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Review: 2017 Jaguar F-Type

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Review: 2017 Jaguar F-Type

Peter Nelson

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The day began like any other bland Monday except that I was freshly unemployed. The Friday evening before, after a very monotonous day somewhere in the sea of cubicles in Century City, Los Angeles I was celebrating my last day in the banking industry. I was having a beer with my new ex-colleagues, bragging about my next career and the 3 weeks of time-off I was elated to have. I went into detail about how I had achieved one of my life goals of getting a job in the motorsports industry, and shared with them some of my comprehensive relaxation plans. I however did not touch on what I would be doing only three days into the future.

                Fast forward back to Monday morning, where I was with my friend Steph who was in town visiting, in a Lyft heading up to Hollywood to rent a car for the day. At 10 AM I was to meet the owner of a 2017 Jaguar F-Type V6 6-speed, grab the keys, and set out for 24 hours of curiosity, adventure, and plenty of fodder for this review. The owner’s father was the person I met with; after taking a photo of my license, he gave me the keys and we proceeded to crawl into the sleek, beautiful, Anglo-Saxon piece of Aluminum and cautiously drive away on the slightly-damp morning LA streets, ready for a day of fun.

 I had found the F-Type on Turo, a service that lets folks rent cars and that aren’t your average Hertz Chevy Impala, Kia Forte, Jeep Patriot, etc. This service has a wide variety of interesting vehicles (especially in Los Angeles) where folks rent out everything from stick-shift Nissan Versas (which is awesome for manual enthusiasts like myself) to mid-90s Ferraris. There are quite a few late model Porsche Boxsters, a 911, a Fiesta ST (which I had rented before, the owner was a great guy), and many other cool cars to cruise LA in. There is even a Classic Rover Mini which I intend to rent someday.

Climbing into the F-Type was no issue except for the previous driver was quite a bit shorter than me. After making my necessary adjustments to sit up straight and drop the seat base nice and low, I couldn’t figure out on the seat adjustment panel how to move the seat back: the toggle didn’t move left or right. I reached under the seat and there it was: a manual seat slider. I have nothing but praise for Jaguar for producing a beautiful, well-finished interior and very comfortable cloth/leather seats, but I was surprised that a car that retails new for around $75,000 had a manual slider. I chalked this up to “British Car Design” (possibly because they knew it was would malfunction after 3,000 miles if it were electric). In fact, this was a harbinger of more F-Type amenities yet to be discovered: no back-up camera, every drop of washer fluid finding its way inside the cabin with the windows open, and some disconcerting clunks in the suspension when turning in tight spaces. Combine these with the Jag’s small, sports car frame and the day would certainly prove to be interesting.

 One of the most chic, beautifully simple interiors I've ever seen!

One of the most chic, beautifully simple interiors I've ever seen!

 Not bad, but not great. Though who needs cargo room when you've got a loud button.

Not bad, but not great. Though who needs cargo room when you've got a loud button.

Although is the F-Type really all that small? While there isn’t much overhang off the wheels, and it sits quite low, the hood is absolutely massive and this base-weight model comes in at 3400 lbs (the V8 models are quite a bit heavier). However, the cabin is nice-and-roomy-yet-small; I call it comfortably-cavernous. It doesn’t make you feel claustrophobic, and there is plenty of elbow room. Not unlike the well-designed office cubicle I occupied in Century City in my previous career. The center console is nicely sized as well, though speaking of elbows: it was a little tough to shift with anything larger than the smallest of to-go coffee cups in either of the cup holders. The headliner was nice and high, the seat base could’ve achieved even more depth than I had it at, and the wheel telescoped nicely; this fast, little sports car can accommodate people who are taller than my 6’3” frame.  I kept referring to it as a “big little Jag,” meaning some general interior and exterior measurements were taught and small, others were generous. Again, possibly due to it being designed and measured out in the United Kingdom. One quintessentially British aspect I really did appreciate was the fact that you basically sit on the rear wheels. Lots of manufacturers have done well-designed, RWD sports cars, however the British have always done them best (besides the Miata, but without British sports cars the Miata would not exist).

