The Porsche Boxster, for example, is instantly dismissed and regarded as a ‘poor man’s 911’ which is utterly ludicrous when you hang on to that well-used riposte and analyse it. While normal people who have an ounce of sense know the Boxster is one of Porsche’s sweetest-driving cars, the brainless among us simply jump on its much-cheaper price tag which, especially when the Boxster is a new one, is actually still rather expensive to most. Porsche 911s aren’t for everyone - their rear-engined layout makes them tricky in the wet and the Boxsters and Caymans of this world immediately come into their own as they’re mid-engined and balanced perfectly.
I’ve had a few nutters bemoan this drop-dead-gorgeous Jaguar F-Type because there’s no fire-breathing V8 lurking beneath its bonnet. There’s not even a V6, just a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, but more about that later…
There’s actually very little to tell it apart from its more endowed siblings apart from the exhaust which, in 2.0-litre P300 form, is a square-like pipe in the centre of the rear bumper. Everything else is standard F-Type fare: beautiful, elegant and even better when it’s in sleek coupe form.
Having tested the supercharged V6 - albeit in convertible form - a few months ago, what I found with its interior still rings true. It’s starting to date and while some of its switchgear will be familiar to entry-level XE owners, what remains is something that’s still interesting enough and it’s undeniably a lovely place to sit.
The engine’s a surprising one. As its ‘P300’ name would imply, it’s got 300bhp and that’s good enough to see 60mph in 5.5 seconds and a 155mph top speed. Whereas the V6 needed a surge of revs to feel quick, the smaller unit doesn’t feel far off its bigger brother’s pace purely because of how turbochargers deliver their torque. That grunt comes in incredibly early - at 1,500rpm - and hangs around until about 4,000rpm.
Given the fact that its peak power’s delivered just 1,500rpm later, and it has a 50-plus kilogram weight advantage, it’s not hard to see why the 2.0-litre isn’t much behind. There’s no point hanging on past that point. There’s no option of having a manual gearbox and while I’d normally bemoan that, Jaguar’s got that call spot on because its eight-speed auto - which features on more expensive F-Types as well - is a peach.
It’s great when it’s left to its own devices and it’s a cracker when you opt to take control of its paddleshifters, allowing the active exhaust to show its character. Dull-as-dishwater 2.0s fitted to the usual brigade of hot hatches, from Golfs to Leons to S3s, sound poor but the F-Type’s sounds great. The aforementioned exhaust, which can be made a bit noisier at the touch of a button, is a big part of that and it isn’t at all boomy when it’s switched on. It becomes a part of your pre-driving ritual: press the button and also press its neighbour which disengages the start-stop.
The coupe goes without the convertible’s scuttle shake as inevitably it’s a more rigid structure, so despite its considerable bulk it’s actually a faithful companion when pushing on. The steering wheel is too chunky for me and a thinner one would connect you to the experience more, but its handling is neat and precise. There’s not much in the way of feedback through that hefty wheel but everything’s as it should be: your inputs are obeyed, the brakes are strong, it enjoys corners more than I was expecting it to thanks to its pointy front end and that small engine never fails to disappoint which is the biggest surprise.
After a week with the V6-engined F-Type, I recorded just over 24mpg. After the same time with the 2.0-litre, that figure was 33mpg. It’s easier on your wallet, not much slower and a better bet for day-to-day use as its performance is more accessible thanks to its turbocharger.
Prices start at £50,000 and you’d be hard pushed to find a better-looking car for that. It’s not perfect and it’s getting a bit long in the tooth but it’s beautiful, people of all ages appreciate it and it’ll be a hard act to follow when Jaguar replace it. Who can put a price on actually looking forward to driving your car on even the most mundane of routes? It’s a rarity but the F-Type still possesses that ability.