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£71,780 when new
Ooh another F-Type. Yep, Jag’s two-door coupe/cabrio has got itself yet another special edition, as its maker tries desperately to keep it feeling young and fresh. The F-Type Convertible has been around since 2013 (but it feels longer, seeing as we first saw the concept in 2011), making 2019 its sixth year on sale. Normally a car is replaced after seven years or so, but given Jaguar’s current financial situation, we wouldn’t be surprised if the F-Type stuck around for some time yet. Fine with us. God, it still looks tremendous. It does, doesn’t it? Especially in new ‘Chequered Flag’ trim, which we reckon treads the fine line between shporty and subtlety rather well. Available with either the 2.0-litre four-cylinder or 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engines (the latter optionally paired with all-wheel drive) and as a Coupe or Convertible, the Chequered Flag is a limited-edition meant to celebrate 70 years of post-war Jag sports cars, beginning with the XK120 in 1948. There are no mechanical changes here, just visual ones. Inside it’s got a pair of sports seats trimmed in black leather, contrast stitching in either red or grey and flag motifs embossed on the headrests. There’s another little flag on the steering wheel, which also features a marker at 12 o’clock. Because racecar. Meanwhile the centre console is finished in a kind of dark aluminium trim. Changes to the F-Type’s exterior revolve around yet more flag motifs, a ‘Black Pack’ involving chunkier side-skirts and bespoke 20-inch wheels, a black roof and red brake calipers.
What’s it like? We drove an AWD Convertible and a RWD Coupe, both with the 375bhp 3.0-litre V6. Despite a relatively minor weight penalty for the cabrio, there’s only a tenth of a second in it to 60mph (4.9 seconds plays 4.8) and neither runs out of puff until you get to 171mph. Jag’s Fen End engineering centre, where we drove the F-Types, has a mile-long straight, so we can confirm both cars get up to 150mph without any bother. Germans, we do these things for you. In truth the Chequered Flags feel… like F-Types. Because that’s what they are. You can read our in-depth review of the F-Type Convertible and F-Type Coupe. But in short, while not as delicate or precise as a Porsche 911, the F-Type is still oodles of fun, whichever engine or body style you choose. This test at least gave us the opportunity to drive the AWD and RWD models back-to-back. Predictably, the AWD car has more grip. But it will still slide, given the right kind of conditions. It just kind of pulls itself straight again, whereas with the RWD car you have to be a bit more on the ball. The former feels a bit heavier and more languid, but there’s a poise and balance to both cars that makes them a pleasure to drive quickly. The F-Type’s interior is starting to date a bit, even if the driving experience hasn’t yet. At least you get better infotainment now, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but Jaguar’s system is still a way off its German rivals. Talk money. For a 3.0-litre RWD Coupe, Chequred Flag spec adds £5,760 to the R-Dynamic’s £66,955 price tag. With the 2.0-litre, the gap is even bigger - an R-Dynamic is £55,625, while the ‘Flag is £62,335. That’s almost £7,000 difference. And for what? Some flag motifs and a set of 20s? Hmmmm. A quick play on Jaguar’s online configurator reveals you can make an R-Dynamic look awfully similar for just couple of grand, so if you like the look of this special (as indeed we do) we’d be tempted to go down this route instead. Save a bit of cash. Spend it on fuel. If the Chequered Flag was limited to a few hundred cars, we might understand. But it isn’t. So we don’t. 6/10
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