Icon is a very over-used word, but one car that surely merits its use is the Jaguar E-Type
Was there ever a more evocatively beautiful, sexily phallic piece of seduction on four wheels than that? All of which poses a problem for its successor, long yearned for and now finally arriving four decades later. The Jaguar F-Type is saddled with huge expectation, and inevitable backward-looking comparison.
So how does it stack up against a heritage that is both enviable and hugely onerous? Pretty damn well. It isn’t exactly the new E Type, nothing can be, but it a convincing contemporary interpretation. It is a mightily impressive beast that is terrific to drive and as reminiscent of its illustrious predecessor as modern safety regulations allow. It is a pedigree big cat in looks, driving behaviour and the noise it makes, which depending on engine choice is one of a growl, a snarl or a roar. It is aurally thrilling.
So, how exotic do you like your motoring? The F-Type range kicks off with a three-litre V6, 340-horsepower engine, which delivers a 161 mph top speed and 0-62 acceleration in 5.3 seconds. Next up is the three-litre V6S with 380 hp, 171 mph flat-out pace and 0-62 in 4-9 seconds. Jaguar’s chief test driver Mike Cross reckons this is the honey of the range, and I agree. But oh, how tempting is the range-topper, the V8S, with 495 hp and supercar performance: 186 mph and 0-62 in 4.3 seconds.
The two S models come with adaptive dynamic dampers, which react to 13 inputs around the car and change their rate of firmness up to 100 times a second. They are part of a system that also sharpens the throttle response, firms the steering and adjusts the gear-change points in the excellent eight-speed Quickshift transmission that is standard across the range.
There are some distinctive touches to the F-Type that distinguish it as something special. Jaguar has a magic hand with cabin design, and the F-Type is exquisitely crafted inside. It is unusual in being more of a 1+1 than two-seater. The driving seat is very much the focal point, and semi-partitioned from the passenger seat, so that the interior has a driver-and-sidecar flavour that sets it apart from other twin-seat sports cars.
Another unusual feature is the deployable door handles, These that pop out when the car is unlocked, and stay proud until you shut the doors. It seems a bit of an unnecessary complication, but it is another novel feature that is part of the car’s unique DNA. Less successful is the boot design. It is rather on the small side at 196 litres, and awkwardly shaped with a shallow section below the hood stowage and space taken up at the back by the car’s battery. When we queried the necessity of this, engineers argued that it was essential for weight balance and part of the reason why the car drives as well as it does. A fair point, but the puny boot could be a deal-breaker for some.
The launch route chosen to showcase the F-Type was over some of the most snakily demanding roads in Europe, in the Basque region of northern Spain. The relish with which the car gobbled up the miles with clingy precision, the communicativeness of steering and the grippy poise of the handling made it sheer joy to drive. It is very seductive, a car you want to keep driving all day and could easily elope with.
So how does the F-Type shape up against its rivals? It is good enough to worry Porsche, as dynamically distinguished as a 911 but with a more comfortable driving position. It knocks spots off a Mercedes SL. Fantastic job, Jaguar. It’s been a long wait since the E-Type, but the F-Type was worth waiting for.
Watch the Drive 10 Second Car Video of the Jaguar F-Type V8S
Jaguar F-Type V6S
Price £67,520 (range from £58,520)
Engine 3.0 V6 24-valve petrol, power 375 bhp at 6,500 rpm, torque 339 lb ft at 3,500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed Quickshift auto with paddles
Performance Top speed 155 mph, 0-62 mph in 5.9 secs
CO2 213 g/km, VED band K (209 to 259 g/km across the range)
Economy 31.0 mpg combined (25.5 to 31.4 mpg across the range)
Insurance Group 50
Dimensions Length 4,470 mm, width 1,923 mm
Boot 196 litres[hr]
Watch the Drive 10 Second Car Video of the Interior of the Jaguar F-Type V8S
Read More Jaguar Articles at Drive.co.uk/JAGUAR
About Sue Baker – Motoring Correspondent, Journalist, Editor & Broadcaster
A Supplier of words & images to UK national & international publications. Contributor to many newspapers & magazines including Diesel Car, Carpages, Carkeys, Cambridge Edition, Saga, Daily Telegraph, Daily/Sunday Express, Driving, BMW magazine, Mercedes magazine, Eureka (Kia) magazine, AA magazine, 4×4, CSMA Club, Good Motoring, PHVC Update. Regular work includes new car launch reports, test drive reports, comparative twin tests and group tests, features, drive/travel reports, industry and ‘Me & My Car’ celebrity interviews.
During a 30 year career in motoring journalism, my work has appeared in nine UK national newspapers: Observer, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, Times, Sunday Times, Daily/Sunday Express, Daily Star,
TV and Radio
Television experience includes 11 years as a presenter on the popular BBC TV motoring programme Top Gear, three years as motoring correspondent on BBC Breakfast Time, guest apearances on BBC News 24. Broadcasting work includes contributions to BBC Radio 4 Motoring & the Motorist, and Woman’s Hour; Radio Five Live, Radio 2 Nightline and the John Dunn show, BBC local radio; LBC motoring spot; British Forces Broadcasting Service motoring programme. Guest spots on World Radio Switzerland.
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