F-Type Jaguar far from “best of the British”

F-Type Jaguar far from “best of the British”

MADAM Wheels really wanted to love the new iteration of the F-Type Jaguar given that its new look gave the rather staid British brand such a lift. Jaguar has always been the Volvo of England, really. So the company’s design director Ian Callum had his work cut out for him in bringing the F-Type to life. In doing so, Callum says it was all about the big picture, “the thing that excites you from 200 yards away”. Well, that’s great, but you have to actually get up close to the car to drive it and my recent experience doing so didn’t exactly blow me away. 

'Getting in is a task, given how low it is. When you have to make that much effort to get into a car, it needs to be worth it.'

The F-Type is an upgrade on the brand’s E-Type which wowed the world more than 50 years ago. That car set a new benchmark in design back in the day, with even the venerable Enzo Ferrari describing it as “the most beautiful car in the world”. 

The V6 F-Type S coupe probably delivers on what some 21st Century sports car enthusiasts desire but when I drove it, it didn’t excite me at all. If car manufacturers want to attract women to a car, they need to include features that actual appeal to a woman’s sensibilities. There aren’t many of those on board the F-Type. This is a car that’s all about the drive - not that women aren’t into that. But it’s all in the delivery. And in this car, it’s difficult from the outset. Even getting in is a task, given how low it is. When you have to make that much effort to get into a car, it needs to be worth it.

'If the only thing providing entertainment in a car is its deployable air vents then you’ve really got a problem.'

The first impression after landing in the driver’s seat is that the F-Type is very neat, almost minimalistic. The only really untidy thing about the cockpit is the clutter of electrical seat controls which, rather than embedded in the side of the seats are mounted on the door for ease of access. 

I quite liked the way the air vents pop out of the otherwise personality-free dash when climate control is active. But if the only thing providing entertainment in a car is its deployable air vents then you’ve really got a problem.

Everything in this car is incredibly compact - too compact, really, if you have hopes of storing anything. There are two cup holders and a bit of space possibly for sunglass in the centre console next to the electronic plug-ins. Behind the seats, you could flat-pack a suit bag but I wouldn’t store the handbag or anything else solid up there for fear of it turning into a projectile on sudden braking. There’s no space in the boot, either. It’s fully committed to housing the spare wheel which you have to have. 

Jaguar claims its 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system is the most advanced and responsive it has produced, but it still lacks Apple Car Play or the Android equivalent. And for some reason, the voice control has been excluded for the Australian market. Something about us being too loud, can you imagine. Still, controls cover standard navigation, music, phone, climate and some driver support systems such as parking aids. Yawn. Did I just yawn?! Let’s turn this car on, for goodness sake! This must be where the magic happens. 

As the V6 supercharged engine roared to life, I have to admit to experiencing a slightly raised heart rate. It’s a bit of a buzz-box on the road, though, and not too quick off the mark, either, despite it’s claimed capability of 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 322km/h. 

On top of that, it lacks the adaptive cruise control and other crash-avoidance features seen in most European cars these days. At least blind-spot assist was there. My son thought it was fun to be able to deploy a rear spoiler manually with the push of a button. Generally these things pop up automatically once a car hits a high speed to improve its aerodynamics and keep it planted. Around town, though, having the spoiler up just makes it look like the boot’s been left open accidentally.

Little things about the car bothered me - the slip of a sun visor for one. Not only was it so slimline as to be practically useless at blocking the sun through the windscreen, it was fixed at both ends so couldn’t be swung to the side to provide shade from the window. And underneath, the minuscule vanity mirror barely fit the lips in the reflection. Enhanced lips would require a nod of the head so the top and bottom lips could be viewed separately.

There were things to like about the car, such as the fixed panoramic glass roof and soft-closing boot. Otherwise, the F-Type seemed like a plain-vanilla sports car, and certainly not the best of the British.

Madam Wheels Verdict

Madam Wheels Worthy? Avert your gaze from this one, ladies, towards more suitable (and less expensive) rides like the Audi TT S Quattro, Porsche Cayman or, if you’re into something more muscular, BMW’s M2 Pure.

Buy: If you’re thinking of using it as a second car or a weekend drive or you just want something that looks good in the driveway. 

Avoid: At least before you do some sensible comparisons with those rival European coupes and roadsters.

Likes: The way things shifted up a notch when using the car’s paddle shifts, the soft-closing boot, the fixed panoramic glass roof in my variant.

Dislikes: The lack of safety features, the slow response time on acceleration, limited storage/luggage space.

Bottom line: $A171,445 drive-away, price of Madam Wheels’ variant, $184,988.