Girls Gone Wild in a Jaguar F-Type

01-SW-2016-Jaguar-F-Type

The automobile has achieved much throughout the past century, but its greatest purpose has always been creating precious memories by bringing people together.

For my lifelong best friend and I, it had been an awfully long time since we’d had a chance to do that.

Amy and I have known each other since we were seven years old, and there was a period in our lives when we took for granted how easy it was to see each other. We’d go away on girls’ bonding weekends once a year or so, and staying connected was so effortless that we hardly gave it a second thought.

But then she had her little girl, and I had mine exactly 10 months later. It’s amazing how life gets away from you after that happens, isn’t it?

We’re very fortunate that we still live just a short drive away from each other all these years later, which has made keeping in touch after parenthood a little easier. But still, it seems our get-togethers always involve playgrounds and splash pads and My Little Pony. Occasionally, when we’re really lucky, we manage to schedule a kid-free three-hour respite to have dinner.

We blinked, it seemed, and suddenly more than five years had gone by since we’d had a proper weekend away, just the two of us. Few things recharge me as well as spending time with the one person in the world who has known me longer than I’ve known myself, and I know Amy equally well enough to say with confidence that she feels the same way. We were both a bit burned out and sorely in need of some bestie time.

Fortunately, we finally noticed this.

2016 Jaguar F-Type

Well, okay – Amy’s awesome boyfriend was the one who did, actually. For her birthday, he booked both of us a full day of spa treatments, a gorgeous dinner, and an overnight stay in an Ontario resort near Orangeville.

Guys, take note: this is how you earn that elusive infinity-brownie-points card. Amy can basically never leave her boyfriend now without a very good reason.

(Not that she’d want to, though, because who does stuff like that?! He’s clearly a keeper.) [Yeah, well, I have an Australian accent. So ‘ner. – Ed.]

Anyway, I had just two jobs in the whole deal. First, I had to show up. This sounds like the easy part, but I work a lot on summer weekends and scheduling can be a challenge. I worked it out in the end, of course, because awesome spa day with my best girl.

My second job was to secure us an awesome whip for the journey.

And did I ever hold up my end of the bargain. The 2017 Jaguar F-Type S Convertible is about as perfect a girls’ weekend car as you’ll find anywhere.

Well, almost.

In its purpose as a head-turning, luxurious chariot for two women who giggle entirely too much, it never let us down once.

The optional performance seats are highly adjustable and unbelievably comfortable.

The trunk isn’t exactly spacious, but for our pair of overnight bags we were able to make it work.

The drop-top is a dream. Its latching and retracting system is completely hands-free apart from a hold of a button on the centre console, and it works at speeds of up to 50 km/h. Unfortunately for Amy, who had never ridden in a convertible before in her life, she didn’t know to bring a hair tie along. Rookie mistake.

It's important to pack a hair tie for one's first trip in a convertible.

It’s important to pack a hair tie for one’s first trip in a convertible.

And, of course, its styling is flat gorgeous – and, in my opinion, somehow made even better in the convertible iteration. It’s a head-turner, no question.

In short, the car did its job of thoroughly wowing the person it was supposed to wow, the birthday girl, and made her feel like the queen of the world for a couple of days just for getting to ride along.

From the driver’s seat, though, I was left wanting over a couple of things.

I’ve driven several specs of F-Type over the last two years, and this version fixes some of my gripes while introducing new ones.

For instance, I’ve called the dash layout a deal-breaker in the past. When my tall-torsoed self is properly positioned in the driver’s seat, the steering wheel blocks every single visual I have on how fast I’m going. In the automatic-transmission models, I’m either sitting uncomfortably or flying blind.

2016 Jaguar F-Type

Imagine my delight when I realized that selecting the manual tranny instead solves this problem entirely. I was taught old-school, so it didn’t take me long to recall that I can track my speed just by tracking gear and revs. I suddenly didn’t care a whit that I couldn’t see the speedometer, and the F-Type was delivering sheer joy again. Huzzah! #SaveTheManuals.

But this presents a new problem: if you get the manual, then there’s no V8 for you, only the V6. The F-Type is a rare example of a car where the power jump truly is thoroughly worthwhile in terms of getting the car’s fullest experience, but not having the option to dance three pedals along with it means that experience falls just a little short of where it could be.

While the V6 is fine power-wise – and it’s delightfully noisy enough that it talks the talk just fine – it doesn’t walk the F-Type’s walk quite as well as the V8 does. It’s a real conundrum. But the V6 comes in rear-wheel drive, at least, while the V8 is all-wheel drive only, so that’s something.

It’s not as though the manual is perfect in and of itself, either. In a car with a six-digit price tag — $111,125, to be exact — I’d think that the shift gates would be a little better defined. But it’s only with this car and this price point that I’d be so particular; I’d be satisfied with this shifting experience in just about anything else. I expect a little better from a Jaguar is all.

The F-Type’s manual-V6 combination comes with one more quirk: an engine start-stop system. In a car with a clutch, an engine that shuts itself off at idle is a funny thing. I thought I’d somehow stalled the car every single time it happened and then laughed hysterically that I still hadn’t clued in. By the end of a week with it, I hadn’t even begun to get used to it. It’s not a fault, of course, just something that requires getting used to — and I assume one would over time (or just turn it off eventually).

Anyway, it turned out that while I was a bit flummoxed over it, the precise configuration of F-Type I had was a perfect match for Amy, who had a blast riding side seat as I whipped it around the scenic curves of Forks of the Credit Road. The power delivery, with little effort on my part, hit the perfect balance of thrilling her without scaring her half to death and harshing our spa weekend buzz.

After our ride to the resort we spent a full day being pampered to the nines. We soaked in Scandinavian pools for hours, enjoyed a fabulous meal, and stayed up entirely too late flitting between playlists on Spotify singing along in harmony to the songs of our youth.

When we awoke the next morning, our hearts were full and our souls recharged for the first time in far, far too long.

We headed for home feeling grateful – perhaps more so than ever – for the joy of beautiful memories and the car that played such an important role in making them happen.

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Stephanie Wallcraft
Stephanie Wallcraft is the child of an auto worker and honed her passion for cars in the grandstands of the Molson Indy Toronto. Today she continues the family tradition by writing about cars and motorsport for publications across Canada while living with her motorhead husband and daughter in downtown Toronto.
Stephanie Wallcraft

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