The Cat is Back

Our petrol head just loves the sound – oh the sound – of Jaguar’s new and seductive F-Type as it handles the straight and corners with British panache

Review by Marc Stickley

The essence of the Jaguar F-Type has a lot to do with the noise… I took my Dad for a spin and he succinctly captured the ethos of the Jag’s aural output – like an Aston DB5 Superleggera he used to clean as a boy for a local business man. The exhaust note certainly has the timbre of sports cars – particularly British ones – of the 1960s. Brash, loud, but deliciously mellifluous. I would agree with Dad – my recent visit to the Goodwood Member’s Meeting had treats for the ears as the cars assembled in the paddock, before roaring off on to the track. The F-Type wouldn’t sound out of place alongside the E-Types, Cobras, Ferraris and other period racers. On the overrun – whether after a hard charge, or just a dab of throttle – the exhausts emit snaps-crackles and pops, like the car is goading you to accelerate again. Those twin tail pipes look like they belong in the brass section of an orchestra – like the horn of a tuba – but they deliver a sound you’ll never hear from a musical ensemble. At least not until AC/DC consummate their relationship with said brass orchestra…

But it’s not all about the noise. The F-Type is also undeniably pretty, the true spiritual successor to the E-Type of the 1960s and 1970s, rather than the actual replacement XJ-S which was (I believe) a rather more masculine and slightly awkward two door saloon. Jaguar took their time to properly replace the E-Type, after all, how do you follow the “prettiest car in the world”? Well, design ideas flowed out of Coventry over the last 40 years, tantalising the general public, until the current F-Type was finally – pretty true to the concept shown in 2011 – launched in 2013.  But there’s more – it’s not all aching beauty and a loud voice. The F-Type drives well too. I was reviewing the entry level 3.0 V6, with “only” 335 supercharged horses to propel that pretty body and the two luxury seats down the road. And propel it does. It’s not face crushingly fast, rather rapid in a cultured way. You build speed and then realise you ought to lose some of it before the next bend means progress (or your license) are in jeopardy…

As this was a manual – unusual according to the Jaguar driver who delivered the car to me – with mere 18″ alloys (I would expect most F-Types to be fitted with the 20″ for more aesthetic value), this F-Type can be pootled around quite sedately, with the tall sidewalls of the tyres helping to soak up imperfections. For a sports car, it rides really well. You can pull along in sixth at ridiculously low speeds, using the torque of that V6 to woofle along, the exhausts snuffling and popping quietly on lift-off. If the roads clear up, why not snick it down a few gears and pin the throttle. Don’t be fooled by the straight line pace and that loud bark – the Jag can definitely corner. You sit just ahead of the rear wheels, with the front way out under the long bonnet, but it’s easy to place on the road. You can leave it in the normal drive mode, or hit the dynamic button to tighten things up, open the valves in those outrageous exhausts and turn the dials red. Equally, I found the rain/snow/ice mode fairly adept at keeping me on the road during summer downpours that threatened the integrity of the rear tyres (and my underwear) at several busy, but greasy junctions, whilst trying to quickly enter a busy A road. Finding a gap in traffic was easy, with good visibility, but it all gets a bit frenetic if you just plant the throttle… the term fishtail never felt more apt.

Inside the cabin, you feel cocooned in luxury. Leather and aluminum abound, that high central tunnel and the snug sports seats keeping you where you need to be. The wheel, however, feels pretty big and is festooned with buttons – I’d opt for the flat bottomed sports wheel if it were my car, to give my legs a chance to breathe. All surfaces are covered in leather or alcantara, with the central control area in gloss piano black, with push buttons, switches and rotary controls in metal or a soft feel rubber/plastic. The touchscreen works well and the infotainment is a good standard – the sat nav is clear and easy to input data to and the (optional?) Meridian surround sound gives the exhaust a run for its money pumping out the tunes. Lowering the roof is the work of a push switch, dropping the windows first, then the roof, before raising the windows again. All in, it takes about 10 seconds. With the roof down, the mesh screen behind and between the seats damps down turbulence in the cabin, even at motorway speeds. With the roof up, you’d be hard pressed to know it was a convertible.

The Jag is about £55,000 for this version, rising to over £100,000 if you want the brain out, 560bhp 4wd SVR model (yes please, with the optional spare pants). This test car had options flung at it like confetti – £10,000 worth. Some of them I would probably tick the boxes to, others aren’t worth the effort – the entry F-Type delivered good fun, a great noise and made me smile every time I went to get in it. The convertible gave a useful possibility as Britain struggled to convince us it was summer, but I’d probably opt for a coupe and open the windows if I wanted to get more of that delicious noise.

Perhaps the two biggest debates surrounding the F-Type concern its price and the competition. That 55 grand for the current base model will bag you a Porsche Cayman or Boxster. But for me, they’re not as pretty and certainly don’t sound as good with their new turbo-charged 4 cylinder engines. They may have a slight dynamic edge, but the Jag has soul and it’s a British sports car. So it’s 1-0 Jaguar. The other competition will soon be in house. Later this year, Jaguar release a 2.0 turbo 4 engine to sit in the F-Type, a version of their in house Ingenium engine. It produces just over 300bhp (so not far off the supercharged V6) and is bound to give advantages in emissions and economy. But how will they make it sound as good? And with the 2.0 turbo reckoned to come in just under the V6, will they retire the 340PS variant to give clearance between the 300PS 4turbo and the 380PS V6? Watch this space to see if there’s a score draw from an own goal. Meantime, snuck down a gear, give it some welly and listen to that big cat roar… riddle_stop 2

 

Enquiries: www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/f-type/index.html

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