Underneath it all, the Jaguar F-Type is a fast Jag in a familiar mould. It handles, rides, steers and goes less like an equivalent Porsche or Lotus and more like an XKR that has been at boot camp for a few months. It’s a hot rod and a grand touring sunbed rolled into one, and yet it also has impressive athleticism and delicacy.

None of which is intended as any kind of slight on the F-Type. In fact, it bears testament to the uniqueness of Jaguar’s sporting philosophy. It’s one that says, “Above all else, we make road cars – not over-sprung, over-specified monuments to track-intended purposes rarely (if ever) served. These cars must be fast, poised and rewarding, but accessible. They must be cosseting, rich, suave – luxury goods as well as natural athletes.”

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
One job for the facelift: offer track day tyres for circuit regulars

That creed allows the F-Type to handle superbly but also effortlessly. The steering is feelsome and direct and has wonderful weight and intelligibility; it never surprises you with a sudden change of speed, or gives up its sensitivity or heft under load. The suspension tune feels equally honest and dependable. 

With the dampers operating normally, there is the compliance to ride motorways, urban roads and sunken cross-country routes more consummately than most would expect of a true sports car. It comes with a hint of body roll, and also that gentle, gathering body heave as your speeds rise over undulating surfaces, a trait that has become Jaguar’s enduring dynamic hallmark: ‘the breathe’. 

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The magic trick continues to be Jaguar’s ability to apparently tune out the normal undesirable bedfellows of that compliance. Even without Dynamic mode engaged, the F-Type delivers outstanding directional precision and stability and perfectly balanced all-corner grip.

Pull that chequered flag toggle and about 50 percent of the car’s suppleness instantly turns into added body and wheel control, and with it comes slightly sharper, cleaner steering response. 

It’s enough to take a B-road apart with what could be considered socially unacceptable gusto; enough to work your way up to about an eight-tenths effort level on track without wishing for more grip or composure. But it’s never enough to introduce Germanic levels of harshness or aggression into the ride or undermine the car’s touring calm.

The truth is that there are other sports cars that offer a closer relationship with the road surface, as well as higher levels of lateral grip. There are more effervescent, involving handling thrills to be found elsewhere, too. But not by a margin large enough to be even distantly aware of while you’re under the F-Type’s powerful dynamic spell.

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