I’ve chosen to describe the Jaguar F-Type drive day as an ‘experience’ because it wasn’t just a day and it wasn’t just a drive.
It’s been a long year waiting for the Jaguar F-Type to land on Australian shores and I’m sure I’m not the only man in Australia who feels that way. As you are well aware this isn’t the first, second or third time the Jaguar F-Type has graced the pages of The Versatile Gent, it’s the fourth. The poor team at Black Communications have been dealing with my emails since December last year, so when my invitation to attend this event landed in my inbox 6 weeks ago it was quite a momentous occasion.
The F-Type is one of the most exciting and beautiful cars to come off the production line in the last 50 or so years. Jaguar have engineered and refined, redesigned, re-refined, tested, poked and prodded to create a wonderful machine that brings the word performance back to the heart of the iconic British brand.
It’s been a busy decade for Jaguar, not just developing excellent cars but repairing a reputation that still cannot escape them. I really cannot believe that people still discuss the brand in a negative manner. Since 2008 Jaguar have produced some of the finest cars on the road today and this F-Type will further negate any last remaining unconfidence people have about the brand.
The new F-Type is full of a youthful exuberance the brand so desperately required. The definitive sports car is back and this time it goes above and beyond anything Jaguar has done in the past, a fundamental shift in the brand’s DNA whilst paying homage to its sporting heritage.
Our small group of media was invited to the Shangri-La to attend a quick briefing about the car before heading off to dinner at Quay. It was pretty special to see the team from Jaguar so passionate about the car – the room was buzzing in anticipation with the knowledge that we were about to be the first people in Australia to experience it. We sat down in the restaurant’s private room and were greeted by Peter Gilmore, Quay’s head chef and Jaguar ambassador who was to join us on the drive the following day. Stories about the brand and its marques were traded across the table as we ate but it was clear everyone had only one thing on their mind, bed, as soon as possible, so we could start the next day.
Like a 9 year old on Christmas morning, sleep was practically nonexistent as the 6.30am sun poured through the windows in the Harbour View room of the Shangri-La. We returned to the briefing room for a quick run down of the day’s proceedings and headed down to the covered car park of the hotel to be greeted by 7 Jaguar F-Types and a royal blue XF-RS. Cars were assigned to pairs and we clambered in, eager to head off.
The F-Type comes in 3 variants. A 250Kw 3.0L Supercharged V6, a 280Kw 3.0L Supercharged V6 and a 364Kw 5.0L V8. We started the day the in the ‘foundation model’ as it was referred to by Jaguar. In appearance the models only differ slightly, bigger breaks, exhaust modifications, wheel choices and some cosmetic features become more refined but the core design of the car is retained throughout the line. The difference in price is more substantial, the foundation model begins at a very reasonable $138,644, then up to $171,045 and finally $201,000 for the V8.
The convoy set off heading towards Cessnock to tackle a range of driving environments; freeway, country, city and track. Starting in the foundation model we knew it was only going to get better, how much better we weren’t sure – our initial thoughts of it were “How much better could it be?” In all honesty, after driving a range of high powered cars I just couldn’t imagine what more you would need from a sports car and at $138k it seems like a pretty unbeatable option. Whilst I found the ride at times a little bumpy, the car is very well balanced through corners at speed. The F-Type employs 35% more negative camber than any production car they’ve ever produced which means the wheels sit flatter through the bends.
At no point in V6 did I wish I was in one of the larger engined models which is a pretty phenomenal achievement on Jaguar’s behalf. Actually, there was one thing I was really keen to experience, the active exhaust which only features on the top two models. Exhaust aside, the acceleration and the gearbox was as good as you’d expect from a car twice the Jag’s price. The F-Type is an outrageously entertaining car, the Santa Claus of smiles, it just gives and gives and gives. I don’t think I’ve had such a great time in a car ever as we gave it a serious slog along the Great North Road.
After a short break we switched up the cars, moving to the mid range V6 S with active exhaust. The active exhaust is amplified by a button in the cockpit to add to the theatrics of the F-Type. The range of noises that bellow from the car when the exhaust system is engaged is mind boggling, it roars, whisps, crackles and gargles forming a symphony of sounds Johann Sebastian Bach would be proud of. Could the foundation model get any better? Well yes by adding an active exhaust. It’s absolutely fascinating, I’m not sure if you’d ever tire of it.
We were lucky enough to put the V6 S through its paces with a couple of professional drivers who had nothing but praise for the F-Type. Being able to push a car like this to its limits (or as far as my ability would take us) with a professional really allows you to understand the capabilities of it – having the pro take you out after helps even more!
As you could imagine climbing into the V8 post lunch was a great way to end the day. The extra two cylinders makes the car a little heavier than the V6 but they also make the exhaust sound even better. After such a long morning of driving it was nice to sit back in the seat and appreciate the car’s whole package. It’s undeniable that the F-Type is for a younger market, which broadens the brand’s appeal immensely. Young men who once desired the Porsche Cayman or BMW M3 now have another formidable contender to consider.
The new Jaguar F-Type is a seriously exciting car and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful automobiles ever created. If I was to spend my own money on one of the three I’d probably save the $30k on the V8 and pick up the mid range V6 S. It’s a bit lighter, sounds almost as good and is the superior car for winding country roads or the track. This car is insanely capable and represents phenomenal value for money in terms of driving pleasure, thus almost every F-Type allocated for Australia has already been snapped up – act now or you’ll regret it.