The 2015 Jaguar F-Type. You’ll have a tough time finding a car that gets more looks.
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While this might be the least feline of Jaguar coupes to date, it is wonderfully styled from top to bottom. Its muscular, sensuous lines coupled with, in my opinion, perfect proportions give it incredible stance. It glares at you through swept-back headlights (with hockey-stick-shaped LED running lights). Driving away from you, your eyes are drawn to its spare, distinctive slim tail light signature. Jaguar adds little touches that will stop your gaze as it sweeps from front to back – the chromed side vents, the clean application of the famous Jaguar leaper badge at the tail end.
On the highway, you’ll notice the retractable rear spoiler that deploys at 110 km/h – at lower speeds, it is cleanly tucked away. Oh, and those gorgeous 20-inch wheels with staggered tire sizes – 255/35s in the front, 295/30s in the back – they perfectly fill the fenders. There’s no goofy gap, and there’s no need to lower the car. It’s just right.
The F-Type got more looks than anything else I’ve ever driven. I’ve been in plenty of vehicles more exotic and more pricey than this one, but nothing captivated as many eyeballs and held them for as long as this car did. People were constantly trying to catch up on the highway, smartphones were constantly snapping pictures as I rolled down the street, and I noticed it was a very healthy blend of the young and the old, male and female. Everyone was smitten with it.
It looks as sexy when it’s sitting there, parked and lurking, as it does when it’s cruising down the highway or tearing up the side streets. I bow down to the design team. This car was done up right.
Walk up to the car, and the flush, retractable door handles glide out to greet you, requiring just a gentle pull to open the door. Getting into the snug F-Type cabin requires a bit of a drop, and then you’re sitting in the incredibly supportive and well-bolstered seats. They are heated and power-adjustable, right down to the electronically-controlled side bolsters. Once you’re in, things are acceptably comfortable – yes, it borders on being cramped, but it’s not claustrophobic. There’s a moonroof overhead, but the optional panoramic glass roof would have been a nice touch.
Jaguar’s choice of materials is nice – you’ll find plenty of stitched surfaces, all of which are soft-touch. I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality – no rattles or squeaks after over 10,000 kilometres on the odometer. I had a few gripes with the centrally-mounted touchscreen which is not very responsive and needs a revision to its user interface. It puts things into strange bins on the screen and makes some of them difficult to find. Once you get to them, they’re not particularly intuitive to control either. The screen handles the F-Type’s navigation system, phone, vehicle settings and the Meridian audio system which sounds spectacular.
A cool detail – the pod containing the two upper air vents (above the centre stack) silently rises up out of the dash when needed and glides back flush into the surface when not in use. Mind you, that’s one more thing that could go wrong in the future.
Unsurprisingly, the F-Type offers little in terms of space around the cabin. There’s an average glove compartment, tiny door bins, an equally tiny console bin and an open drop-in cubby on the wall behind the seats. The 324 litre trunk looks small at first but it fit my full-size suitcase, a large briefcase and a camera bag. Weekend trips with a few soft bags would be no problem. If you’re after more, this isn’t the car for you.
The F-Type S gets a rip-snorting supercharged 3.0-litre V6. It puts out a very healthy 380 horsepower at 6500 RPM and 339 lb.ft of torque at 3500 RPM. An 8-speed automatic (the only transmission choice, by the way) sends the power to the rear wheels. Ignite this rocket with its orange push-starter and it crackles to life with a snarly, snapping rasp that eventually calms down to a burble. The active sport exhaust has electronically-controlled bypass valves that open under specific throttle and vehicle-speed conditions, improving flow and delivering a deeper and much louder exhaust note. In regular exhaust mode, the V6 makes pleasant sounds and is plenty sporty. Activate the exhaust bypass mode however, and you’re treated to an aural symphony, or better, a cacophony of angry raspy blaaats whenever you touch the gas pedal – for good measure, they’re punctuated by flatulent, crackling pops and snaps when you come off the gas. It’s all good fun, but to be honest, it might be too much for some people. Truthfully, I never tired of it, even on the highway.
