Few would recall Jaguar as a British sports-car maker. Well, a British marque maybe, but it’s easy to forget that the English town of Coventry once produced great machines like the XK120, C-Type and, not to mention, the legendary E-Type.
Sadly, the Big Cat lost its teeth back in the 1980s, under the ownership of the Blue Oval. It almost met its death, until the brand was sold to India’s Tata Motors, which managed to put on the leash and turned the company around.
Since the late 2000s, Jaguar has been bringing us one surprise after another – a clear signal that it was ready to claw back. The XF was the first sign that Jaguar was back in business, with an executive saloon that gave class-leaders a run for their money and made complacent competitors sit up. But it didn’t stop there. Next came the XJ, acracking limousine that offered towkays a serious alternative to the Rings, Roundel and Star.
While they were excellent cars, neither were as exciting, and as important, as the F-Type to us. It’s the first proper two-seater sports car by Jaguar in more than five decades, since the introduction of the E-Type. This is probably the only chance to prove to the world that the marque is capable of going back to its heyday.
So how does it stack up? Just in the looks department, it’s got the first tick. Strong lines and bold creases give the F-Type a muscular look in the front, but is smoothed out with a sexy, curvacious rump. The bulge on the bonnet isn’t modest about hiding its stuff. Inside, the sexiness continues, seducing you to grab the steering wheel, punch the stubby gear shifter and unleash its power. This is clearly a driver’s car, because all the controls are positioned with a bias towards the direction of the skipper.
Under the hood sits a 5-litre V8 supercharged engine that puts out 495bhp and 625Nm of torque. Two smaller 3-litre options are available, but the top-of-the-line powerplant turns this cat into a true predator. Its prey had better run quickly, because it’s capable of bolting to 100kmh from a standstill in a mere 4.3 seconds. So, that’s another tick for being able to go fast.
Long sweeps or fast switchbacks? No problem. The V8 S version is equipped with an electrically controlled differential that controls power output to the rear wheels to ensure maximum grip in all, but the most dire, conditions. It works in tandem with the extremely clever suspension and steering systems that monitor movements 100 and 500 times per second, respectively. This high- tech adaptive drive system isn’t just a gimmick. The road holding and agility of the F-Type are truly remarkable, making this car seem almost unflappable.
Now, there’s one part of the car that has been saved for last. Well, it’s hard to describe it in words or pictures on this glossy page – because you have to hear it to believe it. In fact, you may be able to feel it. The F-Type doesn’t just roar when the accelerator is mashed. This cat barks. Blip the throttle and the exhaust cracks like a whip, barely missing your earlobes. When pushed hard on acceleration, the ripping overrun note never tires, as do the waves of pops and crackles that follow when decelerating. It sounds like someone just lit a string of firecrackers on its tail. But, if subtlety is needed, say, when you are sneaking back at night, you can turn the sports exhaust off and normalcy is restored. So that’s another tick for sending never-ending waves of tingles down your spine.
It’s hard to find a fault with the F-Type. Perhaps its price point – but it’s still less costly than its top-less competitor from Stuttgart, plus it offers that edge of exclusivity, because this is (still) a hidden gem. It’s a capable car on the roads and at stealing glances, if not stares, from passers-by as you cruise around. I’m sure a certain Mr Bond wouldn’t mind if this was his next car.
Engine: 5-litre, V8, supercharged
Power: 495bhp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 625Nm at 2,500- 5,500rpm
0-100KMH: 4.3 seconds