Tested: Jaguar F-Type V8 SJuly 3, 2014
How did Jaguar ever get into this situation? Here’s a company that was founded by Sir William Lyons, who loved sports cars and racing them. The iconic Jags like the SS100, XK120, D-Type and E-Type were performance machines that took on Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lotus and Maserati both on the track and in the showroom.
Then along came the '70s and it all went off the rails as Jaguar became better known as a manufacturer of oversized executive barges with acres of rear seat room, leather, timber, thick carpet and complete silence from under the bonnet.
On its own that’s not a bad thing, but that’s not where Jaguar came from and despite attempts to rekindle that sporting buzz with return factory efforts at LeMans, in touring cars and even Formula One, it continued to suffer from a split personality.
However, we have no doubt that the balance is definitely being restored in favour of the competitive cat after climbing from the driver’s seat of the new F-Type V8 S roadster recently. It’s the most emotive car of any brand we’ve driven in a long time as it ticks all the boxes from looks to performance, handling and a raspy crackle on the exhaust during down change. To put it simply, it stirs the soul in much the same way we imagine the SS100 or D-Type did back in the day.
Our on-track time at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit was brief but after a handful of laps in the 488bhp, 5-litre V8 convertible, it proved its worth and confirmed why it was voted the Middle East Car of the Year last December. This is a proper successor to the classic Jags of old with a lumpy big motor out front and rear wheel drive riding on a pert chassis, all wrapped in a to-die-for body.
Driving it back to back with the company’s other models including the XK Coupé and even the hotshoe XF-R sedan, there really was only one choice for us on the day. With quoted acceleration times of 4.3 seconds to 100kmh and a governed top speed of 300kmh driving through an eight-speed auto transmission, the F-Type’s got the bite to match its bark and is a serious contender against its closest rival, the Porsche Boxster.
How that rivalry will develop when the high-horsepower GTS Boxster hits the market a few months from now, only time will tell, but for Jaguar at least, it has hit the sweet spot that proved such a success for the company all those years ago.