By on 2019-02-22 -
Chequered flag for
JAGUAR might be in the doldrums financially at the moment but it still produces the most scintillating cars that match its sporting history.
To celebrate 70 years of sports car production since the beautiful and iconic XK120 was unveiled to an amazed public at the London Motor Show, the company has just released new Chequered Flag editions of the multi-award winning F-Type.
I recently spent the day having a taste of them at the company's Fen End proving ground in the Midlands and around local roads in Warwickshire.
And I was blown away by the new model's amazing abilities in the most testing of corners on a twisting handling circuit and at well over the legal limit on the high speed circuit.
At the same time, I also much enjoyed a tail sliding drive in one of only two open rally versions of the F-Type the company's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division has built as a further celebration of its sporting history.
The Chequered Flag Limited Edition coupe and convertible come with special badging and a raft of specific equipment, with power from the standard 2.0 and 3.0-litre engines allied to a smooth eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox.
The 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo produces an excellent 300bhp, while the silky supercharged 3.0-litre V6 has either 340 or 380.
Any of these units are more than enough to give absolutely scintillating acceleration whenever it's needed, both away from rest and through the gears.
Drive is either to the rear wheels or to all four and both have the most uncanny levels of grip and roadholding, aided by all the standard electronics to help keep things on the straight and narrow.
On the Fen End handling circuit we were able to turn all the electronics off to find out just where the amazingly high grip limits were. The cars were absolutely astonishing, staying on line at ridiculous speeds through bend after bend.
The gearbox has Sport, Snow and Manual modes, and manual changes can be made using paddles behind the steering wheel.
I found that in Sport mode the auto did everything quicker than I could have done it myself, and I can't imagine many owners ever bothering with the manual.
On the high speed circuit, the top V6 took me right up to 146 miles an hour and the F-Type felt completely stable and safe, just as it should.
When I took a different coupe out on the local roads, that acceleration came in very handy, allowing swift safe overtaking whenever the way was clear.
The whole car feels marvellous underneath you, with suspension and steering feeding road information to the driver.
The ride is firm, there's no doubt of that, but in such an out and out sporting car, that's to be expected, and I never found it really uncomfortable - as I certainly have in other similar cars.
The whole car feels focussed and complete and the driving experience is sublime to anyone to loves cars. This is the epitome of the car maker's art.
Special equipment in the Chequered Flag models, which are based on the R-Dynamic specification, includes a Windsor leather interior with embossed sports seats, a black contrasting roof on the coupe, dark brushed aluminium centre console trim, and a special steering wheel with Chequered Flag logo.
The Touch Pro infotainment system now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the new models are available in three special colours - Caldera Red, Fuji White and Carpathian Grey.
The Chequred Flag models are priced from £62,335 - similar to that of the R-Design 3.0-litre models.
The open F-Type rally cars have also been produced in celebration of the 70 anniversary of the XK120's introduction, with full rally spec suspension, a roll cage, underbody protection and small 16 inch wheels with large knobbly tyres.
The rally course I drove was part of a former World Rally Championship stage within the Jaguar facility.
Power comes from the standard 300bhp 2.0-litre engine to save weight, and throwing it around through muddy chicanes and gravel corners was a hoot.
There are no plans to rally the cars seriously sadly but they will probably be out and about around the country being used for publicity at events.
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