The Jaguar F-TYPE was announced to widespread acclaim and while some pointed out it was going to cost considerably than we were expecting, we were all were wooed by its looks; after all, you wouldnt expect Keira Knightley to be a cheap date, would you?
But a pretty face isnt enough. To compete in what is an ultra-competitive market the F-TYPE needs to drive brilliantly, be flawlessly reliable, and make its owner feel special; no-one needs a car like this and only a fool would spend over fifty grand on a car whose sole attribute is the way it looks. So we lined up a basic V6 for a week to see if it lives up to the hype.
The F-TYPE is, of course, achingly beautiful. Every single angle is impeccable, every line inch-perfect, and every detail flawlessly executed. It is quite possibly the best-looking car on sale today.
It is wide, though; at just over 2 metres it is about ten percent wider than a Porsche Cayman and on narrow country roads you feel every extra millimetre.
As a consequence it does attract attention. Lots of attention. From chavs in old BMWs wanting to race you through to retired gentlemen wanting to reminisce about the Jaguars theyve loved and lost, people flocked to the F-TYPE.
That will either be enormously annoying or satisfyingly reassuring, depending on your perspective.
The inside is just as lovely as the outside. Its snug but the interior fixtures are all beautifully designed and rifle-bolt precise.
I liked the laid-back driving position, even if it does make it quite hard to see the cars extremities. The splayed driving position is also infinitely adjustable and super-comfortable; I spent 3 hours behind the wheel at a stretch with no adverse consequences whatsoever.
Standard equipment is measly though and the options list is not your friend; my car came with nine thousand pounds worth of extras and didnt feel over-burdened. The Sports Sunvisor costs 50 and Keyless Entry and Start is another 450.
Automatic headlights are 200 and the Switchable Active Sports Exhaust costs a whopping 1,630. You might be forgiven for expecting them all to be standard on a car that costs 58,520
Problems? Storage space is extraordinarily limited; the boot is sufficient for just a couple of small, squishy bags and space for knick-knacks in the cabin is poor too. Oh, and three-quarter vision over your shoulder, essential for overtaking, is abysmal.
Sod practicality, the F-TYPE is all about the driving experience and it doesnt disappoint. For me, the duality of its nature was its greatest strength; leave the gearbox in Drive and the chassis dynamics standard and youve got a refined (-ish, the wind noise can be quite intrusive at continent warping speeds) cruiser. Its chassis is pretty benign too, even when you are pushing hard.
Switch it into Dynamic mode and it all gets harder, sharper, faster. And louder, much louder, as the optional Active Exhaust opens up and gives what is essentially a straight-through system.
Dial in Sport mode on the gearbox and it all gets even better, banging and crackling and popping very satisfactorily; we spent a happy half-hour cranking it up through the many tunnels that are dotted around Leeds.
Even my wife, normally the first to point out when Im being an idiot in a loud car, had to smile and admit that it did sound brilliant.
Shortcomings? None, not really. The ride is a bit harsh sometimes (blame large wheels and the obligatory Ring development for that) and the F-TYPE sometimes followed the roads camber a bit too faithfully but overall it is shamelessly extravagant and enormous entertaining at pretty much any speed; its a fast car that doesnt have to be driven quickly to be great fun.
The V6 is the pick of the bunch, being almost as fast as the V8 and better balanced. The three-litre engine in the standard car develops 335 bhp and 331 lb/ft of torque; given the cars not insubstantial 1,614 kg, you might be forgiven for thinking that it might not go as well as youd like. Youd be wrong.
Sixty-two miles-per-hour comes up in the 5.1 seconds and the top speed is limited to 161mph.
But its the mid-range torque from that supercharged V6 engine that really impresses; kick down is immediate and urgent and the car responds instantaneously.
It is a fabulous engine and gearbox combo, even if the overall consumption was way higher than Jaguar suggested is possible. I got 26.6mpg over the week against an official consumption figure of 31.4.
Value for Money
The Jaguar F-TYPE is considerably more expensive than some of its competitors but then it does feel a bit more grown up. I specd a Cayman S and an F-TYPE and they both came out within a few hundred pounds of each other; one looked like a hard-edged track weapon while the other looked more rounded and sophisticated.
As a result I have no doubt that they appeal to different demographics rendering the whole issue of price somewhat redundant; the F-TYPE isnt expensive enough to put anyone off and residuals should be strong.
The Jaguar F-TYPE is, without a shadow of doubt, a hugely impressive machine. Its a relaxed boulevardier, a snarling bobcat, and a thing of beauty. And yet, I was ever so slightly disappointed. The boot space is ridiculously inadequate and, more seriously, where I wanted finesse I found girth and heft. I wanted a sylph but I got a domestic goddess.
But its not too late; if we lost the electrically operated rear spoiler and seats, along with all the other unnecessary frippery, wed shave some weight and gain some deftness. If we then lost the heavy folding roof and replaced it with a fixed roof (saving 20kgs in the process according to Jaguar) youd probably create the worlds most desirable and affordable sports car.
You could even call it the Jaguar F-TYPE Lightweight. Now that would be a true successor to the E-Type