People want different things from cars. Some want outright practicality, at the expense of style. Others prefer economy, at the expense of style. For some it’s all about company car tax bills.
There are quite a few that just want their cars to look good though and they’ll put up with a small boot and a big insurance bill.
If that’s you, stop reading this and go and buy yourself an F-Type.
Jaguar has nailed the balance between modern and retro, perfectly judging where to look forward and where to include subtle design cues from the past.
It’s unmistakably a Jaguar from all angles, with the roof and rear window delicately echoing the lines of the glorious E-Type coupe from years gone by.
It looks the part then, light and agile even when standing still, but this is also being billed as the most capable Jaguar ever.
You sense that might just be true as you fire up the engine. The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine barks in to life, revving wildly initially before crackling and popping until it falls back to an idle. It’s literally enough to scare a small child – something I achieved inadvertently at the A14’s Extra services.
Drive along and there’s a banshee wail from the rear of the car as the large twin exhaust make sure everybody around knows you’re in an F-Type. As the revs drop, those spits and crackles echo out like a rapid-fire shotgun attached to the boot. It’s intoxicating and addictive when you’re making swift progress, but around Huntingdon ring road it’s all a little embarrassing as it feels unnatural and unnecessary, as if it’s trying too hard.
But then you find the open road again, the noise envelops you, and you soon forget that you look perhaps a little too flash at 18mph outside King’s College.
You forgive it that as the engine produces 375bhp, with an eight-speed automatic transmission directing all that power to the wheels. Don’t think it’s a soft-tourer though, as the de rigueur flappy paddles sit behind the steering wheel allowing you to control the gears with just a quick flick of a finger.
Some may say a ‘proper’ manual gearbox would be better, a little more involving, and occasionally that might be true, but for 95% of the time it’s the right option.
A mechanical limited-slip differential at the back helps keep traction when that power is unleashed and the car is slewing sideways in a wall of tyre smoke, something that’s quite easy to achieve if you’ve set the computer systems to Sport or, if you’re brave, Sport+.
But for all its drama, it’s probably not quite as quick as it should be. That sounds ridiculous when it can leap from standstill to 60mph in just 4.8 seconds and worry light aircraft with its 171mph top speed, but its obvious Porsche 911 rival is lighter, marginally quicker and more agile, despite giving away 30bhp to the Jag.
The F-Type manages to weave in to its DNA the important Jaguar qualities of refinement, comfort and stability better than its rivals though.
The grey interior and tapered rear screen make the cabin feel cosy, but the optional panoramic glass roof adds a lightness that can only be rivalled by the soft-top model. That light shows off the dashboard and centre console that are turned towards the driver, with the gear selector and dynamic mode selector switches seemingly transferred from a fighter aircraft.
You feel like you’re piloting the car rather than driving it, but look around a little more and you’ll notice cheap column stalks and some slightly tatty trim, where costs have been cut a little to make this an ‘affordable’ option.
The aging infotainment system also lets the side down. It’s fully equipped with sat-nav, DAB radio, cameras, Bluetooth and more, it’s about time Jaguar looked at updating things. Flat and uninspiring to look at, it looks dated while not being the easiest of systems to use. Buttons are barely any bigger than a finger, making it tricky to hit the right thing while driving, while the sat-nav draws maps in the style of an 11-year old.
It all works well enough, but could be made much more enjoyable to use.
It’s also not that practical, which is no surprise when you look at it. There’s a boot that can take 407 litres of luggage (however much that is) but while there’s plenty of length to the boot floor, the position of the rear axle makes it incredibly shallow. A weekend jaunt is possible, but a European touring holiday certainly isn’t.
Not that you’d necessarily want to do that in the F-Type S, as the firm suspension is far more sports car than GT cruiser. Remember that and you’ll never regret spending your money on the F, especially when the V6 S is £15,000 cheaper than the entry-level Porsche 911.
Flawed it may be, and the Porsche 911 is undoubtedly a better all-rounder, but the F-Type is so much more interesting, so much prettier, so much more involving, that there’s simply no choice to make.
As the advert says, it’s good to be bad.
|Price: £60,250 (£71,365 as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre superhcarged six-cylinder petrol
Top speed: 171 mph
0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds
Power: 375 bhp (380 PS)
Torque: 339 ft-lb (460 Nm)
|Official combined fuel economy: 32.1 mpg
Road Test economy: 27.9 mpg
CO2 Emissions: 209 g/km
VED Band: K / £285 per year
Car insurance group: 47E
Kerb weight: 1,594 kg