A week with a Jaguar F-type

Posted in DriveL by Richard Porter on Friday, June 7th, 2013

AWWF-type1 Day one The F-type is waiting in an underground car park. Even parked, it’s quite dramatic. It looks wide, which is no surprise since it’s over an inch broader than the XK on which it’s based despite being a foot shorter, and even prettier than it seems in pictures. The attention seeking is completed by the loud bark it makes on start up, like a fat retired barrister clearing his throat after reading something especially startling in The Daily Telegraph. I have to make an unexpected dash across West London. It’s slashing it down and traffic is terrible. The F-type is not immediately endearing. At low speeds the engine drones and the seat digs into my back. Worse yet, the ride is very bumpy, verging on the piss-poor. It’s hard to see what all the fuss is about. Also, this being the middle model with the gruntier of two supercharged V6 engines, is has S badges on the both ends which are slightly garish and nasty, spoiling the lovely looks. Hmph.

Day two Work to do at home. Manage to sneak in a drizzly trip to the supermarket. This throws up another F-type disappointment. The boot is idiotically small. And that’s with the get-home tyre Band Aid. I gather if you opt for the space saver wheel there’s almost no boot at all. And if you had to fit the skinny spare, where would you put the knackered full-size wheel? Jag should have thought of that and offered a thing that lets you mount it to the bootlid like a Rover P6.

Day three No F-type action today, I’m off to a wedding. Bit of a shame because the sun’s just come out.

Day four The sun is still out. I’m going over to a mate’s house to watch the Grand Prix. For the first time I put the roof down, change gear with the paddles on the wheel and push the button that makes the exhaust louder. Suddenly the F-type is a million times more likeable. It’s as good as zooming across London in a bright red sports car should be. And people seem to like the F. Grown men take photos of it. Small children yank urgently on their parents’ arms and point with excitement as it growls past. Better yet, even with the roof down no one gobs on me, even in the manky bit of Finsbury Park.

AWWF-type2 Day five It’s Bank Holiday Monday. It’s also a beautiful day. It would seem foolish not to go out for a proper drive in the country. So I do. And suddenly it all makes sense. I won’t bore you with the details of how the F-type turns in sharply, how it feels stable but alert, how the gearing and the torque of the engine make it easy to maintain pace, how the weight and polish of the controls make it a satisfying car to drive smoothly at some speed and how you don’t get bored of the pops and farts and minor explosions from the exhaust. All you really want to know is, is the F-type fun to drive down a quiet country road (which you instantly render not quiet with your snorty, farty sports car)? And the answer is yes. It’s brilliant, boisterous, exciting and extraordinarily amusing. Here’s another thing; I didn’t notice the ride once.

Day six At around 60mph a little spoiler pops up from the F-type’s boot. When it does, the Jaguar logo gummed to it becomes visible in the rear view mirror.  It’s a nice touch. The F-type is full of nice touches. I like way the bonnet vents let you catch a glimpse of the ‘supercharged’ badges on the top of the engine. I like the way those same vents sometimes create a little heat haze that shimmers in your eye line in traffic. I like the rubberized buttons on the dash and the way the start button, gearshift paddles and switch that puts it into dynamic mode are trimmed in gold. They say this was inspired by the colour of important controls in the Eurofighter Typhoon. It’s a gimmick, but a sweet one. And there’s something quite tongue-in-cheek about it. Likewise, when you ask for the feistier set-up the dash tells you ‘dynamic mode confirmed’ like you’ve just ordered a missile strike. You feel they had some fun designing this car.

Day seven A dull day in the office and then to Yorkshire on Top Gear business. Given that’s it’s shouty and lively and a bit bumpy, you’d expect the F-type to be a big, red migraine in waiting on the long slog up the M1. Actually, it’s a remarkably good cruiser. I suspect it’s partly down to the 8-speed automatic ‘box. Once you’re up to speed it goes into 8th and everything gets a bit calmer. It really is a very good gearbox. At lower speeds, under manual control, the changes are so quick and crisp you’d think it was one of those double clutch jobbies. Yet it brings the benefits of being a torque converter auto, chiefly that when you move away from rest it doesn’t feel like the robo-controller is slipping one of the clutches into dust.

AWWF-type3 Day eight After a day’s filming I’m giving a colleague a lift back to London. I warn him that he might have to have his bag on his lap. Yet an overnight bag, a rucksack, two laptop bags and a pair of stout boots all fit in with room to spare. And I’m giving the boot extra marks because it has an icy white LED light at the back so that when you open the lid at night it’s like being in a futuristic remake of Pulp Fiction.

Goodbye The Jag is going away. This makes me sad. I have grown extremely fond of it. It’s not perfect, of course. The ride’s too hard around town. It weighs more than an all-aluminium car should, even if you don’t really feel it when you’re driving. The price is pretty stiff, especially once you’ve added things that should be standard in a cabrio like heated seats, a wind deflector and the button that makes the exhaust extra farty.  But if you spent the money, I don’t think you’d feel short changed. For one thing, it’s a joy to look at, especially around the back where it appears to taper a bit like the old XJ13. The interior feels pretty special too. It’s also the only two seater sports car I can think of that you couldn’t call girly or hairdresser-ish. It’s too snorty, too fighty, too liable to pop one of its bollocks into your pint while you’re not looking. In that respect it’s a bit like an old TVR. Except that it feels properly developed and properly made. The really smart thing about the F-type, however, is that it has gimmicks like pop-out door handles and rising dashboard vents to entertain your friends but that, underneath these novelty trimmings, there is real depth and texture that you wouldn’t get bored of. What it has is something you don’t get in that many modern cars; a real and extremely likeable personality.

