Jaguar at Oulton Park: Let the Cats out of the Cage

The other day, I found myself in the Pentland Jaguar Dealership in Perth, taking a closer look at some of the new models now available in the Jaguar range. The XF Sports-Brake estate was looking every bit the executive express, and the XKR in the showroom looked fantastic in its highly-polished black coat. With such an extensive, nationwide dealership network, a test-drive in one of these fantastic models is never too far away. You can book one by going online or calling up the dealership – In fact, this is actively encouraged, and Jaguar make it relatively easy to arrange for you to have a go in their latest cars.

However, driving a shiny new XF around the local streets for 20 minutes, salesperson by your side, only gives the briefest of glimpses into the capability of these cars. Jaguar is a sports car brand and its cars are capable of far more than just the daily commute or shopping trip. Every year, at racing circuits around the UK, Jaguar gives drivers the opportunity to experience what these cars can really do. I’ll put a link to the company’s website at the end of this post, where you can check out the experiences available to you this year.

I went along, recently, to one of their events at Oulton Park. A friend and I were treated to some fantastic hospitality and we got to grips with all the high performance Sport, R and R-S models in what can only be described as the most beautiful circuit in England. With traction-control demos, slalom runs, and high-speed driving on track, a huge amount of action was packed into the four hours we spent at the circuit, making the long journey down from Glasgow well worth while.

I thoroughly recommend the experience to any keen driver, whether a fan of Jaguar or not, as it is a hugely entertaining and educational day out. While the event would probably turn even the staunchest Jag critic around, I admit that I was already a big fan of the marque. Jaguar has been one of my favourite car makers since I took a job as a professional driver back in the day. I fell in love with the old R-reg XJ8 on the fleet. Driving down the Ayrshire coast or across rural Perthshire, the long-wheel-base limo transformed into a lithe predator at the touch of the “Sport” button. I had never before (and have never since) driven any other car which behaved so much like a living, breathing animal.

I had previously worked for a BMW franchise where I used to joke about Jaguar being an old man’s car, but when I had finally driven one, I found a character that Mercedes and BMW lacked. The German cars are excellent, but the Jag is lovely. The German cars won’t go wrong, but you’ll forgive the Jag when it does. You’ll probably trade your current BMW for the latest model in a couple of years, but you wouldn’t do that to your Jag. You couldn’t. Who would look after it?

That’s why a dealership isn’t always the best place to look at a Jaguar. It should be experienced out in the wild, on the open road, or on a track, where it can be free to have fun. Playing and fighting with other Jaguars, and giving drivers the sense of pleasure and excitement that comes from taming a wild animal.

To find out how to book a track day experience keep an eye on the Jaguar website and mark the day in your diary.

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