F-Type takes Jaguar back to the future
- Credit: Jaguar
Motoring editor Andy Russell is all fired up after living the dream with Jaguar's new F-Type Roadster.
The group of small boys gathered round the Jaguar F-Type. You could tell from the babble of voices and gesticulating they were excited about this latest in the line of stunning two-seater sports cars from this illustrious British marque.
It reminded me of when I was their age – the best part of 50 years ago – when the sports car I wanted own, or at the very least drive, was a Jaguar E-Type – an icon of the Sixties and now a legend.
I never fulfilled my dream but I've driven the next best thing – the new F-Type. It's the first full-blooded Jaguar sports car to be launched for more than 50 years and a continuation of a sporting bloodline stretching back more than 75 years.
The spiritual successor to the E-Type, the front-end styling with the vast expanse of bonnet and huge grille with shark-like gills either side is stunning but the back-end, with its wide tail lights, grew on me and I think it needs a bright colour to really show it off in the best light.
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The heart of any Jaguar sports car purrs under that long, long bonnet and the F-Type offers three supercharged petrol engines – 340 and 380PS 3.0-litre V6 and 495PS 5.0-litre V8 all mated to an eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox which matches shifts to driving style and can be used manually via the joystick-like lever or paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
All will delight on the road but the pick for me is the more powerful V6 'S' model because it has more than enough performance and gains a lot of desirable standard equipment which adds to the whole driving experience.
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This includes an active exhaust system which opens valves in the rear section of the exhaust above 3,000rpm to turn the bark into a thunderous growl – music to ears in a long tunnel, dynamic launch mode to optimise acceleration, limited slip differential for even better grip, high-performance brakes and active dynamics system which monitors driving style and adjusts the dampers for the best stability and agility while a dynamic mode sharpens the handling and throttle and steering response.
All very hi-tech, but the F-Type still feels pure and natural – in fact it is very easy to drive.
The 3.0 S can be as docile as it is devastating, pulling strongly from little more than tickover but boot the throttle and prepare for blast-off! Despite all that power and performance the F-Type returned 30mpg over 500 miles of mixed motoring – drive it hard and economy goes out of the window along with your licence!
Jaguar's expertise in using aluminium for its rigid, lightweight architecture and stringent weight-saving measures – including opting for a soft-top convertible roof which opens and closes in just 12 seconds at up to 30mph – help economy and make a huge contribution to the F-Type's athleticism. It responds instantly to the slightest input making it hugely agile with tenacious grip – helped by a rear spoiler automatically lifting to create more downforce – and a flat stance through corners. It's also a capable, comfortable long-distance cruiser with the engine burbling away in the background while that adaptive damping soaks up poor surfaces to take the sting out of them without completely wiping out any feedback.
The wide cabin is spacious and sumptuous and you immediately feel at home as the door handles pop out and you slip into the driver-focused cockpit where beautifully finished, tactile controls fall to hand. But you'll have to travel light with the roadster's shallow, awkwardly-shaped 196-litre boot – if you need more the new coupe boasts 407 litres.
The F-Type is magical to look at, marvellous to drive and a momentous testimony to Jaguar's illustrious, sporting heritage.