What are you driving?
This is the updated Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Back at the start of last year, we attended the international launch of this car and waxed lyrical about the V8-engined versions. But it turns out that their heady performance distracted us from the fact that Jaguar used the occasion of the midlife revisions to quietly drop from the line-up our favourite engine, the supercharged 3.0-litre V6. So, here we have a chance to try the updated entry-level car on Irish roads. It's badged P300 (petrol, 300hp), and powered by Jaguar's own turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder. It's only offered with rear-wheel drive and, as with all F-Types, it's only available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
As before, the F-Type is offered in two-seat Coupe or Convertible body styles and in three trim levels: F-Type, R-Dynamic and First Edition (this last one is available for a limited amount of time). We're testing the R-Dynamic variant, which is well-equipped with niceties such as LED lighting all round, leather and 'suedecloth' sports seats with electric adjustment, a Meridian sound system, climate control and 10-inch touchscreen infotainment incorporating navigation, Bluetooth, smartphone mirroring, rear-view camera and lots more.
Name its best bits
Well, you're looking at it. The F-Type has been a gorgeous creation from the start and arguably didn't need a design refresh. Some prefer the original lines, notably around the front, but when you see this Jaguar in the metal you can't help but pause to drink in its muscular presence. It's simply stunning looking, especially so in hardtop Coupe guise. The R-Dynamic trim adds a few extra exterior embellishments, and the F-Type wears large alloy wheels well, but even in its most basic format, it is a beautiful car.
This 2.0-litre petrol engine kicks hard, too. The 300hp headline figure is backed up by a significant 400Nm of torque on tap between 1,500- and 4,500rpm and it feels lively at all times. The automatic transmission works well with it and offers several modes of operation, including the option to manually change gears using the paddles or the shifter in the middle.
Anything that bugs you?
I have two issues with this car. The first is with the engine. Yes, it performs admirably, more than living up to the exterior appearance. However, it only sounds good when you're pushing it to its red line, which track day regulars might appreciate, but who spends the guts of €100,000 on a classy Jaguar coupe to bring it on a race circuit? For the other 99 per cent of this car's driving life it sounds just, well, loud. There's nothing sonorous or even interesting about the engine noise, whether you press the exhaust button or not. And while I admit to being bitter about the deletion of the melodious V6 from the range, even if it never existed I'd be unimpressed by the P300's engine note.
My second cause to complain about this car may, admittedly, be specific to the test car and the testing route I subjected it to. It was into the Dublin Mountains on some truly torturous surfaces and well, the F-Type struggled. It felt much too firm, which is fine given its sporting remit, but that firmness did not translate into great body control. So it was the worst of both worlds, in effect. I know it's an ageing architecture under the new suit, but I expected better than this from a company renowned for its ability to mix comfort and sporting ability in one chassis.
And why have you given it this rating?
The F-Type has been subjected to a significant price increase for 2021 with the change to WLTP-based CO2 figures, which means that even this four-cylinder model is on the wrong side of €90,000 now. It's just not as much of an occasion in this specification as it should be, and not as good to drive as expected. Still, the performance doesn't disappoint, and you can always comfort yourself with its stunning good looks.