The sign is on the door and you’ve “gone fishin’” as Louis Armstrong languorously intoned. The two things you’ll want from your car are speed – to get to that ‘shady, wady pool’ in a hurry, even allowing for an otherwise lack of ‘ambition’ – and traction – because when you get there, well you might have to park on the grass.
And so I searched for a suitable vehicle to review whilst on a trout-fishing trip to the River Usk. With so many machines you have one thing, but not the other. It’s all so vexing. But now Jaguar has added All Wheel Drive to its unambiguously fast F-Type, is there not a passing chance the famous British marque has (inadvertently) created the perfect fly-fishing transport? Besides, when your quarry is a beautiful Usk brown trout it seems only right to decorate the riverside meadows with one of the most ludicrously handsome sports cars in the world.
Jaguar’s E-type was a hard act to follow. Not until 2013 did Jaguar dare continue the letter-based nomenclature that began with C (for Competition) in 1951, evolved to D in 1954 and most iconically to E between 1961 and 1975. That’s a 38-year hiatus, during which we have had the avocado-suite XJ-S of 1976 and then the bright-braces XK8 of 1996, and though both owed styling cues to the E-types of the 60s, neither was its unambiguous spiritual successor. The 2006 XKR, allegedly inspired by Kate Winslett’s curvy lines (who isn’t?), and with its fearsome supercharged V8 took us a little closer … but still not as far as the letter after E.
So, when Jaguar dared at last to whack an F in front of the word ‘Type’ in 2013 it was a bold statement indeed. Everyone knew what the marque was claiming: this, folks, is the car you’ve been waiting for.
Luckily the F-Type, with its sharp steering, nimble chassis and delicious V6 and V8 engines has more than lived up to the billing. It is a serious rival to the Stuttgart opposition, which is no small achievement. What’s more, this the (almost) top of the range F-Type AWD ‘R’ has 911 Turbo rivalling oomph – 550bhp – but leaves a big chunk of change in your pocket relative to the German car: £91,680 versus £126,925. There’s a lot you can do with £35K and in the Jag you’ll still scare yourself witless and turn heads whilst doing it.
Lots and lots of heads. I’ve rarely driven a car that gets more attention. This is Kate Winslett in a cat-suit. With a whip. And quite cross. I imagine Jaguar can’t build them fast enough for all the naughty school-boy prospective owners.
There’s the looks. And then there’s the power: 550 bhp is more than James Hunt’s Grand Prix car produced when this machine’s predecessor last rolled off the line back in the wild and hairy 1970s. But Jaguar’s trouble chasing down a 911 is that the German machine is very, very well-honed. It is honed, if you will. Fifty years of evolution means a 2016 911 Turbo is utterly planted when you unleash all those horses. Whereas at full chat the rear-drive F-Type R scrabbles for grip like a cat on a kitchen floor and can take the unwary on unintentional ploughing excursions.
Cue a couple more wheels to help that power delivery. With the AWD a haldex-type clutch can divert up to 30% of the power to the front wheels, tightening up your lines at those times when you might otherwise be looking at the road through the side-window. The intimidating grunt is now more fun than terrifying, meaning the looks, the power and the stability all add up to a very complete sports car.
But how did it measure up as a fishing wagon? Very well, I thought. The boot took three-piece rods and easily swallowed a kit-bag, a tackle hold-all too, not to mention waders, boots, coats and a slab of beer. The sports seats were comfortable enough to make Norfolk to Ross-on-Wye an easy-on-the-back ride. And would you believe 28 mpg from a four-wheel-drive 550bhp supercharged V8?
Best (or silliest) of all was the little button which changed the exhaust pitch from loud to shouty, shouty loud. As I homed in on my host’s silent retreat high in the hills above Monmouth and the stately Wye, I played volcanic tunes with the throttle and gears, shaking rooks from their rookeries, sending lambs scurrying to their mother’s bellies for cover. Oh yes! This is an excellent fishing wagon. The only thing missing, I thought, is a second button marked “all smoke off of the wheels”.
Model tested: Jaguar F-Type R AWD
OTR: from £91,680
Fuel Consumption: 25 combined (I got 28!)
Emissions: 269 g/km CO2
Tax Band: M
Power: 550 bhp @ 6,500 rpm / 680Nm @ 3500 rpm.
0 – 60: 3.9 secs.