BLACK PAN­THER

JAGUAR F-TYPE 400 SPORT IMAG­INE BAGHEERA, THE BLACK PAN­THER IN RUD­YARD KI­PLING’S JUN­GLE BOOK, AS A CAR, AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK MUCH FUR­THER THAN THE BLACK JAGUAR F-TYPE 400 SPORT, COM­PLETE WITH YEL­LOW DE­TAILS, RE­CENTLY LEFT IN IN THE CARE OF FERDI DE

Driven - - Driven -

Launched at the be­gin­ning of 2017, to mark the in­tro­duc­tion of the new F-Type range, the 400 Sport was ex­clu­sively de­vel­oped as a spe­cial edi­tion avail­able for one model year only.

The fig­ure 400 refers to the Sport’s higher out­put of nearly 400 horse­power thanks an up­rated ver­sion of the su­per­charged 3.0-litre V6, with max­i­mum power in­creased from 280 kW to 294 kW.

While avail­able in rear- and all-wheel drive con­fig­u­ra­tion with an eight-speed Quick­shift trans­mis­sion and me­chan­i­cal lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, the dis­tinc­tive San­torini Black ex­am­ple made avail­able to us was only rear-wheel drive.

Its shiny coat and fe­line pro­por­tions were en­hanced with a Sport De­sign Pack – com­pris­ing of a more prom­i­nent front split­ter, ex­tended side sills and a rear dif­fuser in dark satin grey, 20” wheels also fin­ished in the unique dark grey, con­trasted by dis­tinc­tive yel­low brake cal­lipers and 400 Sport badges.

DE­SIGN CHANGES

How­ever, it shares some of the 2018 model year de­sign changes with the rest of the range, in­clud­ing full LED head­lights and a cleaner bumper de­sign that in­cor­po­rates large, pow­er­ful sin­gle aper­tures with a lozenge mesh de­sign in place of its pre­de­ces­sor’s dou­ble ‘shark gill’ aper­tures.

The dis­tinc­tive J-Blade day­time run­ning lights are re­tained, but now dou­ble up as

in­di­ca­tors, with the lamp’s ‘eye­lid’ in­dexed with the bon­net’s cut­line to ac­cen­tu­ate the lights’ multi-lay­ered graph­ics. The LED rear light clus­ters with their light graphic of a hor­i­zon­tal line in­ter­sect­ing a roundel – a fea­ture in­her­ited from the iconic Jaguar E-type– is now ac­cen­tu­ated by darker lenses.

In­side, new light­weight slim­line leather­cov­ered seats save about 8 kg of weight and can move rear­ward by up to 50 mm more than be­fore, en­abling a lower seat po­si­tion and in­creased legroom for greater com­fort.

Con­trast­ing yel­low stitch­ing is used through­out the in­te­rior, and 400 Sport lo­gos adorn the head­rests. The flat­bot­tomed steer­ing wheel car­ries ad­di­tional 400 Sport brand­ing, as well as the black brushed alu­minium cen­tre con­sole fin­isher and the sill tread plates.

It fea­tures the Touch Pro in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with tablet-style op­er­a­tion and the new Re­Run app that com­bines real-time video from a GoPro with key ve­hi­cle per­for­mance data. This can be down­loaded to a smart­phone and shared on so­cial me­dia. How­ever, be care­ful what you post.

ON THE ROAD

An up­rated chas­sis and the Con­fig­urable Dy­nam­ics sys­tem, al­low­ing you to se­lect in­di­vid­ual set­tings for the throt­tle, trans­mis­sion, steer­ing, and dampers, com­ple­ment the 400 Sport’s ex­tra power.

It also has a but­ton on the cen­tre con­sole to en­hance the bur­ble and rasp of the V6 at full tilt, and with the su­per­charger en­abling im­me­di­ate throt­tle re­sponse, the 400 Sport feels su­per-quick off the line– hit­ting the tonne in just 4.9 sec­onds and ac­cel­er­at­ing up to a heady 275 km/h.

The 400 Sport may not be as pow­er­ful as its V8 R and SVR sib­lings, but with its soul­ful V6 it is eas­ily the most bal­anced de­riv­a­tive now avail­able; mak­ing it the best in the range dynamically, and the most fun to drive … more so with the crisp, clear sound of the Merid­ian Sur­round Sound sys­tem in your ears.

It turns in well into the cor­ners, stays com­posed in long sweeps, and even han­dles short and twisty bits with aplomb, while its ride qual­ity and com­fort is out­stand­ing for a two-seater sports car. A per­for­mance brak­ing sys­tem com­pris­ing 380 mm front and 376 mm rear discs en­sures the 400 Sport also stops as well as it goes.

LAST WORD

Hav­ing al­ready won nearly 160 awards world­wide, the all-alu­minium two-seater F-Type has al­ready firmly es­tab­lished it­self within the sports car seg­ment. In the lat­est model line-up, the 400 Sport stands out as the pin­na­cle of the range.

Yes, it isn’t the most pow­er­ful de­riv­a­tive, but in terms of pure dy­nam­ics and use­able per­for­mance, and re­tail­ing at just over R1.4 mil­lion, it will put some sports cars dou­ble its price to shame.

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