Shout it loud: Jaguar's back and it's proud of its hot new sports car
Cacophony is about the only polite description for the noise that emanates from the supercharged V8 under the bonnet of the new Jaguar F-Type. And the six-cylinder version isn't much quieter.
The F-Type, which has now officially landed in New Zealand, is the much-needed flagship machine for Jaguar, top of a range that's gone from being a disjointed affair that attracted more snide remarks than geniune buyers to a cohesive collection of machines that do the brand the justice that it really deserves.
Ever since the great British marque was taken over by Tata Motors, alongside Land Rover, things have been on the up and up. Ratan Tata is struggling to sell his own brand's little nano (aka the world's cheapest car), but his loving attention to Jaguar and Land Rover have seen the two move ahead in leaps and bounds.
The XF and XJ are perhaps the two biggest success stories in Jaguar's recent history, but it really needed something that screamed its heritage from the rooftops.
And when you hit the 'loud' button in the new F-Type sports car, there is probably no better way of letting the world know that Jaguar is back - and in better shape than it's been in years.
When the F-Type broke covers at last year's New York Motor Show, it made the automotive industry stand up and take notice. In Paris, when it was properly launched, it somehow managed to overshadow the McLaren and Ferrari will-they/won't-they hybrid hypercar reveals.
As the F-Type rolls into Kiwi showrooms, its talented designer Ian Callum has picked up a huge selection of gongs for the car, which carries a bloodline including such design masterpieces as the E-Type - once described as the ultimate automotive crumpet-puller.
We can't attest to the pulling power of the new F-Type, after only a short introductory drive around Auckland's surrounds. But if the open-mouthed gawpers beside the country roads on our all-too-quick test drive were anything to go by, it should be reasonably effective.
The F-Type which will be tested in earnest in coming weeks is being offered to Kiwi buyers in three forms, although the lower-end model is bordering on redundant because Jag buyers do quite like ticking boxes in the option list, and the boxes most likely to be checked off for the entry-level model would simply take it up to the same spec as the mid-range machine. At $140,000, it's hard to describe it as a `base model,' but the supercharged V6 is singing a lesser tune than its F-Type S stablemate, which sells for $155,000. The ultra-stroppy V8 version that tops the trio will set you back $180,000.
Both sixes pack supercharged 3-litre engines, but the S version has more power and torque 250kW/460Nm v 280kW/450Nm and both run Jaguar's Quickshift eight-speed automatic. The difference on paper is 5.3 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint against 4.9 seconds, and a top speed of 260km/h v 275km/h.
The 3-litre S is probably the pick of the litter: lighter in the front than the V8, meaning more it's nimble across some of our rural roads, but still with the savage symphony being played out of the centre-exiting rear pipes. That's the easiest way to tell the six from the eight, which has two pipes exiting on each side of the body.
With a true 50/50 weight distribution and incredibly direct steering, it is an extremely drivable sports car, even when set in dynamic mode, which backs off the traction control far enough to wag its tail, but without the feeling that the back end is going to overtake you when pushing hard.
The S version defines itself with paddle shifters, better brakes, a limited slip diff and 19-inch wheels.
For sheer top-of-the-range `because I can' grunt, the supercharged 5-litre is a monster, pushing 364kW and 625Nm out, with just 1665kg to weigh it down. The banging, backfiring and full-throttle blaring that comes out of this car really does need to be experienced to be believed.
The F-Type isn't the only new face in the Jaguar line-up, with a wagon version of the popular XF the car that many consider to be the brand's turning-point which fills in a big gap in the roster. it will complement the Jaguar SUV that is going to join the range by 2016.
The XF Sportbrake is very much like its sedan stablemate in terms of dynamics, and just adds a bunch of boot room. Two variants will be sold in New Zealand, both diesels, with a 2.2 Luxury model selling for $95,000 and a 3.0 S Luxury for $120,000. It's a big move away from Jaguar's standard fare, with only the omission of a four-wheel-drive version detracting from its potential market attack. That said, both wagons are only $5000 more than their standard four-door counterparts.
How will these new Jags change the company's fortunes in New Zealand? The F-Type is obviously going to have far more impact it's a fresh sports car, Jag's first soft-top fun machine in five decades and it's stunningly good-looking. Purveyors of expensive toys will certainly be watching the F-Type's reception in this market with serious interest.