With all the international jury rounds coming up, I thought I’d start the new year driving cars I hadn’t got my hands on yet. First up was the slinky Jaguar F-Type.
From the moment I started it up and the engine purred to life, I knew there was going to be a little love there. I was having visions of me driving roof down, pedal to metal and the wind whipping through.
Cut to reality – 11 am on a Saturday morning at Worli is not like that at all! With the sun beating down , horns blaring, a tempo spewing its exhaust fumes into my face and the spit of the red-toothed man from the bus missing me by a whisker – my dreams went poooof! It took me a couple of seconds to get the hood back up and quickly reach for the AC button. Ahhhhh, now that felt much better. Luckily, the luxurious cabin and efficient AC managed to keep me cool because the Jag was begging to leap forward and Mumbai’s bumper-to-bumper traffic was holding me back and getting on my nerves. Frustrating to have 488 bhp and nowhere to lay it down!
As much as that gentle purr -- which turned into a healthy snarl with small dabs of the throttle -- was begging me to have a go, I piloted the car into my parking lot and retired for the day. The F-Type had dealt with Mumbai’s traffic much better than I had, it didn’t get flustered or bothered -- that was just me.
I looked at the Rs 1.5-crore upward of car and all I could be happy with was looking at it in my garage.
Sunday morning and I was determined to get the best out of the F-Type. And a huge grin plastered itself on my face the moment the engine sprung to life. I swung out of my building and drove out, getting used to the bikers and other cars careening close to get a shot. This car turns heads and how. Don’t blame them, it’s a looker. But when other motorists draw close trying to get a shot, it’s particularly unnerving, considering that I’d have to sell a house to pay for the car in case of damage.
Driving through the city, I was amazed at the ease with which the F-Type handles speed-breakers, it didn’t bottom once. More amazing was the ride in Comfort mode -- pretty darn good! Both F-Type and I, were comfortable cutting through traffic.
At the next signal, with a clear stretch ahead, I stomped my right foot as the light turned green. I definitely wasn’t prepared for the way the tail swung, tyres screeched and the car leapt to life. The F-type is no sedate Jag, it is an animal! Unfortunately, the next traffic light came up before I could blink. The short burst was enough to have me hooked. I was waiting to get really out in the open. Empty stretches are few and far in between but we found some and with a nice nip in the air, roof down, wind flowing through my hair and the road flying by , I was finally able to enjoy the real thing. The soundtrack when you floor the throttle, boy oh boy, is one that can get you out of your funkiest moods! Problem is that you want to consistently floor the throttle to hear it.
And with an empty stretch ahead, that’s exactly what I did. As I floored the throttle of the F-Type, the snap-happy tail swung out real quick….on a track that’s fine, but with other cars on the Mumbai road, it made my knuckles a bit white. The Jag takes a little getting used to. Still, it’s addictive, so I floored the throttle and there was this delicious wave of torque that rode me all the way to the red-line with my spine shoved back into the seat. The V8 is a thrill-a-minute. Strong and roaring like a Kalahari lion, it took me all the way to Nirvana.
I soon discovered that it’s not always that easy to lay all the power down though, especially on our uneven surfaces and the F-type feels a bit hairy, the Porsche brigade definitely make you feel more secure.
Watching it eat the lines on the road like a hungry animal, I got thinking that it was like an old school sportscar, the kind that wants the driver to do some work, not a host of electronics working around the corners. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is every conceivable kind of safety system installed, but with the F-Type, it’s just you, the car and the road. It makes you work a bit and that’s what makes it so much fun!