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The exterior design of this fine piece of British aluminum is truly brilliant. It has classic Jaguar design with a new form of athleticism that is quite modern, and it will always look gorgeous. Every angle looks great, the lack of overhang makes it look chiseled, the silver color has deep shimmer, the front grill is aggressive yet exudes class and restraint, and the rear end is quite sharp. The V6 model comes with 18” wheels which I really appreciated as well; Jaguar didn’t rely on huge wheels to supplement their design language, 18s look just right. The tires are some kind of Summer Continental, 245s up front and 285s in back, very fitting sizes for the size, weight, and power of this vehicle. Add to this fine mix two large center-exit exhaust pipes, and its gorgeous design and excellent driving characteristics are tied together brilliantly.

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As a sports car, the Jaguar F-Type truly embraces every aspect of a great driver’s car. Rolling around town it was a little hard to see out of it, and backing up/parallel parking was a nightmare (again, no rear-view camera), however to be perfectly honest those aspects are minor in my book. In pedestrian, average mode the car has a great torque curve and scoots along nicely. Magazines are reporting around 5.5 seconds to 60 with the manual, and while the 340 horsepower and 332 ft/lb. of torque seem a little low for a 3400 lb. vehicle, it is more than enough to quickly get up to any speed.

The Dynamic Mode (or, Loud Mode) in this vehicle is truly a wonderful thing. Once I switched it on the gauges turned red, the throttle response got sharper, and the exhaust note became significant heavenlier. Every throttle blip to downshift sounded mean (no auto blip; I was expecting an auto blip but I appreciate Jaguar leaving it to the driver), every time I let off the gas it burbled and crackled, quite loudly, and every spin to at least 3,000 RPMs sounded very angry. Rev it all the way out, and the progression of anger is truly something to behold. I spent the first 2 hours or so with the Jag in loud mode on Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills, making very loud rev matches and burbles/crackles, hoping to annoy the more well-heeled in the City of Angels (who are almost certainly ex-clients too). I took my friend Steph to get an up-close view of the Hollywood Sign in Hollywood Park; believe me, parallel parking on an incline in this thing was quite a chore. Luckily the loud exhaust isn’t shoot-flames loud, otherwise Hollywood would now resemble the set of Hamburger Hill.

 Blending in flawlessly on Fairfax, and look what parked next to me!

Blending in flawlessly on Fairfax, and look what parked next to me!

Mildly cruising around town at a slow, Los Angeles pace is a ton of fun in the F-Type as well. Part of this was due to me being in vacation mode, but mostly due to the fun sounds and nice, responsive ride. It was great to spool up the aluminum 3.0-liter V6 in first and second gear and negotiate turns onto Fountain, Santa Monica Blvd, Fairfax, etc. with gusto. Thanks in part to the many nannies making sure you don’t spin out, there were times when the rear-end would kick out just a tad during low speed turns, something I’m definitely not used to in my own FWD econohatch. This car is as fun at 25 mph as it is at 60 mph and faster. I never found it too stiff, however my benchmark is set incredibly high as my own vehicle is a Mazda2 with spine-shattering coilovers for track and canyon fun. The turn-in is great thanks to its stiff aluminum body, light front-end and great dampening. Cruising Mulholland Drive and later the various Malibu canyon roads, the F-Type truly came to life.

After dropping off my friend Steph at LAX in style, I dreaded the chore of pointing the mighty Jag’s bow towards the sea of cars on upper World Way to exit. However this dread was instantly extinguished; a gentleman in a late model 5-Series very graciously let me in (smile, wave, and all). That alone says a lot about the Jaguar F-Type: even your average Los Angeles BMW driver recognizes where it sits, and where a Jag F-Type is perched, in the automotive hierarchy and steps aside. Maybe he thought I had to rush back up to Century City to advance our capitalist overlords’ wishes. This would have never happened if I was trying to merge in my proletarian Mazda. I was actually tasked with heading up to Westwood to pick up my friend Emily from work to hang out. When I arrived, I texted her that I was in a silver Jaguar, parked like a Jaguar (sitting next to a fire hydrant on a busy, tight street). To her befuddlement there I was, in a $75,000 sports car, and we proceeded to head over to the Pacific Coast Highway and visit a couple of my favorite canyon roads.

