Time to F Around

Review of the Jaguar F-Type

I never much cared for Jaguars.

I always saw them as an ‘old man’ alternative to a BMW or a Mercedes.

Jaguars of years gone by have been heavy, slow (ish), and comfortable with much leather and wood grain adorning every square inch of their insides.

They had also been built down to a budget, with some of the fixtures and fittings giving the feel that they had come from the bargain bin over at Ford (who up until 2008 owned Jaguar) and to a certain extent, let their accountants design cars based on what was going to ‘financially sensible’.

Well that has all changed.

With Jaguar now in the hands of a new owner, a new era of their cars have been ushered in, leaving behind the look and feel of Jaguars from years gone by and adopting a harder, faster, and just generally better array of cars for your motoring pleasure, case in point; the new Jaguar F-Type.

Launched at the 2012 Paris Motor show, it’s been described as the successor to the legendary Jaguar E-Type, a big boot to fill given the historical significance and mind boggling performance of the E-Type.

Safe to say Jaguar has not disappointed.

The F-Type comes with both V6 and V8 engine options, as well as coupe and convertible variants of each. I was fortunate enough to spend a glorious Spring afternoon with the convertible V6S version in the Adelaide Hills, and this is what I can tell you:

The first thing you notice about this car is the sound it makes. This thing is loud. The exhausts are brilliantly engineered to provide an orchestra of sound through the full rev range, and even at a flat idle.

When you put your foot down it bellows as you change up, and it crackles on the down change like a proper racing car. The sound alone is worth every cent of the $155,000 price tag.

There is a button on the centre console to activate the racing exhausts. This is an optional extra as are many cool features of this car, but this feature is a must have.

Like you would ever need to turn it off. Jaguar have done a brilliant job here shaking their previous image of ‘Sunday driver’ and building a properly exciting car.

The insides are like the cockpit of a fighter jet, the whole dash is positioned towards the driver, and the engine start button is finished in brushed orange steel and throbs; begging to be pushed. The seats are leather bound and hand stitched, and the steering wheel feels fat and soft in your hands, giving the feeling that this car demands to be driven with both hands on the wheel at all times.

All the expected features are there including sat nav, traction control, air conditioning etc. Which makes this car usable. You can drive it every day to and from work if you wanted to. This would also be made easier by the eight speed automatic transmission, which is seamless to use.

The 8 inch colour touch screen is relatively self-explanatory, although with the weapon of an engine under the bonnet, you probably won’t spend too much time playing around with it. Taking the roof off takes just 12 seconds, and can even be done on the move.

Which is exactly what we did on the day we were given the keys and the opportunity to blast through the Adelaide Hills up to Goulding Winery Estate with Solitaire Automotive taking part in the Jaguar drive day.

The Adelaide Hills are quite possibly the best place to road test the F-type, the sweeping asphalt strewn through the hills like grey spaghetti, and the tight turns and picturesque scenery is the natural home of the Jaguar F-Type.

The noise that this car makes is of biblical proportions. Stomping on the loud pedal and changing up through the gears using the flappy paddles (which by the way are an optional extra) gives you a tingly feeling through your arms. This car demands respect from its driver.

That said, it is also fairly flattering in that it will correct any small mistakes you may make, pulling its tail into line, and scurrying out of corners with urgency, making you think you probably are a better driver than you actually are.

As we arrived at our destination, it gave us a chance to take a look at this car from all angles. And god is it beautiful. Probably one of the better looking cars made this decade, sweeping lines, big wheels, and a turned down nose make it look like it means business.

The ‘S’ model comes with some additional styling features that make it look more aggressive, however one of the stand outs of this car is just how good it looks from behind.

The huge cannon like chromed exhausts sit side by side in the middle of the rear bumper, ready to bellow to life. The rear tail lights are beautifully designed and accentuate the curves of the hips of the car. There is a spoiler which can be manually raised or lowered depending on how you are feeling on any given day, and the car sits low on the back wheels, making them barely visible from behind.

The Specs

The V6 engine in the F-Type S we drove is a 279kw Supercharged monster. It delivers punching acceleration and will have you to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds.

The slightly more sensible version of the same engine is a 250kw V6.

The other engine you can opt for if you are brave enough and have the molah is a 364kw V8, which is supercharged; naturally.

All engines are more reactive than similar turbo charged engines in comparative models, and they will react swiftly to your throttle requests.

The V8 engine will do 0-100 in 4.3 seconds and approaches frightening top speeds similar to that of supercars if you have the necessaries and enough straight road to test it.

All engines are very responsive throughout the rev range. The car is designed to be driven comfortably around town, but then still excite you when you get it out onto the country roads.

The Verdict

This is an exceptional car in every way. The pantomime it creates when you drive it is second to nothing. It delivers bang for your buck, and is an engineering marvel.

Although the ride could be criticised at times for being a tad hard, what else would you expect from a front engined, rear wheel drive, supercharged sport car.

And this truly is a sports car. It’s built for one purpose: to excite. It is an event to drive this car and you will genuinely look forward to doing just that.