Jag F-Type V6S …
Jeremy’s Jag …
Whether you like Top Gear or not, whether you like the presenters or not, or even whether you think it’s a motoring programme or not, doesn’t matter, it provides a highly entertaining hour on TV in its own right.
It can also be quite informative at times. The closing item on the final show of the most recent series was enough to have you reaching for the tissues. The three ‘mustcarteers’ driving down the Mall through rows of British built machines. If you missed it, go and look for it on iPlayer or YouTube.
They did manage to cover most Brit-builds and although they had a Cat there I didn’t see a Terex (still being built at Newhouse in Scotland) but everything else was there on two, three, four and more wheels. From Honda lawnmowers to JCB diggers, from the Ariel atom to the Rolls Royce, and from tanks to DAF trucks. It was a mighty impressive gathering and full marks to the TG production team for getting it and to Boris for allowing it to happen.
For all those doubters who think the Brits can’t and don’t build anything anymore it provided a timely poke in their eye-pad.
Oddly enough, that uplifting flurry of union flag waving was followed by the curmudgeonly Dominic Sandbrook who fronted a show called ‘Das Auto’ which said that Britain didn’t have a car industry any more thanks to the militant unions and bad British management and praised everything Germanic. He did have a point, but to blithely claim that we had lost our skills, expertise and innovative spirit was wide of the mark.
That said, most of the British car industry is furrin owned these days anyway, but that can be said of many other indigenous industries across the country. Scotch Whisky? 80% of the stuff distilled in our own wee country is foreign owned – take note Eck!
Yes we still have a motor industry, it’s just that it’s mostly owned by furriners, while over in Germanland, Volkswagen has made no bones about the fact that it wants to become the world’s number one automotive group. However, they are not quite there yet, Mercedes-Benz makes more trucks, and then there’s ambitious Audi and the equally driven BMW, not to mention the current top two, Toyota and GM. Nuff said?
And so it goes for Jaguar. It too is now in foreign hands, although the heritage and future is secure, especially if you look at the current range of cars. The XF, XJ and XK are more than capable of tempting folk away from the luxury Deutsche options, but the arrival of the F-Type pitches Jaguar right in with the big boys.
There are three F Types at present, a ‘standard’ 3 litre V6 (£58,520), a supercharged V6S (£67,520) and a 5 litre V8S (£79,985), but it was the V6S that Jeremy drove into the credits at the end of Top Gear and this is the car that was sent up to Scotland.
This is a supercar at a (slightly) less than supercar price. No, it’s not going to be the new British Lotus Elan or MX-5 that some folk hoped for, it’s still pretty expensive, but when it comes to buying this level of performance and handling it can hold its own with the seriously expensive stuff. Think British Airways as opposed to Easyjet, but not Emirates or Lufthansa!
Anyway, with the key in my pocket, my bum in the seat, I reached for the bronze coloured ‘start’ button, and it does what all other supercars do, it starts with a bellow before settling into a rather more subdued idle. That gets the attention of the neighbours first thing in the morning, or the burds in the high street.
But that’s just the start. There is another button to activate the Active Sports Exhaust (makes it louder!) and a switch which toggles between ‘Winter’ (gentle) driving mode and ‘Sport’ which delivers the ‘Dynamic’ mode and this even includes a Launch Control function. Naturally, selecting the Sport button also alters the suspension settings which makes the beast hunker down even more and sharpens up the steering, brakes and throttle.
And there’s more. The 8 speed automatic shift can be left to do the business on its own in either standard or sport mode, or pushed across to enable manual sequential shift operation. There is also a pair of bronze coloured paddles behind the steering wheel, left for down the ‘box and right for up. The car has another wee trick up its sleeve. In sports/dynamic mode it blips the throttle on downshifts, and crackles on the over-run. Deliberately. Honestly, these features are built in, and if you’re accelerating hard through the gears, the flat-shift upchange will bulge a man’s trouser front.
The 375 bhp engine actually feels and sounds quicker than it is, and that is possibly down to the supercharger which just seems to pile on the speed relentlessly. Given the speed limits in this country, the 171 mph is purely academic and the limits of the grip levels are almost unattainable on the public road. So it would need a track day to exploit the machine and find its limits.
Having said that, it is sublime to drive on the road. No-one can really complain about the sometimes harsh ride quality. If you buy a car with this performance, that’s what you get. And you can put that down to Britain’s roads and the fat tyres needed to hang on to them.
Get it out on the open road and it’s fast enough to stain a set of underpants at the first bend, even before you’ve uttered the immortal words – oh, shit. The 4.8 second 0 to 60 time is impressive but with the supercharger on full bore it just keeps on going long past the ‘big fine’, blasting through the ‘licence losing’ limit and on past the ‘locked up for life’ limit before you realise the speedo needle is climbing as fast as the rev counter.
But here’s the thing. The Jaguar attracted less of the envious, hateful looks from pedestrians and other motorists and much more of the lustful admiration that Ferraris engender in Italy. That’s a good thing. We should celebrate success and appreciate beauty more in this country.
There’s lots to admire, the bootylicious rear end with its rubber underwear, the purposeful grille and side strakes, the 12 second up or down fabric hood and that fabulous thick, soft leather rimmed steering wheel – and the noise! The noise is about as subtle as Riverdance with tacketty boots dancing on a tin roof.
The options added another thirteen and a half grand to the price and these included a set of 20 inch Cyclone wheels (£1750) in place of the standard 19 inch jobs, performance leather seats (£1450), heated steering wheel (£250), Meridian sound system (£1700) and the most must-have option in the list – the active sports exhaust, at an additional 350 quid.
It’s not perfect though, the boot is tiny, and there is no manual gearbox option so the driver can’t take full control and blip the throttle while double de-clutching. But maybe that’s a good thing. I’d probably lose my licence even quicker.
Would I have one? No, because it would be a waste of money. Spending all that dosh on all that performance and never able to fully use it. That’s not to say that it’s not one of the most desirable cars on the road today though. It is, and it fully deserves that accolade.
On the other hand, would I have the 490 bhp V8S – now that’s an entirely different question and much more difficult to say No!