The beautiful Jaguar F-Type.
The beautiful Jaguar F-Type.

Jaguar F-Type road test - cute pussycat still bites hard

TAKE a look at that rear end. Just look at it…the curves, the proportions - it's the best in the business.

Luckily Will and Kate didn't choose this as their wedding chariot, as little sister Pippa Middleton would have been lost into obscurity against the Jaguar F-Type.

When the cloak was first dropped from the F-Type as a concept a few years back, it was rightly anointed as the successful modern interpretation of the breathtaking E-Type. The latter is the still regarded as one of the most beautiful sports cars ever produced.

Yet this triumph of British engineering is thanks to an Indian company. Tata has ownership of Jaguar and Land Rover, and both have taken an inspired trajectory.

Jag is bounding again, and there is no better example than the F-Type.

While we await the coupe, the drop-top version arrived here late last year. It comes in three flavours - the base model V6 at $139,000, the slightly more powerful S we tested at $171,400, and the bent eight range-topper at $202,300.

Comfort

For a two-seater sports car, the F-Type is reasonably spacious, with good headroom.

Those long-legged souls could struggle due to limited electronic seat travel, but the vast majority of adults should be easily able to slot into the leather-clad pews.

The three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel comes complete with paddles in a golden hue, with a digital display sitting front and centre for the driver, flanked by an analogue speedometer and tacho.

Keeping an eye on your speed can be a challenge, and it's best to make use of the digital speedo.

There are a few strange absences that are on the optional extras list, like dual-zone air-con along with heated seats.

Another thing missing is storage space. You get cup holders and a centre console with a USB port, but there is no space to pop your briefcase or any kind of bag, for that matter, behind the seats.

The colour touch-screen is straight-forward to use, while leather covers the dash and doors, and adding a touch of theatre, the central vents pop up from the dash when you wake the engine.

Dropping the drop is done quickly by the electronic system and can be done at low speeds, but you do have to hang on to the button for the whole process. With the windows up, there is limited wind intrusion at lower speeds, but those with long hair should come prepared with a hat or pony-tail plan for highway sojourns.

On the road

From start-up there is a minor blip of the throttle before the curvy mistress settles into a more Jaguar-esque persona.

Cruising around town and on the highway is achieved with little noise and in rudimentary fashion as long as you don't pull the acceleration trigger too hard.

But the supercharged V6 bares its teeth with some minor encouragement.

Nudge the dash-mounted switch into "Dynamic" and the gauges glow an angry red. Shunt the shifter into "Sport" for some extra poke and the gentle Jag starts frothing, pouncing with every prod of the right pedal.

It can sprint from standstill to 100kmh in less than five seconds, which is like being punched with a silk glove.

It boasts a beautifully sporting soundtrack from the dual pipes, playing a bang, crackle and pop with cog shifts.

While you do get the active sports exhaust as standard in this variant, you have to shell out an extra $260 for the switch that controls the noise it throws out - a worthwhile investment, since you really only want to listen to the Jag jukebox when the top is down and you're stretching its legs.

Wonderfully direct steering and sports suspension makes for ample fun in the bends, although while the F-Type soaks up the undulations well on reasonable roads, any broken bitumen or poor country surfaces cause some ride comfort issues.

What do you get?

The F-Type S comes with keyless entry and push-button ignition, cruise control, sat-nav, powered seats, CD stereo with USB input along with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a power-retractable roof, climate-controlled air-con, 19-inch alloys, reversing camera and bi-xenon headlamps.

But our test machine had nearly $25K in extras.

Among them was a 77-watt Meridian sound system ($6900), 20-inch Blade alloys ($6800), seat memory ($2040) and stainless steel pedal covers ($590).

Inside the Jaguar F-Type.
Inside the Jaguar F-Type. Mark Bean

 

Running costs

Servicing is free for the first three years, but that doesn't cover all materials. Owners will have to stump up some coin to cover things like the battery, tyres, oils or additives.

Expect the insurance premiums to be hefty, and expect a large bill when it comes to replacing the P Zero Pirellis on each corner.

Practicality

Worldwide the F-Type has been on the receiving end of vitriol for its meagre boot. In fairness, it's deserved.

The boot is ridiculously small, and even a weekend away requires the acumen of a Tetris champion.

With a space-saver spare in the boot there is no room for a suitcase - not even small cabin baggage - or heaven forbid a set or golf clubs.

Other options

Also worthy of the cabriolet shopping list are the Audi RS5 ($175,900), Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 ($118,595) or Porsche Boxster ($126,500).

Funky factor

British craftsmanship at its best, the F-Type is beautiful from every angle. Heads turn, colleagues line up for rides, and the uninitiated try to distinguish the badge - is it an Aston Martin or Maserati?

What matters most

What we liked: Breathtaking good looks, brilliant exhaust soundtrack in dynamic mode.

What we'd like to see: Bigger boot space, more items on the standard feature list.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited-kilometre warranty and roadside assist for the same period. Free scheduled servicing for three years or 100,000km (whichever comes first). Servicing intervals are usually annual or 15,000km.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Jaguar F-Type S.

Details: Two-door front-engined rear-wheel drive two-seat convertible sports car.

Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6 generating maximum power of 280kW @6500rpm and 460Nm 3500-5000rpm.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.1 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 213g/km.

Performance: 0-100kmh 4.9 seconds, top speed 275kmh.

CO2: 213g/km

Bottom line: $171,045.

The Jaguar F-Type.
The Jaguar F-Type.


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