Good looks and power

BRIAN BAS­SETT spends a few days with the F-Type Jaguar S Coupe, 3.0 V6

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.

De­sign

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.

In­te­rior

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.

Safety

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.

PHOTO: ALWYN VILJOEN

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.

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