Jacqui Madelin finds a bargain with bite.
I wandered onto the lot on a whim and was stopped in my tracks by this car parked casually on Auckland’s Archibald and Shorter forecourt: an F-Type R Coupe in rhodium silver.
And that’s where it could have ended; new Euro sports cars are well out of ordinary folks’ price range.
Then I saw what a year can do to a European price tag. Would a keen driver be aware of every dollar dropped with each kilometre driven since this car was new? There was only one way to find out…
Which is why our fearless photographer and I gunned this gorgeous car toward the nearest bit of swervery we could find, and explored the interior with the verve of a small child on Christmas morning.
This car is very, very good at making its driver feel special. Unlock it and the mirrors unfurl and the door handles emerge from the smooth panel of the door.
A touch of the start button swivels the air vents from the dashtop.
And then I spotted the seat adjustments.
In most sporting cars aimed at well-heeled chaps of a certain age, the seats are broad enough to accommodate the width added to one’s frame by decades of good living.
In this car, a touch on a button had the seat sides gracefully move in to hold me in a secure hug that made me one with this delicious car. And then I started it…
I was expecting a bit more sound and fury. After all, there’s a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 under that sleek snout, one that’s capable of zero to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 300km/h.
But this is a Jaguar, so from the cabin it sounds refined: ready to slice through traffic, yet leaving our ears sufficiently unsullied to be able to make the most of the 700W 12-speaker Meridian sound system.
However, when sinuous bends present themselves there’s performance mode, or what I persist in calling ‘the naughty button’. And boy did it feel naughty, and not just because the whole car’s response sharpens, readying you to make the most of every single one of the 404kW and 680Nm of torque, but because it also opens baffles in the exhaust system.
Firmly depress the accelerator in standard mode and there’s a creamy surge of urge and a smooth soundtrack to go with it. Then press “the button” to add a rasp to the exhaust note and a feral crack and pop on the over-run, plus a neck-wrenching kick to your progress that had the photographer grabbing for the handy passenger-side handle he’d thought was fitted as a stylish flourish…
The suspension felt impressively supple even in dynamic mode, yet well planted, with minimal body roll through bends. Fling it through corners and you can feel the rear bias to the handling, without any suggestion it’ll let go.
The eight-speed transmission auto selects the best cog for the job – whether it's round town or highway cruising – with steering wheel paddles for manual changes.
Auto- stop-start helps cut thirst during urban driving, while heated seats – and steering wheel! – cosset you, and a behind-the-seat suit hook helps keep clutter at bay.
If this current-model Jaguar were new, it would set you back $196,740, including options. The standard price (without panoramic sunroof, black pack and 20-inch wheels) was $191,000 just 3500km ago.
But after one year, it’s advertised at $139,990; it has plunged a truly jaw-dropping $56,750, yet this uber-powerful, super-refined chunk of sporting Jaguar feels just as fabulous as it must have when brand new.
True, that’s still more than most can spend on a vehicle, yet it shows how much can be saved, with very little compromise made, by looking for a near-new example of one’s dream car… a calculation guaranteed to have you rushing home to check your mortgage terms.
One day it’s a dream, the next, you could park it in your driveway.
Reported by Jacqui Madelin for our AA Directions Summer 2016 issue
For more car reviews, see The AA's website.