There are but a handful of cars that have a legacy so precious, that it’s almost impossible to reinterpret it for the modern world without people crying blasphemy.
The Jaguar F-Type is one of those cars that would’ve gone under such scrutiny had its designers let their guards down for even one second, but the resulting car was such a masterclass in interpretation, that nobody minded that it was the iconic E-Type — one of the world’s most beautiful cars — that inspired it.
After seven successful years on sale, the Jaguar F-Type has had its biggest update yet, but is it more poised to fend off competition from rivals the likes of Porsche’s 718 and Alpine’s A110? We spent a day with the F-Type First Edition to find out.
You might’ve seen the new Jaguar F-Type in pictures or videos, but we encourage you to reserve full judgement until you’ve seen it in person. Like the E-Type, it’s a wildly good looking car — and even more so in person.
Now more sculpted and dramatic than ever, the car’s chiselled form gives it a more assertive stance. Opt for the First Edition here (offered for one model year only) and you’ll get refinements like the Exterior Design Pack, which offers black chrome finishings and five-spoke, 20-inch wheels in a snazzy shade of Gloss Technical Grey with contrast Diamond-Turned finish. Paint choices for this special edition are only limited to a grand total of three shades: Santorini Black, Eiger Grey, or Fuji White — not exactly colours of the rainbow but trust us when we say they complement the car’s svelte lines best.
Whichever you choose, the car’s perfect proportions are instantly recognisable. The LED headlights are squintier than ever, with a subtly updated ‘Calligraphy’ J signature daytime running lights and sweeping direction indicators that complement the new clamshell bonnet. Its grille is slightly larger, which — along with the new front bumpers — deliver more visual impact on the roads.
Even the door handles now sit flushed with the body, allowing the F-Type to show off its curves in all its glory, uninterrupted. At the back, the rear lights see the same ‘Chicane’ light graphic first introduced by the all-electric I-PACE performance SUV.
The F-Type is menacingly wide, but don’t expect its interiors to be proportionately cavernous. Still, the two-seater provides enough room for two to be comfortable. Most importantly, it doesn’t look and feel a single bit outdated, even though the tweaks inside are considerably lighter than those on the outside.
Jaguar’s craftsmanship shines through here with plenty of Windsor Leather flourishes and satin-finished Noble Chrome. Details such as the monogram stitch patterns in the seats and door trims, as well as the subtle ‘Jaguar Est.1935’ markings on the centre console finisher are a nod to the marque’s dedication to heritage and quality.
Again, First Editions get special treatment in the form of 12-way Windsor Leather seats in Ebony with Light Oyster stitching, or Mars with Flame Red stitching. The instrument cluster is also wrapped in Alcantara with monogram embossing, the gearshift paddles are crafted from aluminium, and you get a luxuriously smooth Ebony Suedecloth headliner.
The 12.3-inch Interactive Driver Display offers different display modes depending on your needs; opt for the full map mode if you’re exploring a new part of town, otherwise the default mode has a large central rev counter that’ll remind you that you’re in a pedigree sports car.
There’s also a new 10-inch widescreen infotainment system that’s fairly high-res and responsive, and is easy to navigate. It is, thankfully, also a touchscreen (you’d be surprised), and speaks easily to smartphones with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functions.
Because the interior was designed to be driver-focused, this Jaguar sees a dashboard that wraps around with a central grab handle which divides the cockpit between driver and passenger. The latter can be a bit of an obstacle for passengers to access certain features like the temperature gauge and infotainment screen, but again, this was a car made with the driver in mind, so your plus one would just have to get used to it.
Sitting low and far back in the vehicle allows for an old-school driving experience. Yet there’s nothing old school about the way the F-Type First Edition performs — and it drives just as good as it looks. Because the First Edition is based on the R-Dynamic, there’s plenty of power to go around, even in its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder guise. The 296hp engine is smooth and acceleration under most circumstances delivered an invigorating experience.
The eight-speed automatic performs just as smoothly and refined as you would expect from a luxury car, but it can also be extremely responsive when called upon in Dynamic mode. However, where the F-Type really excels is in the handling department; its well-weighted steering provides just the right amount of feel and the chassis reduces body roll to nearly nil.
We put the car through both the wet and dry conditions we’re so accustomed to in Singapore, and the F-Type never missed a beat. Rear-wheel-drive sports cars have a tendency to make you feel nervous when driving under heavy rain conditions, but the F-Type felt so planted that it’ll give you the confidence to push on as if the sun was shining. The First Edition’s larger brakes left us with no doubt in our minds that this all-rounded, two-seater sports car has the ability to offer its drivers with the optimum performance.
Rarely have two-seated sports cars been viewed as practical, but the Jaguar F-Type is as versatile and charismatic as they come. There’s plenty of visual flair — its head-turning good looks both inside and out make it supremely fun to see and be seen in. It handles with plenty of ease and is eager to please under any condition, always backed, of course, by the British marque’s racing heritage and know-how.
Boot space is surprisingly generous for a car of this class, and you’ll be able to fit two regular-sized suitcases, although opt for the roadster and you’ll be sacrificing this luxury. In this spec, the car does feel like a baby grand tourer, luxurious and performance-driven enough for high speed and long-distance driving — and that’s really as practical as a car like the F-Type could possibly get.
(All images: Jaguar Land Rover)