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Review: Jaguar F-Type

01 August 2013 - 17:00

Review: Jaguar F-Type

The Jaguar F-Type... haven't I already read a few reviews on this car?

Yes, probably, although this is the first time we've driven it on Australian roads. It was certainly a magnet for eyeballs as we drove it for the first time through Sydney, but not only because it's stunning, but it's the modern-day version of the E-Type and the first two-seater Jag in 40 years. It's a pretty big deal. And finally, it's here in Australia.

Sounds good. So, what it's like to drive?

We took it up our favourite roads north of Sydney and can report that it's fast. Really fast, particularly the supercharged V8 model, which roars to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds. But we'll get to the acceleration in a moment - let's talk corners. As you will know, Australia has bumpy roads. The F-Type's suspension is very much on the firmer side, which means at times you get a little too intimate with the road beneath you. The upside to the firmer suspension is that it goes around corners quite well (the smoother the better) and the chassis is tuned such that you can confidently explore the tyres' limits. Unlike many other sporty cars, the F-Type suits the less confident driver - you can drive it very fast and it doesn't feel scary, it never feels like it's going to do something you're not expecting. It will breathe gently into understeer if you enter a corner too fast. Or if you throw it into a corner more aggressively, you can feel the bum becoming unsettled, but in a playful way, not a scary way.

Bucking the trend for electrical steering, the F-Type uses an old-fashioned hydraulic unit. Through your hands the steering is meaty and feels good, if a little on the numb side for a sports car.

The noise is possibly the best bit, though. The V6 sounds good, meaty and angry, but the V8 sounds like it's bellowing a mating call for Satan. Particularly if you press the little centre console button identifiable with a little exhaust motif. That button activates a valve which bypasses mufflers and other evil, sound-deadening things. Pressing it will become part of your pre-drive routine. You'll then want to keep the roof down everywhere. And you'll become intimately aware of the location of the nearest tunnels.

Shut up and take my money.

Sure... if you have $138,645. That's how much the cheapest F-Type costs. Three models are coming to Australia. The entry-level "F-Type", which comes with a 250kW supercharged V6. The next model up, the F-Type S, has the same engine, tuned to 280kW, and costs $171,400. Sitting above that is the halo model, the F-Type V8 S, with a 363kW supercharged V8, yours for $228,900. All come with an eight-speed, torque converter auto. No manuals.

You might think the V8 is the pick, what with its 4.3 second 0-100 time. But don't write off the V6s so easily. They're just as a capable around corners and, in a straight line, just as quick - the base model does 0-100 in 5.3 seconds, which is hardly lethargic. There's just one major difference, though: the noise. Once your ears are fed the exhaust note of an F-Type V8, the V6 will leave you feeling just a little unsatisfied...

Out of 10?

An eight. The F-Type is an excellent car in isolation - beautifully styled, full of character, fun and easy to drive fast. It's a car you could easily fall in love with. Just don't compare the F-Type to, say, a Porsche Cayman. Read why in our full review, in the upcoming September issue of Top Gear magazine...

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