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Jaguar F-Type P review: more affordable and more fun?
Uncork the Babycham and slip on your kitten heels: the Jaguar E-Type is 60 this year. Impossibly glamorous, with a hint of working-class-hero-done-good, the E-Type has come to epitomise the swinging sixties.
It’s also been voted the most beautiful car of all time. Even Enzo Ferrari said so.
Like free love and mind-bending substances, though, the E-Type eventually proved too much of a good thing. Earlier six-cylinder cars feel fresh and vital, like the Beatles playing the Cavern Club. But later V12 models are less focused and way less groovy. Like Wings playing Wembley.
After eight years on sale, you might expect the current F-Type to be settling into middle-aged portliness. In fact, the opposite is true, with the litre V6 engine replaced by a downsized four.
Badged P and priced from £54,, this new entry-level F-Type takes on the likes of the Alpine A, Porsche Cayman and Toyota Supra.
Thankfully, the F-Type’s recent update only saw minor changes to Ian Callum’s original design, including slimmer headlights, new bumpers and a broader front grille. It doesn’t define its era like its sexagenarian ancestor, but this remains one of the best looking cars you can buy.
Besides, dwelling on the aesthetic merits of two Jaguars launched half a century apart feels like trying to compare Emma Peel with Emma Watson (or perhaps Sean Connery with Shawn Mendes, for those of the opposite persuasion). Beauty is in the eye, and so on.
Inside, the F-Type now features a inch configurable digital display in place of analogue gauges, and its touchscreen media system adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with over-the-air software updates.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with tactile controls, a wraparound feel and quality that’s acceptable at this price – but rather less so if you make the £25k leap to the V8-engined P
While four cylinders and 1,cc sounds slightly undernourished for a sports car, the turbocharged P musters a healthy hp (on par with a Cayman), plus lb ft of torque from rpm.
Driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, it reaches mph in seconds and a top speed of mph.
I’ve only sampled V8 versions of the Jaguar in the past, and it quickly becomes clear this is a different breed of big cat. While the V8s are ‘muscle cars with manners’, bombastic and occasionally overwhelming, the P is a simpler, purer experience. Frankly, on damp winter roads it’s probably also more fun.
One reason for the ‘budget’ F-Type’s impressive agility is a 52kg weight reduction – all of which vanishes from above the front wheels. As a result, the car feels keener to turn-in and better balanced mid-corner.
Passive dampers and an open mechanical differential (the V8s use electronic diffs) are further ingredients in a pleasingly straightforward recipe.
As for the engine, it doesn’t yelp and howl like its bigger brothers, nor does it tempt you to smear number 11s away from every green light. Nonetheless, it sounds surprisingly big-chested, amplified by a central exhaust tailpipe that crackles and spits, while its ample mid-range muscle compensates, in part at least, for less enthusiasm to chase the redline.
Aside from only having two seats, the P is also very usable. It rides with real composure, helped by modest inch wheels, and feels comfortable enough for European road trips (sometime in the far-off future, when such adventures are possible again). The coupe’s long, narrow boot also holds litres: around twice that of the decidedly less practical F-Type convertible, and sufficient for two golf bags or a few flight cases.
Anyone spending £50k on a sports car is spoiled for choice. The A is the most engaging to drive, the Cayman a close second and a more accomplished all-rounder.
The F-Type is now a more leftfield alternative, and a pricey one after a few options are added. However, if you love its looks – and who doesn’t? – the P is brimful of uncomplicated charm. Groovy, baby.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
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First Drive: Honda Civic Si
In a world where SUVs rule the road it’s likely that many buyers looking for a fun ride won’t even notice the new Honda Civic Si — and it’s their loss.
The Honda Civic was long the favorite of performance seekers on a budget but the last few generations of the compact line seemed to drift off the mark. Not so the new Si, as I discovered during a day of wandering along the tight mountain roads through the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles.
Honda certainly hasn’t ignored the light truck revolution. It offers plenty of options, including the familiar CR-V and Pilot SUVs, and even brought back the Passport badge a couple years back. But, unlike some competitors, it remains fully committed to the passenger car side of the market. And that includes all manner of Civic variants.
Based on the 11th-generation compact, the Si isn’t the most powerful car in its class. If you’re looking for raw muscle, hang tight until the upcoming Civic Type R arrives to fill that gap. That said, the Honda Civic Si is nimble, sporty and even offers one of the last manual transmissions you can find in this segment.
