RINGSIDE SEAT: JAG'S NURBURGRING PLAYTHING
PH's man at the 'ring gets a go with Jaguar's after-hours Nordschleife track toy
recent Jaguar launch I spotted this caged-up blue beauty at the back of queue, being made ready to give some passenger laps. It wasn't the first or last time car '86' was on my radar, and I said as much to the closest Jaguar representative - Phil Talboys, whom I met on a previous visit.
So fast forward a couple of weeks and I'm meeting Phil after work and there sits car 83, all blue and inviting, like a giant supercharged Smurfette. It's the end of the day for the test centre, as the industry session has finished for the day. Luckily, there's still an hour of public driving left for me to go out and hoon, I mean 'test', this XKR-S.
"This is Frank (Klaas)'s baby, OK?" warns Phil as he hands me the keys. "She's warmed up, normal tyre pressures, keep the ESP on, please."
a Jaguar XKR-S, it's hard to believe this particualr car has already completed a few hundred laps of the Nurburgring. It feels like a new one.
Well, not quite. The Recaro bucket seats are distinctly un-Jaguar. They're proper FIA-approved racing items, only adjustable for forwards/backwards movement. Accompanied by six-point Schroeth belts, there's little chance of you moving more than an inch when the straps are tightened. Which is just as well, because a padded roll-cage dominates the interior of this XKR-S.
Rolling through the gates of the Nordschleife, helmet fastened-up and looking at the world around me through reinforced steel tubing, I'm feeling pretty damn lucky. After watching this car so many times, I'm now going to be the lucky chap behind the wheel, comedy crackling V8 echoing across the forest in my wake.
Coupled with the unstoppable acceleration of that supercharged 550hp V8, it makes for some interesting moments.
But while the big Jag is not intended to compete with a Porsche GT3 on laptimes, it can certainly give such a car a run for its money on smiles per Nurburgring-mile.
Which is just as well, because this particular machine has the totally awesome job of putting smiles on faces several times a week as a demo and taxi car. It exists to lap the 'ring, hence the cage and harnesses. And now I know how much fun it is to drive, I can understand its seemingly constant presence at the Nordschleife.