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Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred
Evoking the spirit of Malcom Sayer and the XJS
Vulture at the Wheel The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is beautiful. It looks good in our pictures here but in the aluminium it’s even more wonderful. Before I got the car for review I saw one in traffic and my heart just sang.
Designer Ian Callum is a genius and there are no bad angles, but front on and particularly three quarter rear it’s exceptional. There are shades of E-Type and one of the greatest thrills at school was when I was collected by my uncle in his blue V12 2+2.
It becomes even more beautiful when you click on the remote to open the doors – the handles pop out to downlight the doors, and the LED lights sparkle. It’s got keyless go, so saunter over, plop down into the beautiful leather seat and press the start button.
The needles spin round, the car blips the throttle with a roar and the LED screens glow. Even the heater controls with little screens inside them look cool. Jaguar have got theatre sorted.
All Jaguars are nice places to be, although the F-Type isn’t quite as impressive as the Sportbrake. It doesn’t have the circular control which rises out of the centre console and which looks very James Bond.
The F-type's cabin. Pic: Guy Swarbrick
The particular F-Type for review is the V6S. This has a 3.0 litre V6 Supercharged Petrol 375BHP engine which produces 450Nm of torque, and which Jaguar claims will do 0-60 in 4.8 seconds to go on to a top speed of 171mph.
There are two controls for altering the driving mode – one switch offers dynamic, normal or all-weather modes and the other (accessed by knocking the automatic gear lever to the left) accesses sport.
Choosing dynamic also sets the exhaust audio to Thor-clearing-his-throat mode, although this can be switched down to something less exciting, using a button that costs £350.
At a basic £60,250, the F Type is pricey. The review car is more so, as it has £12,000 of optional extras, including a powered hatch and panoramic roof. It’s a step up from the sliding webasto from its forefather but I do wish Jaguar had kept side-hinged door shown on the CX-16 concept which begat the F-Type. At least the bonnet hinges forward.
Boot and doors. Pic: Guy Swarbrick
The view over that long bonnet is evocative and you ease off. Perhaps it’s the beauty and the visual drama but the actual driving isn’t quite as exciting. While the numbers are good, acceleration isn’t brutal and there is none of the feeling that you are pulling the horizon in to meet you that you get in a truly rapid car.
I’m tempted to say that while the Tesla is a saloon car which drives like a sports car, the F-Type is a sports car which rides like a saloon, but it’s not the magic carpet feel of a big Jag. It doesn’t waft. Aluminium panels on an aluminium monocoque make the car light and rigid – the most torsionally rigid production Jaguar ever.
It’s actually a bit skittish but that not-feeling-quite-planted nature adds some agility and it took the best part of the week I had the car for to bond with it.
Once used to it I found it dynamically wonderful, neutral steering – unless the surface was loose and I’d pressed the button to switch off the ESC and steering apex-seeking precise.
Rolling stone: The F Type in motion
As for the gearbox, Jaguar has just announced a manual version of the V6 which chimes with much of the emotion of the F-Type but the eight speed auto is smooth and the changes rapid.
Many of the dynamics can be changed through the touch screen, hidden under a menu option that says “more” and next to a button which says “stealth mode”. Unfortunately, this isn’t a violation of the Treaty of Algeron, and just a button which dims the cabin lights. There is another button to electrically raise or lower the spoiler, which comes up at some speed over 50mph, but I was too busy looking out of the front to spot exactly when. It reduces lift by 120kg.
Visibility is good. Even out of the back it’s respectable and there is a reversing camera which with some menu jiggery pokery can be uses as a rear view mirror and left on the display. Little lights in the ends of the mirrors warn when there is something in the blind spot. It’s subtle and effective, although no doubt adds spectacularly to the cost of replacement mirrors – the F-Type is a deceptively wide car.
Front view: The Jaguar F Type
There is a configurator to play with on the Jaguar website which shows the deep extent of the options. These include carbon-ceramic brakes at knocking on £9,000 but a test of F-Types in Evo magazine concluded that they are only worthwhile for track use. The conventional stoppers in the review car are excellent.
Fuel economy isn’t great. The official figures are urban cycle 22.8mpg, Extra urban 42.2mpg and Combined 32.1mpg. The car might be light and efficient but this driver is not and I saw around 25mpg in my week with the car.
Thirsty: The F Type's engine bay
CO2 emission come in at 209g/km but what’s more impressive is that because the F-Type Coupé's structure is exclusively riveted and bonded – this manufacturing process emits up to 80 per cent less CO2 than welding a comparable steel structure.
That said, you're never going to buy a Jaguar for its eco credentials, although you might specify British Racing Green (a £700 option).
There are two very good reasons to buy an F-Type, the first is how it evokes the spirit of Malcom Sayer’s original, and the second is that it’s not the Porsche Boxster. It’s something that whenever you climb into it or out of it, will make your heart sing. ®
All photography in this feature is by Guy Swarbrick.