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Jaguar plans to offer performance driving courses to owners of 'R' models

Jaguar is planning to open a new R Performance Academy for owner of the new Jaguar XFR and XKR models, the company has announced. It is also looking at expanding the operation to create a Jaguar World, in the style of Mercedes-Benz World.

Jaguar XKR and XFR buyers will be given driver training at the academy from April. Based at JLR’s test track at Gaydon in Warwickshire, buyers will get demonstration drives from a team of instructors and will then get to drive the same track.

Jaguar plans to make the course free to R owners, but also to open Gaydon to owners of other performance cars for a daily charge, likely to be under £400 for a day.

The project will be a trial run for a plan to set up a Mercedes-style Jaguar World operation to promote Jaguar’s cars to a wider audience.

Plans for Jaguar World are at the embryonic stage, according to well-placed insiders, and its future depends on a suitable site and budget being found.

The plan could cost more than £5m, which means that in today’s economic climate the project is unlikely to get off the ground until at least 2012/13.

Jaguar is looking for a track that’s easily accessible from both the south and the midlands, and where it can build an extensive showroom and customer reception centre.

The site could help Jaguar to persuade customers to increase the specification of the cars they buy. Porsche, for example, is understood to make cars available at Silverstone to the spec of those ordered by a customer, then lets them experience a car with more performance, handling and braking power. The idea is that the customer can change their order before it’s built.

Jaguar could also shift part or all of its heritage fleet from Brown’s Lane in Coventry to the new test centre, although such details are a long way from being finalised.

Julian Rendell

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