Sitting in an automobile while perched on a forty-three degree angle is pretty extreme. Think about it….that’s almost half of a right angle, or the kind of slope you’d find on most roller-coasters.
Yet, there we were, calmly sitting in a Range Rover Discovery, hanging precariously over the asphalt, staring at the ground….a situation only equaled by the ascent getting there in the first place, where all we could see was blue sky.
But no, we weren’t out in boondocks, scrambling over boulders or fording our way across mountain slopes…we were participating in Jaguar’s “The Art Of Performance” tour….a kind of travelling road show put on by Jaguar/Land Rover, designed to extol the virtues of their 2017 product line and spread the word about the goodness of all things Jaguar/Land Rover. The contraption that lifted our Discovery up into the sky was actually a purpose-built hydraulic lift and the point of it was to demonstrate that you could put some off-road vehicles through gravity-defying maneuvers without breaking a sweat.
Oh yeah….thanks to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response 2” program, the Discovery that we were in did the whole thing on its own, without any throttle or brake input whatsoever. It climbed up onto the hydraulic lift by itself, and came down the other side by itself….once the button was pushed, all the driver had to do was sit there and contemplate the universe.
But that’s not all Jaguar/Land Rover have in their current line-up. This company, after years and years of under-performing sales and dashed dreams, is on a bit of a roll. According to a Jaguar spokesman, sales for some models are up 200 per cent in Canada and they can’t keep some cars – the F-Type, for example – in stock.
Speaking of which, the F-Type is Jag’s answer to the Porsche 911….it matches it in looks, performance, and, some might say, visceral presence. Its 550-horsepower V8 is one of four engine choices, all of which are supercharged, and it can post acceleration times of around five seconds from a standing start to 100 km/h. It also comes as a convertible, with a starting price of $78,500.
Aside from providing s*** to a blanket handling grip, the F-Type also lends its front suspension to the XE sedan, which will now be offered with an optional diesel engine. Few luxury sedans in this price range offer this choice, and the diesel powerplant comes courtesy of Land Rover, which has been building them for decades.
We didn’t get to drive a diesel XE this particular time around, but we did have the opportunity to take both the XE and F-Type through a couple of tight, demanding slalom course, and in the brief time we had the cars, came away impressed. If you want to compete with Porsche, which Jag does with bells on, you’ve got to have it together in the performance and handling departments. I’d say mission accomplished there, though I’d love to do a balls-out comparison sometime between the F-Type and a Carrera.
Last but hardly least is Jag’s F-Pace, which may possess the most unusual name in the upscale SUV market….certainly moreso than the Porsche Cayenne, which, of course, is its biggest rival. I confess to not understanding the performance SUV market at all, but I suppose Jag is simply responding to demand here; people want an SUV that is fast and luxurious, and any manufacturer that ignores that fact does so at its own peril.
But for what it’s worth, the people that chart these things say that less than two per cent of all upscale SUV owners will actually put them through their paces off-road….would you if you’d just shelled out almost fifty-five large?
Didn’t think so.
Manufacturer’s Site: Jaguar
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist Of The Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).