(NOT) DRIVEN: JAGUAR F-TYPE
PH shamelessly joins the pre-launch hype by signing up to a passenger ride in the new Jag F-Type
F-Types sitting in context for the first time. No fanfare, no motor show glitz. And you know what? It is a handsome-looking thing.
The rear's sharp undercut is striking and the chubbily curvaceous rear arches are purposeful. The nose is long, the new Jag grille works well and a blend of long wheelbase, short overhangs and steeply raked windscreen combines with intelligently profiled lines to give it a properly modern look. It hints at E-Type, yes, but it's no pastiche.
Also good is the interior, which again looks modern and, unlike the XK, finished. The glow from the switches is attractive, the detailing will delight owners and, again, make XK drivers miserable. It's also more special and easier to use than a 911.
But, hey, I am sitting next to the chief engineer and there will be no PR intrusion because, well, it's a two-seater. So, I fire questions. His answers include, "It's stiffer torsionally than the XK, but much stiffer laterally. This is key to the car's immediacy of response." And then, "We want to beat the 911, the Aston V8, the Audi R8, but at less cost."
The Mike Cross approach to flow is also evident. "All controls, interactions and reactions should be coherent and in harmony with one another. One of my jobs is to make sure the step-on of the brakes complements the initial reaction of the steering, and the throttle, and the damping."
Grabbing the sweeping handle on the centre console immediately I feel more - inputs, resonances sensations. Try this in your own car - you won't believe just how much modern seats isolate you from stuff the driver gets for free through the steering wheel.
I sense centralized weight, from the way it rotates into corners with minimal phase lag. I sense loads of confidence-inspiring mechanical grip, from the way Mustafa piles on the power in the dry, tyres nibbling at the road surface but never losing purchase, never waking ESC. I sense a car that's naturally well balanced, one more energised than even an XKR-S but also one that isn't a handful.
"We've been let off the leash with this one, to build not a sports GT but a proper sports car," says Mustafa. Which is encouraging.
Mike Cross piloting. The noise again takes centre stage: it's notably different to the V8, much higher-pitched and turbine-like, without the social smoker timbre of the V8. I prefer it. I also prefer its peakier power delivery, and the clear howl it makes at high revs. Seems to suit the nature of the F-Type better and gives Cross more work to do with the eight-speed auto.
Cross wants the F-Type to be a "credible alternative to a 911, but not the same as one." The V6S is his favourite as the peakier torque profile means you can use the revs fully. "The V8 is so quick you tend to ride the torque more - the V6S feels more intense."
Of course, it's all finger in the air. We won't know for sure until the first drives are underway in April. The impressions here are just that. I could be completely wrong. But I doubt it. Too much about the F-Type feels right for it to be a flop. Roll on April so we can finally see if Jaguar has a British 911-beater on its hands.
Some footage of the F-Type in action here.