As a teenage boy I had three lusts. But rather than two legs, they had four wheels: the Morgan Plus 8, Porsche 928S and E-type Jaguar.
They were the fantasies of a boy in a Valiant Charger suburb; cars with elegant lines, speed and alacrity, and a deep throaty rumble that I imagined would one day resemble my voice when it broke.
The funny thing about Jaguar is that over the years it seemed to age with its original audience. The appeal of the cars went from being something toffs drove when pretending to be Mods to a Bentley substitute for old people who liked cornering 10km/h above the recommended speed.
Jaguar made fuddy-duddy cars under Ford, but now, with a new patron, India’s Tata Motors since 2008, it’s sexy and sporty and targeting a younger audience once more.
The F-Type Jaguar is the company’s 2-seat elixir of youth for middle-aged blokes who never got around to buying their schoolboy dream.
The soft top was released in Australia last year and now it’s the coupe’s turn.
Business Insider spent four hours driving both the $119,000 entry-level F-Type and the top-of-the-line $219,000 Jaguar F-Type R coupe on the outskirts of Sydney and came home feeling a little younger, zippier and happier.
The F-type is eye candy. It’s voluptuous, with sweeping, squat lines that sit on the road ready to pounce. It looks like the love child of the old Porsche 928 and an E-Type. That, or J Lo’s bum. Either way, it’s hard to look away.
The basic F-type is a supercharged 3-litre V6 punching out 250KW and zipping to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds. Fuel consumption is a surprisingly economical 8.8L/100km for combined use. For an extra $30k, the S version V6 delivers an extra 30KW, shaves 0.4 seconds off 0-100 and is still a thrifty 9.1L/100km.
If you’re standing still long enough, the car measures energy consumption and if the battery pull isn’t too high, the engine switches off. Jag estimates a 5% fuel saving as a result.
I enjoyed the driving the standard car, but it’s Danni Minogue to the F-Type R’s Kylie. The R is a supercharged 5lt V8, generating 404KW for 4.2 sec 0-100km/h and is speed limited to 300km/h. I’d love to test that theory. I doubt I’d get 11.1L/100km then.
The F-Type R is a beast which will excite the aurally fixated. It gurgles and roars, making enough deep-throated exhaust noise to rival a full-trottle Harley rider.
When you switch to manual and change down gears using the steering wheel shift paddles, it lets out a backfire pop as it spits out unspent fuel.
This is hoon luxe, but fear not if you’re annoying the neighbours. The extra noise is part of a “switchable active sports exhaust” that’s a $5000 option. It lets you turn the dial up to 11 but also gives manual control to limit the exhaust noise.
The acceleration, whether from a standing start or 80km/h is thrilling, astonishing pushed-back-in-the-seat stuff. This car can take you to police-will-confiscate territory in a blink. It offers the reassurance of power far more than you’ll need, although accelerating out of corners is part of the joy in driving this car.
Jag’s driving system software, called adaptive dynamics, calibrates your style and the road conditions and adjusts accordingly. On winding, less even roads I could feel is skip and dance a little, but then it looks to sink the 20-inch Pirelli claws in again. The R has an system called torque vectoring, which will brake the inside wheel and push more power into the outside to keep your line. While it was a sunny, dry day, I’m told it also works to correct the car if you start to slide while cornering. I’d love to take one of these cars down the Alpine Way from Thredbo to Khancoban to really test it. By the way, there’s a rear ski carrier accessory and winter mode in the drive system.
That said, not everyone will be happy with the firmer ride. If like me, you don’t mind feeling the surface driving like this, then the slightly go-cartish ride and instantly direct steering will wear thin. But if you’ve softened with age, better go back to floating over the road in your Volvo station wagon.
If you’re a tweaker, you can configure the car via the centre touch-screen, or simply press the dynamic mode button for a more sporty drive. Traditionalists might be miffed that you can’t drive manually via the gearstick, but using the steering wheel paddles gave me more of the Mark Webber vibe anyway, without having to double-clutch.
Everything about the R feels more solid, from the electronically adjustable performance bucket seat to the rear spoiler, which automatically pops up at, ahem, 113km/h, which is like putting you hand up for the highway patrol, but there is a manual control too.
I drove that standard F-Type after the R, which was like going from a 1kg bone-on tomahawk steak, to a nice eye fillet, and a little unfair.
