IS THE NEW JAG TOO BRITISH?

IS THE NEW JAG TOO BRITISH?

True to its legend, it’s tough to beat a luxury British car for style. Our man-about-globe, Michael Satterfield of The Gentleman Racer, takes the new Jaguar F-Type P450 Coupe out for a spin on some country roads to get a handle on its drivability. Love ensues.  

Photography courtesy of The Gentleman Racer

GOOD, THEN GREAT

Few new cars genuinely get me excited these days. Outside of a handful of exotics, there aren’t many obtainable cars that I would describe as lust-worthy. Most companies today have resigned themselves to building just good cars. In fact, it is nearly impossible to buy a bad car in 2022. Like Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great,” and there are far too many good cars in this world. But now and again (when the accountants aren’t looking), a great car can sneak through. Ladies and gentlemen, the Jaguar F-Type P450 is one of them.

 

Now some might say a car starting at $69,900 isn’t really every person’s car, and a sports coupe like a Mustang is more obtainable than a Jaguar. But when you consider this Jaguar is within $6,500 of a well-optioned Mustang Mach 1, and around $6,500 less than the GT500 (before markup), the value of the Jaguar shows. It is at its core a muscle car like the Mustang, but with a better tailor—fully loaded, including destination fees. The F-Type I am driving and testing comes in at $86,200.

The other obvious comparison is the Aston Martin Vantage, which, if equipped with the classic Aston grille, is a very handsome car, too. But the baby Aston starts at $139,000, and when you tack on the options, you’ll find most Vantages come in at between $175,000-$220,000. In shopping around Aston Martin dealers in Texas, the least expensive 2022 Vantage in stock is $170,086. So if you ordered a standard P450, you would save $100,000 and still be driving an exceptional, limited-production British sports car.

THAT’S MY TYPE

Buying an F-Type means, you are buying into an elite club because despite its good looks and sporting heritage, Jaguar is still a boutique company. They only build around 2,000 F-Types for the U.S. market a year, making them far more rare than the Porsche 911 or Chevrolet Corvette. While most reviews focus on pricing, 0-60 M.P.H. times, and cubic square feet of cargo space, most of those things don’t matter much in the real world, do they? There will always be a cheaper, faster car or one that is able to fit more golf clubs. So, buying an F-Type is a lifestyle choice, more akin to buying a luxury item than a mode of daily transportation.  

 

Sliding behind the wheel, the F-Type feels bespoke. In a bold color with a tan leather interior, it looks the part of the quintessential British sports car. For me, the F-Type is an escape pod. Just slip on some driving gloves, point it in the direction of the countryside, and dial in your favorite driving music. If you had a bad day, few cars help make everything right in the world, like the F-Type.

Pushing the start button brings the 444 hp, 5.0-liter supercharged V8 to life with a delightful rumble seldom heard in suburbia in these days of electrification. The F-Type P450 drives like a car with far more horsepower, and with peak power coming on fast at around 2,500 RPM, this Jag is a joy to operate on a twisty country road. Tapping the paddles, turning into a corner, and rolling back onto the throttle, it feels like a classic sports car. Almost as if it is channeling all of Jaguar’s racing heritage with every turn of the wheel. Plus, it just happens to have paddle shifters and dynamic mode. It is impossible not to smile while driving the F-Type on a great road.

THE OPEN ROAD 

Blasting out across the causeway over Lake Livingston towards Point Blank with the windows down is the kind of therapy one can only understand through experience. Ripping down TX-156 through the Sam Houston National Forest and taking the long way home, with the sound of the exhaust echoing off the trees, my Zen was broken only by the chirp of the radar detector, reminding me to check the speed limit. The F-Type wants to go fast, and it is easy to let the speedometer climb. The only thing that would have made this day better is if I had gone to a racetrack to experience the full brilliance of the F-Type.

 

Pulling into any small downtown, the car draws attention among the Ford F150s and Chevrolet Suburbans. “Is it the James Bond car?” one gent asks. I tell him no, it is a Jaguar, and I let him take a seat inside. He especially likes the optional glass roof but thinks it is too fancy for him. Even at the local country club, where the parking lot is a greyscale sea of Porsche 911s, and Mercedes AMGs, the blue coupe makes a statement. Its taut proportions look refined when parked next to some of these.

