My late Uncle Tony was a very cool chap. He owned five Spitfires and the only flying Hurricane in private ownership, which, having checked in Jane’s Defence Weekly, meant he was able to claim he owned the world’s 48th largest air force. He bred scurrying ponies. And he bought his very beautiful wife one of the first E Types, because that was what very cool uncles did…
Jaguars never used to have an image problem. When my aunt was smoking about in her E Type, rock stars and racing drivers were too, and celebrity villains were making their getaways in Mark 2s long before Inspector Morse pottered around in one. And then it all started to go wrong. I blame whoever let Arthur Daley and Mike Baldwin drive Jags. For a few decades, Jaguar struggled to find its mojo. As good as the cars occasionally were, they just weren’t cool any more.
The Jaguar F-Type is an achingly beautiful sportscar; a proper one that demands respect.
But then Ford sold it to Tata, and the team of engineers and designers brought in by former Aston Martin boss (and keen shot) Bob Dover were given the room to breathe, and the money they needed. Sister company Land Rover is really flying and Jaguar’s product range keeps getting better. But – whisper it – Jaguar, the brand, still isn’t as cool as it was.
Forward thinking and the Jaguar F-Type
Chief among the ways of sorting this would seem to be to bring out an achingly beautiful sportscar that everyone is going to want. Hence the F Type. Its lines are clean and simple but, joy upon joy, they are modern too. Enzo Ferrari didn’t call the E Type the most beautiful car ever built because it was backward-looking. And the Jaguar F-Type is all Jaguar, especially around the rear, but is very much of the moment too.
Engines are normally aspirated and supercharged V6s, or a fire-breathing supercharged V8 and, as the nice chaps from the factory gave me the choice, I chose the V8. And it is truly, truly fabulous.
With lines as clean and simple as this, it looks like Jaguar has rediscovered its mojo.
As easy to drive slowly as a Nissan Micra, it is as exciting as anything I have ever driven when you really open the taps. It does have electronic safety nets, and it has valves in its exhaust which means it can change from being polite around town to being loud enough for my wife to hear me coming home from five miles away, but it never feels like you’re driving a computer game. It’s a sportscar, a proper one that demands respect – and I love it.
It, along with Jaguar’s new 4×4, will banish the memory of Mike Baldwin forever. Every kid I drove past loved it, everyone in my office wanted one and my neighbours came over to ask to be taken out in it. I think they might also have heard me coming home. I really, really want one and, if there are any Uncle Tonies out there wondering what car to buy their beautiful wives, the answer is now very simple.
Specifications for the Jaguar F-Type 5.0 V8 S 495PS Auto
Top speed: 186mph
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
C0₂ emission: 259g/km
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/bensamuelson