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First Drive

Jaguar F-Type British Design Edition review

£74,560 when new
Published: 24 Oct 2016


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What’s this – a Jaguar F-Type special edition?

Correct. It’s the Jaguar F-Type British Design Edition, no less. It’s the first special edition F and it’s the perfect choice if your patriotism is at an all-time high. We fear it might not be. Nonetheless, it’s an incredibly good looking thing.

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Available as a coupe and soft-top, prices start at £75,000, around £8,000 more than the F-Type V6 S it’s based upon.

That’s a fair hike. What’s different?

It’s mostly cosmetic. There’s a more assertive body kit as standard (check out those side skirts), painted in your choice of red, white, blue or black. Each comes matched to grey 20in ‘Cyclone’ alloy wheels, while there’s a Union Flag emblem on the grille.

The flags continue inside, stitched into the headrests of the leather sports seats – which also get some fancy colour-coded stitching – and embossed onto some carbon interior trim, that’s exclusive to the BDE. There’s also a bassy 380W stereo as standard, too.

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Is the rest of the car loud, too?

Oh yes. There’s a switchable sports exhaust as standard, cranked into its noisy mode via the familiar ‘binoculars’ button on the centre console. The soundtrack is raucous as opposed to genuinely tuneful, but this is still the kind of car you’ll drive with the windows down an inch, particularly when a tunnel comes into view.

With four tunes of engine, a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes, and rear- and all-wheel-drive chassis choices, there are currently 16 mechanical permutations of F-Type on sale. But while the BDE is available in just one of them, it has the potential to be the ‘Goldilocks’ spec: the one that’s just right.

British Design Edition spec combines the F-Type’s middle of the range engine – a 375bhp supercharged V6 – with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. But don’t fret, for previous experience suggests the Jag is best with those options. And the F-Type V6 S will still do 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, on its way to a 171mph top speed.

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So how is it?

The V6 has always been less deranged than the V8, and better able to make use of all its power without clumsily spinning up its wheels. And it’s hardly a slow car with two fewer cylinders: toggle the engine into its ‘Dynamic’ mode – which also awakens all of the noise from the exhaust – and you lunge towards the rev limiter with a ferocity that makes the quoted 0-62mph time look like it was figured into a strong headwind.

With all-wheel drive fitted, the handling is fantastic. F-Types were always fun without it – and purists may wish to avoid the BDE and stay rear-wheel drive – but there’s extra depth to the car’s ability here. And less scariness.

It’s a great system, with the car RWD most of the time, but able to share power with the front axle when conditions require. So you can be a hooligan when you wish to be, but enjoy a surefootedness in crappy conditions that’s absent from a RWD F-Type.

The flipside of the system’s success, though, is that it also handily tames the delivery of the V8’s bombastic power elsewhere in the range. So while this V6 is still thoroughly enjoyable, you might miss the bigger lungs and mild fury of the V8. I did, and I wonder if an AWD V8 is now the F-Type of choice.

Yeah, but that’s over £15k more. How’s this one inside?

It’s very, very nice. That ought not to be a surprise. The two-seat cabin is particularly cosy, but the driving position is spot on and as gratuitous as they may seem, the F-Type’s design flourishes – joystick-like gear selector, copper coloured paddles and starter button – continue to mark it out a greater sense of humour than more sensibly trimmed rivals.

The BDE’s extra touches could be seen as a bit naff, but I defy anyone to dislike the Ultra Blue of our test car. Mated to the prettier shape of the coupe (and without the SVR’s fixed spoiler) I can’t think of a better looking F-Type.

There must be some downsides?

The F-Type’s ride quality is still the wrong side of firm. Fine when you’re having fun, but it’s a bit thumpy when you just want to get places sensibly. It’s also blooming wide. Drive it on a narrow country lane and you’ll be thudding over the cat’s eyes to keep a comfortable distance from the side of the road.

Add a couple of sensible options and you’ll sail past £80,000, too, which is a heck of a lot of money for a car that still doesn’t have enough boot space to be a convincing GT. A Porsche 911 remains a much better choice, objectively: fuel consumption is better, there’s a huge luggage compartment up front, and enough space for kids in the back.

But there’s simply something big-hearted and beguiling about an F-Type. It’s a charming car to be around, and if you’re happy with the V6, this British Design Edition only swells that feeling. Even if it also swells the price tag.

Pictures: Mark Riccioni

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