MOST Jaguar owners are unlikely to ever set foot in Sepang. Even XKR-S owners will probably prefer going head-to-head on a Sony Playstation to burning actual rubber on the race track. To give owners and prospective customers a taste of what their luxury sedans are capable of, distributor Wearnes Automotive presented Jaguar Live, an outing to Sepang International Circuit.
A total of 22 cars worth more than $5 million were on display, but driving was focused on two variants of the 2013 XJ and XF models - a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre supercharged V6. And to demonstrate just how capable the range-topping 543 hp XKR-S is, instructors specially flown in from the UK gave some tyre-shredding hot laps.
First up was the XJL 2.0 Ti equipped with a 1,999cc turbocharged engine, which is, unfortunately, not available here. With 240hp and 340Nm transferred to the rear wheels via a slick-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox - now standard on all XF and XJ models - this entry-level XJ was quite a surprise on track.
Yes, there was a disconcerting amount of body roll, but what was astonishing was the ample grip and balance. The XJ's lightweight all-aluminium chassis allows the big saloon to change direction and brake with the dexterity of a smaller car. Straight-line performance was also decent, with a 0-100 kmh time of just 7.0 seconds.
Swapping to the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 XJL 3.0 SC with an extra 100 hp and 110 Nm gave more of the same, but with a touch more punch out of the corners and the ability to hit higher speeds on the straights. What took a little getting used to was the silence and lack of drama in the cabin as we zoomed to over 180 kmh.
And just like how there's no substitute for cubic-inches, there's nothing like piloting a smaller car with a shorter wheelbase.
Jumping into similarly powered but more nimble XF-S 3.0 SC provided the most fun. The car exhibited very little understeer and can be pitched with aggression into corners. This was further validated in the dynamic-handling station consisting of a series of slalom and hard braking. Here the XF 2.0 Ti with its new lightweight 138 kg all-alloy engine amazed many with its ability to weave in between cones, with none of that nose-heavy behaviour that plagues most executive saloons with a big engine up front.
So while most Jaguar customers are probably familiar with the signature plush ride and low noise, vibration and harshness levels of their cars, Jaguar Live offered the opportunity to experience a dynamic side of the big cat that they never knew existed. Too bad the all-new F-type wasn't available.
Jaguar XF 2.0 Ti
Engine 1,999cc turbocharged
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Max power 240 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max torque 280 Nm @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 7.5 secs
Top speed 240 kmh
Price $255,000 (with COE)
Distributor Wearnes Automotive