Monday, November 28, 2016


No scientific evidence here, but probably the most-asked question of auto reviewers is “What car should I buy?” or some variant of it, such as “Should I buy a (blank)?”

It’s a tough question to answer because there are so many things involved in the issue. I also wouldn’t want to tell someone to buy a (blank) and then have them got hold of a lemon. Certainly if you read enough reviews by actual buyers you’ll find some panning some vehicles for problems they have had with them but other owners love.

Years ago at an event sponsored by another manufacturer I heard someone say he always recommended a Camry because of Toyota’s reputation for reliability and it was good-looking as a “safe” choice. This was long enough ago that there once was a big quality gap between the Japanese automaker and many of its competitors.

Now that that gap has closed, I’m not sure what this guy would recommend, and I have long since forgotten who it was who said it so I can’t ask. Just take my word for it.

Frankly, I haven’t been asked that question very often, but what I have heard could be a very close second.

What is your favorite car?

That, too, is a tough one. When you drive up to 50 new cars every year you run across things you like about a lot of them. Though cars on the market today have some areas about them (many, in rare cases) I don’t particularly like, as a group the quality is unmistakably better than in the past, and even the less expensive models come with features that make for a pleasant driving experience.

But I do have a favorite.

If pushed to answer that question, as I once was at a meeting with featuring representatives of another company, I go with the Jaguar F-Type, which debuted as a convertible for the 2014 model year and a coupe a year later.

That doesn’t mean it is without flaws, as I will note later. It’s just that to me the overall package of looks, performance, and gee-whiz factor of the F-Type make it the current No. 1 with me.

Notice that I did not mention practicality or functional among its traits.

With only two seats and a small luggage space — 11.0 cubic feet for the coupe, 7.0 for the convertible — it’s not what you call a good car for a family. Even with the new entry-level Base trim with a supercharged V6 engine instead of a V8, the F-Type is a bit much for that market.

This is especially so in the new for SVR trim level introduced for 2017.

An ultra-high performance coupe that served for my week-long test drive, the F-Type SVR comes with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that is rated at 575 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear selection. The website has yet to release a zero-to-60 time for the 2017 F-Type SVR, but you can expect it to be a bit quicker than the 3.3-second clocking for the 2016 F-Type R with all-wheel drive.

In other words, quick. And if you want a little more in the way of oomph, you can set the transmission to Sport mode and other settings to Dynamic to emphasize a sportier performance.

After all, that’s what this vehicle is all about. Of course that likely will cost you some when it comes to fuel mileage, which is 15 miles-per-gallon city, 23 highway, and 18 combined with premium fuel required for the all-wheel-drive SVR. You just have to sacrifice something here.

Naturally, being a Jaguar, the F-Type has a lot of creature comforts. You can adjust the side bolsters on the leather seats for a more snug feeling. You might find those seats on the firm side, which some reviewers have noted could cause some discomfort on longer trips, but I never took a longer trim than the 20 miles or so from my house to downtown to confirm that.

If you’re used to luxury cars that seem to “float” along, the F-Type probably isn’t going to be on your shopping list. The engine also emanates a very distinctive base beat from the dual quad exhausts that is pleasing to the ear to most, but maybe not all. It doesn’t interfere with the sound levels from the premium 770W Meridian audio system, though.

As is regrettably the custom with Jaguar models, some of the technological features seem to be about a half-step behind that usually found in the class. I’m an inveterate spinner of the dial when it comes to the radio, but the F-Type doesn’t have a dial so that does make it difficult. The standard navigation system is different from the one I recently contended with on the Jaguar F-Pace SUV (see October blogs), and that is good since it is more intuitive to operate and has no “mystery” settings.

Most, if not all, of the niceties you would want in a luxury car are either standard on the 2017 F-Type SVR or are offered as “no charge” options.

The latter group on my test F-Type  included a carbon fiber center console, suede-cloth covered steering wheel, red leather interior package with red seat belts, carbon ceramic brake system and 20-inch wheels with carbon ceramic brake rotors and yellow calipers, and an exterior carbon fiber package that included carbon fiber hood louvers, mirror caps, front spoiler, side vents, and Venturi blade.

Standard features included the usual package of safety features (air bags, stability control, plenty of airbags), Xenon headlamps with LED signature lighting, tire pressure monitoring system that shows pressure on each of the four wheels, panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, touchscreen navigation system, parking sensors, rearview camera, blind spot monitor, and a power liftgate for the trunk.

All that is wrapped up with an MSRP that, including the $995 destination and delivery feel, checks in at $126,945, which is a bit more than what I paid for my house 23 years ago. But as I always say, you can sleep in your car (though in a two-seater it would be uncomfortable) but you can’t drive your house.

What I liked about the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: The throttle response, the engine sound, the way you sit snug behind the wheel, the beautiful, powerful-looking exterior, the confident feeling on the road, the quilted leather seats with adjustable side bolsters, um, need I go on?

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: As silly as it may sound, it took me a while to adjust to the suede-wrapped steering wheel. It seemed a bit slick to my fingertips, which gave in to a somewhat less secure feeling when it came to control. I was getting more used to it by the end of the week, but I still prefer more conventional leather-wrapped steering wheels.

Would I buy the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: What do you think?

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