In my time of need, Jaguar came thorough big time and the result was a great weekend spent bonding with a F Type. Due to a bit of poor planning, I had rather suddenly found myself short four wheels and an internal combustion engine. A quick pleading call resulted in a stunning Italian Racing Red Metallic F Type Convertible courtesy of Jaguar appearing on the driveway at Cliveden House where we were staying.
Upon being handed the keys to the F Type, off we immediately went for an inaugural drive. My initial expectations were that the F Type would be a slightly more focused version of the XKR, somewhere between a GT and Sports Car. All the Jags I had driven up to this point (the XJR-15 being a slight exception to this rule) had a large degree of culture and civility to them. The F Type shattered that illusion. It is a real hooligan that wants to be driven hard and is immense fun to toss around.
The power and chassis are very well matched. Getting the rear to break free is not at all difficult and catching it quite easy. The brakes inspire confidence with a smooth firm bite but I have to admit I never pushed them too hard. The 8 speed gearbox is quick and very smooth. In fact it is almost too polished for the character of the rest of the car. The seats are quite comfortable, visibility excellent all around, and the controls well laid out. The central consul is a bit wide and does make the cabin feel a bit tighter than it should. The sat nav and stereo are very intuitive and I was able to figure out how to work both in a couple of minutes. The automatic roof is excellent and seems to only take a matter of seconds to open and close.
The weekend we had the car was blessed with typical UK weather, rain punctuated with periods of sun. Hence we did get to experience the F Type in a range of conditions with both the roof open and closed. In both situations the F Type is a comfortable, enjoyable place to be. Driving in and out of London was easy. Speed bumps, potholes, and one overly aggressive mini cab driver were all handled with a high degree of competence. While the F Type did very well in London traffic, where it really shined though was when we hustled it down a few of my favorite “B” roads. The F Type is just an immense amount of fun when you can open it up and get it flowing in the twisty stuff.
Overall, I expected the F Type to be good and it exceeded expectations. It is clearly a car you can live with every day and it does a lot of things well. It was by far the most engaging, fun regular Jaguar production car I have driven to date. Did I want to give it back, no.