When Jaguar decided to launch a successor to the mighty E-Type of legend, it was a long time in the making; almost forty years in fact before the F-Type was launched upon a salivating automotive world. Has it been worth the wait though? I think we all know the answer to that.
Previously, DriveWrite has driven the 5.0L V8 and the 3.0L V6, both in convertible form. Wonderful cars both but I’m not a convertible person. My hair simply can’t cope. This is why I will always go for the coupé version, and, if I’m honest, I fancy that the V6S is the better engine for this car.
I really like the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the F-Type. It is content to cruise along in auto and, if so driven, can actually get close to the combined official fuel consumption figure of 32.1mpg, aided by an unobtrusive Stop/Start eco-feature. Should the urge take you though, it is still possible to use the paddle option – for a quick overtake for example. The Quickshift transmission is lightning-fast and by using eight closely-spaced gears the supercharged engine is kept in its most effective rev range to deliver just the right amount of power and torque at all speeds. The selectable Dynamic Mode adds adrenaline to your drive by altering the throttle response and gearshift programmes to further emphasise the car’s sporting nature.
Push the gearshift over to Sport and things liven up. The gearbox will remain in auto but a shift to paddles allows full driver gear selection thereafter. For the full beans throw the chequered flag switch into Dynamic mode, put your foot down and feel the force as the system remaps the car’s software to sharpen the throttle response, increase steering weighting, stiffen suspension and perform gear shifts more quickly at higher engine speeds.
There is a further button: this has an double-pipe symbol on it indicating the active sports exhaust and when pressed exercises bypass valves in the Jaguar’s larynx causing the car to bellow like a track-day beast, with added pops and bangs on the over-run. It is of course totally juvenile and thus absolutely addictive.
Out on the DriveWrite test route, the varied surfaces and road variations will give any car a jolly good workout and I’m pleased to say that – with allowance for the fact that this car is most definitely set up for performance – the Jaguar proved to be surprisingly comfortable. Certainly you can feel the neglect of decades on our roads but at no time was the F-Type ever unsettled. The drive was as you’d expect on the major roads but it was on the B-roads that this big sports car excelled, steering through the twists, turns and undulations like a lightweight track-day special. Brilliant. In fact it was so good we did the round trip twice taking up the best part of an afternoon.
Inside, all is serene. Full leather obviously and, conveniently, the multi-function seat adjusters are handily placed on the door sills. I’ve heard murmurings that the JLR switchgear and touch screen navigation and functions are getting a bit dated and this may well be so, but personally I find them intuitive and easy to use, so why fix what’s not broken?
Jaguar have made good use of the cabin space. The door pockets are a bit on the small side but there’s the glove box, a couple of good sized cup-holders centrally placed and a cubby beneath the central armrest that contains 12v, USB and Aux connections. Additionally there’s a big central bin amidships between the seats. The boot is cleverly designed. In the absence of a spare wheel there’s useful extra storage space under a false floor and there’s enough room for a weekend’s luggage.
Apart from the ‘official’ test drive we used this car for a couple of outings and as a shopping trolley. It pottered and performed in equal measure, never putting a metaphoric foot wrong. On an unusually and blissfully empty A361 between Highworth and Burford in Wiltshire the F-Type delivered one of the most exhilarating drives I’ve had in a long while. When all’s said and done, that is the benchmark of a great car.
Since this test the news is that the F-Type is now available with four-wheel drive and, joy of joys, a manual gearbox. Drive will be an intelligent system with power going primarily to the back wheels until slip is detected elsewhere. For Jaguar it makes good marketing sense. 2WD sports cars are fine in Summer but now weather becomes less of a problem for a sporting Winter drive. The 2WD car does have a bad weather setting but it’s function is to tone down the power to allow for careful driving and that’s all.
A few days before the Jaguar F-Type V6S arrived I was ill with some dreaded man-ailment. I felt pretty low. Yet, out on the road in this superb, British-made car I began quickly to feel more like my old self. I was reminded of an ancient TV advertisement – around when the E-Type was king – for a brand of beer. I paraphrase here: ‘It looks good, it drives good and by golly it does you good’. Proof positive, I’m sure you’ll agree, that driving a great car is a cure for all known ills. Not available from pharmacies.