Good looks and power
BRIAN BASSETT spends a few days with the F-Type Jaguar S Coupe, 3.0 V6
THE F-Type Jaguar is the spiritual successor to the iconic E-type, which still sells in Britain, when you can get one, for between £150 000 and £200 000 (R25R34 million). The new car was 10 years in design and designer Ian Callum produced one of the most beautiful sports cars in the world. The convertible came first in 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Coupe.
Perhaps the best tribute to Callum’s fine design I have come across was the reaction from my wife, Lin, while it stood in our driveway.
Normally her view of cars is tailored by concerns like practicality and durability.
With the F-Type, however, she approached the car, stroked its roof and declared it the most exquisite vehicle she had ever seen.
This was followed by a series of photographs with her cell phone and SMSes with photographs to friends. Clearly the commencement of a love affair, and well deserved as the F-Type is desirable because it satisfies both the needs of the style conscious and the demands of driving enthusiasts.
Our car was supplied by SMG Jaguar/ Land Rover Pietermaritzburg and our thanks to Allan Neave, the used car sales manager, for his co-operation.
The bodywork of the F-Type is stunning and looks somewhat like the Aston Martin DB series.
The exterior purrs quality and power. overall design is in a soft, swept back style accentuated by the front and rear bi-xenon and LED light modules.
In fact the short tail and slim rear lights hint at the car’s E-Type ancestry.
The overall effect is dramatic, enhanced by fine detailing like the door handles, which pop out when the car is opened, and elegant, tight modern lines, which result in perfect proportions from every angle.
The 18-inch alloys and twin rear central exit exhausts round off what is destined to become another icon.
I attended a meeting at Hospice while driving the car and emptied the meeting venue, with those at the meeting crowding around the car and asking questions, while expressing admiration and delight. Such is the F-Type’s relationship with its public.
The drama continues in the interior, which is driver-orientated and the driver zone is clearly demarcated by a grab handle on the passenger side.
Press the starter button and the air vents rise majestically from the dash. The joystick-type gear lever and toggle switches make you feel special and there is black, white-trimmed leather everywhere.
The dash is sensibly organised allowing for easy driver use, while the centrally-placed eight-inch touchscreen is easy to operate. Satnav and Bluetooth are standard and the six-speaker surround sound system makes a delightful noise.
The cabin is comfortable and snug. While the F-Type is a long distance car, with the electrically-adjustable, supportive sports seats and grippy, multi-function steering wheel providing a low riding position, so driver extremities are sometimes difficult to see at speed.
Luggage space is limited to 196 litres. But whoever bought one of the world’s finest sports cars for its luggage space? The car also has a spare wheel, which we at Wheels argue is essential on any car sold in South Africa, even if only a space saver.
The F-Type is packed with electronics and every safety device you can think of, as well as a few that you didn’t even know existed.
There is a two-stage stability control and a limited slip diff for better grip. It has the largest Jaguar brake discs ever made and blind spot warning.
The rear park sensors and reversing camera make shopping centre parking as easy as possible for this quite wide car, especially as you quickly attract a small crowd, who are more interested in seeing the vehicle than in your parking safely. There is of course the usual central locking and alarm.
Performance and handling
I was very impressed with the F-Type’s outstanding directional stability and precision at high speeds, with sharp, clear steering response.
It is perfectly balanced and wonderfully powerful, while the Active Exhaust SysThe tem opens special valves at 3 000 rpm to produce the best exhaust note in the business.
The six-cylinder, three-litre engine produces 250 kW of power and 450 Nms expressed on road via an eight-speed auto gearbox. Zero-100 comes up in about five seconds. Some say all round fuel consumption is about 10 litres per 100 km, but most enthusiastic F-Type drivers say “who cares when you are having fun”.
Having driven the car ourselves, we took it to the Roy Hesketh Circuit in Hayfields and handed it to our tame sports car driver, “Dizzie” Govenden. He drove the car around the track as it should be driven, with nearly 180 km/h coming up down the back straight and the engine roaring its approval as he came into what used to be BP corner.
After 30 minutes of impressive manoeuvring around the track, he agreed with our sentiments about the car’s handling, which he praised, but felt that it could be somewhat tail happy at speed.
This would not affect conventional driving but might be a problem on the track.
Costs and the competition
If you need it new it will set you back R1,1 million.
A year old will cost you about R800 000. It comes with a five-year, 100 000 km extendable maintenance plan and manufacturer’s guarantee.
Also look at the Porsche 718 Cayman/ Boxster/911, as well as BMW M4, Mercedes SLC and Aston Martin Vantage.
The Jaguar F-Type is most at home on the back straight of the Roy Hesketh Circuit in Hayfields, where Wheels’ tame sports car driver ‘Dizzie’ Govenden got close to 180 km/h coming up down the back straight.