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dna drive: Jaguar F-Type fantastic

Monday, 13 May 2013 - 9:16am IST Updated: Tuesday, 14 May 2013 - 7:51pm IST | Agency: dna

The standard V6 F-Type has a 3-litre supercharged mill that unleashes 340 horses. Its S variant 380. And the V8? As many as 495 erupt out of that water-intercooled, 5-litre whopper.

In the bewitching canyons of Navarra in northern Spain, sounds are far and few. At best, Nature echoes the percussive persuasions of a woodpecker and other avian melodies.

Rarely, if at all, do you see or hear humans — for miles on end.

Ravaging that verdant tranquility was the visceral, primal caterwaul of my Jaguar F-Type, as it mowed local topography at will.

Rev, and the V6S and the frighteningly quick V8S growl like nothing you’ve heard; ease off the gas and they pop and crackle on over-runs, just like an intoxicating Formula 1 son et lumière.

Nothing prepares you for it.

Nothing normally does when love-at-first-sight strikes, as it did me in quaint Pamplona, renowned for its bullfights, last week.

There the phalanx stood, including one in fantastic orange, a tinty counterpoint to Ferrari’s flamboyant red. Truly, Jaguar designer Ian Callum’s piece de resistance.

The F-Type’s fascia is all belligerence. An enormous, dual-creased aluminium bonnet that steeply slopes at the nose to give the car a forward tilt; a gaping, dead-fish-mouth grille; peeled back headlights; and, quad air dams.  All of that screams just one phrase: naked aggression.

The derriere is awesome, too: upside-down dagger-blade tail lights accentuating squat-hipped muscularity.

Getting inside!

Buzz to unlock and the door handle pops out — as if straight out of a sci-fi movie — creating a welt, as it were, on a clean, aerodynamic side profile.

Being very low-slung, ingress and egress are clunky but the two seats with huge squabs are snug and can be electrically adjusted — including heated and cooled — in a zillion ways.

The centre console, the 8-inch LCD screen, the multimedia controller dials and a forest of buttons deliver everything you need, and then some, to tame the beast lurking.

The standard V6 F-Type has a 3-litre supercharged mill that unleashes 340 horses. Its S variant 380. And the V8? As many as 495 erupt out of that water-intercooled, 5-litre whopper.

Being front-engined and rear-driven, power flows aft through an 8-speed transmission that Jaguar calls Quickshift. That’s apposite, for it shifts like lightning. There are some other extraordinary touches, too, like copper-finish paddles, ultralight to the tap, for them staunch votaries of disturbing sounds.

The F-Type is also a feat in advance metallurgy. The chassis is mostly aluminium, a lot of it recycled, and stamped, riveted and bonded – yes glued -- to give great strength, power-to-weight and torque-to-weight numbers. With both seats occupied, weight is divided exactly in front and half, lending fantastic balance.

The drive!
Push on the Start/Stop button, snap back the shifter stalk to D and the V6’s twin – or the V8’s quad -- exhausts burble in excitement. We were forewarned about them Speedy Gonzales: the V6 hits 100 kmph from zilch in 5.3 seconds, the V6S in 4.9 seconds and the V8S 4.3 seconds.

The mind warns to take it easy awhile. So 80 kmph it is, where the V6 is pure cruiser, lush and plush, hot knife through butter.

Soon, my inner Vettel takes over, and I slot it in Dynamic mode and fingers tap those bronzy paddles as miles of straights and bends come up on the horizon. How else should one drive a sports car?

The throttle response is instantaneous, the gravelly roar startling. You grip the steering wheel harder in reflex, as 18-inch rubbers (20 in the V8) begin to attack asphalt. Combine rapid gearshifts, astounding torque and a stiff chassis and what you get is a heck of a ride.

Rush into a hairpin and the supercat crouches to attack it; step on gas and it exits with a triumphant tailout, in my case inches from the Navarran valleys. Phew!

Then do it again. At corners. It’s narcotising.

Jaguar says Adaptive Dynamics or embedded software reads the driver’s style and adjusts the machine in nanoseconds. Hit the brake, and upshifts happen in a zap, while corner recognition technology holds the  gear through a bend and dampers stiffen to curb body roll. They stiffen again on quick re-acceleration.

The steering is pure laser, slackless with great feedback, while adaptive dampers on the V6S and V8S make the ride a lot better on rougher tarmac.

At 95 kmph, which you reach at the bat of an eyelid, a rear spoiler deploys like those that deliver downforce in a Formula 1 car, and the Jaguar monogram dramatically rises into the rear view mirror, an act that reduces the car’s lift by 120 kg.

There’s little to differentiate between the V6 (which won’t come to India) and V6S (which will) barring a slightly taller gearing in the latter and about 40 more horses.

The V8S (which will come, too), on the other hand, is another animal altogether. A brutal, raw, raging bull that hits illegal speeds before you can utter Flash Gordon. Those 625 Newton Meters of torque are on full display;  you won’t hear a murmur downshifting to sixth at a minuscule 1500 rpms. There’s ample juice even at that level.

Dare to press on gas? The incredible quickness of the V8 engine can scare the bejesus out of you. But can one resist going overboard?  Just let the top down (the roof retracts in 12 seconds; to do so on-the-fly, the car should do no more than 50 kmph), let the torrent of torque, the supercharged acceleration and taut chassis help you draw the steering lines. Stay cool and learn the lessons in physics and physicality that follow.
It’s an intense, unrivalled feeling.

The verdict
Legend has it that Ratan Tata, who had an E-Type, goaded the Jaguar engineers to create its successor four years back, after the programme went through a series of fits and starts with the company’s previous owner Ford. Tata has every reason to be proud of the progeny, Jaguar’s first sports car in 40 years. While the F-Type V6S is a well-rounded super car, the V8S goes shoulder to shoulder with the best of breed, and then offers a far more rampaging ride. Both are brilliant. So all ye loaded adrenaline junkies, take out the chequebook. The driving experience will leave you with a silly grin, no matter the staring hordes.

Spec Sheet

2-seater, V6S and V8S models AVAILABLE FROM JULY

Price: Rs 1.33 to 1.55 crore (ex-showroom, Mumbai)

Kitna deti hai? You must be joking! OK, around 8 kmpl for the V6S and 6 kmpl for the V8S

Tank capacity: 72 litres
Full tank good for: Over 400 km
Top speed: 275 kmph (V6S)  & 300 kmph (V8S)
Engine: 6-cylinder 2995 cc & 8-cylinder 5000 cc
Max power: 380 PS & 495 PS @ 6500 rpm
Max torque: 460 Nm @ 3500-5000 rpm & 2500-5000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic

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