The gear selector is very BMW-like, which is to say: not good. It’s an irritating combination of joystick, button and trigger mechanisms to get from Park to Drive to Reverse and back again and none of these actions feel intuitive or natural. Thankfully the transmission it controls is better, and once it’s engaged, it does a pretty good job. It shift surprisingly quickly, especially in Sport mode, and is quite satisfying, happily dropping a couple of cogs to dip into the power when you step on it. It can be shifted manually using the slick orange paddle shifters. There is also a drive mode toggle on the console, allowing you to choose between Normal, Dynamic and Rain/Ice/Snow modes – it significantly impacts throttle response, shifting patterns, etc.
The blown V6 offers up a ton of power – even for this heavier-than-expected 3514 pound (1594 kg) coupe. The car wants to rotate the tires when you step on it and with the pedal down, this Jag leaps from 0 to 100 km/h in a scant 4.9 seconds.
The car’s continuously-variable adaptive sport suspension makes for outstanding handling. Cranking the awesome steering wheel – which is heated and power adjustable – lets you immediately dip into the car’s cornering ability. It feels as though it wants to rotate into a turn the moment you ask it to, and although steering feel was more limited than I expected, the responsiveness is incredible. If you really get on the gas coming out of a corner, you’ll feel the car wanting to break away the rear end, but the traction control keeps things in check. The car grips the road tenaciously in any situation, and stays insanely flat. The price you pay, of course, is a somewhat punishing ride. You’ll feel every pebble on the road, and every expansion joint you pass over, and though it smooths out somewhat on the highway, it’s still a very firm ride.
Sightlines out of the front and sides of the F-Type are great and allow for confidence on the road, but you’re in big trouble when you try to check out your rear view, or heaven forbid, attempt shoulder checking. Thank goodness then for the blind-spot monitoring system and the back-up camera (and parking sensors) – without them, you’d best know a good body shop.
While the F-Type is a looker, and I had a lot of fun looking at it, the point with a Jag coupe is the drive. And I had even more fun driving it. Much about this car is desirable. Does it make any sense? On some levels, yes. It’s an outstanding car from a handling perspective. But I see the F-Type as more of a grand tourer, capable of hurtling you and a partner down the highway on a nice weekend getaway. Want to carve some canyon roads and mountain passes on your way there? No problem. It can do that. However, the ride/handling balance definitely tips in favour of sport. And that’s too bad. I’d be willing to give an inch when it comes to handling, if I could get something back in the ride department. On a road trip, the jarring ride gets tiring.
The interior is spiffy, luxurious and up-scale but the longer you spend in it, the more you become aware of the lack of space. The powertrain is outstanding. The styling is nearly perfect. Unfortunately, Jaguar still has to climb out of the reliability hole they’ve dug themselves. While quality has improved, long-term reliability remains near the bottom of the heap and that’s frightening from an ownership experience. Especially at this price.
As much as I loved the F-Type and didn’t want to give it back, it’s the kind of car I’d love to borrow, rather than buy. But if you have the coin, I’d suggest taking one for a test drive. You might fall in love. And if you have a little extra coin, drive the V8. The sound alone is enough to warrant the extra money you’ll be throwing at it. Nobody needs more power than my tester’s V6 puts out, but the V8’s hellacious ripping-paper rasp is one of the most addictive, smile-inducing sounds I’ve heard from a car.
In many ways, the F-Type is similar to me, because even with all its faults, you can’t help but love it. The F-Type is a great start, and I’m certain Jaguar will be refining it as time goes by.
Pricing: 2015 Jaguar F-Type
Base price (S trim): $84,900
Options: $2500 Vision package; $3750 Performance package; $2500 Premium package; $350 heated front windscreen; $650 climate package; $1500 Meridian sound; $2750 Extended leather package; $600 premium paint; $450 satellite radio; $1600 20″ tornado wheels
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $103,120
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Jaguar Canada.
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