For two years, the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience has been touring the country, offering prospective buyers an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the F-Type roadster, XF sport sedan, XJ luxury sedan, and XK grand touring car in order to experience how well the vehicles perform under a variety of driving conditions. The two-hour program allows potential customers to experience the style, performance, technology, and dynamics of every Jaguar model, under the guidance and tutelage of professional driving instructors.
Recently, the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience made a stop near Los Angeles, setting up in the parking lots surrounding the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif. For three days, selected invitees were able to learn more about the 2014 Jaguar lineup and put the various models through their paces. We tagged along for a part of the day to learn more about how Jaguar is attempting to convince luxury and sports car buyers that the company offers exactly what they want, and how they want it.
After registering for the event, attendees wait for the program to begin by chatting with Jaguar representatives, noshing on delectables, and checking out the various exhibits. This is Jaguar’s heritage wall, which educates invited guests about the automaker’s rich racing heritage and auto-building history. At the event near L.A., Jaguar also had its new F-Type Coupe on display.
Davy Jones leads the professional driving team for the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience. A former Formula 1, Indy car, IROC, and NASCAR driver, and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Jones makes sure that attendees extract maximum value out of the program.
As he explained during an interview, Jaguar’s heritage is in racing, the company got away from that for awhile, but now the brand is moving back in a performance direction without losing sight of its ability to deliver on the luxury portion of the equation. In a nutshell, that’s the point of the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience.
People attending the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience first visit the Style Course, which is essentially a 30-minute infomercial about the automaker’s four different models. During the discussion, an instructor takes invitees through each Jaguar model, highlighting the differences between them, giving in-depth overviews of their equipment and capabilities, and answering questions from the crowd.
Wisely, Jaguar limits ALIVE Driving Experience attendance and the amount of time potential buyers can spend driving the vehicles. As a result, waiting lines are short, and everybody gets a few of turns behind the wheel.
Jaguar puts the 2014 F-Type S and F-Type V8 S on the ALIVE Driving Experience’s Performance Course, designed to demonstrate the differences between the former model’s supercharged, 380-horsepower V-6 engine and the latter model’s supercharged, 495-horsepower V-8 engine. Attendees take each version of the car onto an autocross course marked off with cones, and have the opportunity to experience Jaguar’s sports car in a variety of performance-oriented driving situations.
On the Dynamics Course, drivers can sample the Jaguar XFR, XJR, and XKR models, each equipped with a supercharged V-8 engine making between 510 and 550 horsepower, depending on the vehicle. Following an acceleration run designed to demonstrate how rapidly one of these Jags rushes to 60 mph, attendees experience a braking zone, a short slalom course, and sweeping curves before returning to the staging area and changing to a different vehicle.
On the Technology Course, Jaguar highlights its Instinctive All Wheel Drive system and other accident avoidance technologies using the XF 3.0 AWD and the XJ AWD.
On the first lap of the course, drivers experience the cars with the stability control system turned off and navigate an accident avoidance test, slippery road situations, and a hill climb designed to simulate an icy driveway or street. Then, the driver takes the same route with the stability control system engaged to see what a difference it, and the optional AWD system, can make.
Jaguar makes sure to let potential customers know that the Instinctive AWD system sends all of the engine’s power to the car’s rear wheels under normal driving conditions. When the rear wheels slip, up to half of the engine power is transferred to the front wheels to ensure maximum traction. The company says that adding AWD to its vehicles has expanded the brand’s appeal in northern U.S. markets.
Most of the people who attend the ALIVE Driving Experience have never driven a Jaguar model before, and professional driver Davy Jones says that the program is successful at educating luxury and sports car buyers about the company’s products, and about how they perform, effectively turning hand-raisers into potential buyers.
If you’d like to raise your own hand for a Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience when the program comes to your region, be sure to sign up for additional information at JaguarUSA.com.
Autobytel attended a manufacturer-sponsored event for this report
Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience photos by Christian Wardlaw