Day one: Woof woof bang. The F-type coupe is here. It is the version with a V8 engine which introduces itself on start up by coughing loudly, like a fat barrister shortly before the onset of his next heart attack. The seats are quite narrow, the ride is hard, the whole car feels a bit bony.
Day two: Hmm, yes, the ride really is quite firm. Worryingly, the F-type coupe has higher spring rates than the convertible, itself no Rover 75, ride-wise. Yet, unless my arse is deceiving me, the coupe’s ride is slightly better. This might be because the suspension works more effectively when it’s bolted to the coupe shell which Jag says boasts an extremely high level of stiffness of up to squifty bajillion heconewtons or something.
Day three: I once had a very embarrassing moment on a damp day in an F-type V8 convertible in which I attempted to make a smart getaway from some lights in order to humiliate the man in the Boxster S in the next lane but instead found myself engaging in a festival of skittering wheelspin and traction control strangulation whilst Boxster boy simply drove off into the distance. That F-type was basically a bit of a hot rod. This one feels a lot more sophisticated. As you drive through a corner there’s a sense that you could get it to spin its wheels and kick out its arse but this is very much an option at sir’s discretion. If sir would prefer to proceed in a brisk and orderly manner then so be it. In other words, potential naughtiness covered in a veneer of good behaviour. Which is very Jaaaag.
Day four: Time for a proper drive. Up the motorway first. The F-type is surprisingly good at this. You leave the exhaust in quiet mode and it’s a perfectly civilised cruiser. Or you can push the button that makes it loud and enjoy what you might believe is the Norse God of War vomiting fire into a kettle. Off the motorway and into the countryside a few things become apparent about the F-type R. First of all, it’s really rather fast. Secondly, it’s really rather good at going around corners. As suspected yesterday, if you want to muck about and slither everywhere in a childish manner with your helmsmanly dab of oppo, it’s very much up for that. More surprisingly, if you want to just go round a corner quickly and accurately and without crashing into a hedge, it’s bloody good at that too. Another surprise is the sportier setting on the suspension which manages to make the car feel more tightly controlled without having a discernably terrible effect on the ride. Dynamic mode also makes the 8-speed auto ‘box whip-crack fast on the paddles and the steering a bit too heavy. There’s a page on the touch screen where you can separate these things to get the bits you want so it’s not a problem. Once it’s set up to your taste the F-type R is a sensational thing, blaring across the countryside in a bright orange ball of noise and fury. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s a lot more subtle and interesting than the hairy bollocked exhaust and whiff of TVR might suggest.
Day five: A tedious trudge across London today. Like most new cars, the F-type has a stop-start system. You feel a bit silly hearing the engine grunt into life as you lift off the brake when the lights go green, mostly because you assume that most people assume you just stalled it. You can turn it off if you want. Another quirk – this demo car has an electrically powered tailgate. It’s a £450 option I wouldn’t bother with unless you’re spectacularly idle. In which case, where have you got £450 from you lazy bastard?
Day six: Trundling through a supermarket car park looking for a space I’m suddenly aware that there is a man jogging alongside the car. The man seems to be making the international gesture for ‘put the window down’. So I do. And, since there’s nothing around, I stop. ‘I’m so sorry,’ says the man. He’s very well spoken and slightly out of breath. ‘That is just the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen,’ he continues. ‘Sorry, that’s all I wanted to say. Is it the new Jaguar? It’s just beautiful. Sorry.’ It’s like being caught in a very middle class drive-by. Mind you, the man has got a point. The F-type coupe is a sensationally good looking thing. Several of my neighbours have told me so. My wife is so in love with it and so gutted that it’s only a two seater she’s considering hiring a baby sitter just so I can take her for a drive in it. Back at the supermarket, I’m just pulling into a space when the same man appears at a smooth and sinister pace from between two parked cars like a well spoken Terminator. He is now brandishing his phone and attempting to photograph the Jag. I definitely think he likes it.
Day seven: On the way back from running some errands I approach a bridge near my house, switch the exhaust to Cum On Feel The Noize and bang it down a couple of gears, just to hear the thunderous echo as we pass underneath. By the time I get home my neighbour’s kid is out on the street asking to have a look at the Jag. He had heard me from three streets away. The F-type is better at drawing a crowd of kids than almost anything including the Mercedes SLS, a car so Pied Piper-ish my wife started calling it The Paedocar.
Goodbye: They’re taking the F-type back. This is terrible news. It’s a terrific, charismatic, irrationally loveable car that also happens to be technically very competent too. After driving it for the last time I pulled up and paused for a couple of seconds before shutting it off, resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be going home in it tonight. And this made feel sad. It’s not just a good car. It’s also a bit special.
The car talked about here is a Jaguar F-type Coupe V8 R. It has a supercharged 5-litre V8 engine making 543 horsepower. They say it can go from 0-60 in four seconds and on to 186mph. It costs £85,000.