Jaguar F-Type on track at Sandown
Our Robert Pepper takes the Jaguar F-Type on track at Sandown Raceway to find out whether it really is the most track-focused Jaguar ever.
IT’S A WARM, SUNNY DAY but that’s not why I’m in a good mood. Nope, it’s because I’m about to slide into a Jaguar F-Type V6 convertible at Sandown Raceway. Hence the joy. And as I strap into the F-Type, I’m liking the thing already. Why? It’s simple things – there is a real sense of occasion; the interior feels more cockpit than cabin – and high quality too. All of the switches fall easily to hand, and you feel… fast even when you’re sitting in pit lane.
Enough of that. I’m here for full-throttle business, so off we go, hurtling towards Turn 1. The stability control has to stay on, so I can’t explore the car fully, but nevertheless it’s quick, but not earth-shattering. Brakes certainly well enough but we won’t be on track long enough to figure out fade problems, turn-in is sharp, and we’re off to Turn 2. I use the paddle shifts in manual mode, and discover as usual on the exit that if you floor it and the car can change down, it will. Very annoying, but that’s modern cars for you. The gearbox is best left in auto I suppose.
A few laps later it’s time to come in, and the verdict. Great car, quick, viceless, fun. But it didn’t quite give me the visceral thrill that I want from a track-day car and that’s despite the Jaguar F-Type reportedly being Jaguar’s most track-focussed car ever. I want a big cat to play with, not a kitten for a toy. So, into the V8…
Ah-ha. Here we have everything the V6 is, but better. Even a more cockpity cockpit. More muscular growl for the engine at idle. And, speed. Oooooh yes! Speed! Off we go.
…We’re still accelerating hard as we approach the brake point at the end of the long straights, and the engine is really helping with the thrill factor, both in grunt and noise. This is definitely, definitely the car to have. Never mind that it’s a tad more front-heavy and a thus a little reluctant to turn in, that’s just extra fun, extra bit of driving ‘work’.
And the engine. It’s the sort of note you’d record as your ringtone, the sound of exhilaration. I reckon it’d be ultra-driftable too, but Jag aren’t about to let us find out. I try the paddle shift again, but with eight speeds you’re changing gear so quickly out of the slow corners – tap, tap, tap as fast as you read that – it becomes a chore and I leave it in Dynamic mode and focus on the rest of the driving.
Would I buy one? No, because they are so gloriously impractical as a convertible due to the lack of boot space. Can’t wait for the coupe, and then I reckon I’d take one over a 911 which I’ve also had the pleasure of tracking in various 2014-model guises. Same thrills, better value, more exclusive, better engine note. The Jag is back!