As the sun made its way towards the ridge of the Santa Monica Mountains along the PCH we made it to the bottom of Latigo Canyon Road and started to slowly climb up the hill. Normally in my Mazda I’ve got to wring it out in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to get up that hill, but the F-Type’s torque curve dealt with that stretch with plenty of ease. The short straightaway soon after was another place where I could be a bit of nuisance to the locals, and proceeded to rev out 3rd nicely with some more glorious burbles and crackles as I braked into an uphill curve. I took it pretty easy for Latigo (I luckily maintained the not-my-car mentality) and treaded lightly coming into corners that I’d normally attack in much smaller vehicles. The giant Jag certainly felt large, but was very nimble and changed direction nicely with barely any steering input. It soaked up the rougher patches of tarmac nicely, and definitely reflected a more connected ride. This was a 2nd and 3rd gear road and the gearing never felt too short or too long. Approaching rock faces was always a treat: a quick downshift (with a generous blip) and stab at the throttle created a sweet, beautiful symphony that was amplified nicely off the wall. I would not be surprised if a few boulders were shaken loose and left in our dust.

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As we came into patches of homes I switched off dynamic mode and cruised through politely as if we were returning home from a day in dreary old Century City. Once we cleared the inhabited areas and any threat of mowing down any young children, I instantly opened it back up and rocketed towards the next set of twisty turns. Where the road got narrow was a little bit of a concern as the width of the vehicle meant no margin for error (and I’ve seen more than a few people cross the double yellow in the opposite direction in the past), but as we made it to around ¾ of the way through Latigo it opened back up and we were able to scoot through with more vigor. Then came some more houses, and then came Latigo’s terminus at Kanaan Dune Road. I signaled (or rather since it’s a Jag, "indicated") North to head over to the Snake, and let the Anglo-Sachsen steed stretch its legs to get up the hill and out of other motorists’ way. This is where I was able to bury my foot and rev out 1st-3rd; the shove-back in my seat uphill was utterly brilliant.

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We made it to the top of the Snake to take photos and stretch our legs, and once again the Jag looked great in any lighting. The sun had made its way mostly behind the hill, but the paint still shimmered nicely and reflected every remaining ray beautifully. During a quick trip down and up the Snake, including a few opportunities to lightly wag the Jag’s back end, a group of motorcycles at the top watched us the entire time, probably betting green money on whether we’d plow into a guard rail exiting a tight turn and burst a few airbags. Never fear, for Mary Poppins was in the ECU controlling stability, ABS, throttle, etc. My not-my-car mentality was still present as well, so I never took any major chances. I accidentally fudged an upshift carefully passing 2 cyclists on one of the straights while letting off the clutch: I’m almost certain they thought I meant to rev my engine at them, being just another smug dolt with a Jag in Malibu.

 Over-6-foot people rejoice: we fit in the F-Type nicely.

Over-6-foot people rejoice: we fit in the F-Type nicely.

                As we made our way back down Kanaan Dune Road, taking it easy with the occasional downshift for tunnels or nearby rock walls, the sun was just starting to set nicely over the Pacific Ocean. It was almost the opposite of where it had risen over the Hollywood Hills when I picked it up, symbolizing a full day of driving in the F-Type. It had been a while since I’d cheerfully driven around the Los Angeles Basin all day; this was mostly due to driving such a sweet piece of machinery. It was not just the status of driving the Jag around that had me stoked the entire day, but also the fun-at-any-speed experience. Stuck in traffic? Creep forward with a nice little jab at the throttle and set off someone’s car alarm. Tired of crawling out of a low-slung sports car? Stay in it and just drive (though probably avoid drive-thrus). The seats never got uncomfortable, the experience never got old (besides parallel parking), my feet and arms never tired from the inputs, and the amenities in the F-Types cabin made it a pleasurable, isolated-from-all-Los Angeles-BS experience. If your arm knocks the lid off your coffee cup while shifting to 2nd gear, luckily the interior comes in black leather (and cleans up easily with a napkin or two, ask me how I know). If you want to feel and sound like you’re braking hard before the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with some high-pitched, angry rev-matches, but you’re only turning left onto Beverly Blvd mid-yellow light, the F-Type is your kind of car. This piece of machinery is sure to make you look back at its beautiful shape every time you park as much as it is to put a smile on your face every time behind the wheel. You will find all the reasons in the world to take it for a spin. It was a tad ironic renting and now craving a car that I could probably only afford if I stayed working in banking in Century City. However, I’m betting on Jaguar depreciation dropping like the Pound post-Brexit. I just hope I can find one with a third pedal and a stick, because I can’t imagine the automatic being nearly as fun or satisfying.

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