounts of power from the 5.0 litre supercharged engine that is hidden under its hood. Mated to an 8 speed transmission, the XFR-S transmits 550 horsepower and 680 Nm of torque to the rear wheels; you can already imagine what a blast it must be to drive. Demolishing a 0 – 100 km/h run in just 4.6 seconds, before continuing to its 300 km/h limited top speed, the XFR-S is something other sedans aspire to be; a real sports sedan. On the straights, it had no issue whatsoever keeping up with the lighter F-Type’s, but arrive at a set of turns and it does fall back, since its size and grip levels hinder its performance. But, boy was it a heck load of fun!
After spending a few minutes hooning on the racetrack, we were asked to pull into the pit lane and were directed to the other side of the circuit, where an obstacle course had been set up. Following an immense struggle and almost shedding a tear as we left the XFR-S, we parked our rear end into the 2.0 litre turbocharged XF and buckled ourselves up, as we awaited instructions from the team. Designed to showcase the dynamic handling of the XF, we were asked to weave our way through a slalom and a bunch of other obstacles. A few things that stood out were, signifcant body roll, tyres squealing begging for grip and an accelerator pedal that almost felt like it was in hibernation mode. Having experienced what the XF is capable of in XFR-S guise, the standard XF was simply a massive, massive disappointment.
Being the flagship model in the brand’s line-up, the XJ is expected to offer supreme amounts of comfort, a bucket load of tech and the best the brand has to offer. Unsurprisngly, the XJ does just that, with wood veneer on the dashboard, centre console and door panels, a Meridien sound system and enough room in the back to host a party.
With a 2.0 litre turbo charged four cylinder engine at the disposal of our right foot, we were asked to drive through what I would call the ‘Dubai Fountains of the Automotive World’; once with the traction control and stability systems switched on, and then again with all the electronics switched off.
As expected with the systems turned on, the car accelerated constantly by sending 240 horsepower and 340Nm of torque to the wheels that did have traction and had no issues weaving through the fountains. Once the systems had been turned off, however, the car struggled to accelerate, with RPM’s increasing but no actual forward motion. More importantly, when it came to doing a slalom through the fountains, the car spun out almost instantaneously and would go into what is referred to as ‘limp mode’. With a transmission failure warning popping up and a bunch of other lights flashing, the only way to solve the issue is to switch the car off and restart it, which is a little silly to be honest. However, at the end of the exercise we walked away more aware of how good the traction control system really is and why it should be left on at all times.
According to the guys at Jag, a multisensory experience is the key ingredient to making a Jaguar, a Jaguar. It’s all about satisfying more than just the eyes, it’s about offering a product that feels good and even sounds good. So I ask you, is a little hypocritical that the Jaguar F-Type Coupe and XK were present at the event, but only for aesthetic or viewing pleasure? I think so…