Monday 24 October 2016

F-Type sees Jaguar back on the prowl in the super Coupe Jungle, but is it the top cat?

Mention Jaguar and most car lovers will think of the E-Type of the 1960s, ruched leather interiors and wooden steering wheels from the 1990s, and more recently, cars that looked nice, but failed to sell in serious numbers.

Jaguar, then, has long been the poor relation to its sister firm Land Rover, which has enjoyed the majority of the limelight, glamorous new models, and the ensuing positive sales figures at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

Now, though, Jaguar is fighting back and the latest assault is the F-Type coupé, a hard-hatted version of the convertible, which went on sale last year.

Like the famous E-Type, the F-Type was designed as a convertible, but adding a roof hasn't ruined the driving experience - far from it.

What makes this car stand out, though, isn't the sublime handling, the effortless acceleration or the raspy exhaust note; it's the sense of occasion Jaguar has engineered in that makes it a joy.

Take the Jaguar logo on the spoiler, which flips up whenever you press down with your right foot, or the leather-trimmed grab-handle on the front console, which your passenger can reach for at sharp bends. These are neat touches.

Only 75,000 of the 425,000 cars JLR sold last year had a Jaguar badge on the bonnet and a €93,340 sports car isn't going to change that. The car that might change Jaguar's fortunes is the new XE saloon, which is set to be unveiled just in time for the 152 plate in July.

The A4 and 3-series rival will get a lightweight construction (75pc of the body is aluminium) and will be the first JLR vehicle to get the new Ingenium four-cylinder engine.

This should help it to compete with German luxury models who have a choke hold on the compact executive market in Ireland.

What's really promising, though, is that Jaguar has got the driving position, infotainment and cabin of the F-Type spot-on. These have traditionally been weak spots which have followed through to the XE, which will be on offer from around €40,000.

It needs to be that good if JLR are to recoup some if not all of the €2bn they invested in the XE project.

In fact so serious are they that the top-of-the range XE shares the very same 3.0 litre V6 engine that beats beneath the F-Type.

The supercharged unit is boasting 340bhp, a 0-100kph of 4.8 seconds and decent enough fuel economy of 32mpg.

The favourite here will be the 2.0 litre diesel with 163bhp which is returning 74mpg (3.8L/100kms).

But back to the master and the F which at €93k is not cheap, but worth every single cent.

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