Jaguar cars were first seen on UK roads in 1935 and they have consistently captured our collective imagination since. From its cat-like elegance to its raw power, the Jaguar has been the object of desire for many an automotive aficionado. And with The Art of Performance Tour, the British luxury car maker is offering its customers an opportunity to get behind the wheels of some of its latest cars, with the added advantage of an experienced instructor by their side.
The tour made its debut in Malaysia in 2018 after two successful years in Europe. Unforgettable and decidedly thrilling, its Kuala Lumpur pit stop — which was part of a regional multi-city tour — allowed members of the public and the press a chance to put the XE, XF and F-PACE through their paces on a dynamic driving circuit as well as Jaguar’s innovative Smart Cones course.
On the custom circuit located on the grounds of the Setia City Convention Centre, we tried out the XE and XF under different conditions to show their ability to keep their occupants safe — specifically, their amazing traction control.
With this control switched on, we were asked to drive at 40kph towards a stretch of vinyl bathed in soapy water, and when our tyres touched this slippery surface, slam the brakes as hard as possible. Effortlessly, the car stopped and we barely moved in our seats.
But when all its electronics were disengaged, the car reacted quite differently — it spun in the direction of the tarred road, which has more friction.
At the second station, we learnt to appreciate a standing start with and without the traction control. With it engaged, the car pulled away easily as the electronics prevented the wheels from over-spinning. When it was turned off, the car revved freely, but did not move an inch.
With this control switched on and off, the instructors also took us on a blistering drive around the circuit so we could get the feel of both experiences. Now, if you are a professional racing car driver, you would have the necessary skills to manoeuvre the car without any such assistance. But for mere mortals, traction control makes a huge difference — it provides drivers with a far safer driving experience.
Of the three activities, the Smart Cones was my favourite, especially since it was done using the new F-PACE, Jaguar’s award-winning two-litre SUV that was unveiled at The Art of Performance Tour in KL.
Unpredictable with a million different potential courses, Smart Cones is designed to gauge a driver’s skill and exploit the precise and agile handling of the car. Inspired by the agility training game Batak, the system uses wireless technology to produce both a predetermined and a random course of intelligent illuminating cones, notifying the driver of his next target at only a moment’s notice. As the car is driven, its precise coordinates are measured in relation to the cones and sent to a central computer system 100 times per second to track its performance.
The F-PACE, which won Ward’s 2018 10 Best Engines award, is powered by Jaguar’s new four-cylinder Ingenium powertrain that is combined with a twin-scroll turbocharger that produces 250PS and 365Nm of torque from only 1,200rpm. The turbocharger is fed by an integrated exhaust manifold that synchronises exhaust pulses from two separate pairs of cylinders, significantly reducing turbo lag while improving engine response. I didn’t quite get to test this out, but I imagine the ability of the machine to achieve zero to 100kph in just 6.8 seconds enables some smooth acceleration for effortless overtaking.
I found the F-PACE, for its size, to be surprisingly nimble and light as I swung it around the Smart Cones course. I was told this comes from its body, the first to be developed using Jaguar’s lightweight aluminium architecture. The car combines purity of line, surface and proportion with features taken directly from the F-TYPE — for instance, the powerful rear haunches, fender vents and distinctive tail light graphics. The bold front grille and muscular bonnet hint at the performance potential of the engine while the slender full-LED headlights, 20in wheels and short front overhang carry the design vision of the C-X17 concept through to production.
Ideal for families and the adventurous solo traveller, the F-PACE is an SUV with everyday usability — it has impressive boot volume and a spacious cabin with a lot of legroom. It seats five comfortably in a luxurious interior featuring premium materials, craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail, all of which give every Jaguar the unique sense of occasion it is known for.
The F-PACE is priced at RM425,800 for the Prestige version and RM498,800 for the hi-spec R-Sport version. Click here for more information or to sign up for future editions of The Art of Performance Tour. This article first appeared on May 7, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.