Perhaps that is what I like most about the Jaguar. It’s exotic, yet not in the garish orange Lamborghini way. It has an understated elegance that many cars simply cannot offer in a practical package for daily use. With that in mind, I would suggest you only drive the P450 if you are genuinely ready to buy one. Because once you do, you’re not going to want to leave the dealership without one.

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REGAL RIDE

REGAL RIDE

The Rolls-Royce, a luxurious car by anyone’s standards, has a new groove. Its Cullinan model, a super sleek SUV, offers something for anyone with a taste for high quality. Join our TheGentlemanRacer.com’s Michael Satterfield as he takes one out for a spin and leaves the city behind.  

Photography courtesy of TheGentlemanRacer.com

THE NEW, NEW ROLLS ROYCE

If you say “Rolls-Royce,” most people envision something like those 1980s Grey Poupon commercials, stuffy, aristocratic, luxurious, but somehow a bit dull. Modern Rolls-Royces are anything but boring, and with new products like the Wraith and the upcoming Specter, that is starting to change. One of the first and most controversial models to break the mold was the marquee’s first SUV, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Since its launch in 2018, the Cullinan has become one of the brand’s most important vehicles, but can the Cullinan handle the duties of an actual SUV? To find out, I took it to a $20-a-day off-road park in Huntsville for a day in the dirt.  

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan I was driving costs nearly double the median home price in Walker County, Texas, where General Sam’s Off-Road Park is located. Most Rolls-Royces don’t see many country roads, let alone dirt roads. So, while the Cullinan has a button in the console that says “off-road,” hardly anyone uses it. Still, Rolls-Royce claims it is a capable off-road vehicle designed for oil barons and cattlemen who need to survey their vast landholding in the lap of luxury.

The shiny red Cullinan was outfitted with standard wheels and winter tires, the best option available for our adventure since 33-inch BFGs weren’t on the order sheet. This particular Cullinan is painted “Hell Rot,” which is basically fire engine red. In the country, it would be easy to mistake this massive bright red SUV for a volunteer fire vehicle speeding down a dirt road. All the Cullinan needs is some gold lettering on the door and ladder on the roof, and it would be ready for service in the local VFD.

I started off light, taking the Cullinan down some dirt roads and improved trails, but eventually, I headed to more advanced trails, which would be challenging for most stock SUVs. Surprisingly, the Cullinan took it all in stride. As I explored the trails of General Sam’s, I expected at some point to get stuck, requiring the backup truck to pull me out, but it never did. Unlike most SUVs with a plethora of switches, buttons, and levers to get into the off-road mode, the Cullinan literally has just one button to push, which simply says off-road. Just push it, and the Cullinan does the rest. After all, it would be indecorous to have to switch gears or get out of your heated seat to lock the front hubs.

OFF-ROAD OPTIMUM

I have never been so comfortable while off-roading, the perfect leather seats, isolation from outside noise, and the ability to focus simply on driving while the advanced Rolls-Royce off-road system figures out the rest. The same road scanning cameras and air ride suspension that make the Cullinan amazing to operate in the city makes it surprisingly capable off-road. The system is designed to take on deep snow, sand, mud, even fording streams. Once you reach your far-off location, deploy the optional Viewing Suite, and enjoy nature as Rolls-Royce intended.

 

Slow and careful is generally how you spend most of your time off-roading, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t see how the Cullinan could handle itself with a bit of speed. After all, there is a high likelihood that you might have to flee a rebel army or some international crime syndicate while driving your Rolls-Royce in exotic locations off the beaten path. Anything can happen, right? The Cullinan might be the size of a small army tank, but it is a fast tank that can power slide through mud, rip down dirt trails, and use all 563hp to shuffle uphill at great speed; you’d have a fighting chance at outrunning any Bond villains behind the wheel of it. In the world of SUVs, the Cullinan is in a league of its own. Even the Bentley Bentayga, one of my all-time favorite SUVs, has a starting price of just $177,000, while the Cullinan…has a base price of $330,000. But of course, being a Rolls-Royce means there are plenty of luxe options, and those options make the one I am driving come in at just over $417,000. Sure, for that kind of money, you could pick up three Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Editions and still have money left over. Yet nothing makes the statement like seeing the Spirit of Ecstasy perched atop that imposing chrome grille, even when it is covered in mud.

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