The daily-drivable sports car

Published June 30, 2022, 3:21 PM

by Inigo Roces

Jaguar F-Type P300

The sports car segment operates entirely differently from other car segments. Here, choices are driven by aesthetics, capability, luxury, and even emotion. It’s not simply about the connection between the driver and vehicle, it’s also about what the vehicle says about its owner. Some of that weight rests on the brand itself, and their capacity to build drool-worthy machines. To some extent, it’s partly about the envy a sports car inspires in others.

A heritage of speed

There’s very little question when it comes to brands like Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. Yet do heritage brands like Jaguar still carry that same cache?

Some time ago, Jaguar was one such brand. Its early sports cars proudly boasted of their top speeds in their names, with models like the XK 120, XK 140 and XK 150 broadcasting their top speeds in miles per hour. In the 60s, the Jaguar E-Type, with its distinctive design made it one of the most desirable in the world, and continues to be one of the most collectible vintage cars.

Today, we have its successor, the F-Type, hoping to revive that same cache. Granted, Jaguars today are more often associated with luxury than sport, and it’s this impression of the brand Jaguar Philippines hopes to change.

The latest scion

The F-Type, after all, is no slouch, no ugly duckling, nor is it ungainly around corners. In fact, given the specs, price, performance and drive, it’s quite surprising these aren’t snapped up as much.

The current F-Type is just as much a looker as the legend it succeeds. It bears the same long hood and fastback rear profile. The hood is sculpted with a central bulge while bearing functional vents on either side. Like the legend, it is also cantilevered and opens up from the cabin side.

Over in the front are slimmer headlights looking more like its stablemates, the XE, XF, and XJ. The large grille still dominates the center, with larger intakes on either side.

Along its length, it narrows to form that traditional coke bottle shape. Door handles are flush to the body when not in use. It rolls on 19-inch split-spoke wheels. They’re housed in broad haunches behind to give it that prowling cat look.

Like the front, the rear also uses slim LED lighting units. It bears the same, long U-shaped rear glass as that found in the original E-type coupe. The high mount stop lamp is cleverly hidden at the top of the glass. The entire unit rises up to become a functional rear hatch offering more usable space than your average grand tourer.

Sophisticated interior

The same modern sports car feel extends to the interior. Open those frameless doors, and you’ll be greeted by a very sophisticated yet minimalist interior. Jaguar has spared no expense to upholster it in quality materials.

Start it up and the vehicle seemingly comes to life, with a row of aircon vents rising out of the dash, a fully digital instrument cluster coming to life. The digital infotainment system is paired with a Meridian surround sound system for premium quality. Best of all, it still features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Perhaps the most surprising about this F-type is the powerplant. This new P300 variant features the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 296 hp and 400 Nm of torque. Indeed many may scoff of at the seemingly tiny heart, yet 296 horsepower from this one unit is nothing to scoff at. Paired with an 8-speed automatic, it’s capable of going from 0-100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 250 km/h.

Keeping it aloft is an aluminum double wishbone in front and integral link in the rear for fully independent motion. A few more tricks the F-Type employs is electronic steering with variable weighting depending on the speed, suspension with variable damping, as well torque vectoring.

The drive

I could go on about all of the technology it has, but the real proof of this combination is in the drive. For our day drive, we took the F-type to the sweeping roads of Tanay, Rizal. Here, the president of Coventry Motors Corporation, Chris Ward, opted to drive the first half up. During the drive, he showed the many characters the F-Type can have.

In its default driving mode, it returns a comfortable, leisurely and relaxing drive. The suspension soaks up the bumps, the steering is lightly weighted, the engine produces adequate power and the transmission shifts conservatively.

Yet with a flick of the switch to sport mode, that character can quickly change. The suspension damping hardens, the steering tightens up, the engine gets more throaty, and the transmission shifts more aggressively. Suddenly, the F-Type feels much more alive; its 2.0-liter 4-banger suddenly roaring like a V6, pops and crackles coming from the exhaust. And this is just the middle setting. The much more aggressive sport mode allows for a little slip of the wheels, letting the tail slide out just a little bit to bring joy to the more experienced driver.

It’s in roads like these where the F-Type truly shows what it’s capable of, carving around corners thanks to the torque vectoring. To the driver, it feels like a lightweight, all-wheel drive race car, eagerly rounding the bend without much of a complaint.

Indeed, the F-type may not be top of mind for those shopping for a sports car. Yet in our short drive, it showed just a how adaptable it can be. It starts out as the luxurious and regal vehicle many know the brand as; perfect for a drive to the Gala or Ball without ruffling any dresses or coats. Yet with the press of the drive mode button, Mr. Hyde can easily come out, transforming the car into an aggressive track monster for corner carving when the “Missus” is away.

Quite frankly, I didn’t quite expect such polarizing personalities from the same car, and that’s possibly what makes it one of the most underrated sports car choices presently. It may be hard to live with a pure sports car daily with all its impracticality, yet it’s quite easy to imagine the daily grind and weekend drives with an F-Type.

Best of all, it offers Porsche levels of performance and luxury at a price point (P6,212,900) closer to a Toyota Supra.