Design Hunter's Jaguar F-TYPE coupé road trip
"Why would I want to go up North?"
It's a sentiment I sometimes encounter (with a sharp intake of breath) when visiting the south of England.
"It's always raining, and anyway, what's there to see up there... really? I'd rather go abroad."
Ahem, well where to start?
I love Britain - it's landscape, it's history and of course it's design. Contrary to what certain sections of the media might have you believe, there is much to explore beyond London.
The beauty of living literally in the heart of the country, as I do being based in Warwickshire, is that it's easy to get to almost anywhere... and everywhere.
When Design Hunter was offered a Jaguar F-TYPE coupé to try out for the weekend then, the first question was of course where to go?
I broached the subject with Mr P.
"North" came back the resounding reply.
Yes, it had to be north.
So last Friday, on a long, warm midsummer evening, we headed off towards Northumberland in search of open roads, dramatic vistas and the perfect landscape in which to put the coupé through its paces.
Before I share our experiences, it's perhaps important to point out that I don't consider myself to be someone who is obsessed with cars, and certainly not with performance sports cars. But being first and foremost interested in design, I fell in love with the F-TYPE the minute I set eyes on it... because this is indeed a beautifully designed car.
Coming from a long and illustrious line of sports cars, that includes the iconic E-type Jaguar (of which it can be considered the spiritual successor), the F-TYPE is the latest performance sports vehicle from Jaguar. It was designed at Jaguar's engineering centres at Whitley in Coventry and Gaydon in Warwickshire (just down the road from my home in Leamington Spa) and assembled at the nearby Castle Bromwich factory in Birmingham.
Where London is a centre of commerce, culture and glittering launch parties, here in the Midlands we make things - a fact we can be justifiably proud of. Many of my friends and neighbours work for Jaguar Land Rover and I know several people who've been involved in the design of this beautiful vehicle. So for me, the fact that the F-TYPE was in effect locally sourced, only added to it's already very considerable appeal.
Inside, the 'cabin' (yes, you could be forgiven for thinking you are sitting in front of a flight deck, especially when your foot hits the accelerator) is fitted out with an intuitive, easy to use interface and ambient lighting that can be adjusted through a full spectrum of colours to suit your mood.
The interior feels thoughtfully designed and contemporary, with sumptuous leather upholstery that cradles you as you hurtle around corners at speed and futuristic curves that wouldn't be out of place in a Zaha Hadid design.
The car is fitted out with so many sensors and other bits of technology that it practically drives itself. It doesn't require a huge leap of the imagination to see how in the not too distant future self-driving cars might no longer be confined to the realms of science fiction.
But, boy did we enjoy driving it, the country roads of Northumberland and the Lake District (more of which in my next post) proving the perfect destination for our road trip.
'It's good to be bad' proclaims Jaguar in it's latest ad campaign for the F-TYPE, and this is undeniably a car that commands respect. The acceleration is breathtakingly fast. If you have sufficiently deep pockets and speed is your only concern you might conceivably be able to find a faster car, but when you can do 0-60 in 4.8 seconds in a car that looks this good, then frankly why would you want to?
Above all, the engine sound is just sublime. Flirt with the accelerator a little and the engine roars eagerly back at you as if to say,
"You wanna play? Come on then, let's go!"
This is, quite simply, a car that is just enormous fun to drive.
I don't think I stopped beaming all weekend.
* * *
A huge thank you to Jaguar who very kindly provided us with the use of an F-TYPE coupé for the weekend. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience.