One thing I often end up being is The Stand-In Guy, and that's not a complaint in any way at all. Over the years it's seen me attending some pretty amazing events, and this time round was no different when one of the SAGMJ members couldn't make it to a training session at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre in Lonehill, and I could... I knew things were being upgraded at the venue, and I haven't been past in a few years so wasn't expecting what I saw - a state-of-the-art facility that has everything you could need or want to teach proper driving both on and off road. There's also a brilliant restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, and plenty room for training and conferences and the like. There's also a merchandise shop, racing simulators and some really amazing models and displays. The new Defender on steelies is just too cool, as is the half an E-Pace.
The order of the day was to drive a variety of Jaguar models (XE, XF, F-Type, F-Pace SVR and the E-Pace) as part of the Jaguar Half Day Dynamic course while learning about braking, handling and the effects of both active and passive safety systems in simulated emergency situations. After a briefing with Devin Scott, one of the Experience Instructors, we headed out to put the theory into practice, in other words, the fun part of the day. The emergency brake / lane change manoeuvre can be quite intimidating for those that haven't experienced it. You do end up putting a fair amount of trust into the car (and your own abilities), but if done right it can be a life-saving move on the roads out there. We also put the handling to test on a slalom course which thanks to the variety of cars, showed the differences in the dynamics of SUVs vs sedans, all-wheel drive vs rear-wheel drive and even combustion vs electric - something we're going to all need to learn about soon. On that note electric vehicles are just mad man, the Jaguar I-Pace has a ridiculously fast pull off and surprisingly decent handling thanks to the weight of the batteries being low down in the chassis. Feeling this and knowing how these cars react is a must for anyone who will ever climb behind the wheel of an EV. They're deceptively powerful, silent and they're patiently waiting for you to become a viral video when you accidentally mash the accelerator and the car launches.
These events are great, they remind you that you're not the driving god you think you are, which can dent some egos and that's great for a laugh. I won't go into all the tech and theory learned, that's the job of the instructors when you book a course, and you really should. It's affordable, a great Christmas or birthday pressie, you can potentially get an insurance discount, and more importantly it equips you to better deal with surviving our notoriously dangerous roads. Also, can you really put a price on getting to drive the latest Jaguars or Land Rovers in a world-class venue right on your doorstep in Jo'burg? I reckon not.
I did the morning session, and stayed behind to get shots of the afternoon session, but I had to leave before it was over so I didn't manage any skidpan pics. Just imagine the same pics with water everywhere. For more on the experience, click on through to the website. A huge thanks goes out to Marcel, Devon and the third guy who's name has done a runner (sorry guy), as well as the rest of the JLR crew for a great day at the office. See why being part of the SAGMJ is cool?
Here's a few pics, I'll add a full album on the CWM Facebook page.