Good: spectacular looks, incredible performance, driver engagement, the noise
Not so good: ridiculously small boot
What a car. Really, I don't know where to begin. I previously had a brief drive of the Jaguar F-Type on a dry closed circuit and loved it, but having spent the best part of a week with it in all kinds of conditions on Irish roads (and a race track) I am now officially besotted. That explains why I'm willing to overlook the inexcusably tiny boot, which is already more or less full if a buyer opts for the optional (!) space saver spare wheel.
Clearly that means an owner won't go touring Europe in the F-Type (perhaps the forthcoming - and gorgeous - coupé version will have more space for luggage), or even for a long weekend away with a significant other that likes to pack for every eventuality. But none of that matters one jot when the clouds part and a little ray of sunshine peeks through.
Hold the centre console-mounted button down and the fabric roof folds neatly out of sight. The car's occupants are still relatively snug thanks to the low down seating position and the long sloping windscreen, and even in our December test, with temperatures of as low as four degrees Celsius, the excellent heater kept the cabin toasty.
And this is one car you'll want the roof down in as often as possible, to appreciate the full aural onslaught from the centrally-exiting exhaust system. How the hell is it a legal system? It's crazy loud when you select Dynamic mode, each full-throttle upshift accompanied by a staccato bang and every down-change punctuated by a gloriously superfluous flare of revs. But the best part is the snare drum like bang-bang-bang-bang that is summoned up on the over-run. If ever a car was made for spending the day going in and out of the Dublin Port Tunnel, this is it.
Does it have the performance to back up the soundtrack? And some. This test car is the V6 S model, which features Jaguar's 3.0-litre V6 engine and a supercharger. Peak power is 380hp at a sonorous 6,500rpm, while an eye-watering 460Nm of torque is on tap from 3,500- to 5,000rpm. You may want to be in a lower gear to hear the exhaust note, but there's certainly no need to be to make rapid progress. What must the 495hp V8 S model feel like?!
Despite the sensational performance, and the relatively wide track, the F-Type proves immensely useable on twisty, narrow and bumpy mountain roads. Sure, you need your wits about you, but the chassis is inherently composed and the electronic assistance systems quick-witted. It's also remarkably supple in those conditions, meaning you can trust it to stay on-line mid-corner. Feelsome steering helps immeasurably here, as do nigh on perfect brakes. The only realistic limits to this car are your ability and of course the speed limits.
Which is why I briefly took the V6 S along to Mondello. It was cold and wet (isn't it always there?), but after a few laps I soon realised that the tyres were finding plenty of grip. Once up to speed the traction control system was completely disabled and the F-Type proves remarkably adept at controlled power slides. Clearly this isn't something for the public road, but it did reveal how friendly the F-Type is past the limits of adhesion. This is a serious driver's car.
I could go on like this all day waxing lyrical about it. In summary, the F-Type is one of the most exciting cars money can buy right now and with that accolade it seems a bit of a bargain.
BMW 6 Series Convertible: nowhere near as exciting (in anything other than rather more expensive M6 guise), but far more practical and actually quite good to drive.
Mercedes-Benz SL: way more expensive for less power, though it does come with a folding hard top.
Porsche 911 Cabriolet: again more expensive than the Jaguar and more practical, but probably closest in terms of driver engagement.