Grand Touring Man’s
Weekend with a Jaguar F-Type S
What to do when you were given a Jaguar F-Type S to be driven at your own discretion for a long weekend (actually it was a routine weekend, but I made sure I crammed up the driving to make it feel like it was one)? You pick the right kind of roads of course (and making sure they were beautiful ones too). The types that give you a white knuckle ride: switchbacks, blind brows and sharp kinks. Those series of undulating back roads that twist and turn as if they were on their own free will and you were riding on a roller coaster—but in a high performance car. The whole nine yards, basically.
Before we get to the “driving impression” part let me just say that have always been intrigued by the F-Type well before it was formally announced and launched in 2013. Because a couple of years before that I had a very lengthy conversation over lunch one particular Sunday with Julian Thomson, Director of Advanced Design for Jaguar. While talks were centred upon the then-recent CX-75 concept and his many accomplishments, I blurted out loud if Jaguar would eventually start making a “driver’s car” again like the E-Type. Julian smiled and hinted to me that something exciting was brewing which should answer my curiosity soon after.
Discounting the aberrations of the XJS back in the Seventies and all the XKs (such as the XK8 or the XKR variants) during the Nineties to the Millennium (which I did—because I can), it has been a challenge for the Jaguar brand to replicate another sports car in their line-up that could stun the world like their E-Type did back in 1961 in Geneva. The car that even the proud Enzo Ferrari conceded as “the most bloody-hell beautiful car in the world” or something to that effect in Italian (it was a long time ago and I am not that old to remember). To the point that the boys back in Maranello (the ones that were not fired by 1962 anyway) had to come up with a GT of their own to make sure they do not get trampled on if the E-Type went racing (which led to the birth of their 250 GTO).
It was quite a task for Ian Callum, the Director of Design, Julian and the Jaguar design team to put together something with their engineers that would earn the F-Type designation as the worthy successor to the legendary and as memorable as the XK-E. Interestingly the first F-Type introduced was in fact the open-top Convertible version (if you want to see the latest Jaguar sports car, you might as well get right to the point, I guess). I saw it for myself with my own eyes back in 2013. It was taut and muscular than I thought it would be at first (most modern cars are built that way anyway with the new stringent regulations on safety). But looking deeper in detail again though, I started to see the subtle design cues that the people at Jaguar were getting at. From the gentle curves from the side view to the accented hip-hugging shapes toward the rear wheels. There was a harmonising sleekness in the overall package that you would begin to notice from any angle. It was this kind of harmony and purposefulness that I liked about the F-Type (and the fact that it looks really cool when I saw them driven around Florida).
The car that Jaguar Thailand kindly provided for me to spend some time with was the F-Type Coupe S which was launched about a year later than the convertible. It has a 3 litre Supercharged V6 motor that churns out a healthy 380 horsepower and 460Nm worth of torque with its own set of charm. You could tell that the sloping roof toward the rear and the slight upswept tail with the twin centre pipes are mild tributes to the beauty of the E-Type fixed-head coupe. The interior is plush as you would expect with just enough gadgets and gizmos without the losing that analogue feel that you were hoping for in a Jag (the Grand Touring Man personally is not much an LED type of guy). The speedometer and rev counter needles almost immediately flips to full as you press the Start button and the engine barks to life. In terms of playing with the 8-Speed Quick shift gearbox, you can leave it on auto if you plan on doing a grocery run or flick the gear lever and go manual override. For the full-on effect (which I did), one can also go straight to paddle shifting, switch to Dynamic Mode for sharper throttle and give yourself a more hairy exhaust note at a press of the button.
The motorway out of Bangkok to the destination that I was heading for the weekend may have been ideal for stretching the F-Type’s legs. Above 120 KPH the rear spoiler is deployed up, giving the stability on straight-line that you can feel when you take it to another level. I would put myself into a precarious position to announce publicly how fast I was going. But let’s just say that I did manage to get it to 8th gear, rolled down the side windows just to hear the noise (purely for testing purpose of course). Oh the noise from the twin exhausts! It was raunchy and glorious at full tilt as much as when it blurps on kick down as I have to down-shift in order to knife through the sparse early morning traffic.
But to approach the F-Type and expecting to drive it for its brute force alone (though there is latest 400 Sport Limited Edition which is on show at The Motor Expo going right now in Bangkok plus the “mad” SVR spec with a 5-Litre V8 that puts out 500 horsepower) may be missing the point. When I finally reached Thailand’s provincial B roads that I was looking for, it was the agility in its handling for a car of this class that impressed me more. It may not be that evident in the video presentation we made as several shots were done more to illustrate the F-Type’s stylish presence on the road (and simply because our camera crew and the drone would not be able to keep up). But it was during the return runs for the many retakes we did that I began to appreciate the nimbleness of this Jaguar. It has phenomenal brakes and chassis as I got more acquainted with both the car and the roads that snaked around the countryside. For every each take, the faster I went on the way back for another restart and the sharper the Jaguar bites (no pun intended) the ground with even better grip as I went quicker and quicker.
The verdict? First of all, let’s be clear that Grand Touring was not created as some consumer advocate type of automotive media. We do not have track tests or Zero-to-60 figures to boast about, because we are far too busy attending great parties, from Palm Beach to Goodwood, to care about that sort of thing. Someone once asked what type of cars get featured and our answer is pretty easy, “The only kind we like!” So if you do not see the car here that you were expecting to find anywhere else, then you have a good idea that we don’t!
So do not hope for us to sing praises for just about any car that we get to let loose in like some two-bit, watered-down publication. (Someone had me offered to drive an exotic some time ago and asked me how it drives. After a few minutes I had enough of it and gave him back the keys because the handling was just as rocky as my previous marriage). But after a weekend with the Jaguar F-Type S, I can tell you straight up that it is a lot of car for money. Because for the way it drives, it has every intention to be a future classic like its E-Type predecessor. Callum, Thomson and his team should no doubt be proud.
This Jaguar F-Type S is featured as part of the Jaguar Art of Performance Tour Smart Cone Challenge, which will be on 9th-11th December, 2017 at Impact Lakeside, Muangthong Thani in Bangkok.
For more information on how to enter the challenge plus your chance to win a free VIP Trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018, contact: [email protected] or call +66 8 1 700 1779
(Offer is for Thailand residents only with limited space available. Pre-registration is required).
Special Thanks: Jaguar Land Rover Thailand
All Photos By www.sleepy-nokkie.com