Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Jaguar F-type may be beautiful, but...

THE other day I ticked off another entry from my car lover’s bucket list. I have, after what feels like an eternity, finally driven the Jaguar F-type.

While there’s a full Life On Cars review on the way – and therefore powder to be kept dry – it was a truly special set of wheels which I loved and hated in almost equal measure. I loved it because it’s a lucid, loveable celebration of what talented British engineers achieve when the money men actually get behind their vision for a change, and because it’s those increasingly rare new cars which genuinely feel like an event to drive.

Yet I hate it because – in the words of Joe Jacobs, the boxing manager – we wuz robbed. Robbed of the car, I’ve long reckoned, should have been the F-type all along.

That’s right; 14 years ago the world was shown another F-type and – in much the same way as the original E-type did back in ’61 – collectively gawped at what was a truly mesmerising vision of a Jaguar sports car. Even though I was only 13-years-old at the time, I’d already decided what car I’d be getting once I was finally old enough to appear on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.

 In much the same way the E-type was sired by the Le Mans-winning D-type of the 1950s, I loved the way that the F-type presented at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show was directly inspired by an even wilder Jaguar show car – the wonderfully bonkers XK180 from two years earlier. The difference was that while 1998’s offering was always presented as being a bit too unhinged for wider public consumption, the F-type watered down the XK180’s excesses just enough that Jaguar said that maybe – just maybe – there would be a road-going version. It even went to the trouble of setting up a hotline simply so car nuts could pester them about putting it into production.

The F-type as Jaguar originally intended it would not only have been clearer in its objectives, taking on the Boxster directly rather than sitting above it at the expense of Jaguar’s own (and now killed off) XK model, but it was so much more beautiful than the current car. It’s a good thing I was too young at the time to ring that hotline, otherwise Jaguar’s management would have a restraining order against me.

Don’t get me wrong – getting a go in the new F-type is as a fabulous as being offered a date with Michelle Keegan. It’s just I was still secretly hoping for Keira Knightley’s number instead.

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