I know he’s jolly because he’s sitting on the Trans-Pennine Express thinking to himself: “In three hours, God willing, all this will be over and I’ll be heading into the sunset in a drop-top Jag.” I bear him no ill will but, all the same, I hope his train breaks down, or he has an epiphany during his stopover at Preston and runs away to join the circus.
It’s a forlorn hope, I know, so it is with heavy heart and one eye on the clock that I write these words. He’s due here at three and I want to have the review written by then, before tears short-circuit my keyboard.
It was in April that I first encountered Jaguar’s new sports car, the F-Type. She was a sultry shade of red, with a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine. We spent a day together in the north of Spain, soaking up the sun and stretching the Jag’s legs on roads as smooth as a freshly-pressed satin sheet. She made a noise that might have triggered an avalanche had I strayed any closer to the Pyrenees. I was smitten, but, with an £80,000 price tag and a keen thirst, her champagne tastes were beyond my Creamola Foam budget and we bade a tender farewell on the tarmac at Pamplona airport.
Five months later, enter the “entry-level” F-Type, the V6. It’s more affordable to buy and run than the V8, but it’ll still set you back £58,520, plus £10,000 if you want the extra bits.
For your money, you get fabulous looks, a folding fabric roof and a thunderous V6 engine. There’s more to it than that, of course – performance and handling, for instance – but the fact is this car could handle like a bag of spanners before running out of puff at 70mph and it would still sell on the strength of its shape alone.
You can thank a Scot for that – Dumfries-born Ian Callum penned the F-Type’s lines, and a braw job he’s made of them. The owner of a Ferrari California, a car no-one could rightly accuse of being a munter, came sprinting across a car park just to get a closer look. I’m not sure who at Jaguar HQ ordered our test car’s aluminium body to be painted with Irn Bru, but we doff our tartan tammy to them too.
All the same, it’s good to know the F-Type has the punch to match the poise. Under that long snout lives a supercharged 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine, which sends its 336bhp to the back wheels via a quick-shifting eight-speed gearbox and makes the F-Type go like stink. The dash to 60 is dispatched in 5.1 seconds and top speed is 161 mph where the law, or your flying goggles, permit.
A brace of centre-mounted exhausts with flared ends amplify the engine’s voice until it rivals Brian Blessed dipping a toe in a too-hot bath. You can quieten things down by flicking off the “active exhaust” switch, but why would you? With the roof down, the F-Type’s snug cockpit becomes a theatre built for two. Flick the auto-selector to “S”, tug one of the steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles to assume manual control, and your every flick up and down the ratios will be accompanied by a roar, a scream, a gurgle or a noise that I can only describe as “braaaap”.
You could, if you wanted, spend your every waking hour cruising the boulevards, drawing a crowd and scaring the pigeons every time you tickled your F-Type’s throttle, but you’d be missing out on the car’s other strength: what people with beards longer than mine refer to as “driving dynamics”.
On a B-road blast, the Jaguar leaps into life. The steering is smartly-weighted and the nose turns in with such precision, you’ll swear the engine was mid-mounted, not stuck at the front. The suspension is more supple than you might expect from a sports car, but if it all sounds a bit too soft for you, then flicking a hard-to-resist chequered flag switch between the seats engages Dynamic mode and firms everything up – steering, throttle response, your chiselled jawline…
Grip, in the dry at least, is nothing short of sensational. As for how it copes with a rain-lashed road, I can’t say. The fact is, I was able to drive around Scotland for a week with the roof down. Don’t hate me. Just doing my job.
Quibbles? Well, the rear-view mirror blocks my line of sight on tight left-hand bends, and the boot is tiddly. If you’re packing for a picnic, limit your menu to a couple of slices of wafer-thin ham and a Kraft cheese single, since taller foods may well not fit.
Also, and by way of a postscript, I’ve had to hand it back. The jolly man from Jaguar arrived bang on cue, grinning from ear to ear, and took the F-Type away with ne’er a word of apology or condolence. Scoundrel. He’d better not show his smug face round here again.
CAR Jaguar F-Type V6
PRICE £58,520 (£68,990 as tested)
PERFORMANCE Max speed 161mph; 0-60mph 5.1secs
MPG (combined) 31.4mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 209g/km