Moments in history happen once. Invariably the huge majority slide on by with no impact on humanity but occasionally they leave an indelible mark. In 1961, just as the “Swinging 60s” was just getting into stride, a British automobile manufacturer released upon an unsuspecting motoring public a gem called “the most beautiful car in the world”, by Enzo Ferrari, no less.
13 years and 70 odd thousand builds later the E-Type Jaguar is still regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever made, leaving its imprint upon history. Powered, initially, by a 3.8L straight six and from 1964 the snarling 4.2L, the E-Type shocked other makers and remains a sought after item.
Come 2012 and Jaguar, after a few years under the ownership of Indian based conglomerate Tata, release the much anticipated successor at the Paris Motor Show. Immediately the F-Type stirs emotions, has Jaguarphiles prostrating themselves in ecstasy and rattles the cages of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche. In August of 2013, Jaguar Australia hosts the launch of this spiritually moving car.
Three engines: There’s two supercharged V6, both of three litres capacity. A snorting, angry, growling supercharged five litre V8 is your other choice and aurally, it’s hard to decide; banshee scream or basso profundo. An interior that’s for two and two only. Seats that are for drivers, drivers of a certain size as they’re hip hugging snug. Looks that would put Jennifer Hawkins into a tizzy and frighten mirrors for not being able to live up to what they see. A folding roof that goes up quicker than a bank’s interest rate and down quicker than a farmer’s beer on a hot day. This is the Jaguar F-Type.
The Australian launch was in Sydney, starting with a product overview on a Thursday night. Friday was drive day; heading north from Sydney, looping through some tight and twisty roads before directions took us to Cessnock then back south for some private tuition before a return to the big smoke.
It was impressed upon us to listen to the exhaust; a deliberate effort from the design and engineering teams to give the ears something delightful and they succeeded. A rasping crackle comes from the centrally mounted pipes as the eight speed auto blips its way through the gears; a down shift and a foot off the go pedal elicits a smile as the snarling, raspy sound reverberates off tunnel walls.
An upshift is completed in less time it takes to think about it, a computer instructs the engine to match revs on both the up and downwards journey through the gears and with eight closely stacked ratios it provides flexibility and exquisite driveability. Another computer reads the driver’s style, conversing with the gearbox to decide which one of 25 programmes to use to ensure the right gear is right to go.
The S models utilise more smarts, with sensors measuring steering wheel input, body movement, pitch and roll, tuning each suspension damper to give that razor sharp precision such a car deserves.
On the road it’s breathtaking to look at, inside and out; breathtaking to drive and awesomely beautiful to look at. The aluminuim construction reduces weight (a maximum of 1665kg for the V8S), provides stiffness and adds strength to the F-Type. The suspension is taut, talkative, communicating the road to the driver.
Acceleration is rapid, as you’d expect from three powerful (250/280kW or 364kW) Jaguar engines and braking is inspiring, in the weight of the pedal and lack of squirm from the car.This is partly down to the breadth of the F-Type, with 1597mm and 1649mm track for the V6 twins and slightly narrower (1585/1627) for the V8S.
Fat rubber across the board on the 18/19/20 inch rims provides superlative searching grip, allowing the F-Type to power into tight turns, off camber corners as if attached on velcro, all the time caressing the ears with that superb soundtrack as a wing arises majestically from the rear deck at around 90 kilometres per hour.
The interior of the F-Type is akin to pulling on well fitted boots, with wrap around, snug seating holding the driver and passenger like a lover’s embrace, facing minimalistic yet effective switchgear and a cabin inspired by a Typhoon fighter jet. Unlike its brethren, there’s no rising from the console of a gear selector, instead there’s a multipurpose gear lever; aircon vents rise from the dash with a monolithic grace.
The dash dials are LCD based, with rapid response and glowing good looks. There’s a Meridian sound system on board, superfluous thanks to that awesome exhaust note. Seating is low down yet never lacks for 360 degree vision, whilst those on the outside see what Jaguar is all about: grace, space and pace.
Ranging from $139K to $208K, the Jaguar F-Type takes the fight up to its rivals from Germany while simultaneously becoming part of history. Remade.