There are many car brands out there, but few are truly iconic marquees with a rich heritage. Some are obvious stand outs; Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, my love Porsche. But when you think England, there are two standouts; Aston Martin, the good-guy brand of 007 legend, and Jaguar, the British automaker who in recent years has made its name as the "bad guys'" transportation of choice.
Truly, it's good to be bad, and once again Jaguar has given the opportunity to experience its entire brand in one event, celebrating the release of the new XE, F-Pace, and F-Type SVR. Several years ago I was invited to a similar event for the release of the F-Type and XFR-S, where the focus was on Jaguar's refinde driving capabilities. In 2013 Jaguar let us autocross a 550HP XKR-S, and this year it was the new 340HP XE R-Sport. I also drove the diesel models of the XE and F-Pace, which seemed to have a lot more ponies than their 180HP seemed to, thanks to the amount of torque on tap (although I'd still prefer the 360HP gasoline engine). This all means that I've once again driven the entire Jaguar lineup except for the F-Type.
My takeaway from the F-Pace is that it's a fantastic driving crossover, with an exhaust note that will surprise anyone - SUVs simply don't sound like exotic sports cars, but this one does. The interior was nice, but will probably get refined in a facelifted version several years from now. The panoramic roof captures you in awe. My only complaints are that the steering wheel is off-center, and the window controls are too high located on the door sill. I do like the wide door sills though.
The real interesting part is that this time the focus was on being filmed for your own short film. A small production suite, including MUAs, is on hand to film several cutscenes which are spliced into a pre-recorded action sequence, making you the bad guy who wins out over worse bad guys. It's good to be bad.
The first step was to have makeup applied to even skintone and eliminate shine - this was the first time in my life wearing makeup - they even put me in mascara, but held short of lipstick. Five cutscenes were filmed; three in an XE, and two on a soundstage. The entire process is automated by software, which is outright fascinating to me. Obviously I'm no actor, spending my time almost exclusive behind the camera, but the operators did give good direction, and even refilmed one clip, showing they are paying attention to the quality of recording (as much as possible with amateurs).
Jake was with me, and I later that day I brought my Dad back to come have the same fun.
Here's my finished product.
After the filming, which took less than 10min, test drives in the F-Pace and XE were enjoyed, followed by a painfully short track session in an XE R-Sport. Only two measly laps - one to gain familiarity with the course (as much as you can in one lap), and one actually run with some gusto. Barely any instructions were given by the driving instructor, which led to confusion, because this event was set up differently than the 2013 event (which was in stages, whereas this event was not), but I wasn't informed of this until I'd almost stopped the car on the course. In summary, the track portion of this event was disappointing due to poor instruction and short duration - a stark difference between the 2013 event and this year's, though not surprising since the focus was on filming this year instead of track time (which was still short in 2013).
The whole event and resulting video was so much fun that upon leaving I asked the organizers if I could go grab my Dad to bring him over to surprise him with a bit of fun. They were more than happy, so 2hrs later I watched him get filmed, run a few laps, and experience the Jaguar lineup.
I can't wait for next time!