Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 9, 2017
Wouldn’t you want to try on that pair of pants before you buy them? The same question could go for any piece of attire, or any automobile for that matter. That’s what Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) had in mind when they set up the Art of Performance Tour, which offers anyone with a driver’s license a free opportunity to experience what this brand is all about. You don’t have to own a JLR product to register, and this event gives you a delightful way of test driving that vehicle that you might have only heard about online. JLR offers this program throughout Canada and I was lucky enough to participate in the event in Toronto.
Here, I was exposed to their wide automotive portfolio in an array of challenging and exciting situations. I was first put into the passenger seat of a new Land Rover Discovery which was helpful because I only evaluated our last Discovery on dry and flat tarmac. The driving instructor took us on a few ramps and with the help of state of the art cameras and sensors, we were able to climb up to a dizzying 26-degrees of incline.
I watched my colleagues hop in the car and do the same thing, but the task looked more daunting from the outside, watching the wheels articulate and the suspension work overtime to get the vehicle settled. It also gave us a good look at the underbody. Sitting inside however, I barely felt a thing. The Discovery handled the ramps and hills in such a smooth and suave manner. I even responded to a few text messages while we had two wheels in the air without feeling nauseated or uncomfortable.
The next experience was with the Jaguar F-Pace around a closed pilon course. The F-Pace is a compact crossover but don’t let that fool you into thinking it won’t go around a track. With a supercharged V6 under the hood delivering 380 horsepower to all four wheels via an 8-speed transmission, the F-Pace was a graceful and engaging dancing partner. The steering was what really stood out to me. Though on the light side of the spectrum, it offered just enough weighting and communication from the front wheels to make me feel confident throwing it around a hairpin at quick speeds.
We were then put into the seat of a Jaguar F-Type SVR, the cream of the crop, for some hot laps with a driving instructor at the wheel. With a 575-horsepower supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and a feral exhaust linked straight to the seventh circle of hell at our driver’s disposal, we were flung around another closed circuit at top speed. Without the control of the wheel or pedal, it actually felt like a rollercoaster ride, and I’d take this over Behemoth at Canada’s Wonderland any day of the week.
Our final stop was with the Jaguar XE, a luxury compact sedan that was built to bring the fight to the BMW 3 Series. Our drive was on another closed circuit but this one was different. There were multiple pairs of cones scattered along the tarmac, and each pair would light up in green one at a time, and we had to navigate our XE through each of them in a timed lap. As a friendly competition with my colleagues, we were scored based on lap time, the accuracy in which we could place our XE straight in the center of the two cones (measured by GPS), and the least distance measured from start to finish. While we didn’t get a place on the podium, we were able to experience the XE’s nimble chassis, chatty steering, and abruptly responsive engine.
Jaguar Land Rover has set up a wonderful driving experience, following the likes of other automakers like Porsche and BMW that offer similar events around the world. We got a chance to test drive and sit in a wide range of vehicles, and it sure beats anything a dealership visit would offer. If you ever wanted to test drive a Jaguar or Land Rover, or simply want to see what they were all about, then the Art of Performance Tour will be the answer to your curiosity.