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Racing Teatray

Jaguar F-Type S AWD Coupe

Test-drove an F-Type coupe on Saturday. All respect to the salesman at the Jaguar dealer in Ipswich who just threw me the keys and said come back in an hour or so, which was exactly the right thing to do. It was the 3.0S AWD with the auto gearbox in Chessex White. Roughly 4k on the clock so nicely run in.

Obviously white is not the right colour. A white Jaguar sports car is just too footballer's WAG by half. But at least it hadn't had black wheels inflicted on it and colour aside, by golly it's a good-looking car. But then we all knew that.

Inside it's all good if you ignore the fact there is naff-all space in there. It's a snug cabin for two with not even any space behind the rear seats to just sling stuff because there's a sodding great bulkhead behind the front seats betraying its roadster origins. There may be a cubbyhole in it but I didn't bother investigating. The boot is not big. I had a look in the boot of a roadster version in the showroom and it's astoundingly small. You could get a suit carrier and a briefcase it in. No more. The coupe improves on that (hard not to) but not by much thanks to a very high boot floor and very raked rear window. One largish suitcase is your lot. This can never be a car for that European driving holiday with the wife. The interior design is fine (definitely don't see why Jeremy Clarkson described it as "horrid") but on the other hand it isn't particularly stand-out. This particular car had an all-black interior with aluminium trim, which was all a bit executive briefcase and only really enlivened by some natty rising vents and a panoramic roof (although this doesn't even tilt open, which is a pity). I suspect leather seats in a contrasting colour would help matters.

And so to driving. It's of course very quick. There's oodles of power. You can hit 100 on a B-road in seconds without trying. And it rips through the 8 forward gears using the paddles with indecent smoothness. However, it's not a car which feels like it is straining at the leash like some quick cars (eg the Maserati 4200 I tried). With the gearbox not in Sport, it just slurs along lazily without much sense of urge. You need to take control of matters and do your own changing to get it to feel alive. This gearbox and I didn't really make friends. Not because it isn't good but because it felt like the sort of box you should have in a well-sorted executive saloon which didn't suit this type of car at all for my tastes. Too slushy when slushing and too smooth when charging. A little more rawness wouldn't go amiss.

Equally, in non-Dynamic mode, it's all relatively quiet and comfortable, albeit that there's always a good growl to remind you that this is a potent car. However, the overall feel is one that I would think amazing if I was in, say, an XE-S saloon, but which was all a bit too polished for an out-and-out sports car. Conversely, in Dynamic mode it is almost too loud an intrusive BRRAAP which is amusing (if not especially tuneful) if no-one else is around but which causes elderly rural people in villages to scowl at you.

Where it does score massively (apart from the exterior styling) is the handling - it handles like a dream. I didn't find that it is one of those cars that particularly shrinks around you but nevertheless it demolished the twists and bucks of the B1120 with a degree of poise and sense of security that my M135i has absolutely no answer to. Obviously I was in the AWD version, which grips like buggery, but it was a very confidence-inspiring car to barrel down a country road in little roll and razor responses, but never not fun. Good effortless brakes too, which is necessary given the speed you will be carrying when you hit corners. The only fly in this particular ointment is that  the ride becomes a touch brittle in Dynamic mode on one weathered section of Suffolk back road I did find myself notching it back out of Dynamic to avoid a distinct jiggling sensation. Otherwise, it's perfectly comfortable.

My overall sense is that if you are after a sports car that you can use every day to commute in and want something that looks great, handles well but doesn't offer many compromises versus a sporty saloon, then this is an excellent car. What it is not is a particularly good answer to the weekend toy question that I am looking to answer. It feels too tuned for all-round usability for that. Too refined, too normal and without enough of a counterbalancing lurking wild side. It's not a car that makes a petrolhead grin uncontrollably, which is Requirement No.1 for any weekend toy. I suspect you either need the manual version or probably the V8 version to make that a possibility.

Really interesting write up.

I agree that the F-Type is bloody fantastic to look and having sat in a few, I love the interior layout too. I think a lot of the F-Type's "problems" as a two seater are that it is based on a modified XK chassis. So it is probably compromised by that in a lot of ways - weight, space etc. Perhaps the next gen F-Type will use the new XE/XF architecture?

I'd love to see Jag make a proper 2+2 F-Type - it would be a modern Jenson Interceptor, a true grand tourer.

There was a F-Type R Coupe on the TVR run on Sunday. The way it gathered pace, leaving me for dead, is seriously impressive. The Chimaera isn't a slow car.  

It didn't sound particularly special though. Perhaps mine was drowning it out!  
Nice Guy Eddie

Moon boots firmly on but from everything you've laid out in your brief, you need a Cayman in you life.

PDK for the london work, Big enough boots for holidays abroad, fab handling to get you out of bed early on a Sunday morning and in the right spec, looks bloody good too and don't forget it's a decent amount cheaper than the jag
Racing Teatray

Nice Guy Eddie wrote:
Moon boots firmly on but from everything you've laid out in your brief, you need a Cayman in you life.

PDK for the london work, Big enough boots for holidays abroad, fab handling to get you out of bed early on a Sunday morning and in the right spec, looks bloody good too and don't forget it's a decent amount cheaper than the jag

Yeeees. You are not wrong but I have always struggled with the styling of the first gen Cayman and the 718 version doesn't appeal enough to merit the outrageous cost. And frankly when it comes to Porsche coupes, I'd rather have one with some attempt at back seats, so I've mostly looked at either Boxsters or 911s.

So a 981 Cayman (S or GTS) would be the correct answer assuming you can manage with just two seats?  Proper engine, enough power, annoying handbrake, very good everything else.

If you really do need some attempt at rear seats, is a TTRS on your radar or have you discounted it already?  Otherwise I still think the Maserati is the best and certainly most intriguing option.

Very interesting reading your thoughts on the F Type.  I like the basic shape of the coupe very much.  Purely as a bystander at the roadside, I dislike the sound of the V6 cars while the V8 sounds terrific.  I wonder if the gearbox in the V8 R version is any 'sportier'.
Racing Teatray

Yes the new Titty Arse is a possibility.

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