Jaguar’s Villain Academy Taught Me That Its Good to Be Bad

This was published on Supercompressor in March of 2015. It was the first submission published for them. 
I’m in a Jaguar F-Type R, doing triple-digit speeds on a racetrack. In the rearview mirror, another F-Type is breathing directly down my neck. I’m at Jaguar’s Villain Academy—a modified version of its Performance Academy—and now I know exactly why “It is good to be bad.”

I’m chasing the black F-Type Coupe at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas—one of our country’s premier tracks and the home of Formula One. As the lead car slows for a tight sequence of corners, its exhaust becomes a symphony of pops and burbles. I tap my brakes to calm down the front of the car, and my exhaust follows suit.
Like most car guys growing up, my bedroom wall was covered with posters of cars I dreamed of running at full tilt. Now I’m doing it at a track. This track. With 550 horses hurling me toward the hairpin corner otherwise known as Turn 11. I’ll need a crowbar to pry my helmet off this grin.
Jaguar promises a certain air of villainy in all its commercials these days, and once I hopped in the F-Type R, I knew things were going to get sinister. Despite its nearly $100,000 sticker price, this has all the parts you expect in a full tilt exotic: moving spoiler, dynamic suspension, and carbon brakes that can stop time itself.
It’s the same engine from every other R model, but in the F-Type, it has a proper home. Inside, it’s all sports car. Touch the start button, then select dynamic mode. An ominous red tint affects the gauges.

All you need to do, though, is turn off the radio and listen to its split British personality. From the outside, it is Dame Judi Dench chastising Bond. Inside, it’s Billie Piper nosing into your neck, whispering softy into your ear.
On the track, the car is brilliant. The stability control in dynamic mode offers intelligent torque vectoring, which is a very fancy way of saying that no matter how ham-fisted you are at the exit of a corner, the computer will allow just enough wheelspin to make it look like you did it on purpose…with the tire smoke to match.
The Coupe saw the far side of 150 mph on COTA’s back straight. Running down the instructor, I mimicked his braking spot and it felt like a boat anchor had dropped. The F-Type responded, as Billie Piper began whispering to me about her negligee…Oh yes, it’s good to be bad.


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The odd musings and automotive observations of a guy who willingly calls himself Mental

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