New Jaguar models burn up race track

Jaguar East London held an exciting track day on Sunday for invited customers of the local dealership, to test a range of vehicles around the West Bank-based race track.

The event formed part of Jaguar’s Art of Performance tour, which kicked off in September at a revamped Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Gauteng.

STABLE OF NOTE: The lineup of Jaguar cars at the East London race track, with the F-Type R Coupé on the left Pictures: BRETT CARROLL
The lineup of Jaguar cars at the East London race track, with the F-Type R Coupé on the left. Pictures: BRETT CARROLL

Instructors from the Jaguar Experience driver-training academy were on hand at the East London track to take clients and media through Jaguar’s full lineup of high-performance SUVs, sports sedans and sports cars.

The list included the Jaguar F-Pace SUV, the XE, XF and XJ sports sedans, and also the 3.0l V6 F-Type convertible.

The highlight, though, was getting to drive the new F-Type R Coupé. The 300km/h supercar features a 5.0l supercharged V8 engine that produces 405kW and 680Nm. It catapults the vehicle from a standstill to 100km/h in just 4.12 seconds.

Importantly, it looks good too. The F-type has walked away with the World Car Design of the Year accolade, and in total has won more than 140 awards since its international launch in 2012. The two-seater felt rock-steady as we blasted down the main straight, reaching over 200km/h before we had to slow down for Potters Pass, and then tackle the equally daunting Rifle bend.

Jaguar’s first attempt at an SUV, the F-Pace, has been widely received as a success
Jaguar’s first attempt at an SUV, the F-Pace, has been widely received as a success

Heeding the Jaguar Experience driving instructor’s command to “stay on it”, I clipped the apex of the super-fast curve before moments later climbing hard on the brakes for Cocobana Corner, a tight right- hander.

The F-Type is loaded with driver aids that will give you a lot of confidence in the handling of the impressive vehicle, which sells for a touch under R2-million.

It was exhilarating stuff to say the least, and my only gripe was that I didn’t get a little more track time in it.

F-Type buyers can choose between four coupé variants and three convertible models. The convertible has proven the most popular since launch, with the topless model accounting for the majority of sales.

We got to drive the 3.0l V6 model (with roof up) and while it didn’t quite take your breath away like its big brother, it was still easy on the eye and a lot of fun around the track.

Producing 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque, the engine was certainly no slouch, propelling the car from 0 to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 250km/h.

I also managed to spend some time behind the wheel of the 3.0l supercharged V6 petrol F-Pace, the XE S sedan and luxury XJ sedan.

For a large vehicle, the F-Pace, which is Jaguar’s first SUV, was particularly impressive. Equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and All-Wheel Drive, it handled well, felt comfortable at speed and, while we didn’t get to test it off-road, I am told it is very capable off the beaten track.

The engine produces identical figures to that of the 3.0l found in the F-Type, although being an SUV it takes a little longer to hit the 100km/h mark, which comes up in a still respectable 5.8 seconds.

The Jaguar brand has experienced something of a transformation over the past few years and arguably has one of the most exciting model line-ups of any car manufacturer around. The company is clearly intent on taking the fight to the Big Three – Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW – and anyone in the market for a luxury sedan or SUV should include the cat on their buying list.

For the launch of the Art of Performance tour, Richard Gouverneur, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa, summed it up best when he said driving a Jaguar was a unique experience.

“They’re luxurious, and thrilling to drive in a way that seduces the senses.”