Blasting through the San Gabriel’s treacherous trails, it’s easy to appreciate all the changes that have been made with the latest Si. Steering is crisp and precise, handling perfectly predictable. With amazingly little body roll, this is a point-and-shoot sedan. The taut suspension can prove a little jouncy when just cruising on rough pavement. But the trade-off is worth it if you’re looking for a compact sport sedan that allows you to push the limits of your driving skills while providing enough margin of error for those who might otherwise get in over their heads.
Like the more mainstream Honda Civic sedan, the Si adopts what the automaker describes as a “thin and light” body design. That translates into a low hood and front fenders, with a small grille above the front bumper, and a larger one below giving the new model a more planted feel. All versions of the Civic migrate to LED lighting, both front and back.
Subtle flaring around the wheels yields a more aggressive and premium feel, or so Honda designers contend. The windshield pillars, meanwhile, have been moved rearward 2 inches, the glass flowing into a coupe-like roofline that tapers into a short rear deck.
Moving the pillars back might seem a curious move that could impinge on cabin space but Honda engineers managed to add another inches in overall length, and inches in wheelbase, the latter a particular plus for passengers and cargo.
The Si gets a few distinctive touches. It adopts a honeycomb-style grille that’s more like what you’ll find on the hatchback than the standard-issue sedan. It adds a black spoiler, black mirror housings, silver dual exhaust pipes and unique, inch matte black wheels. (Summer tires are a welcome option.) My tester also features distinctive, almost Day-Glo orange paint that is certain to grab anyone’s attention.
While Honda hasn’t been immune to the auto industry’s increasing focus on high-tech interiors, the Civic line has kept things refreshingly clean. To its credit, it restored a volume knob on its infotainment system several years ago and the system appears to be operating a bit faster, as well, perhaps getting a processor upgrade. On the Si, the touchscreen measures 9 inches.
As with other versions of the Civic, the Si cabin is, as Honda puts it, strikingly simple, clean, (with a) modern take on classic Civic values. The automaker defines the approach as Man-Maximum, Machine-Minimum.”
That takes on special meaning in the Si with its manual gear shifter. It resembles the stick in the Type R and boasts similarly short throws.
Even with the windshield pushed back, the new cabin offers reasonable space for both front and rear passengers, especially considering competitors in the compact segment. The sedan’s low beltline and ample glass provide good visibility and enhance the sense of spaciousness.
The low instrument panel is accented by a honeycomb mesh that, Honda claims, “serves both form and function, creating a dramatic visual dividing line between the audio, information displays and the climate controls.” The approach also helps keep things feeling less cluttered by largely concealing the air vents.
Honda adopted more premium materials for the model’s cabin. And upgraded seating on all trim levels. In the Si’s case, it gets red sport seats with integral headrests and added support useful under aggressive driving.
At an even horsepower, the Honda Civic Si actually comes in 5 hp short of the outgoing model, a bit of a surprise, at least on paper. The turbocharged little inline-4 makes pound-feet of torque.
What might come as a surprise is the fact that the Si comes only with a 6-speed manual. If you can’t drive a stick, go somewhere else. Derived from the Type R, it has been improved in several ways, most notably with throws that are 10% shorter — read “quicker” — than the outgoing sport sedan.
Another feature borrowed from the Type R is the Si’s new, lightweight flywheel, something that helps the engine spin up a bit faster. That said, there is a bit of torque lag at launch. It really comes into its own above 1, rpm, where you hit peak torque. Like the Type R, the new Si also rev-matches when you downshift.
Fuel economy comes in at 27 mpg city, 37 highway and 31 combined.
Safety and Technology
Along with the 9-inch touchscreen, the Civic Si features a speaker Bose Premium Audio system and wireless Apple CarPlay, both standard. Wired Android Auto is also on the list.
Along with existing features, such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, all versions of the Civic add a new front wide-view camera, new Traffic Jam Assist and, on the Civic Touring, Low Speed Braking Control.
One surprise was the automaker’s decision to stop using radar for its Honda Sensing safety suite — a move similar to what Tesla recently announced. Both companies claim they can yield equally good results using onboard cameras.
The new model also adds what Honda describes as “groundbreaking” new front airbags which are designed to reduce traumatic brain and neck injuries. The model also becomes the first Civic equipped with side airbags for rear seat passengers.
