The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Jaguar: The Audition

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!

Jaguar Alive Driving Experience

After getting exclusive access to the new Jaguar F-Type at the 2013 Washington Auto Show, my friend Jake and I were invited by Jaguar to a track day in which we could test drive all of Jaguar's top end and most recent models, including the 550HP, $155,000 XKR-S, and the pre-production XFR-S, among others.  Unfortunately the F-Type was still unavailable to drive, although a beautiful orange example from the Paris Auto Show was on hand to demo under the reception tent. Events we took part in were a Timed 0-60 / Top Speed Run, Autocross Circuit, Traction Control Demo Circuit, and Free Drive of any of the available lineup (the XJL was VERY well appointed).  As Jake later pointed out, we drove ~$1,000,000 worth of cars in just a few hours time.

The day started out with being greeted by showcase Jaguars, including a 1967 Jaguar E-Type, with DC plates "ELATED".  The event attracted plenty of exotic cars in the parking lot, mostly Jags of course.


Not far away was the Orange F-Type V8 S, and one of MANY XKR-Ss (actually there AREN'T many; the XKR-S is a limited production run vehicle with only 100 examples being sold in the United States).



Our driving experience started out by road testing the XJ, which was very responsive, although the Eco feature that disables the engine in stop and go traffic was a bit strange (we later disabled it).  All the Jaguars had very sensitive brakes - not a bad thing, but something that took a few minutes to get used to.



Next we were briefed by Lorraine McKiniry, host of Velocity Channel by Discovery Network's "What's My Car Worth?" who gave a history of the Jaguar brand, culminating in the 2013 lineup, and discussion of future plans for the carmaker.  Then it was out onto the track, where first up was my 0-60 / Top Speed run in the XKR-S.  I reached 90MPH with a 5.5sec 0-60 time (unofficial - official times are forthcoming).  The track was uphill on cold, hard tires, so the XKR-S' specified 4.0 - 4.2 sec range wasn't possible given the conditions.  You can watch my runs and see the live telemetry below!



Next it was on to the Autocross Course and Handling Tests.  I had a more strict course instructor than Jake did, so I wasn't allowed as much freedom on the course as Jake was which was somewhat disappointing.  The result was a top time of 39.6sec compared to Jake's 37.something sec time.  The Handling Course in the XFR-S was much more fun however, mostly because I startled and impressed the course instructor with a massive drift - he wasn't expecting it, but he was shocked that I maintained full control around the entire turn in a textbook drift without the traction control engaged.  His reaction after I snapped the car back in line for the straightaway was "WHOA!!!... OK.... Um... I didn't know you could do that.  That was very good...  Wow!...  You handled that.... really well!..."

Unfortunately I don't have many pictures from this or the rest of the day... because I was too busy driving!!!



It was an amazing, fun day!  I wish we'd had more track time!  I think our performance on the course would have improved dramatically with just a little more time to become more acquainted with the cars; but this goes without saying!  I also had two people, one of them a Jaguar representative, ask me who I was writing for - I apparently looked like an automotive journalist for this event (not paparazzi, like so many other occasions - I'm so happy!).

Loved it!  I can't wait to do another track day like it!  Now we're looking into other events sponsored by Porsche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and others to experience more!