I like average things. I like averagely priced cuisine. I like sitting in the middle of the bus. I like getting in the middle of a conversation, but I don’t like ending them. I press the signal button when I cross the road. I indicate when I change lanes. I wear sneakers to work. I indulge in click-bait when I am alone. All things considered - I think I’m a pretty average guy, pummelled by the circumstances of a relatively average existence.
Jaguar holds a very interesting place within my automotive spectrum. No, I don't need a lecture on its history. It's just that, as a non-British human I generally tend to find myself less enthralled about the brand than my European counterparts. Well, aside from that one time my uncle bought an old XJ sedan because 'I'm telling you, it was a steal' from that dodgy second-hand car dealer on the corner of the road and then promptly reminding me of that every time the car wasn't in the shop for its tri-annual overhaul. It's... well, neither here or there, if you get my gist. All very proper and middle-of-the-road type stuff. For an average guy like me, of course.
Following that train of thought, it was with a mixture of bemusement and bewilderment that I found myself standing, keys in hand, in front of Jaguar’s 2016 F-Type Type S (V6, not V8; AWD, not RWD)– the latest successor to Malcolm Sayer’s legendary E-Type and that trousers-numbing mix of 1960's aerodynamics and carburetted performance. To be clear, it was no German fighter jet or raging Italian phallic symbol, but it radiated a subtle presence as it lay in its dormant state.
It’s wide, it’s low, it’s muscular. There are hints of Aston Martin-inspired features, but with the irrefutably talented hand of Minerva Medal winner Ian Callum at the helm – the man responsible for the DB9, it's an easy comparison to make. Its overall silhouette certainly takes into account the original long-nose-short-cabin proportions of the legendary E, but thankfully with modern day sensibilities... Like an angled windscreen and um, proper wheel fitment. It commands formidable girth whilst parked on the side of a street – and, as an oft-neglected test of any car, there's much to be said about the lookback-ability of this Jaaaag. Make no mistake – this is an extremely crucial test of owning any motor vehicle for the average guy. I’d happily score the F-Type a solid 8 for "quality of lookback" - and after four days with the vehicle, I really appreciated the way it held itself amongst the drab sea of Deutschemetal and EV cars that littered my carpark.
It’s the interior that lacks a little for me. Yes, I do appreciate the wonderfully impractical nature of the boot space, woefully large blind-spot (yes, average people worry about these kinds of things) and small cabin as a retro-minded wink to the E-Type. No, I do not appreciate feeling like I’m sitting inside a current model Range Rover Sport, gear selector, dash & navigation unit, plastic door handles, switches et al. No make-up mirror on the passenger side? By Jove! It might be a selfish thing for me to say, but I want to feel like I’m inside a giant panther breathing in the exalted air of a fabled British marque, not a shared all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet with a Chelsea chariot. But, to be fair - that’s really not what you buy a car like this for.
What you’re getting for this above-average chunk of change is pretty much everything else that's bolted onto it - and primarily, what lies forward of the dashboard. This car delivers bigly levels of torque and more importantly - the right to let everybody within ear-distance know about it. The 3rd gear slingshot into 4th at 5000rpm yields layman-loads of usable grip and supercharged horsepower, the full time AWD of the front wheels and traction control (yes, average people use driver aids on the reg) pulling the car earnestly in line as it hurtles you to the vanishing point. A 380hp supercharged V6 isn’t much to write home about, but unlike 650hp cars equipped with a fine print waiver stating that you-only-ever-really-get-to-use-70%-of-that-anyways, it’s a well-balanced and completely usable 380, leaving much more brain space for the rest of the day’s tasks when you’re not trying to constantly calculate the dreaded revs-to-traffic ratio. Its steering capability is nimble and inspires full marks for confidence despite the general big booty feel of the car, its great adaptive suspension tackles "enthusiastic" weight shifting nice and steady (perhaps another nod to one of the E's best engineering qualities of its time) and its brakes are sufficiently spec'd for the quick haul-up, even if it is a touch snappy at times battling the fury of home-time traffic. I'm not sure if I want to admit this within this pantheon of car enthusiasts - but it is a ridiculously easy car to drive, and drive quickly.
It is no visceral, zip-ripping experience but it is no walk in the park either – and in that wonderful moment of maximum mayhem, I can guarantee you this one thing - this car will turn any average schmo into an all-out hero. Mr. Holier-than-thou in a Tesla will probably try to test you (one did). Smart-arse #2 in a Lotus Evora with a custom license plate will probably try to race you (one did). Drop down a couple gears however and flip them that unmistakable snap, crackle and pop of the ear-lashing sports exhaust before launch – and you might as well have equipped a rear-facing flashing middle-finger instead of brake lights.
It’s a left-field choice for sure. For the asking price of the Type S, most would probably find themselves sitting pretty (averagely) in an equally brand spankers base level 911 or a specced-out Boxster or Cayman GTS. But really, would you? Enough average-ians are seen in those. Is this a car I see English dentists driving? Yeah. Is it the contrarian’s pick of performance vehicles within the same price range? Sure. Could you buy a faster car for the same money? Possibly. But why bathe in the constant mediocrity of lukewarm water when you can be an everyday hero?
I’m going to sum it up like this – the Jaguar F-Type is a bloody good, nay, great car for an average guy. Yes, it is no killer but it is also not your overweight house cat - but boy, is it absolutely everything in between.
Now, um, where’s the keys to the SVR?
WORDS: FRANK LIEW | PHOTOGRAPHY: PETER KELLY