ANY car billed as the modern E-Type Jaguar is going to have its work cut out.
It’s a bit like being billed as a latter-day Pele or an equal to Muhammed Ali. Unless you’re very, very good, you’re going to look a little silly, a bit like an average footballer wearing fluorescent boots.
Luckily, the F-Type lives up to E-Type billing. It is a very, very good car which thrills and enthralls in equal measure.
Whether it has the character or the staying power to become an icon in the way the E-Type managed is another question entirely. Who would have guessed that the E-Type when it launched in 1961 would still be talked about in hushed tones 54 years later?
The F-Type has something in common with the original E-Type: price. When the E-Type was unveiled it cost £2,097, half the price of a corresponding Aston Martin.
Ditto, the F-Type is an ‘affordable’ supercar. It costs from £50,000 which in high-end sports car terms is peanuts.
It’s a fabulous motor. It looks quick even when standing still and it has the growl that will seduce anyone into becoming a petrolhead.
As ever with a Jaguar, the engine is everything. The F-Type comes with a choice of three units - two 3.0 litre V6s and one 5.0 litre V8.
The 5.0 litre can be ignored unless you’re an American with money to burn. The 3.0 litre is not only cheaper but it makes more sense. You would be mad to spend another £30,000 (F-Type 5.0 litre starts at £86,810) for a car that is only a little faster even if it does have a better growl.
There are two 3.0 litre models putting out 340PS and 380PS respectively. Tested here is the 380PS model which retails at £60,250 but the test model would cost £70,645, thanks to extra specification.
Somehow, the F-Type manages to be brutal and smooth at the time, a sort of orchestra and rock band combined. It can be driven smoothly and sedately, but it can also tear up the tarmac when pushed. The sound of the engine is stunning, especially the menacing burble.
So, what do you get for your money? Well, it is well equipped as you might expect for a sixty grand motor. You get leather upholstery, a fantastic stereo system, wonderful heating and air conditioning, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, intelligent high-beam (which dips if it ‘sees’ an oncoming vehicle), black gloss and aluminium trim, performance brakes with red calipers, configurable ambient lighting and an active exhaust, meaning you make it louder or quieter. Well, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
On the extras list on this model is British Racing Green paint (£700), panoramic roof (£1,250), powered bootlid (£450), keyless entry (£450), stitched upholstery (£2,445) and blind-spot monitoring (£660).
The blind-spot monitoring is terrific but I can’t see why anyone would want a powered bootlid.
The F-Type is a fantastic motor. It’s big for a two-seater (4.470mm long and 1,923mm wide) but it feels nimble and light, and while the ride is firm, it never feels uncomfortable. It is very capable car but it is easy to use as an everyday motor.
One good thing is that it is a proper two-seater with no attempt to fit tiny rear seats, and while the boot is shallow, it will easily take two small cases.
For me, it’s the attention to detail which impresses: the atmospheric lighting, the stitching on the seats, the chrome pedals, the sound of the engine and the narrow lights which curve round the rear wing.
I must say clambering in and out isn’t easy. You need to be slimmer and more nimble than I to do it with any sense of style.
But this is also a sensibly priced motor when compared to other supercar exotica and it’s bound to put a smile on your face.
PRICE: £70,645 as tested. Standard model £60,250
ENGINE: A 2,995cc V6 supercharged engine generating 380ps via rear wheel drives
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 171mph, 0 to 60mph in 5.5 seconds
COSTS: town 20.9mpg; country 37.2mpg; combined 28.8mpg
INSURANCE: Group 50E
WARRANTY: Three years’ unlimited mileage