Driven: 2014 Jaguar F-Type S

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Grey may be the most colourful colour after all

Life tends to get quite serious as you get older, we never want it that way, it just happens  Take the daily drive to work, there is a point where one tends to switch away from a music or entertainment radio station to a relevant talk radio station just to get updates on local news and recent politics because somehow, somewhere a turn in events could affect my career, my financial well being or my general health and safety.

We reach a point where consistent serious and just general “bad” news tends to put a slight damper on your overall outlook. We revert to fantasy movies, books and series to “switch off” and refresh. If that doesn’t work, we go escape our concrete dwellings to “no-data zones” and retreats.

We all know that those are short term solutions, but as a car enthusiast, surely there must be someone that we can turn to so as to add a spot of colour to a grey day?

I think I may have stumbled across the answer when I was handed the keys to arguably one of the most beautifully designed cars we have ever seen. This is not a supercar, although it does raise the hair on the back of your neck. It is not precise and nor is it technically elaborate. So what is it? It is a Jaguar. Not any old Jag, but rather the base model Jaguar F-Type S.

This particular car is a 2014 with 55 000 km on the odometer, and yes it is the convertible, which is a purely positive feature as I believe that the V8 has a good roar, but the V6 is just pure bliss.

The first thought when stepping into the cockpit of this British bruiser is that the interior seems quite familiar. If you have ever driven a Range Rover Evoque you will recognise design incestry. Which is not so bad as the interior of the Evoque is a great place to be.

A squeeze of the brake and a solid push of the stop/start button fires up all six cylinders with some vigour, and here we thought that the Brits were a quiet and civilised bunch? By the way, your neighbours will hate you if you leave early every morning.

As you slip it into drive and look at the bumpy road ahead your immediate thought is one of caution, after all this is a sports car. The profiles are low, suspension hard and overall ride will crash and bang if your spidey-sense miss that sneaky bump or pothole in the road. Especially with 55 000 km of wear and tear on the suspension and chassis. Yet again, the bump creeps up faster than you originally thought and the car takes it without a rattle, bump or creek. Don’t get me wrong, I felt the bump, but the British engineers have somehow mastered the dark of constructing a car that doesn’t rattle on South African roads.

Immediately impressed, I moved onto the my next concern. If this car shares multiple parts with Range Rover, then what are the chances that the gearbox was stripped out of the Evoque and neatly placed in the F-type? This is not good because to put it bluntly, the gearbox in the Evoque is about as useful as a handful of lettuce in a gunfight. It is, by a long shot, one of the worst gearboxes I have ever had the experience of encountering.

This put a massive shadow of grey and gloom on my already positive experience. Once the oil temperature was up to normal, I disengaged “warm-up” mode and started driving the car as I would any other. Needless to say, the gearbox knew exactly what to do, but I couldn’t help thinking that a manual would be so much better.

Usually when driving a new car, I am very cautious about switching into sports mode. They can often be overwhelming and may leave you in a place on the side of the road with Johnny Tran’s words from Fast & Furious resonating through your recent choice to switch to sport mode, “too soon junior”.

As my comfort levels rose, my left hand flipped the sports button. This in my opinion is how the engineers intended the car to be driven. After all, it is a sports car. With the dials now glowing a bright red, the throttle as sharp as a large cat’s claws and a fully vocal exhaust, the F-type came to life.

Now as fast and as sharp as the F-type had become, the greatest feature of sport mode is the lack of valves in the exhaust. My first memory of this car has set the benchmark for what cars should sound and feel like. Accelerating from a set of lights you experience the slightly longer gears that the car offer. Flicking from first to second and then to third, the roar and vibrance sends chills down your entire back. The moment you raise lift off the accelerator you are hit with a bang, crack, bang, rumble, rumble pop, which at first is unexpected. As the revs drop, your left hand selects the lower gear, and with as much enthusiasm, the exhausts spits out the same bang, crack, bang, rumble, rumble pop.

With each individual note that exits that exhaust, one cannot start to laugh, giggle and express pure excitement and joy. It is contagious, but not over the top. It is a bit like opening a packed of sweets in the cinema. It makes and noise and everyone else hates it, yet they all wish they had bought the same treat.

After experiencing the F-type, I was quickly reminded of a statistic that we do not reference in motoring, smiles per gallon. This little Jaguar did such an amazing job at that, that when I handed the keys back, I had realised that I drove the car for an entire week, in and out of traffic and flowing open roads without any form of radio or entertainment. I also believe that my inner child had somehow become 10 years younger.

PS, my neighbours are also quite happy that I do not drive the car anymore!

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