It’s missing a lot of the goodies in the R, but for $100,000 less, it probably delivers better value if your budget is limited. The V6 still gives you plenty to play with and probably wastes less of its talent in Australian conditions.
And then there’s the sound system.
If, like me, the car is one of the few places you can go for it without the wife or kids telling you to turn it down, then you’ll love the bass in the 330W Merdian. I discovered a whole new layer of bass notes in Lorde’s Pure Heroine. I’d buy the car just to play The National turned up to 11 too.
But there are shortcomings. There’s barely enough storage space in the swept-back rear for more than an overnight bag. Jag says it’s “up to” 407 litres, but only if your bags also have the fluidity of water to fill the space – the spare tyre sits there like Jabba the Hut, dominating an uneven surface (I suspect the calculation is sans tire). Apparently some blokes stick bike racks on top, but a car like this with a luggage rack (or tow bar and trailer anyone?) would defeat the purpose and you may as well buy a Porsche Cayman.
Then there’s the options game.
Yes, spend $2000 on the panoramic glass roof for a top-down feel without wind or sun burn, but how anyone can sell a $100,000+ car nowadays without a rear-vision camera as standard defies belief.
The ‘parking pack’ – front detectors, rear camera, is another $1,725, thank you. The $8,440 technology pack cranks up the sound system from 380W and 10 speakers to 770W and 12 speakers in surround sound for $8,440, but that’s curiously bundled with blind spot monitoring and closing vehicle sensing.
Air filtration and dual climate control are not a big ask, but it’s an extra $4,320 as part of a “convenience” pack that also includes tyre pressure monitoring, smart headlamp stuff, front parking aids (so if you buy the parking pack two, you’ve paid for them twice) and ‘valet’ mode – lockable rear and glove box.
Would sir like heated seats? That’ll be $1,410. Powered rear tailate? $1,100.
And you’ll be letting your wife, son and best mate drive it too? How about $2,040 for the seat memory pack with the memory set electrically adjustable steering column thrown in.
The biggie is how you rate stopping as an option. The carbon ceramic brake packs are around $20,000. If you plan on driving hard, I’d imagine they’re essentials.
You can see it’s not hard to turn the F-Type R into a $260,000-plus car, competing for your wallet against the likes of a $230,000 Porsche Carrera coupe or $300,000-odd for an Audi R8. In that context, the standard F-Type does seem good value.
If only I’d saved $50 a week since I first wanted a Jag, I’d be buying one now.
Now have a look through the F-Type Jaguar
The drive console display is pretty clean and classic, but with a fair bit of digital info coming up in the middle
The centre console has a touch screen and lots of different menus to fiddle with, but it does feel bulky between the driver and passenger
The leather steering wheel felt good and chunky, with everything you needed at your fingers without letting go. It's flat bottomed so your legs don't get caught by it
I loved the paddle gear shift on the steering wheel for manual driving. It was incredibly fast and responsive too
If you're the sort of person who like tuning a graphic equaliser rather than just hitting the 'rock' button, then you can do the same to the car, individually setting different parts of the drive via the centre touch-screen
One of the console panels is a G-force measure, so if you liked playing corners as a kid, at least you'll enjoy knowing how hard you're turning
To be honest, the navigation system talks too much. And when is a luxury car manufacturer going to wise up and get Scarlett Johansson to tell me where to go?
Hit the pedal on the right and you're thrown back in your seat. That's probably why you'll spend $20,000 to make sure the left pedal does its job properly
The embossed leather seats in the R didn't really float my boat - I'd rather the money was spent on seat warmers as standard
The electronic seat controls in the F-Type R are on the door. Unfortunately, in the standard car, it's mostly manual
The rear spoiler comes up automatically when the car hits 113km/h (oops!) then drops back down to reduce drag when you're back under 80km/h.
The R-type had this massive glass sunroof, which let in plenty of light without leaving you sunburnt.
Look carefully at the shape of the bonnet. See the little visual joke the designers have put into the car? I love that level of detail.
There's not a lot to see under the bonnet, unless you want to show friends the extra money you spend on a carbon fibre engine cover
OK, so there's not a lot of room in the boot - an overnight bag and laptop would be fine, or a cricket bat and pads if you need to take your son to weekend sport, but really, who wants a car designed for a trip to the supermarket?
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