I, as Rakoff would put it, am not a handsome man, though my mother would disagree. If I were to be cast in a James Bond movie, I would probably play the villain. Past lovers have often commented on my intelligence, my charm and my high earning potential as an automotive journalist, but rarely if ever on my physical appearance. I’m at peace with this, for I have discovered that the one automobile that can “increase sexual arousal, particularly in women” is not the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible, as P.J. O’Rourke would contend, but a Jaguar convertible.
My first realization of the aphrodisiac qualities of the Jaguar convertible was not in the F-Type, but with its older sibling, the XKR. An affable but outdated grand tourer, the XKR was borrowed for competitive analysis against the F-Type, which consisted of numerous acceleration tests to confirm the potency of its 510 horsepower supercharged V8 (potent, indeed) as well as the efficacy of the large monobloc brake calipers to help reduce speed in the presence of local law enforcement (also excellent). The XKR’s major failing would be the uselessness of its backseat. Even the rather diminutive Jackie, who scarcely protested while sitting in the rear seat of a hardtop Shelby GT500, was forced to sit with her legs across the back seat, akin to how an XKR owner who lay his golf clubs across the rear bucket seats.
Shortly after Jackie departed, my friend Kyle and I entered ourselves in the Yorkville Grand Prix, named in honor of the tony downtown district that functions as an informal home to Toronto’s supercars. There are no winners, but entrants are required to drive in either first or second gear under significant load, while spectators jeer the participants sotto voce. As I completed lap number 3, I was taken aback by a rare phenomeon. A gorgeous young girl, barely older than 20, crossing the street as I sat waiting at a red light. As she strutted past me, her skintight white pants and skimpy halter top were only secondary considerations. She was making eye contact with me!
“There’s a nice Jewish girl for you,” remarked Kyle.
The best I could do was to flash a meek smile, more forced than the ones I pulled on antecedent elementary school picture days. To my surprise, she smiled back and blushed a little. I reflexively drove off when the light turned green, not even thinking about trying to engage her in any way. I decided to turn back and try and find her, but it was in vain. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get to enjoy that feeling again,” I lamented, as the XKR roared down University Avenue. It turns out I was wrong.
If you want to be the center of attention, especially among nubile women, do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not remember the XKR even exists. You want an F-Type, perhaps in Polaris White as shown above. Italian Racing Red is certainly striking but will invite too many snide quips about inadequate genitals to be beneficial. You will get so many stares from attractive women of all ages that you will begin to feel the kind of contempt for them generally known to deeply damaged people who spurn romantic advances because they feel unlovable. Oh, and you absolutely must get the car with the “Configurable Dynamic Mode”, which adds another $3,000 to the base price, but effectively gives you two cars for the price of one.
With Dynamic Mode off, the F-Type is all show but feels like it has a lot less go. The 380 horsepower V6 is still there, but throttle response is muted, the exhaust produces a rather banal hum akin to a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 and the steering feels a bit like the current Mazda MX-5, with lots of response but not as much feel. But it’s also not a supple grand tourer like the XKR. One would be forgiven for thinking of it as a halfway sports car for the chest-hair-and-Hublot-watch crowd.
But with Dynamic Mode toggled to the on position, the F-Type stops being a fashion accessory. It’s difficult to think of a car that can change its character so completely with one simple action, but the transformation is remarkable. Suddenly, the V6 has found its lungs, emitting a demonic snarl that sounds more exotic than Ferrari’s most recent V8s, with all the popping and backfiring that any attention-seeker could want. The numbed throttle and steering are suddenly crisp and responsive, while the chassis becomes even more taut.If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest bit of supercharger whine, something that, in my opinion, should be more present on a car like this. Slot the 8-speed transmission into “S” and the shifts are executed with an alarming brutality, akin to the very first Lexus IS-F. You feel each gear change through your spine as the car hurtles you forward. Industry scuttlebutt claims that a manual may show up alongside a coupe version. They can keep it. Even without a clutch pedal and a gearshift, it will make your facial muscles hurt from grinning so much.
Back on planet earth, the car is affable in everyday situations. On longer highway drives, the revs are kept below 2000 rpm thanks to the 8-speed transmission. There is a slight hint of wind noise right where the convertible top meets the A-pillar, but generally, road noise is dependent on whether the active exhaust is open or not. There are flaws too. The stop-start is a little ridiculous on a car like this. When the top is up, blind spots are massive, as one would expect with a convertible. The trunk is unable to hold even one golf bag, which will apparently put off some potential buyers.
And so will the fact that, according to reputable sources, this car is not quite the dynamic proposition that a Porsche Boxster or 911 is on the Race tack. Frankly, I couldn’t care less, and I’m sure plenty of customers don’t either, though they won’t have the bragging rights of a Nuburgring time or some other meaningless performance benchmark. Today’s Porsche sports cars, dynamically competent as they are, don’t make you feel this special. Then again, I’m not sure any car feels this special. If you want to win an HPDE event, then a P-Car is your only choice. If you want to feel like an equine-endowed billionaire Formula 1 champion petroleum tycoon international playboy film star every single day of your life until the warranty runs out, this is your only option. At $84,000, it will make you better looking too, without you ever having to go under the knife.