As I catch sense that the rear of the 2020 Jaguar F-Type P380 Chequered Flag Edition is starting to feel light over a mid-corner crest, I’m forced to think of a quote from 2020’s second-favourite big-cat personality come alleged criminal (totally did it) Carol Baskin.
“You can see how they go from being so sweet to tearing your face off, just like that, and it’s amazing to have that range.”
And what a range it has. Baskin’s reference to big cats aligns perfectly with this Jaguar, a 380PS (hence the name) supercharged rear-drive sports coupe, trumpeting magnificently at that 4000rpm sweet spot.
A mild correction to my steering input, a slight feather on the throttle, and the 295mm rear tyres again grip the tarmac and we continue unhindered, the big cat transitioning from docile kitten to apex predator and back again, with remarkable ease.
That range is still what makes the F-Type highly entertaining, even now, eight years into its life, and on the cusp of the first major update since launch. The new car (due next month) isn’t a total refresh though, and given Jaguar is offering attractive drive-away deals and an extended warranty on the final MY20 cars, consider this a runout review of sorts.
|2020 Jaguar F-Type P30 Chequered Flag|
|Engine configuration (petrol / electric)||Six-cylinder (V6) supercharged petrol|
|Power (petrol / electric)||280kW @ 6500rpm|
|Torque (petrol / electric)||460Nm @ 3500-5500rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||163.2kW/t|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic w/ paddle shift|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle)||8.6L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||70L|
Priced from $180,542 (before options and on-road costs), the P380 Chequered Flag Edition runs the high-output 280kW/460Nm supercharged 3-litre V6 and is separated from the ‘other’ P340 250kW/450Nm supercharged-six by all of 30kW, 10Nm and about $22,400. For that price jump, the P380 also includes adaptive suspension, a limited-slip rear differential and bigger front brakes (380mm against 355mm).
Based on the R-Dynamic model ($168,342 in 280kW guise), the Chequered Flag maintains the R-Dynamic’s black exterior trim pack but adds 20-inch split-spoke (Style 6003) wheels and wider side skirts from the SVO catalogue.
Along with unique exterior badging, there are Chequered Flag motifs on the headrests, kickplates and centre console. The sports seats, with snazzy red belts, are finished in Windsor leather, the dark headliner is made from Suedecloth and the steering wheel features a red top-dead-centre marking.
It all looks properly smart, bar the TDC marking, which looks like Auntie Doreen knitted it for you for Christmas.
Our car goes further and adds 12-way electric memory seats ($2010), a 770W 12-speaker Meridian Sound System ($7260), the ability to configure the dynamic mode settings ($3980) and interior ambient lighting ($560).
Comically it also requires a $1040 dual-zone climate control and $1200 keyless entry box to be ticked, which as part of $16,050 worth of extra equipment on a now $196,592 car is a bit ridiculous. Thankfully the Fuji White paint (one of three choices, including Carpathian Grey and Caldera Red) is a no-cost choice.
|2020 Jaguar F-Type P30 Chequered Flag|
|Wheels/tyres||20-inch 255/35 R20 front, 295/30 R20 rear Pirelli|
Given the Jaguar E-Type is still considered to be one of the most beautiful and influential car designs of all time, it should come as no surprise that even essentially unchanged from launch, the F-Type can still turn heads. The classic proportions that lead the huge bonnet into the compact and swoopy turret are right to draw parallels with the classic Jag, in both basic silhouette shape and sheer muscular beauty.
It is a cool car, a gorgeous car, and more poignantly, it’s a surprisingly good value car in these circles. Our Jag might sting the Centurion to just under $200-grand (think of the points!), but a $130k entry-level F-Type looks just as good, and both can part next to half-million plus Astons and other exotics and never look out of place.
The strictly two-seat cabin envelopes you like a race car. You sit low and elongated, your feet a long way from you, and yet still miles from the front of the car. The switchgear, with the little rubber ‘tyres’ around the temperature knobs, is still nice to touch, the automatic ‘hideaway’ vents in the centre of the dash still fun to impress passengers, and the visible ‘X’ bracing still a reminder this is a capable machine.
