Motoring: Jaguar goes back to the future
PUBLISHED: 14:27 08 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:27 08 September 2014
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Motoring editor Andy Russell gets close to his boyhood dream with Jaguar's new F-Type roadster
A group of small boys is gathered round the Jaguar F-Type. You can tell from the babble of voices and gesticulations they are excited about the latest stunning two- seater from the illustrious British marque.
It reminds me of when I was their age, the best part of 50 years ago, when the car I wanted was a Jaguar E-Type.
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 for more than 50 years.
The spiritual successor to the E-Type, the front-end styling, with its expanse of bonnet and huge grille, is stunning. And the back end, with its wide tail lights, grew on me. I think it needs a bright colour to show it off properly.
The heart of any Jaguar purrs under the bonnet. The F-Type offers three super-charged petrol engines – 340 and 380PS 3.0-litre V6 and 495PS 5.0-litre V8, all mated to an eight-speed Quickshift gearbox, which matches shifts to driving style or can be used manually via the joystick lever or paddles on the steering wheel.
All will delight but the pick for me is the more powerful V6 S model. It has more than enough performance and gains a lot of desirable equipment, which adds to the whole experience. This includes an active exhaust system which opens valves above 3,000rpm to turn the bark into a thunderous growl; dynamic launch mode to optimise acceleration; limited slip differential for even better grip; high-performance brakes and active dynamics system which monitors driving and adjusts dampers for stability and agility while a dynamic mode sharpens 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 the power and performance, the F-Type returned 30mpg over 500 miles of mixed motoring – drive it hard and economy goes out of the window.
Jaguar’s expertise in using aluminium for its rigid, lightweight architecture and stringent weight-saving measures, including opting for a convertible roof, 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.
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-focussed 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 coupe boasts 407 litres.
The F-Type is magical to look at, marvellous to drive and a momentous testimony to Jaguar’s sporting heritage.
■ Price: 3.0 V6 S Roadster £67,535 (3.0 V6 £58,535, 5.0 V8 £79,995).
■ Engine: 2,995cc, 380PS, V6 supercharged petrol.
■ Performance: 0-60mph 4.8 seconds; top speed 171mph.
■ MPG: Urban 22.4; extra urban 40.9; combined 31.4.
■ CO2 emissions: 213g/km.
■ Insurance group: 50 (out of 50).
■ Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage.
■ Dimensions: Length 4,470mm; width 2,042mm; height 1,309mm.