FEELING JAGUAR ALIVE

What was Jaguar thinking? I didn’t seem like a good Return on their Investment. I’m a newbie professional who shops at Aldi and drives a Ford Focus… and my “plus one” was a broke medical student named Shoes.

But the random invitation stirred my curiosity—so inside St. Petersburg’s Derby Lanes parking lot, Socs and I decided to fulfill our invitation to the invite-only Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience.

Welcome - time to register
It’s official! Our reservation is in the system and all we have to do now is check in

My group of 20 strangers were a good cross-section of ‘Burg dwellers. While waiting for our turn, we nibbled appetizers, investigated the small showroom and lounged on the couches. Soon, we entered a smaller side room where a gorgeous spokeswoman gave us a background of the Jaguar cars and the three models there.

Then bright sunlight streamed in as the rear door opened… and 10 shiny Jaguars hummed a silent roar as they begged us to take them out.

The conga line of cars waiting us
That black car on the left is ours!

Socs and I ran to a sleek black one (Unfortunately, all model names have escaped by memory) We squealed at every button we touched and also felt guilty with our personal cars awaiting our return patiently 500 feet away. With only a walkie-talkie tethering our car line, Socs and I drove that car through the roads outside the Weedon Preserve.

Afterwards, we were released into Derby’s parking lot—temporarily converted into four test stations bordered by orange cones. One station was totally unsupervised but allowed us to get the feel for four different cars. The others always had someone from the Jaguar team in the passenger seat.

The PERFORMANCE section showcased the turning capabilities. As the person who always ends up last at the go-kart finish line (no matter where I started) I was hesitant to take the turns with such speed, but my Jaguar passenger kept encouraging me to be crazy.

The TECHNOLOGY area had us take the car through several obstacles with the car’s safety technology turned off. We had to GUN IT through wet hills, sloped curves… and attempt a FREAKIN’ DRIFT on sand! With the jerking movements, I was almost too scared to go again. But I made that second circle—this time with the technology turned on; it was almost boring how safe we were.

The most fun part was the REFINEMENT section. The engine roared in my ears as I was invited to slam the gas lever down TO THE FLOOR once I got the green light. Crazy acceleration!

Great job Jaguar Marketing Team—I never once felt pressured to buy anything. In being car-dumb, many terms bounce of my skull. But actually touching the cars and sending them through obstacles gave me more insight than just a regular neighborhood test run.  Jaguars aren’t just ugly cars for old people—I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Jaguar - Swag BagBy the way—the entire staff pronounced it “JA-gyoo-ar” not “JA-guire.” See? I learned English there too!

And we got a great swag bag. That top-notch mug made my day.

To check out photos of the experience, just click on the pictures!

Jaguar ALIVE Experience
The St. Petersburg, FL stop
Date of my visit: February 2, 2013

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