Jaguar E-Type at 60: return to the Jabbeke Highway

So, on the approach to the E-Type’s 60th anniversary, it seems like as good a place as any to come to assess Jaguar’s position today as… what, a sports car maker? Maybe. The F-Type is, as its name would suggest, the true sports car follow-up to that original two-seater, which was launched when British motoring was leading the world but stayed on sale until 1974, when it really wasn’t.

With our industry lower on confidence in the ’70s, the E-Type was replaced, of a fashion, by the XJ-S in 1975, which was in turn replaced by the XK8 and then the XK. It wasn’t until 2012 that Jaguar felt bold enough to revive the name’s lineage and call its new model the F-Type, with production starting in 2013. It will be a proper sports car again, they said back then.

And it was. Cleverly, Jaguar launched the roadster first, so we got to know that as a genuine sports car, with the coupé – which was only ever going to be better to drive – following about a year afterwards.

In this recently revised form, it still is a sports car. And as with the E-Type, if you wanted to drive from Coventry to Geneva in one gulp, it would also make a fine tourer – although if you do so next March for the E-Type’s 60th, it seems unlikely that you’ll find a motor show waiting for you when you get there. Another analogue product whose future in a digital world is a moot point.

It’s hot summer, not March, when I make a trip under the English Channel, staying in the car on the Eurotunnel as is now requested, in a 454bhp, rear-wheel-drive P450 – the lesser of the two supercharged V8 F-Type models.

There’s a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol available, too, which gives the F-Type a surprisingly broad price range. The P300 starts at £54,510, which strikes me as pretty good value. Yes, it’s two cylinders and a lot of power down on the entry-level Porsche 911, but it’s also cheaper by 30 grand.

There’s no V6 any more, so the range then moves to the 5.0-litre V8, costing £70,025 if rear-driven like this one or £74,885 with four-wheel drive.

Then there’s the £97,315, 567bhp and 4WD-only P575 – the only F-Type that costs more than any new 911 (for now, at least). You can have a soft-top convertible version of any of them for about £5500 extra.

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