Extreme Experience

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Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

IF you ask the experts, nothing quite beats the insight and experience of getting behind the steering wheel in order to firm up impressions about a vehicle. Yes, amid all the resources and tools — mostly online — available to the contemporary car buyer, it is unwise to pull the trigger on a sale without even taking the car for “a spin,” even if that merely consists of a drive around the block and, with luck, a brief moment of heightened speed.

Predicated upon that belief, All British Cars, the sole authorized dealer of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, parts and accessories in the Philippines, recently staged a “three-day experiential event” to more thoroughly showcase the abilities of the two iconic UK car brands. Taken together, the Tata-controlled marques assemble the most vehicles from that part of the world.

The two-in-one event held at a Quezon City venue pooled together current models of the two brands in a display at the property’s air-conditioned section, and collected specific models for testing on distinct outdoor courses. According to Coventry Motors Corp. assistant vice-president for PR communication Joseph AC Ayllon, the event received 283 guests — 196 of whom went on to test-drive.

The Jaguar section of the course was put together to highlight dynamic driving, and called into duty the F-Pace SUV as well as the XE and XF sedans. First up was a soaped-down low-traction strip. “We wet this whole strip for you. Try to floor it as much as you can, and you’ll notice that you can’t [get out of control],” said lead instructor James Veerapen, before setting our batch out for the tests. Indeed, even as the Jaguar’s wheels were spinning wildly from the lack of friction, the cars kept their poise and never threatened to lose their bearing.

Next, we accelerated hard again, braked even harder, and made an abrupt lane change (also called a moose test). Once more, the Jaguars maintained their poise despite the abuse, and we noticed the very polished ABS system at work. This should give confidence to the greenest of drivers in the hairiest of situations.

It was back to some heavy-footed driving via a slalom test through some orange cones.

Whether on board the F-Pace or either of the two featured sedans, the experience was similar — hardly any roll while keeping four tires firmly on the pavement. Finally, the “high-speed roundabout” section highlighted composure amid duress. Even as we pushed the Jags hard around central cones, they never fish-tailed.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t about speed but off-road and extreme abilities for the Land Rovers — represented by the all-new Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover Velar, and Range Rover Sport.

First up was an “X-twist” to focus on control in adverse, asymmetrical terrain. Even when not all four wheels were on terra firma, the Rovers served up adequate traction when and where needed.

Then it was up a steep 25-degree steel ramp, which showcased low-rpm grunt and ability. Down the other side of the cross structure, hillside descent kicked in and the vehicles safely and calmly clambered down even without stepping on the brake pedal. What awaited us after was a half-meter pool of water to test the integrity of the cabin and the Rovers’ vaunted wading depth, then down a series of steps for another test of composure.

Lastly, participants negotiated a 40-degree side slope just to underscore how extremely capable these vehicles are under duress.

“Understandably, a lot of these technologies and capabilities will not be used on a day-to-day basis,” declared Mr. Veerapen. “The whole idea is to showcase the technology in case you do go cross country and you, say, find yourself in a puddle of mud. These vehicles are highly capable of pulling themselves out.”

Certainly, Jaguar and Land Rover pulled this one-of-a-kind test drive most nicely, too.