By some strange coincidence, or perhaps it was a twist of fate twist of fate, the Jaguar F-Type that was delivered to me the other day turned out to be the very one that I was lucky enough to snatch 20 minutes in at the SMMT test day earlier in this year.
Desperate to get my hands on the first proper Jaguar sportscar in 40 years, I like nearly every other motoring scribe attending that day waited patiently in line until it was finally my chance to pull on the F-Type’s flush fitting door handle, lower myself into it’s surprisingly spacious (for a two-seater) leather-clad interior, and post myself in behind its flat-bottomed, thick-rimmed wheel; The sun shone, the roof was down in less than 12 seconds, the 3.litre supercharged motor made the exhaust cackle on the over-run as the 8 speed auto box changed down - just like Jaguar’s 15 minute Damien Lewis starring advert /mini-film promised it would; I was hooked.
Jaguar has been promising us, or at least teasing us with concepts of, the F-type for as nearly as long as I can remember. Back when I was just a paperboy every once-in-while one of the glossy motoring magazines – the type of which I seemed to always be spending far too much of my “wages” on - had yet another scoop, exclusive, or grainy spy-shot of what was to become “the spiritual successor the E-Type”, although back then it was called everything to from just plain old F to the very futuristic sounding CX16. On a sunny day in May I was at last behind its wheel. Finally I was driving the F-type, my smile said it all.
That all too brief blast – oh alright then, saunter; It was an accompanied drive around Millbrook’s Alpine circuit with an approved Jaguar representative sitting beside me - was never going to be enough. As soon as was possible I went straight back over to Jaguar’s lady PR and tried to book one for longer. Such was the waiting list I’m writing this in late November.
It’s funny sometimes what you don’t spot the first time you drive an all-new car. When The F-Type turned up on my drive it appeared shorter and wider than I remembered.
Every inch the sportscar: long bonnet, front engined; rear-wheel drive, short tail, the F- type looks thoroughly modern. And yet there are still hints of its legendary ‘60’s predecessor about it. Those bulging rear wings complete with thin tail lamps, and the way the twin exhausts (the wickedly powerful V8’s get four) are centrally mounted below the number plate could easily be the work of E-Type designer Malcolm Sayer rather than that that of today’s Jaguar Design chief Ian Callum.
From the moment you press that starter the F-Type’s driving experience is totally engrossing. The engine doesn’t just start, it erupts in to life. The F-Type is unashamedly loud – even more so if it’s been fitted (as in our case) with the switchable active exhaust system. Send the rev counter’s needle to the far side of the dial, and lift off, and your efforts will be rewarded with a deliciously addictive combination of artillery-like explosions just behind your left ear. The way the F-type accelerates is the stuff of ballistics too. Even in this one, the most conservative 335 bhpV6 version, 0-62mph takes just a smidgen over 5 seconds. The steering is direct and beautifully weighted and there’s little, if any, sign of body roll in corners. A day driving the F-type is a wonderful indulgence.
And yet, there lies the F-type’s problem. It’s almost too self-indulgent. The trade-off of that performance is a ride that is too unforgiving on anything but the smoothest of surfaces. Potholes, even manhole covers, send vibrations crashing back through the bonded aluminium chassis. You may look smooth driving an F-type but you may not always feel it.
There’s one other problem too, just a small one, in fact it’s a very small one. I know the F-Type was never designed to be the kind of car in which one transports a wardrobe, but is it really too much to ask of a two-seater for it to be able to swallow two people’s weekend luggage? The F-type’s boot struggles with the briefest of cases, and that’s before have to pay extra for a spare wheel.
At £58,520 upwards the F-Type is priced to appeal to those of us who want a sportscar but only have the funds for one car and one car alone. Unless you travel very, very light or without friends the F-Type struggles to fill that niche.
Or at least is does in convertible form…
By another strange coincidence on the very day I’m writing this Jaguar unveiled the F-Type Coupe. The same head-turning looks and neck straining performance are standard but the boot promises to be altogether more accommodating and it looks more even more like the CX16 we were promised all those years ago too. Perhaps the F-Type Coupe is really the return to Jaguar sportscar form we’ve all been waiting for. Such is the demand already I’ve feeling that in order to find out I’m in for another long wait.
Jaguar F-Type V6
Engine: 2995cc V6 Supercharged 24V petrol
Transmission: 8 speed “QuickShift”, rear wheel drive.
Power: 335bhp @ 6500pm
Torque: 332 lbft @ 3500- 5000rpm
Max Speed: 161mph
CO2: 209 g/km
MPG: 31.4 combined
Price: from£58,520 (as tested; £67,740)