Yes Yes Yes oh YES: stunning looks, opulent cabin, fast
Not so much: Umm, are you kidding? Are you blind?
FUN FACTS: Did you know there are two Jaguar symbols? The side profile cat is called “the Leaper” and the front facing cat is called “The Growler”. Imagine the fun trouble that fact will cause at fancy parties. You can say “I’ve got a big growler” then pull the uber-heavy Growler bottle opener out of your pocket. Actually no you won’t, it weighs many many kilos.
A Jaguar should engender a sense of occasion, and when you think “Jaguar” you think of wood paneling, old cigar smoke, patinated leather and Mr Carson, in short, Downton Abbey.
I could hear it before I saw it. Off in the distance was an unmistakable angry roar but as it got closer I discovered Carson had been given the sack. In his place was a white-coated figure beckoning me to enter a fighter aircraft on display at MoMA. Anyone getting out of an F-Type R simply must look like James Bond in a tux, sipping a vodka martini. Feeling this good should be illegal.
It is achingly beautiful. You long to touch it and to run your hand along her curves. The R version has some sensuous wheel arches going on. They’re filled with huge 20” wheels, and there are tiny slits cut in the pert rump for some LEDs so bright that they can be seen by Hubble. It is curvaceous and graceful and a worthy successor to the fabulous classic E –Type. Remember the cars we used to draw on the covers of our school books? Well, is one of those, and it wasn’t gotten at by humourless accountants with pocket protectors and thick glasses.
Everything about it cutting edge. Its door handles sit flush with the body and only deploy when needed. The roof comes in glass, aluminium or carbon fibre with the rest of the body being aluminium. This makes it light and rigid but aluminium is nothing new for Jaguar and has been seen in XJ’s in the past, so the F-Type R laughs at rust.
Of course you don’t need fumble about for your key because the door handles pop out when you need them after psychically sensing the key is secreted about your person. Entering the cabin is a near religious experience. The finish is spectacular inside and out. The cabin is festooned with technology wrapped in lashings of leather and metal and carbon fibre. If it looks like leather, it is leather. If it looks like carbon fibre, it is. There is no room for unconvincing cut-rate imitation in this interior. It feels bespoke even though it is off the rack.
Unlike other Jags, The F-Type has a gear lever instead of a pop-up dial and just in front of it is the button which ignites 8 spark plugs lurking up front.
The switches and dials are thoughtfully laid out and for such a complex machine, there are not as many of them as you’d expect. There are more buttons on the doors than there are on the centre console. It is all driven via the infotainment system and couldn’t be simpler to use. The clean dash design has hidden centre air vents and you don’t see them pop up until you fire up the power plant. When you do, the centre section of the upper dash rises silently to reveal them in all their glory. It is brilliant not because it has to be, but because it can be. There is even a built-in Jesus-grip in the centre console for the nervous passengers sitting beside a driver who thinks he is Jensen Button. The cabin is snug with not so much as a pocket behind the seats but I doubt you’ll care.
While we are snooping around inside, there are a few things you have to know and they are both around back in the boot. You have to decide whether or not you want a spare tyre when you order your F-Type. If you opt for the spare you can always take it out but if you don’t do it from factory, you can’t have it put in later. This fact was the subject of much banter amongst smart Alec journos. “No spare” they ejaculated! They carried on like pork chops, and made fun of the can of goop in the boot, and the limited space therein. They made a meal of the fact that if you get the space saving spare, the boot is full. The solution is simple, get the spare and leave it at home most of the time. The best bit is, should you be caught short without the spare, and the goop doesn’t work, a quick telephone call to Jaguar Assist will bring a little man in a smart white coat. He will brandish a spare tyre and you’ll be on your way before you can say “I’ll have a latte while I wait”. I don’t know what all the carry-on was about. You can also opt for the Jaguar luggage. The 5 pieces are designed to fit exactly in the boot so any rumours of a lack of space have been greatly exaggerated. There is an answer if only they had asked the question.
You’ve had a fiddle with the knobs, and poked your nose into every cranny so now it’s time for the main event, the engine. Press the button and be prepared for your heart to miss a beat. Before a tyre has rolled onto the pavement you’re going to need a few private moments. The sound is glorious. It isn’t the deep throaty rumble you might expect but rather a higher pitched purr, perfect for a big pussy cat.
The R supercharged V8 is a 5.0L unit putting out 404kw and 680Nm. Let those figures sink in for a moment, then couple it with optional AWD. Even with chronically careful electronic nannies your tail will most likely be hanging out every 5 minutes without the AWD. A moment’s inattention will uncap her volcanic temperament so if you’re going to spend this much dosh you may as well go the whole hog. More on the whole hog later, and you might want a strong gin and tonic for it.
There are many reasons to buy the R and no doubt merely being seen in it is part of the mystique, but mostly it is the drive. The AWD has the grip of a Scotsman on his wallet. You simply cannot get it to misbehave. More correctly, you could probably get it to be very naughty but that would be insanity and not advised if you value your licence. Seeing presenters turning off traction controls seems to give the green light to a very average driver thinking they have the ability of Lewis Hamilton. They only find out they don’t have those skills when they are peering from a ditch the wrong way round. Even motoring writers make that mistake so traction control must be left on unless you actually have the skills to handle the power of a small sun.
Everything about the drive is sublime. The steering is razor sharp and the ride in normal mode is as comfortable as a fur-lined hammock made of little bits of Hugh Jackman. Putting your foot down calls on huge amounts of power and torque, much more than you’ll ever need to get to a hundred, which is reached in about 4 seconds.
It is horses for courses. This is not a GT. A grand tourer will have an couple of perches in the back, a larger boot, much bigger proportions. Of course you could easily drive from Sydney to Melbourne in great luxury and comfort and weekends away are a doddle. It passes the “two bags test” without the spare tyre but frankly if you’re heading for a ride on a big silver bird, get a car service to the airport. And if a couple of mates want a lift from the airport and you feel guilty, call the same car service for them and pay on your card (or their card).
Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the experience of driving an F-Type. Unlike super cars, you don’t have to slow down for fear of scraping your undercarriage on the white lines as you cross them. You can easily park at Coles without needing a double shot of scotch afterwards. It’s true that the rear view is a challenge but unless you’re reversing it isn’t a problem. The rear facing camera takes most of the worry out of life.
The only bad thing about this Jag was having to hand it back. City driving will use about 10% mechanical capability, and about 100% of its aura. Yes the F-Type R costs around 240 grand but if you can make do with rear wheels only being driven, and a respectable 250kw from a supercharged V6, then save 120 grand and buy the no frills model. When I say no frills, I mean no frills for a Jag. There is an AWD V6 too if you like all wheels driven.
I can imagine just me and the other half and a picnic basket in the mountains. There are only two seats so no freeloaders either. Quite simply, it is perfection.
Finally, as with all luxury car makers, Jaguar has put together a very very long list of pricey options. You can save money by buying the packs so here are just a few:
Technology pack: 770 kw Meridian sound system, reverse traffic detection, blind spot warning $8,440
Design Pack: interior upgrades: $5,350
Convenience pack: $4,320
Suedecloth Interior pack:$6,500
Carbon Ceramic brake pack 1 or 2:$23,440 or $26,330
Tornado Wheels: $5,300
Design pack with black pack 3 included: $5,050
There are many more packs and combinations. You get the idea though.
Would I buy one? Yes and I’d probably knock your grandmother over in the rush without a second thought.
· F-Type R 404kw/680Nm, 5.0L supercharged V8, 0-100 4.2 secs, 8sp Auto, 70L tank with 11.1 L/100k