Fresh off its starring role in the new Bond film, Spectre, Jaguar wants to make you the star of its film, The Audition. As part of an experiential tour to highlight the performance of the entire Jaguar range, and the new XE mid-size sedan in particular, Jaguar is bringing a little Hollywood to a city near you with the Art of Performance tour.
While designed to help Jaguar sell cars, the Art of Performance tour is much more than that. It’s a chance for fans of the brand to get a better appreciation for what Jaguar is all about. In addition you get to have some fun behind the wheel of the new XE and take a turn in front of the camera if you want.
I arrived at my appointed time at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood where the tour kicked off. Once I was signed in, I headed into a larger room with the full Jaguar line on display. In addition to the F-TYPE Coupe and Convertible, the XJ and XE, Jaguar showed off their new SUV, the F-PACE. All the cars were open and I was welcome to sit in them, adjust the controls and experience the overall quality of the materials and construction. Seeing all the cars together in one place, really demonstrates how far Jaguar has come in recent years. They now present a cohesively designed, complete lineup of vehicles that offer an excellent balance of luxury and performance.
In addition to the production Jaguars, there was one special car I wasn’t allowed to touch. Sitting behind a velvet rope was the Jaguar C-X75 that was driven by Bond’s nemesis Hinx (Dave Bautista) through the streets of London.
As you can see from the video, the car was actually driven by stunt drivers and the scenes with Bautista behind the wheel were shot later and edited into the film. This is the same technology that Jaguar used to create my personal version of their film, The Audition, which was the next event on the tour.
I was first given an overview of the seven scenes I’d be shooting, five in the car and two standing on a separate set. Following my brief prep session, I was ushered over to hair and makeup, where they attempted to make me camera ready. On the set, my director led me through each action and expression, and with only one take on each, it was a little nerve-wracking.
I’m used to driving cars, not sitting in one on a set surrounded by a full lighting rig and with two cameras mounted to capture my every move. I somehow managed to get through it all and when it was all said and done was pretty happy with the end product.
From there it was finally time to drive the XE. We took a short trip from the studio through the streets of LA to a parking lot where a very tight autocross course was set up. My car was a rear wheel drive R model equipped with the supercharged 3.0 liter V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission. Slightly longer, wider and lower than a BMW 335i, the Jaguar is nearly 300 pounds lighter than the Bimmer and delivers 40 more horsepower. Needless to say, it’s quick. Jaguar claims a 0-60 time of 5.1 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
On the autocross course the XE felt very composed with a slight bias toward oversteer, giving it a decidedly sporting driving character. The other thing you’ll like about this car is the way it sounds. The engine, lifted directly from the F-TYPE, burbles nicely at idle, growls loudly as the tach spins toward its 6,500 rpm redline, and crackles satisfyingly as you lift the throttle.
Inside the XE, as you’d expect from a Jaguar, is very well appointed, with supportive seats a very comfortable leather-wrapped steering wheel and a layout that favors those who like to drive. While my time in the car was brief, I came away both impressed and wanting more, especially for a car with a starting price of just $34,500. With any luck I’ll be able to offer a more complete review when Jaguar begins media drives early next year.
In addition to the high performance V6, the XE will come with five other engine choices: a 163 hp 2.0-liter diesel,180hp 2.0-liter diesel, 200hp 2.0-liter gas, 240hp 2.0-liter gas. Both diesel engines will offer both automatic and manual transmissions and All-Wheel Drive is available on cars equipped with the 180hp diesel and the supercharged V6.
The Art of Performance tour will be your first chance to drive the new XE in the States before it starts showing up in dealers later this spring. You can join the tour in any one of the following cities.
1/28 – 1/31 San Francisco, CA
2/11 – 2/14 Dallas, TX
3/3 – 3/6 Miami, FL
3/23 – 3/26 New York, NY
3/31 – 4/3 Washington DC
4/14 – 4/17 Chicago, IL
You can sign up for The Art of Performance Tour and learn more about the details by visiting their website here.