It is always difficult to follow in the footsteps of a legend, and few automobiles will ever achieve the legendary status accorded to the Jaguar E-Type. This iconic machine, acknowledged by many as, quite simply, the most beautiful car of all time, shouts of London in the Swinging Sixties, a time when attitudes were changing in all walks of life. Sleek, sexy and astonishingly fast, the E-Type remains as revered now as it was then, and arguably, it is the car that made Jaguar in the USA. Killed off by the fuel crisis in the 1970’s, attempts to succeed it have been fraught with problems.
The XJS is often overlooked for, while it was a success, its looks divided opinion: oddly, the model seems more in place now than it was when introduced, indicating that, perhaps, it was ahead of its time in design terms. Unfortunately the problems facing its mother company, British Leyland, at the time of its inception ruined the reputation of what should have been a crowning glory for Jaguar. Yet, in no way was it ever accepted as a worthy successor to the mighty E-Type. Now, however, we may have an automobile worthy of taking over that spot: the Jaguar F-Type is, finally, upon us.
There is no other way of saying this: the Jaguar F-Type is a truly beautiful machine. A more squat and compact design than the recent XKS – itself a very pretty car – the F-Type does not follow the E-Type in the long bonnet, short rear overhang stakes: rather, it embraces current design philosophy in being well-proportioned all-round, and takes its cues from rivals offered by Porsche, BMW and, to my eyes, Maserati. The styling is a major success, then, and while currently only available as a two-seat drophead there is a coupe in the making and, perhaps, even a shooting brake.
Some have described the F-Type as being ‘chunky’; this is perhaps thanks to the high waistline and large wheels, but it is by no means a big car in comparison to others. Inside, too, the treatment is impressive with neat and tidy traditional style dials matched to a modern and effective navigation system, while the upholstery draws largely on the successful seating and trimming found in the XKR. The effect is, well, genuinely Jaguar, and very pleasing to the eye indeed.
Handling and Performance
What strikes the driver first about this automobile is the relative lack of electronic aids; there is no electronically assisted steering, for example, Jaguar instead relying on good, old-fashioned, well-honed steering systems to give a great feel and excellent handling qualities. Make no mistake, this is a driver’s car that is aimed at those wanting high performance in a pretty, manageable chassis without resorting to over-assisted means. Handling is precise and somewhat rough and ready and, although the dampers are adjustable, there is no setting offering a smooth, relaxing ride: this car is there to give you thrills, and that can only be a welcome aspect.
A choice of engines means the F-Type is well-endowed with copious power in all incarnations: the base model, with its 3.0liter V6, offers 340bhp and reaches 60mph in little less than five seconds. Claimed top speed is a more than satisfactory 161mph. The top of the range F-Type V8 S utilises a 5.0liter V8 engine, pushes out almost 500bhp, and offers 60mph in four seconds flat and 186mph. This car is no slouch, and would be a joy to run on track days.
Future Coupe and Options
That the F-Type will soon be available as a Coupe, and very pretty it looks too, is no surprise, for it has always been Jaguar’s trend to offer its sports models with and without a roof. Interestingly, while the old XJS was infinitely prettier as a drop-top, the general consensus is that the soon to be available coupe F-Type is the real beauty of the family. That the styling is so fluid and impressive in its latter incarnation is no small testament to the sheer ability of Jaguar’s excellent design team.
Looking at this car it is immediately obvious where its challengers will come from in the US market: Jaguar has made no bones about the fact it is directly targeting the Porsche 911, an already accomplished and popular soft-top in the US and one with some excellent credentials, and surely it will be in the same bracket as the impressive Chevrolet Corvette, a model that has already been given accolades by the motoring press, but in reality, the Jaguar F-Type is a different animal entirely. For a start, it’s a Jaguar, and that very name still carries a great deal of weight in the US and elsewhere. This is the car that the company needs right now. So, is it a worthy successor to the iconic E-Type? In truth, like the ground-breaking Lamborghini Miura, Ferrari 250GTO and the aforementioned Porsche 911, there can be no successor to a legend: instead, the F-type stands to gain from its own, already impressive, reputation.