Jaguar F-Type Coupe India review, test drive

    We drive the 543bhp Jaguar F-Type R-Coupe in and out of town for a full week.

    Published on Dec 25, 2014 07:00:00 AM

    57,863 Views

    Make : Jaguar
    Model : F-Type
    The monsoons may have had a slow start, but on this evening in early August, it’s pouring buckets. From my vantage point inside Jaguar Land Rover’s very swanky corporate showroom in Worli, Mumbai, all I see is an opaque sheet of rainfall. The flooded conditions seem apt to put any of the Land Rovers on display to the test, not the 543bhp (and 69.3kgm), rear-wheel-drive rocketship I have just  been handed the key to. I’m itching to drive, but better sense tells me to hold out. I just can’t let impatience and unnecessary bravado cut short my week-long stint with what promises to be Jaguar’s most exciting sportscar in decades. A lot of Jaguar literature and a few coffees later, I notice the downpour has reduced to a mild drizzle. Visibility is better and traffic seems to be in motion too — that’s the green signal I’ve been waiting for.  I want to make a fast getaway, but quickly realise I’d need the equivalent of a racehorse’s blinkers to keep me walking straight to the car’s door. It looks just so damn hot, I simply have to stop to take one hard look at it. Eventually I peel my eyes away from the F’s shapely form, making a mental list of all the details I’d like to see up close later on. Like the door handles that pop out as you press the unlock button on the key fob, which is such a neat touch. 
     
    It’s quite a drop into the cabin, but the beautifully contoured bucket seats offer a comfortable landing. On the outset, frontal visibility seems good and I’m quite taken by the welcome gesture or Jaguar handshake. It’s performed by a platform hidden atop the centre console that rises to reveal the air-con vents, a bit gimmicky but literally a very cool touch. Starter button depressed, the engine rumbles to life to settle at a gruff idle. Gear lever clicked to D, and I’m off. But I’m not in the clear — rush hour has begun and traffic is thickening. All plans for an initial joy ride are cancelled and I decide to call it a day. It’s on the journey home that my right foot gives in to temptation and I weigh down hard on the accelerator at the first opportune moment. What follows has me thrilled and petrified at the same time. The Jag’s tail momentarily steps out of line as the Pirellis struggle to put down all that power on the wet surface. Meanwhile, the exhaust roars loud enough to alert every living being in the vicinity that there’s a big cat on the prowl. This is going to be a very fun week. . . 
     
    Good nights
     
    The first few hours with the Jag go in plotting waypoints for the proper ice-breaking drive later in the night. I’m marking places with smooth surfaces, low traffic and two-wheeler-free stretches. And, of course, tunnels. With no rain expected till the morning, the weather gods seem to approve of the route too. So at the dot of 11pm, the F-type’s quad-exhausts break the silence of the night. The roof screen is pulled back to reveal the panoramic glass roof and the 14-way adjustable seat is set for the right amount of side bolstering. Unfortunately, the reverse camera has fogged up, so the blurred image in the central screen and limited view out the sloping rear window are of little help on my way out.  This apart, the list of things I like quickly grows. The weighty flat-bottomed steering is nice to grip and feelsome, the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is prompt and even that supercharged, 5-litre V8 under the hood doesn’t seem to mind a relaxed pace. But on the relatively slow initial bit of the drive, it’s the F-type’s ride quality that really has me amazed. Sure, the Jag doesn’t go over the rough stuff like a magic carpet, but for a stiff sportscar riding on 20-inch wheels, it’s thoroughly impressive. What’s more, the big cat doesn’t scrape its belly on the numerous speedbreakers either. Ground clearance is sufficient, but to use off-roading parlance, the Jag’s ‘approach angle’ is compromised by the front splitter that extends far out. It’s easy to ground the chin when exiting steeply angled ramps. Still, it seems like a relatively easy sportscar to live with. But I soon experience the F-type’s core competence — it’s in delivering big thrills.
     
     I’ve reached the Eastern Freeway and it’s here that the real F-type experience begins. What immediately sucks me in is the way it sounds. The soundtrack starts with the supercharger’s deep induction noise that’s followed by an angry growl, which finally builds into an almighty V8 roar near the 6600rpm limiter with the accelerator pinned deep into the carpet.  What happens when I lift off the nicely sprung throttle pedal is equally glorious. The exhausts pop, crackle and sputter as if to intimate me of  the engine’s displeasure for backing off. But for me, lifting off the throttle is as much fun as flooring it! The sounds get amplified and angrier still when I press the Active Sports Exhaust button. This feature electronically opens bypass valves in the exhaust system to take the aural drama to a whole new level. Perhaps now you understand why tunnels are an important part of my route. The good folk who tuned the Jag’s exhaust deserve a Grammy. 
     
    What also has me hooked is the way it goes. There’s something decidedly old-school about the F-type R’s large V8 and big supercharger setup. Thrust, and I mean thrust, is relentless right from the word go. There’s just no let-up in power, so on the empty road I’m driving on, the pace at which I catch up with the lone car in the distance is just mind-boggling. To give you an idea of how fast the F is, here are some numbers of interest: It does the 0-100kph dash in 4.16 seconds (there’s no launch control here!) and 0-200kph takes all of 13.69 seconds. Even the in-gear acceleration times are wildly quick. The Jag just makes all roads on my route seem a lot shorter than I remember them to be. I’m not complaining and head home with a mental map of other roads for the nights to come. My body clock will have to adapt.
    Jaguar F-Type
    Jaguar F-Type

    ₹ 1,10,01,960 * on road price (New Delhi)

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