There’s a little bit of storage around the cockpit, including a handy glasses net, but the boot is reasonably handy at 310L, despite looking a bit silly with its narrow hatch. There’s no spare, which leaves usable room for shopping and soft bags should you head away on a bit of a road trip.
Back behind the wheel, and while the new car scores the updated 12.3-inch digital instrument display we have seen in the F-Pace, the twin analogue dials do well enough here, despite the small central display being a bit fiddly to use and configure.
It’s liveable day-to-day too, as the 10-inch wide-screen Touch Pro infotainment system is standard and features native support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto. It’s still let down by the light-plastic volume knob, but it’s a small gripe over a well-featured system and a cabin which has aged well while still offering s a sense of specialness.
Fire it up, and the specialness gets even more special.
There’s no gritty, metallic rumble like from the V8, but an almost sonorous horn-section chord, that rises to a Christopher Nolan signature ‘bwaaaaah’ as you explore the rev range.
The 280kW charged V6 peaks at 6500rpm, but that highly tractable 460Nm is all yours from 3500 to 5500rpm. Under this, the big cat is quite relaxed, but get things moving in that 4000-range, and the V6 is an absolute pearler.
The response is such that the movement of your foot dictates how the Jag will behave, and brings Baskin’s quote back into context. Squeeze, and it’s a manageable and playful experience for all; stamp and you’ve got yourself a wild animal. Perhaps all these big-cat professionals knew what they were on about. Doesn’t make anyone any less guilty though, am I right?
Get to understand the F-Type’s throttle balance and the car is a heap of fun. It pulls hard until the mid 5000s, and tapers somewhat from 6000rpm up. Run the Jag in Dynamic mode, and you’ll be treated to the high-pitched whine of the supercharger, offset on gear changes by an amplified Rice Bubbles tagline of snap, crackle and pop. On the open road, these add to the excitement of the car, but around town, they can almost get a bit too much.
|2020 Jaguar F-Type P30 Chequered Flag|
|Options as tested||$16,050|
|Servicing 3yr||Complimentary (September 2020 offer)|
|Servicing 5yr||Complimentary (September 2020 offer)|
|Warranty||5 years / 130,000 km|
Fuel consumption is mostly irrelevant, but it will easily sit around 6L/100km on the freeway, and about double that on a regular urban or meandering run. This is the same as claimed by Jaguar, and levels out around 8.6L/100km on a combined cycle, which is far from the ‘devastatingly thirsty’ look of the thing.
Perhaps a letdown of the overall package though is the eight-speed traditional automatic transmission. It feels almost unfairly paired with the performance of the car. Sure, it works well enough when left in the regular automatic mode and when using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, but is neither fast nor sharp, up or down, especially compared to some of the multi-clutch systems like Porsche’s PDK.
The driving position and turret design don’t lend themselves to good rearward vision. The F-Type is something of a racing helmet in terms of blind spots; look forward and you’re great, anywhere else isn’t important.
That said, the nose of the Jag disappears from your immediate horizon and on tighter roads, especially with Armco in close proximity, you do need to be a bit more measured as it can be difficult to know where the end of that immense bonnet is.
It’s not great on even slightly steep driveway transfers either.
Find a more open and meandering stretch of B-road though, and the F-Type is a brilliant GT. The seats support well, and the suspension offers a comfortable and compliant ride, even under the stiffer dampening setting. The steering weight isn’t too heavy and while the car doesn’t feel as light and nimble as a Porsche (the Jag weighs 1716kg against a base 911 Carrera of 1466kg), it feels balanced and confident when linking corner to corner.
Wet or choppy surfaces and more extreme undulations will make the car feel perhaps a bit twitchy, but in my opinion, this just makes it more involving as a driver. It’s not a set and forget car, you are connected and engaged and it is what makes the F-Type a continually entertaining package.
As I noted above, Jaguar is currently offering a five-year warranty and a five-year service plan on the F-Type. The current runout offer includes a rebate equal to the GST on the car, but with new cars on the ground, I’d suggest your negotiation power on any remaining MY20 F-Type stock would be pretty strong.
The 2020 Jaguar F-Type P380 Chequered Flag Edition might not be the freshest, fastest or most nimble, it has a long name, confusing option set and could use a diet, but that amazing noise, sweet engine and timeless style deliver a character that far outweighs its flaws.