Live from the track: Jaguar at Goodwood
Goodwood is a brave place to hold a customer event like this. The track is old-school and super fast, snaking around the perimeter of an active airfield where there's very little run off should anything go wrong.
In several places there are just a few feet of lawn before thumping great mud banks loom up to write off whichever unfortunate Jaguar is trying to use them as a cushion.
Forget sand traps and tyre walls - if you go off at Goodwood, it's going to be messy.
Jaguar isn't mucking about though, fielding their highest-performance models including the XFR and XKR for everyone to try. We drove both back to back and the experience rammed home just how masterful the XFR is as a driver's car. Even though it's a four-door saloon that weighs much more than its XK coupe counterpart, the bigger sibling's chassis feels more stable, responsive and confidence-inspiring through the twisty Goodwood circuit. And those enormous brakes make 150mph-50mph stops for the final section repeatable and easy, too.
The 500bhp-plus supercharged V8 engine that powers both R models is a masterpiece as well. You get few sensible opportunities to really stretch the legs of these cars on public roads, although you're always aware of their latent power, but on the track they really come alive.
Of course, most of owners here have bought more sensible XF diesels, or at a push an XK soft top, so they're loving the chance to drive Jag's halo models on the limit. There's a marketing method to the madness of all this, specifically that Jaguar is keen to promote its latest 3.0-litre version of the XF diesel, which comes with 'S' performance and styling packs. These add equipment like the adaptive damping found on the high-performance 'R' models and more sumptuous interiors. So now you can specify an XF D with enough mods to make it look like an XF R. It just doesn't have the running costs (or the performance...).
We took out one of these dolled up diesel models on the road and discovered that the latest engine is sublime; super-smooth, punchy and frugal too. Of course it doesn't have the urge or tight body control of the performance models, but there's enough here to keep most owners more than happy. This afternoon has been a neat example of Jaguar using it's expensive high-end models to sell higher-spec versions of its more everyday executive cars.