Jaguar F-Type Driving Impression

2014 Jaguar F Type Fd

It’s 6am somewhere in Mpumalanga and I’m trying to make a decent cup of coffee in my hotel room. A Jaguar F-Type V8S has just been started outside my door, and the resulting bark scares the willies out of me. I knew the launch fleet had been sleeping not too far away, but my goodness that car is loud. Wonderfully loud. Of the three models on offer in South Africa, if you enjoy waking up your neighbours, that would be the one for you then.

Driving impression of the Jaguar F-Type by Ciro De Siena

The Jaguar F-Type has been highly anticipated. For Jaguar to lend that nomenclature to a new model is a big deal; the E-Type was such a beautiful, game-changing car, that this newcomer had to be good. It had to earn its name. As car journalists, we knew that, but we all secretly hoped that the stunning new British sports car, arguably the first proper one in decades, would fall in line somewhere amongst the high-end BMW Z4’s and Porsche Boxsters of this world.

What you get for the price

And then we heard the news. The most affordable F-Type, the V6, would go on sale locally for R838,000. And the only V8 available would require over 1.3million of your hard earned Rands. What had they done, we wondered, as we circled the stunning cars outside an airport I’d never heard of, to justify that kind of price tag.

Well the answer is quite a lot. In fact, after a few hundred kilometres in the V8S yesterday, it’s very easy to understand what Jaguar was thinking. This car has been built to chase two things. The hearts and minds of everyone it drives past, and the Italians.

The drama

No one does drama like the Italians. But give the British some money and they’re pretty damn good at it themselves. Firing up the V8 Jaguar F-Type is an event. It howls into life and then every blip of the throttle produces cracks and bellows that would make a World War 2 pilot run for cover. It’s bloody marvellous. And you haven’t even put the thing into drive yet.

Get moving and the noise only gets better, and more intense. This could quite possibly be the most exciting sounding car I’ve driven, besides the Ferrari 458 Spider. And that is high praise indeed. You’re going to think I’m just another car journo, waxing lyrical about a fruity exhaust note. Fine, I don’t mind, I read the reviews as well. But when you take this thing for a drive, I guarantee that you’ll think I didn’t say enough.

Power under the hood

We know it’s a beautiful machine. We know it sounds spectacular. But by now I suppose you’d like to know how it drives. The V8 is harnessed brutality. 364kW are available at 6500rpm, with 625Nm available from 2500rpm. That is vast power in a relatively light car, which weighs in at around 1700kgs. Obviously all of the power goes to the back, where it should.

Putting your foot flat in the Jaguar F-Type V8 is an activity not to be taken lightly. You will need a lot of clear road in front of you. When the power arrives at the rear wheels, you can sense a committee of electronic aids, getting together 1000 times a second no doubt to try keep the whole show in a straight line. The car squirms under the power, the exhaust goes ballistic and very quickly you are at risk of spending time with people called Constable. Get off the accelerator, and breathe.

The drive and driver assistance

The Jaguar F-Type has perfect 50/50 weight distribution and is also the shortest, widest and lowest Jaguar ever. It feels very poised in corners and inspires confidence. There is a great deal of grip at the rear, especially over imperfect roads. However, you can feel the car’s brains working very hard sometimes, and there were a few corners where I felt it wasn’t telling me what the car was doing, it was telling the computers who were making decisions for me.

Part of me wishes the experience was more pure. More stripped down. Less nannying from a car built in a nanny state. But then I think that my name is not Lewis Hamilton and I quite like being alive. If you want that brutal power at your disposal, it really is best to have the driving aids watching over your shoulder.

Inside the Jaguar F-Type

The interior is superb. Leather-lined luxury is the order of the day. The designers spent some time in the Eurofighter, which is a jet, to nail down some of the F-Type’s detailing. So the switch that controls the dynamic modes is finished in a very unique copper alloy, as is the starter button, and looks and feels like it’s been borrowed from the jet.

The centre airvents are totally hidden until you ask the aircon to wake up. Then they rise slowly out of the dash. I don’t think you’d tire of that. The seats are firm but comfortable, and offer enough support for the cornering you’ll be doing. The grab handle that “closes off” the cockpit to the passenger is actually very useful indeed for when you are a passenger. I appreciated the anchor point.

About the boot

And now we come to the car’s Achilles Heel. It has no boot. There is no other way of saying this, it really has no boot. You can fit 1 x coat, 1 x laptop bag, and 2 x peak caps in the boot. That’s it. Between the driver and passenger, there is a storage bin. It looks promising, until you open it and realise that it could only swallow a small to medium size hamster.

As an Italian, I like to think the people who built this car spent quite a bit of time in Italy. Because in many ways, this is a stupid car. But like so many things that are born from that shoe-shaped country, it is absolutely dripping with passion, and it most certainly has soul. Yes, it doesn’t have a boot, yes it’s expensive and yes it’s thirsty when you’re in a hurry.

But we were literally screamed at everywhere we went. We caused chaos by revving outside a school. The Jaguar F-Type is a rolling theatre. And it’s very difficult to put a price on that.

 Jaguar F-Type Price in South Africa

Jaguar F-Type V6 R845 000
Jaguar F-Type V6 S R975 000
Jaguar F-Type V8S R1 385 000