Jaguar track day
There are many people who believe they can drive a car, but how many “drivers” can control a car when things go wrong?
I was recently invited by a group of accountants to participate in a track day at Gerotek testing facilities. This was going to be a fun day involving aquaplaning and handling circuits and high speed ovals. First however, was the ‘talk’ on what not to do and how to respect the power and performance of the car.
As soon as the ‘talk’ was concluded, we were informed that the cars were waiting in the parking lot with the keys inside. I was expecting the odd XF to play around with. Much to my surprise, however, in the parking lot stood a few XJ’s and the amazing XKR. Needless to say I ran for the XKR and jumped right in. As I pushed the start button, the car growled to life, reminding me just how many horses are lurking below the bonnet.
The first phase of the track day involved the aquaplaning, during which the instructors demonstrated just how easy it is to control an XF or XJ through unexpected water puddles. As we came round the bend at approximately 110 km/h we hit the
puddle, and all the instructors had to do was let go of the steering wheel and apply pressure to the brakes.
The tyres squealed as the anti-skid function engaged, bringing the car to a gentle stop. Next up was the wet track phase. The open track was watered down and cones were placed in strategic locations. We were given the keys and instructed to
navigate the cones, first with the anti-skid function off, and then with it on. I was quite impressed with how nimble the XJ was on this track. I managed a better time in the XJ than I did in the XKR, but I suspect this is due to being unable to take my foot off the XKR’s accelerator.
We then headed off to the stability track. This was my favourite section. We were allowed to take the cars around the twisty course, first using our own lines, and then those of our instructors. This caused the adrenalin to surge to such an extent that
some drivers just drove off the track because the experience was too much for them. It was pure fun for me personally, especially pushing the XKR to the point where the engine growl sounded similar to the screeching tyres. If I could, I would have done this all day.
Finally, we were let loose on the oval track. We were informed that inexperienced drivers should keep to 190 km/h on the straights and about 160 km/h on the bends. Following my first lap the instructor allowed me maximum acceleration. I reached 190 km/h on the bends and a mind-blowing 220km/h on the straights. Because the track is relatively short, this really is not for everyone.
The embanked bends are especially scary. The interesting thing is that the track is designed in such a way that at 100 km/h any car will actually go around it without the driver touching the steering wheel. Overall, I think this is an amazing experience that everyone should try, both from a learning and sheer excitement perspective.
Audi new A5
3 .0l V6 Cylinder
8 .3 Sec (Claimed)
2 38 g/km
From R699 000, 00
Track day courtesy of
Thabani Zuli & Co.
Headline: Audi’s new A5 convertible
In this age when technology seems to be evolving faster than we can keep up, it’s rather difficult to stand out from the competition. This is evident in the motoring world where the manufacturers are continually tweaking and updating their offerings. Audi is no different, with the launch of their updated A5.
This latest version has done away with the famous LED or pearl lights, and in their place is an all-new solid LED that adds shape and definition to the headlights. It gives this Audi a unique presence and stand-out factor.
The design is incorporated in the rear lights as well. The form of the convertible model has also changed, if only slightly, in that the fold along the side of the body is now almost straight. Personally, I think this makes the car look more conventional. The previous curved and aggressive lines gave the vehicle more character.
The all-new 3.0 TFSI pushes out an amazing 200 KW and an impressive 400 nm or torque while
remaining fuel-efficient. Although many believe that the “T” designates ‘turbo’, the engine is actually supercharged. What impresses me most though, is the utter smoothness of this motor. There are no harsh vibrations or vicious growls, but rather a subdued hum. This, coupled with the DSG gearbox, makes this car feel almost like it is floating, with unbelievably smooth gear changes to boot. This all translates into a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience.
Audi’s new soft-top offers the unique option of an acoustic hood that makes the car almost as silent as a hard-top. Not to mention the fact that it looks amazing. The roof opens in just 15 seconds and can be operated while driving at a speed of up to 50 km/h per hour. This means you can open or close the roof while waiting for the traffic light to change. On the road, the car is well-mannered and easy to drive. Thanks to the Quattro system the car is almost impossible to lose control of. Even with the roof down the motor just hums all the way to 4500 rpms, before it unleashes a slight growl. If there is any negative (and this sounds quite ironic), it’s that the car just feels too refined.
The cabin is spacious enough for four adults with accompanying luggage, as long as the roof is not opened. With the roof down, you lose about 30% of the boot space, which seems a reasonable trade-off. The only tricky thing is that getting in and out of the rear seats requires some contortionist skills. This is much easier accomplished with the roof down – or by kids.
All in all, I think this is a brilliant car in that it features sporty looks without losing the practicality of a four-seater vehicle. The stunning design will get you noticed even when you’re not trying to be, and the drive is so easy that my 9-year old could probably drive this car with his eyes closed. Not that I’d let him, of course. This vehicle is a sure winner, and as far as I’m concerned, the new benchmark for middle range soft-tops.
Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of SAGMJ.