Jaguar F-Type

Ex­tra grunt and styling tweaks make this a cool cat

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

Spe­cial edi­tion 400 Sport proves you don’t al­ways need eight cylin­ders to play with this cat

AF­TER al­most 300km of driv­ing in the lim­ited edi­tion F-Type 400 Sport, a strange re­al­i­sa­tion came to mind. The stereo, a Merid­ian sys­tem, hadn’t been switched on. It’s not that the op­tional 12-speaker unit isn’t good, be­cause it is. It’s more that the 3.0-litre su­per­charged V6 nes­tled un­der­neath the long clamshell bon­net pro­duces an even bet­ter sym­phony of sound.

Okay, the mon­strously pow­er­ful V8 in the SVR pro­duces an arous­ing sound­track. But the ‘lesser’ six will chal­lenge any cylin­der snob’s ear.

Its pops and bangs on the over­run are like au­to­mo­tive or­gasms and its shriek to­wards 7000rpm is like few other bent-sixes. It’s in­tox­i­cat­ing. It makes you smile. It’ll have you chortling like a lit­tle kid.

Mus­ings about acous­tics aside, what does the yel­low and sil­ver 400 Sport badge mean? It’s a launch edi­tion for the facelifted F-Type range that ups the power to 294kW (or 400PS) from the 280kW S ver­sion, while torque stays at 460Nm.

What’s more, a proper me­chan­i­cal lim­ited-slip diff with torque vec­tor­ing and ad­justable dampers are stan­dard. You have the op­tion of rear- and all-wheel drive (the lat­ter adding 80kg to the 1594kg mass) while both utilise an eight-speed ZF torque-con­verter auto. The 400 Sport was only avail­able through­out the 2017 model year, but there’s likely to still be ex­am­ples left at deal­er­ships.

Sub­tly up­dated, the ex­te­rior styling is a tri­umph of mus­cu­lar­ity and pu­rity of de­sign. It’s a rel­a­tively diminu­tive coupe, but its cab-back, long-bon­net ar­chi­tec­ture and sump­tu­ous wheel-arch bulges set many hearts aflut­ter.

Con­versely, the cabin isn’t as re­solved. It’s just a bit for­get­table by com­par­i­son and the eight-inch Touch Pro in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is slightly old hat and un­in­tu­itive. The stan­dard fea­tures, for a car listed at $183,516 (add $16,000 for AWD), are as glar­ingly sparse as the lack of use­able space in the 310-litre boot.

How­ever, press the starter but­ton and the cen­tral air vents rise from ob­scu­rity, while ev­ery­thing you touch is swathed in lus­cious leather and bound by unique yel­low stitch­ing. It isn’t other-worldly spe­cial in­side, but it cre­ates an am­bi­ence that makes you feel good.

On-road the 400 Sport is a re­ward­ing car. Yes, it might not be a Porsche 911 Car­rera – de­spite com­ing close on price – but the be­spoke F-Type plat­form strad­dles the GT and per­for­mance car di­vide.

With peak power de­vel­oped high in the rev range, there’s real re­ward in

The F-Type 400 Sport oozes theatre; its aes­thetic ele­gance and acous­tic drama make you feel spe­cial

search­ing the up­per reaches. Back­ing it up is a well of mid-range torque and sharp throt­tle re­sponse thanks to su­per­charged in­duc­tion. It com­bines well with a slick auto that ad­heres to man­ual in­puts when called upon.

At 4.9sec to 100km/h it’s cer­tainly quick enough – the heav­ier AWD takes 5.1sec – but the real en­joy­ment comes from the fact that it seems the right amount of power for the rear-driven chas­sis. And with wide 295-sec­tion Pirelli P-Zero boots at the back, the rear axle never strug­gles to get the power down.

The RWD ver­sion is the driver’s choice. It feels keener on turn in and can be pro­voked into hav­ing more fun on the limit than the rear-bi­ased AWD – es­pe­cially with Track mode for the ESC. You can re­ally get on the power early and use the throt­tle to steer the F-Type on cor­ner exit with the well-cal­i­brated LSD of­fer­ing an ex­tra level of mea­sured con­trol.

While not be­ing a heavy­weight in kerb mass, the up­graded brakes (380mm front, 376mm rear) of­fer longevity and pos­i­tive feed­back. The elec­tronic steer­ing isn’t vague either, re­turn­ing a de­cent amount of feel through the tiller. You can con­fig­ure the dif­fer­ent drive modes, but in any mode the adap­tive dampers do a good job of quelling im­per­fec­tions.

The 400 Sport of­fers a du­al­ity of per­sonas; part GT, part per­for­mance car. You could pur­chase more fo­cussed Ger­man two-door coupes for less, but the Brit oozes theatre from ev­ery min­eral of its al­loy be­ing. Its aes­thetic ele­gance and acous­tic drama make you feel spe­cial ev­ery time you drive it. And for most, that’s all it needs to do.

Slim­mer, 12-way ad­justable per­for­mance seats are em­bossed with the Sport 400 logo and are said to save about 8kg in weight without ru­in­ing com­fort lev­els

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