Be­cause it’s a Jag

Its boot is too small, the ride is a lit­tle harsh and the price tag is well be­yond most ... but we don’t care — this big cat has in­sa­tiable ap­peal

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­guide.com.au

AN un­prompted comment from the pri­mary school kid — “That’s a JAG!” — says it all.

The new F‒Type bur­bles qui­etly into the school grounds and gets an au­di­ble re­ac­tion that is rarely af­forded other ma­chines.

AMGs, Porsches and As­tons turn heads and prompt con­ver­sa­tions once they’re parked, but this comment is a first — the svelte curves, sharp creases and swoop­ing de­sign el­e­ments mesh beau­ti­fully.

Never be­fore has any car had a tougher task than this — Jaguar’s F‒Type has a her­culean task to shift the shadow of its E‒Type fore­bear.

Given the age gap, it’s prob­a­bly never go­ing to do it, nor is it a fair com­par­i­son, but there’s one thing not in dis­pute.

The new Jag, like its an­ces­tor, is charisma on wheels. Im­prac­ti­cal? Cer­tainly. In­dul­gent? Ab­so­lutely. Tal­ented? No ques­tion. Over­priced? Prob­a­bly — but I still want one, even though for about the same price as a bathing box on Mel­bourne’s Brighton Beach or a home in re­gional Tas­ma­nia, you can have this two-seater rag­top.

The sticker — not that it’s so tacky as to have one on its wind­screen — has a re­tail price of $171,000 but this ex­am­ple as tested won’t give much change from $200,000.

Stan­dard fare in­cludes a limited-slip diff (the ac­tive ver­sion is saved for the su­per­charged V8).

There are 19‒inch al­loy wheels (with a boot‒erod­ing space-saver spare), bi‒xenon head­lights, LED run­ning and tail-lights, auto‒dim­ming rear vi­sion mir­rors, key­less en­try and ig­ni­tion, power‒ad­justable, fold­ing and heated ex­te­rior mir­rors, leather‒trimmed sports seats with power ad­just­ment (even for the side bol­sters), sat­nav, grippy leather­wrapped sports steer­ing wheel and cli­mate con­trol.

The Merid­ian Blue­tooth/ USB equipped sound sys­tem has been op­tioned up to a 12‒speaker sur­round sound job (a qual­ity noise but largely sur­plus to au­ral re­quire­ments in this car).

Among other op­tions are 20‒inch al­loys. Then there’s a “spe­cial paint charge” of $5620 for the black/pur­ple amethyst paint job — as tested it’s $196,750. Ouch.

Ac­tive sports ex­haust — cen­tre‒mounted twin pipes for the su­per­charged V6 and the V8 gets out­board quad‒pipes — speaks vol­umes in more ways than one.

Cloth roof up or down, there’s a de­li­cious sound­track even at part‒throt­tle — but full whack on the loud pedal (with the ac­tive sports ex­haust but­ton de­pressed) is Ar­maged­don. Imagine, if you can, a hive of an­gry wasps on a diet of rasp­berry cor­dial armed with de­mo­li­tion saws — that’s about as close as I can get to de­scrib­ing the noise this thing makes in a tun­nel.

Or you could ask the hand­ful of driv­ers who slowed down nearby in other lanes — match­ing my de­creas­ing speed — to hear what was com­ing . . .

Noise‒mak­ing ca­pac­ity apart, the su­per­charged 24‒valve 3.0‒litre V6 is good for 280kW at 6500rpm and churns out 460Nm be­tween 3500rpm and 5000rpm, the urge chan­nelled aft by way of the clever and en­thu­si­as­tic ZF eight-speed au­to­matic with pad­dleshifters.

Tip­ping the scales at 1614kg, it’s not far off be­ing hefty — al­loy con­struc­tion has helped keep the fig­ure some­what on the lithe side.

Still, the V6 claims 4.9 secs to reach 100km/h and a top speed of 275km/h.

At the more gen­teel end of the spec­trum, the boffins at Jag say it can be coaxed into drink­ing at a rate of 9.1L of pre­mium un­leaded per 100km from the 70‒litre tank, al­though en­thu­si­as­tic ex­plo­ration of its abil­i­ties el­e­vates the thirst fig­ure to the low to mid teens.

Cruis­ing at a more proper pace is a calm and re­fined ex­pe­ri­ence — roof in place, it’s very quiet and even roof‒down motoring isn’t overly blus­tery — but flick all the elec­tron­ics to men­tal‒mode and you can feel it tense up.

The ride qual­ity re­mains good — the adap­tive damp­ing sys­tem used by Jag has al­ways been qui­etly ef­fec­tive — but it sinks its claws into cor­ners without any flex­ing or skit­tish non­sense. Ex­cel­lent brakes bite hard, the sus­pen­sion fights the nose­dive.

Turn into a bend with the de­light­ful well‒weighted steer­ing, backed by the sound­track on over­run that’s sym­phonic in its de­liv­ery — snap, crackle and pop isn’t just a phrase for breakfast cereal mar­ket­ing — then ac­cel­er­ate to de­liver chills up the spine.

Us­ing the pad­dles in full Sport Dy­namic mode isn’t over­ruled by the com­puter ei­ther, which points to the de­vel­op­ment goals of a gen­uine driver’s car, al­though the gear se­lec­tor can still be a bit finicky about selec­tions if you haven’t got the brakes on and pushed the but­ton firmly.

There’s back‒up for the driver from the sta­bil­ity con­trol (which can be turned off) as well as four airbags, rear sen­sors and re­vers­ing cam­era (which de­liv­ers an im­pres­sive im­age), old‒school roll hoops and even a pedes­trian‒friendly im­pact‒ sens­ing pop‒up bon­net.

It’s ad­vis­able not to take much bag­gage — the space­saver spare sits (cov­ered) in the shal­low small boot, os­ten­si­bly leav­ing 148L of space in the nooks around it. We hear the coupe has the load space sorted bet­ter than this . . . but that wouldn’t be hard.

A Porsche Boxster has 280L all up — 150L in the snout and 130L in the rear (but it’s above the en­gine!) and even a Smart Fortwo has 220L.

The Boxster has 61 per cent pre­dicted re­tained value ver­sus the Jag’s 57 per cent.

Oc­cu­pants (pro­vided they are trav­el­ling light) are looked af­ter — al­though there’s not buck­et­loads of space for phones, keys or over­filled wal­lets ei­ther — but the driver and pas­sen­ger can get snug and com­fort­able.

The de­sign­ers have even given the pas­sen­ger a tri­an­gu­lar han­dle on the cen­tre con­sole in lieu of a “Je­sus han­dle” above the door — thought­ful, in a req­ui­site kind of way.

VER­DICT

Emo­tional ap­peal is dif­fi­cult to cap­ture or quan­tify but the new­est cat on the block oozes charis­matic charm with a malev­o­lent un­der­tone. Any­one with an eye for num­bers is go­ing to look at the more prac­ti­cal (and just as quick) Boxster S for $40,000 less. Don’t. You can’t put a price on pas­sion.

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