The car talked about here is the Jaguar F-type S which has a 3-litre supercharged V6 engine making 375 horsepower. Jaguar says it can do 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 171mph. In standard trim it costs £67,520 although this test car had various options on it and was worth £79,230. 

21 Responses to “A week with a Jaguar F-type”

  1. Vanoord says:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

    One of the best looking sports cars of recent years.

    But arguably £20k more than it should be.

    It’s going to be an excellent second hand buy in 2-3 years time though, when someone else has taken care of that extra £20k plus a bit.

  2. Naegul says:

    Yes, it’s (like many 2-seat sports cars) flawed, and the boot is astonishingly small, but once you hear the prehistoric noise from that V6 – all is forgiven…

    That’s one of the best reviews on the F-Type I’ve read so far. Good work fella.

  3. Chris C says:

    If it’s based on the XK are there any ancient XJS bits carried over? Not convinced it logically follows on from E types.

  4. GeorgeTuk says:

    How did you make a metal aluminum car grow? First the boot is “idiotically small” and then it fits everything in fine?

    Other than that I like the review much more than the po faced articles from others…more of this please!

  5. Sniff Petrol says:

    Thanks George. I suppose what I meant was, the boot looked idiotically small (and still does) but actually accommodated a reasonable amount of stuff. I still wouldn’t use one if I was helping someone move house but for a long weekend away it’s probably fine.

    No XJS bits that I know of Chris. It’s a cut-down of the current XK platform which was loosely derived from the first ally XJ rather than based on the old generation XK, which was an XJS underneath.

  6. Antony says:

    My MX-5 used to do the faint-heat-haze-off-the-bonnet thing too. If it’d been raining you’d also get a faint steamy haze which was also cool.

    And that had a decent boot even with the spare in it. And nobody gobbed on me either. A student did shout “twat” at me once, but he was drunk and I suspect speaking from personal experience.

    In seriousness though, I’d quite like a go in an F-Type.

  7. Infiniti says:

    I have driven the F and it definitely is an awesome car to drive. Granted boot space is a bit naff but then all cars have their flaws. I think its a good sacrifice to plant the throttle (preferably whilst under a bridge or tunnel) and listen to the popping, spitting, fire breathing bark. Amen that man !!

  8. Felix says:

    I have just taken delivery of a new V8 S and it is disappointing initially! The seats are so uncomfortable as I am tall and the headrest is set far too low, hurting my back after only 40 miles. I had driven the lowest spec V6 for a full weekend and I much prefer that engine. Wish I had waited to order as I can’t stand the seats and will be selling my car immediately as a result!

    Sorry Jaguar; lovely car but not for tall people due to the terrible seats. I have back ache already.

  9. Jennifer Warts says:

    The front end looks Maserati… that’s foreign for bloody awful. Resembles a mewling infant with a single baby tooth.
    Hmmph indeed.

  10. DJ says:

    ‘And I’m giving the boot extra marks because it has an icy white LED light at the back so that when you open the lid at night it’s like being in a futuristic remake of Pulp Fiction.’

    There was a glow coming from a briefcase in Pulp Fiction, the glowing car boot was Repo Man.

    Sorry for the pedantry.

  11. Gridlock says:

    Yeah, but only you and 13 other people watched REPO MAN, so the joke worked.

  12. dj says:

    That’s still more people than bought a Vauxhall Signum.

  13. forzaminardi says:

    Out Ray Juice!

    Eight days is longer than a week.

    Please make sure such errors are not repeated.

  14. Chris Price says:

    The vents on my MG TF also create a little heat haze, but I expect that’s probably the start of HGF…

  15. petem says:

    If the V6 was tested, why have a picture of a V8 with 4 tailpipes for the article?
    Even a hasty smartphone snap would have done!

  16. Blimey, there really is some weapons-grade pedantry going on here… 🙂

  17. Jennifer Warts says:

    V8…V4… who gives a fig, it still resembles an ugly baby.
    And the TV ad makes me turbo-hmmph. Is it teatime yet?

  18. Otterpiss says:

    Well I’ve been driving the same machine for 24 hours now Richard, and am only now setting out for a first proper hoon…

    Probably high time because, up ’til now… DISAPPOINTED…
    Seat deeply, properly, astonishingly uncomfortable (when will they fire Lear?), wheel rim too phat and badly shaped, cabin cramped… Indeed, whole car a masterpiece of reverse Tardis packaging.

    It had better go like a stabbed rat, ‘cos it fits like my wife’s underwear.

  19. tommy says:

    what a crap review sounds like an idiot trying to sound educated wrote it, ans the car lets face it is nasty, why dont jaguar just remake an upto date E type they cant go wrong…….well ..yes they would probably make a mess of that too!

  20. I wish I could come up with ideas faster.

    Sooo want to set-up a website similar to this.

  21. Peter Baker says:

    Had my F type 2 weeks I cant drive it for over 20 mins the seats are a joke,

    i am selling it

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