As long as you’re up to driving a stick, the Civic Si will reward you with what seems an almost uncanny link between man and machine. There’s a sense of balance here that’s increasingly rare in the compact segment, even if the Honda doesn’t have the muscle of some key competitors like the new Hyundai Elantra N or Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Heading out for a couple hours of driving through the San Gabriel Mountains, I was pleasantly surprised with how short a learning curve there was to get the most out of the new sport sedan. The clutch was reasonably light, and the short-throw transmission made easy work of maintaining the right gear at any moment.
The downside is that you do need to row a bit if you’re looking for maximum power. The new Si can get a little sluggish unless you keep the revs up — so I tended to stick to second and third gear unless an occasional, long straight came along. Not that this was a problem. The engine produced a nicely resonant exhaust note that served as a soundtrack to my adventure.
With the optional summer tires on my tester, handling can best be described as uncanny. The new Civic Si features relatively little body roll — just enough to give some necessary feedback as I darted through one sharp corner after another. Steering was precise and predictable.
In many ways, the Si felt more like I was driving a classic roadster as I wove through mountain and canyon. Big brakes added to my comfort level, quickly shaving off speed without ever fading.
If there’s a downside it’s the moderate amount of jounce you’ll feel while cruising, especially if the pavement isn’t glass smooth. But it’s more than worth the trade-off if you’re the type who likes backroad adventures.
For any performance fan who thinks Honda has lost its way with the Civic, a drive in the Si will restore your faith. It is the pure embodiment of what a compact sport sedan should be. Not the fastest, not the most high-tech. But it is just a delight to drive, the harder the better.
If you’re looking for maximum muscle, you might want to hang tight until next year, when the next-generation Civic Type R makes its debut. But if it’s a well-balanced machine with a balance of power and great handling, the Civic Si nails it.
Too bad about those folks who can’t look beyond an SUV.
The Honda Civic Si starts at $27, and, even adding options like summer tires will barely nudge you past $30,
Jaguar F-Type review: Giggle factory
I wasn't exactly keen on the F-Type's new face in photos, but now that I'm laying eyes on it in person, I've come around. The front end's slimmer headlights actually give the car more visual width, making it look even more of a hulking brute than before. Some of the sharp body lines have been softened, too, bringing its overall silhouette closer to, say, a Mercedes-AMG GT. Throw in a heapin' helpin' of Sorrento Yellow paint ($4,) and my tester's optional inch wheels ($1,) and you'll be turning necks in no time flat. And since there's a V8 under the hood, there are four positively honkin' tailpipes out back to project the song of its people far and wide.
Inside, a pair of redesigned seats offer solid support without feeling constricting, and as before, the leather feels premium on every surface it graces. The interior can feel a bit drab in its monochromatic hue, but the aluminum trim helps break things up a bit. Visibility is decent for a sports coupe, with a tight view through the rearview mirror, but it's not as bad as the AMG GT, which has such a small windshield that it's hard to see stoplights.
Jaguar and its sister company Land Rover haven't ever really been top of the pops when it comes to in-car tech, albeit not for a lack of trying, and the F-Type stays the course in that regard. Gone is the old physical gauge cluster, and in its place is the same inch screen found on just about every other new Jaguar and Land Rover in existence. It's flexible, so you can display a bunch of information on either side of a single tachometer, or you can shove that stuff between two more traditionally designed gauges.
Living in the dashboard is the Touch Pro infotainment system on a inch screen. It's much better than the last generation of telematics tech, but it's still pokey to respond and a little confusing to navigate, and some of the icons on the screen are decidedly hard to hit, even at a standstill. Navigation is standard, as is Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. When it comes time to charge, there are two suitably powerful USB-A ports in the center armrest. For those micromanagers out there, Jaguar's connected-car app works with both phones and the Apple Watch, and it allows owners to remotely lock, unlock and start the car, in addition to offering up basic vehicle information at a glance.
The only true bummer inside the F-Type, though, is its lack of storage options. The glove compartment is decently sized, but the door pockets are quite small, as are the cup holders, as is the cubby under the armrest. The hatchback offers up a decent cubic feet of storage -- a whopping cubes more than the Mercedes-AMG GT coupe can muster -- which is enough for a decent amount of groceries or a set of golf clubs.
