THE Jaguar F-Type is a car which has often been rumoured, sometimes promised and which the world has long waited for.
Well now it is here and it's just about perfect.
The styling is an absolute triumph and the Jaguar looks every bit as beautiful as anything coming from Italy.
It has echoes of some of the earlier greats with styling cues such as the 'power bulge' in the middle of the bonnet, no longer needed to accommodate carburetors these days but a nice touch anyway, and it has a sensuous curve over the rear wheel arches. And what must be the slimmest rear lights of any car in production today hark back to those of the E-Type and the front continues the fabulous styling first seen on the C-X16 concept car. It looks a million dollars and is one of those cars that seems to be doing 100mph even when it is parked.
As a matter of fact it will get to 100mph – and far, far beyond – very easily because under that bonnet is a range of supercharged engines, a V6 in either 340 or 380 PS output and a 5.0 V8 pumping out 495.
I have recently spent a week with the entry level, 340 PS, version and have to say I have absolutely no complaints with the performance. 0 to 60 in a blink over five seconds and a top speed north of 160 mph is more than enough for this country and time and again I did ask myself why anyone would want more power. Where, and when, would you ever use it?
If you can't enjoy all the speed there is still a lot of fun to be had and one is the noise. There is the old saying that power-makes-decibels and my car had the £350 optional active sports exhaust system (standard on the two more powerful S versions) so above 3,000 valves open to make the exhaust effectively free-flow and the noise is glorious.
Jaguar has been one of the industry leaders in the drive to use lightweight aluminium and the F-Type is made from this and also contains more composite material than any other Jag yet. Saving weight has been something of an obsession and every item has been scrutinised and the basic chassis structure weighs just 261 kilos.
It shows on the road too because the F-Type feels agile and athletic in a way that is rare today. It has instant and faithful responses to the driver's inputs and with a low centre of gravity and the main masses nicely contained within the wheelbase there is little inertia as you change direction.
Like any true sportscar it gets better the harder you drive it and the F-Type reveals itself in layers. Drive it fairly quickly and it's impressive and you think you know it but then as you explore a little deeper and get a little closer to its limits it shows you yet more of its abilities.
It is pretty much viceless in the way it handles at anything like road speeds I would care to venture into and as a capable, yet comfortable, fast car for devouring the miles it is easily the equal of anything that Porsche makes. Is it better? I don't know.
The F comes in either the convertible I had or as a fixed roof coupe and looks fabulous in either. If I have one criticism it is with the interior which I found a little, if not drab, then lacking drama or sense of occasion.
There is a little 'dynamic' lever you activate which does the usual thing of sharpening the steering, stiffening the damping and holding onto the revs for longer before changing up and it also puts red highlights on the instruments which is a bit of a visual improvement.
But I just thought that while the designers' creative juices had been in full flow for the exterior styling the interior could do with a bit of a lift. But I could live with that because it is a very slight shortcoming in a car that is so transparently brilliant, so stylish to look at and so captivating to drive.
Truly, this will be remembered as one of the great Jaguars. By John Swift