Jaguar established itself as a manufacturer of highly desirable sports cars from as early as the 1940s with the beautiful XK range of two-seat roadsters and of course, the “most beautiful car in the world”; the E-type, first produced in 1961.
From these early days, Jaguar injected a certain level of class into their motor vehicles which always managed to find a way to complement the performance perfectly. Such finesse over the years has led to these same principles applied to modern Jaguar variants.
From the all-electric i-PACE and limousine styled XJ range all the way through to the ground shaking XE Project 8, Jaguar has maintained a steady line-up of artistically engineered masterpieces for over 70 years.
The Art of Performance Tour brings this same balance to the general public in a way only Jaguar can deliver.
From the moment you grab your name tag you are greeted with a friendly welcome from the Jaguar PR team and immediately offered a hot coffee from the on-site barista. The hospitality continues with a generous spread of fresh fruit, yoghurt, muesli and fresh orange juice to ensure you are well sustained for the day ahead.
The day officially kicks off with a brief introduction to the team on-site as well as an interesting look back at the history of Jaguar, particularly the more performance-oriented range throughout time both in Australia and abroad.
Jaguar XE Project 8
Finally, the time comes to strap on a Jaguar branded helmet (choose from classic white or “Project 8 orange”). First up is the Nurburgring record-setting Project 8.
To say this is a quick car is an understatement. It’s not even just quick for a sedan, it’s a serious contender in the current lineup of exotic machines available to the public (albeit, not the Australian public, unfortunately).
The XE Project 8 is here in Australia as an example of what Jaguar is capable of delivering when the engineering department is given free-reign.
The Supercharged 5 litre V8, MASSIVE 400mm Carbon Ceramic brakes and All-Wheel Drive system helped secure the Project 8 as the current record holder for the fastest sedan around the Nurburgring at 7 minutes 18.361 seconds.
But let’s leave the boffins to debate lap times and brake compounds because all you need to know is that the Project 8 will reach in excess of 245km/h at the end of Sydney Motorsport Park’s main straight without cracking a sweat. Enough said.
As mentioned, the Project 8 isn’t available in Australia but indications from the team would put it around the $325,000 mark if it was something you could buy here.
After a quick change of slacks, it’s back onto the track again, but this time it’s piloting the fully electric Jaguar I-PACE.
The I-PACE delivered the biggest surprise of the day especially considering it was relegated to the track. The electric drivetrain seemed to be right at home carving up the unconventional turns at SMSP.
Stick it into dynamic mode and you’d swear you were driving one of Jag’s more performance-oriented models, were it not for the high driving position. The only other giveaway that you are in a something that isn’t 5mm off the ground, is the slightest of wavering over some of the more undulating parts of the track.
Jaguar have this car pinned as a ‘true drivers car’ and although you might not pick it over the Project 8 or even the F-type R, the response off the line and out of corners make this arguably brave sentiment one you may not be able to disagree with.
The I-PACE starts at AUD$131,797 drive away.
Jaguar F-Type R
The F-type R was the best sounding car of the day. It’s 405kw Supercharged V8 made all the right noises as it downshifts for turn one. But yet again, Jaguar have managed to deliver a traditionally brutish noise with a certain touch of elegance and poise.
This is probably the car you would most want to compare the Project 8 with. It’s got similar DNA with it’s 5 Litre engine and All Wheel Drive, but the fact that it’s a little more ‘underbraked’ and the suspension setup is nowhere near as complex makes the R just a little bit more lively and fun to drive, even with all four wheels doing some of the work.
Heavy under brakes after topping out around 220km/h on the main brakes sees the back end squirm around just a little bit, but enough to let you know that the R is not a car to be taken lightly. Similarly, stomping on the go pedal through some of the tighter corners results in a feeling of “what if I just tipped it in a little bit harder?”
The AWD F-type R starts at AUD$208,444 before on-road costs for those who want to experience the noise for themselves.
Jaguar XJ Autobiography
It’s fitting that the last car on offer for the day is the biggest and possibly the most over the top of the range.
If you think the XE and XF are the pinnacles of luxury, then first off, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that, but secondly you’ll soon realise that the XJ changes the game entirely when it comes to on-road style and comfort.
The car is huge, literally a limousine even by modern standards, and the cavernous interior is appointed with an endless supply of quilted leather, woodgrain inserts and a back seat that makes a first-class airline seat look like a plastic lawn chair.
The biggest surprise isn’t apparent until you take it on the track. The Jaguar DNA for performance is not lost on the XJ Autobiography with a 5 Litre V8 pushing out 375kw of power and a ridiculous 625nm of torque.
All of this manages to get the XJ from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds which is incredible for a car weighing in at 2.5 tonnes.
The cornering prowess was also a big surprise. Again, considering the size and wheelbase, the Autobiography edition feels like it has borrowed some of the geometry from it’s smaller family members. Sure, it does feel bigger and a bit more of a handful on the track, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. The fact that you need to add another 45º of lock to the wheel over the rest of the range shouldn’t dissuade anyone from considering the XJ as a capable performer.
The big XJ starts are AUD$165,500 for the V6 and goes up to AUD$275,000+ for the Autobiography version as tested here.
The Art of Performance Tour
This is an experience that you will not forget. From the hospitality of the Jaguar team to the sheer performance and fun experienced on the track, you’ll be leaving the track with a massive smile on your face and no doubt, considering the trade-in value of your current car and a trip to your nearest Jaguar dealer.
If you are indeed considering a Jaguar for your next car, then there’s really no better way to get an understanding of the entire Jaguar range than the Art of Performance Tour.
The tour takes on few different guises, from track days like this one through to road drive days and off-road experiences.
Do yourself a favour and get along to one of the events in your region by heading to the Jaguar website to see when the next one is on.