Forget the midlife crisis: the F-Type Jaguar is all about a midlife revival, both for the car and the driver…
Jeremy Clarkson once described the F-Type Jaguar as an "X-rated, hardcore monster for the terminally unhinged". Jeremy, I must say, I concur. Cruising along the Kent coast this past week has made me realise three things. One: I grew up thinking if you owned a Jaguar, you probably owned a flat clap and pipe. Two: my previous statement is false and clearly has been for a while. Three: how can I afford an F-Type?
The new F-Type has had somewhat of a midlife revival – a beautiful one I might add. The front grille is now slightly larger than its predecessor; it's accompanied by slim LED headlights on either side, giving it a real tarmac-eating look from the front; the rear wheel arches are wider, imposing an intimidating stance from any angle (especially when using your mirrors). But let's talk about the rear: it's actually, quite possibly the best rear I've ever seen. It's simply beautiful, a real head-turner, and sets the tone for the shape of the car.
The engine is just as impressive. Where a V6 or V8 usually sits, Jaguar has installed a four-cylinder, 296bhp, twin-turbo-charged monster which certainly isn't shy. You might be thinking in doing so it may not be as exciting… forget it. Zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds and an eight-speed quick shift auto transmission, with an option to use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts, will quickly put you back in your place. It's 130kg lighter than the V8, which also makes it nimbler in those tight countryside corners. For all the brute and beauty of the exterior, the interior stands up just as strong. It's had a refresh and a new 12.3-inch touchscreen display offers many different arrangements, from full map view to one or two dials in the display.
All new F-Types come as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a meridian sound system and software-over-the-air upgrade functionality.
The dash is clad in sophisticated stitched leather and it has slim-line racing seats (which are actually comfortable and heated). Jaguar has found the perfect balance with the interior: it feels so well refined that you may not want to leave, but also does not let you forget its wild side. Everything is simple – no extravagant button systems, no time wasted wondering how to turn this off or that on. Everything's been mathematically placed to ensure the driver has the best and easiest experience. Speaking of experiences, the F-Type comes with different driving modes – Standard, Race and finally Snow and Rain, each with their own distinctive colourways that take over the digital displays when selected – allowing you to make full use of the performance whatever the weather.
Previous F-Types have been said to have a "rough ride". In this latest model, I found it to be impressive. From front to back it seems to just stick comfortably to the road. Even Kent's coast road surfaces failed to push it out of line, emphasising the balance between it being a luxury and a sports car, even if you think it lacks a few cylinders.
Something else to consider when weighing up your options: depending on spec, it's between £10,000 and £30,000 cheaper than the V8 model and you still get plenty of bang for your buck. This model starts at around £54,000, so if that's within your affordability bracket then there's something else that may tempt you further. As for fuel, it cost me a little over £55 to fill up and I found the fuel economy to be surprisingly good for a car of this nature, around an average of 35mpg. It's a lot less thirsty than its V8 brother.
To date, the Jaguar F-Type is the best-looking car I've ever driven, maybe the best-looking car made in Britain for a long time. Since the first one left the factory back in 2013, Jaguar has been making subtle tweaks to each new model, never failing to disappoint. If it's been a tempting proposition for you, now's the time to get your act together.