But the F-Type's visuals are only half of the gut-punch this car delivers 24/7/ Every inch of the Jaguar's existence is dedicated to making its driver giggle with delight. Despite a bit of a neutering to make room for an even more bonkers SVR variant, the F-Type R's standard active exhaust still barks to life each morning with a nice, healthy brrap that settles into basso profundo aggression -- and that's before flipping the tailpipe button on the center console.
In suburban life, the F-Type is impressively pliant. The car's standard adaptive suspension has been further refined, and it doesn't take long for me to notice just how smooth the F-Type feels as I worm my way through traffic. Despite the inch rollers and thin-enough Pirelli P-Zero summer tires (/35 front, /30 rear), most road annoyances disappear in the dampers, but the inherent stiffness in this coupe's small body means I never forget what car I'm actually in. The interior's road noise is largely determined by the quality of pavement underfoot, but wind noise is minimal at worst. Leave everything in its default mode and the result is a surprisingly capable daily driver.
The action I'm really after, though, isn't the kind I find on the way to the garden center, unless there's a canyon, mountain or forest between me and it. Flip the F-Type R's mode switch to Dynamic, open up that exhaust and let 'er rip. The dampers stiffen to eliminate body roll, while the eight-speed automatic transmission holds onto gears longer. I prefer to use the aluminum shift paddles for better gear control, because if you leave the tachometer needle between 3, and 4, rpm, the tailpipes will bounce overrun cracks and burbles off every nearby surface.
The supercharged liter V8 will never stop howling under load. The F-Type's engine receives some small tweaks to boost output to a meaty horsepower and pound-feet of torque. I'm never left wanting for motive force, even in seventh or eighth gear, although most backroad carving is done in third and fourth, both of which are plenty capable of launching me to extralegal speeds between hairpins. Despite having all-wheel drive, the F-Type R lets its rear-axle bias show, the body wriggling when power is applied a bit too early -- a problem that the traction control has no issue sorting out smoothly. The only way I can tell the system is working is when I depress the pedal and don't get any extra forward motion.
Forming a symbiotic relationship with the F-Type is simple. It doesn't take long to feel like an extension of the metal. Every upcoming corner begs me to brake a little later, turn in a little faster, apply the power a little earlier, all in the pursuit of carrying more speed that the car and its sticky Italian tires can easily handle. It goads me into antics I might not be comfortable with in other cars, it all feels so natural. The steering wheel is direct with the right amount of feedback. The brakes are simple to modulate, but they will clamp down with absolute authority when necessary. Bright colors are often a sign of danger in nature, but the only danger here is a speeding ticket.
If you're wondering about fuel economy, my answer is, yes, it consumes fuel. At 16 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway, the F-Type won't win any awards, and having fun means the EPA's estimate is a best-case scenario, if it's even achievable at all. At the same time, it's a six-figure sports car, so I can't imagine people will have the budget for the ride but not the fuel.
Sports cars aren't usually chock full of safety tech, but the F-Type R is. Standard driver assistance systems include automatic emergency braking, non-adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keeping assist and a backup camera with suitable resolution. The only upgrade on offer costs $, and it adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
When it comes to an ideal spec, this F-Type R is pretty close to mine, but it's not cheap -- the R's base price of $, has grown to $, I'd save some money on paint by opting for a $ British Racing Green hue, but I'd throw $ at eliminating all the exterior chrome. I really like my tester's $1, wheels, so I'd keep those, and I'd splurge further by dropping $1, on a panoramic roof that really opens up the cabin. $ goes directly to heated and ventilated seats, and $ is diverted to a Meridian surround-sound upgrade. Top it all off with a $1, package that adds a heated steering wheel, a heated windshield and two-zone climate control, and I'd be staring down an out-the-door price tag of $,
The Jaguar F-Type has a solid complement of competition. The Mercedes-AMG GT is probably its closest competitor; both are amazing to drive, though the Merc feels a bit more cramped despite being the superior handler. If you want a back seat, the base BMW 8 Series is priced pretty closely, and while it's not as much fun, it's a bit more suited for daily life. If you're unsure about how many seats you want, consider the Porsche , which is unsure about how many seats it has.
Jaguar's F-Type has, to me, always been about big, dumb fun. Equipped with the supercharged V8, the F-Type R is an absolute screamer of a sports car, blending daily usability and backroad capability in equal doses without sacrifice. It's an absolute goddamned hoot.