When I arrived as a guest driver of Jaguar and Land Rover at the Toronto stop of the “Art of Performance” and “Above and Beyond” tour, a certain energy hung in the air.
Several JLR halo vehicles were sitting out front like eye candy. An F-Type SVR, Range Rover Autobiography and other masterpieces of the marque were on display, capturing my attention. An enormous reception tent was generously attended with welcoming, smartly uniformed JLR staff. My anticipation of what’s to come was building by the footstep.
With a freshly aquired press lanyard adorning my neck, I was escorted to a room where detailed descriptions of Jaguar and Land Rover’s products were projected on screen. The narrator emphasized a key point: JLR vehicles serve an essential purpose in getting you from A to B, but what sets these vehicles apart is the way they make you feel during your daily journeys.
With an instructor in tow to help show me the ropes, I was then sent outdoors to drive three different vehicles through three somewhat intimidating courses.
First in the lineup was a supercharged, 550 horsepower Jaguar F-PACE SVR. I was instructed to guide this vehicle through a timed “smart cone” autocross course that changes the path on every pass. With no set pattern established, you had to react as every upcoming set of cones goes green. With a 0-60 mph (0-96.5 km/h) time of a scant 4.1 seconds you’ll need to hang on – this cat rips and tears asphalt!
This autocross exercise allowed for a good sampling of the dynamism of this SUV in a relatively tight space. Its braking and turning ability were particularly notable, given this vehicle wasn’t exactly designed for autocrossing. The power and aggressive sound from the engine were impressive. It even steers brilliantly. That said, despite its athleticism, this sport SUV is not my weapon of choice for a cone fight. This vehicle is most at home as a luxury cruiser thanks to its hushed and sophisticated cabin. When driving casually, the pleasant sounds of the engine are a faint reminder of what can be unleashed on demand. With a top speed of 283 km/h (176 mph) this is one crazy fast SUV. List price begins at $92,000 CDN or $80,600 USD for U.S. customers.
I-PACE S EV400
Next up was a quick drive of the I-PACE electric sedan. And I do mean quick. Powering up the car is a challenge to your senses as there is no noise and no vibration to confirm that you have just turned the car on. After placing the selector into drive I’m launched forward with a rush of instant torque – 512 lb-ft of it. What a blast!
I may just be an electric car convert after all. The I-PACE impresses with a beautiful, modern interior and 394 horsepower. Acceleration is quick with a 0-60 mph (0-96.5 km/h) time of 4.5 seconds. Jaguar has built something enthusiasts in the real world will enjoy.
Those with electric vehicle range anxiety have no need to worry – this EV boasts an impressive 377 kilometers (234 miles) of range. My drive was short, but I loved it and I’d love to spend some quality time in this car.
Range Rover Sport
Finally, some real fun was had playing with simulated off-road obstacles in a Range Rover Sport. Crawling up a steep grade means you cannot see the path over your hood… there’s only the sky to look at as you drive! My instructor guided me through the up-and-over obstacle with no scraping of the vehicle front, mid or rear. Very impressive. On to the teeter-totter. I slowly drove up the steel ramp and reach the balance point where the SUV levels out. Crawling forward the vehicle then slowly falls to the other side. I felt like a kid again! Lastly, I drove on a side-ramp to test the side-slope capabilities of this Range Rover. It should be impossible to be able to drive safely at this angle – I was above my instructor, looking down at him in the passenger seat! Of course, this 4X4 could’ve clawed onto an even steeper angle without drama.
These are truly incredible off-road luxury vehicles. In a way, it’s too bad most drivers never experience their full capability, and seldom leave the asphalt jungle.
As for price, the Range Rover Sport is yours for $81,800 CAD, or $68,650 USD in America.
To sum up, Jaguar and Land Rover assembled an impressive group of cars and SUVs in the test stable. The three vehicles I sampled were very different products aimed at buyers that desire different performance capabilities. The quality, high-performance and allure of each vehicle formed a common thread. Speaking of thread – you’ve got to love JLR’s leathers and stitching. These vehicles appeal to people that want much more than just transportation. Their lines are powerful and beautiful. Their speed and panache are unmistakable. I call them rolling art.
Should the opportunity to attend one of JLR’s driving events present itself, we strongly encourage you to attend. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
[Photo credit: Lucas Scarfone | @scarfonephoto]