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Review: 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE can make grown men just stop and stare

For a moment, I thought I was in trouble. Two burly lads were giving me the eye and they looked serious.

Then they spoke and I realized they weren’t eyeballing me, but the car, a $95,100 Jaguar F-TYPE coupe painted in breathless red.

“We stopped here to have a coffee, just to look at your car,” one said, grinning as if it were his.

The F-TYPE is the exception, not the rule in this car gig. Few automotive designs prompt men with scary tattoos and no hair – the MMA look – to sit down curbside and gawk. Beauty is uncommon, by definition.

Wayne Burgess, a senior Jag designer, tells me there is intelligence in the art. More is less, which means the few lines you find on the car are “superdynamic” – and to get all the proportions right, to get the fuselage sections to look muscular, not fat, and to get a spontaneous feeling in the design takes three to four years. As my father once told me, it takes a long time to become an overnight success.

Jag itself is on the cusp of perhaps becoming an overnight success, after at least two decades of reinvention. The F-TYPE coupe, as Burgess says, “represents what Jaguar design is all about.”

The exterior is a success, the cabin less so. I’m not talking about the snug fit; a high-powered sports car should be just like this, with seats that hug you tight so you don’t get flung about in a fast corner. That said, the cabin in my tester was black, from end to end, and some of the plastic bits looked like they’d be more at home in a Toyota Corolla. The touch-screen interface is simple to operate, but slow to respond, too. In a $100,000 car? Really?

Once you’re moving, all is forgiven and forgotten. The supercharged V-6 sounds mean but behaves like a trusted friend. Loads of purring power and it pours out with ease. I like the V-6 F more than the V-8, in fact; it’s a much lighter car and feels it on the track. The steering is so sharp, you could shave with it. The eight-speed autobox dances to the tune you play with your fingertips on the paddle shifters.

As cars go, the F is a rare joy – one that will make you friends in an instant.

You’ll like this car if … you want a fabulous sports machine with a brilliant look.

TECH SPECS

  • Base price: $84,900; as tested, $95,100.
  • Engine: 3.0-litre V-6, supercharged
  • Drive: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): TBD using premium fuel.
  • Alternatives: Porsche Cayman or even the 911, Chevrolet Corvette, Alfa Romeo 4C, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, BMW M6.

RATINGS

  • Looks :Name a more lovely design than this. Go ahead, try. The proportions, the subtle design elements, the lamp graphics, the rear haunches … A breathtaking design.
  • Interior: The seats snug you up just like they should, but some of the Toyota Corolla plastics are totally out of place here. The touch-screen is simple to use, but slow to respond. The interior belongs in a different car.
  • Technology: The driveline stuff is outstanding, and the chassis is brilliant. Jaguar is becoming the leading auto maker when it comes to using lightweight materials.
  • Performance: You can do 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds, top speed 275 km/h. Find a road where you can do both without getting arrested. Jag’s engineers nailed the steering, the braking, the whole balance of the car, right down to the controlled way it takes a corner.
  • Cargo: There’s a hatch at the back but not a load of room underneath it.

The Verdict

9.5

No one gets a 10; perfection does not exist and the F-Type’s cabin costs it points, anyway. Otherwise, brilliant.

Written by Jeremy Cato for The Globe and Mail.