RAY MASSEY mini test: This is one hot cat

RAY MASSEY mini test: This is one hot cat

Jaguar F-type

Price: £58,500 to £79,950

Good

Jaguar’s sexy new F-type sports car hit the road this week and from my exclusive first drive, I can tell you that the cat has got the cream.

Testing took place on more than 200 miles of twisting alpine roads and major highways in Navarre, northern Spain, plus a dozen flatout laps of an F1 test track. ?ITS looks matched its performance, delivered with all the balance and poise of a prima ballerina. This British-built two-seater roadster is a sensation.

Ray Massey, from his exclusive first drive of the Jaguar F-type sports car, says the cat has got the cream

Ray Massey, from his exclusive first drive of the Jaguar F-type sports car, says the cat has got the cream

Styled by a team led by design boss Ian Callum, it may have been dubbed the successor to the legendary Sixties E-type, but it’s still a 21st-century car, not one stuck in a time warp.

It’s already won the prestigious World Car Design of the Year title.

One of the neatest touches are the ‘deployable’ handles, which pop out when you need to open the door, but return to sit flush once you are under way. Soft-touch coverings on the dials enhance the tactile feel of the car.

Fire up the engine by pressing the start button on the dashboard and the noise of it bursting into life will set your pulse racing.

Jaguar, though owned by India’s Tata group, builds cars at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, and the F-type remains as British as fish’n’chips or chicken tikka masala, but much hotter.

The car has an ‘active exhaust’ system, which channels the exhaust gases to amplify the ‘brum, brum’ sound of the revving car inside the cabin.

Touch-screen controls 'tune' the car's settings to suit a driver's taste or driving style Touch-screen controls 'tune' the car's settings to suit a driver's taste or driving style

Touch-screen controls ‘tune’ the car’s settings to suit a driver’s taste or driving style

Aerospace technology keeps the car light and rooted to the ground, while the interior resembles a fighter pilot’s cockpit with cosseting sports seats. Air vents rise up when needed.

Touch-screen controls ‘tune’ the car’s settings to suit a driver’s taste or driving style. On the road it’s nimble, balanced and powerful — in some cases, too powerful for anything other than unrestricted German autobahns. But it sticks to the road perfectly.

On the race track, it’s a far better car than I am a performance driver. I pushed it to my limit, though nowhere near the F-type’s.

There are three powerful versions: the standard, S and the range-topping V8S. The 186mph V8S, powered by a supercharged 495 bhp petrol engine, equivalent to five Ford Fiestas, will go from rest to 60mph in just 4.2 seconds — scary, but brilliant for overtaking.

The elegantly powerful V6 S (380 bhp) will hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 171mph.

The entry-level V6 develops 340bhp, does 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and has a top speed of 151mph.

To distinguish them, V6 models have a twin exhaust tailpipe at the centre.

The V8 has two pairs of twin tailpipes.

The eight-speed QuickShift automatic gear selector resembles the joystick of a fighter aircraft, and F1-style paddles on the steering wheel let you switch to manual at any time.

For even greater driving engagement, you can flick the switch for ‘dynamic’ driving and feel the car tighten its ‘muscles’. The automatic gear system will even recognise when the car is repeatedly overtaking — and keep it in a lower gear for added acceleration.

This technology does all the work for you and makes you feel like an expert driver.

For wind-in-the-hair motoring, the soft-top cloth roof will open or close in just 12 seconds and at speeds of up to 30mph.

A hidden rear spoiler deploys at speeds of more than 40 mph.

I’ll lay odds it’ll be in the next Bond film — most likely with Daniel Craig driving.

Bad

You might lose your licence very quickly — unless you’re on an autobahn or race track.

Boot space is very limited — a necessary compromise to keep looks and performance in balance. You can stow only small, soft bags; a couple at most.

Only 7,000 will be built each year. I guess they’ll be snapped up pronto.

With the car driven hard on windy roads, the passenger may feel queasy.

Starting price is £58,500 for the V6, £67,500 for the V6 S and £79,950 for the V8. A long list of extras can easily push the price into six figures. Start saving.

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