Cars are excellent barometers of trends, shifts, and styles. The automotive landscape of any given year can be regarded as a snapshot of the time period.
One of the most popular cars in North America in 1949 was the Mercury 8 sedan, a model still popular with the hot rodders that modify them today. The Mercury encapsulated post-war America. Big, brash, and confident.
In Europe, 1949 marked the arrival of the Jaguar XK120 roadster, earnestly beginning a long lineage of sport cars from the British motor company with a Big Cat as its symbol.
In order to celebrate the last 70 years of Jaguar sports cars, the company has rolled out the F-Type Chequered Flag Limited Edition based on the coupe and convertible versions of the Jaguar F-Type R-Dynamic trim.
In keeping with past special edition Jaguars, the F-Type Chequered Flag Limited Edition mostly comes with exclusive cosmetic touches inside and out.
Gone is the “S” badging under the right rear taillamp, replaced by a Chequered Flag badge. This is one of a number of badges to drive home the point that this is an exclusive kitty that pays homage to its heritage.
Outside, R-Dynamic elements, such as body-coloured sills, splitter and diffuser are as before. Likewise the gloss black-finished grille, window surrounds and side intakes are all carried over.
The Chequered Flag Limited Edition coupe also gets the black contrast roof as standard equipment.
Of course, no special edition Jaguar would be complete without some exclusive interior accoutrements. Accordingly, the interior has also picked up some unique elements such as red seatbelts and a steering wheel with a red leather brand at the 12 o’clock position and a Chequered Flag logo at the 6 o’clock position. Supposedly the latter is a tip of the hat in recognition of Jaguar’s motorsport successes over the years.
These two-piece supportive bucket seats are skinned with the company’s uprated Windsor Leather and a pair of stitched headrest logos with unique Red or Cirrus stitching never let you forget that this F-Type is a little more special than the standard fare.
In place of the F-Type R-Dynamics’ Delta aluminium centre console trip, the Chequered Flag’s dash is finished in a dark aluminium trim, while as with all 2020 F-Types, the infotainment system now also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. More on that later.
Whether it’s a marketing exercise or not, the end result is an attractive overall package. An Alcantara headliner and unique door sill plates cap off the interior appointments.
My test vehicle was fitted with Jaguar’s P380 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine producing 375 hp. Compared to the V8 R and the P300’s 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine, the P380’s V6 is the pick of the line-up.
Turn in is more immediate and the car feels more balanced with its lighter nose. The 3.0 litre V6 also attains significantly better fuel economy than the 5.0-litre V8.
As with most F-Types, the drama is turned up even further with standard fitment of Jaguar’s cracking active exhaust system. With the push of the exhaust button, the F-Type can go from a muted sporty to downright hilariously obnoxious with engine overruns causing pops and bangs upon command by your right foot.
The F-Type’s exquisite, perfectly proportioned exterior promises sporty performance and fortunately the car’s beautiful lines are matched by a superb driving experience no matter what version of F-Type you choose.
Even the convertible delivers performance to match its looks as it was developed as a roadster from the outset. Therefore, there is very little twisting or vibration through the chassis, and the body control in corners is excellent.
The car’s rewarding driving experience is thanks to a combination of things including quick and precise steering, fantastic grip from the rear-biased Jaguar Instinctive all-wheel-drive system, as well as 50:50 weight distribution.
This all adds up to make for an extremely involving and agile car. But yet, at least with the coupe, there is a surprising amount of trunk space beneath the power tailgate.
Jaguar’s quick-witted all-wheel-drive system adds to the fun by sending only about 30 per cent of torque to the front wheels in normal circumstances. As the rear wheels lose traction, more power is fed forward.
Most of the time the car truly feels like it’s rear-wheel-drive but the levels of grip are phenomenal, undoubtedly assisted by torque vectoring which helps sharpen turn-in during fast cornering.
Dynamic Mode sharpens the throttle response, increases steering weight and, when fitted, changes the shift pattern of the quick shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
Switching into Dynamic mode also increases the leeway that the computers will give you before they step in to keep you out of trouble. An “individual” dynamic setting allows you to mix and match the responsiveness of the engine, transmission, steering, dampeners as you please.
Aside from the aesthetic tweaks, there have also been suspension tweaks in the form of a recalibrated comfort mode with the adaptive dampers. Considering the Chequered Flag edition wears rather large 20-inch Gloss Black wheels with an exclusive Diamond Turned finish, the retuned comfort mode does an admirable job at trying to smooth out the low-speed ride.
Is the overall result as poised as a mid-engine Porsche Boxster or Cayman? No, arguably it’s not as precise. A new 911 is sharper to drive, the steering more dynamic, and the chassis more compliant, but that car is also more expensive.
However, unlike its German rivals which tend to adopt a more firmly sprung approach, the F-Type’s main differentiating factor is that it superbly blends engaging performance with the sort of supple ride that makes cruising a pleasure.
At the very least, this limited edition trim further confirms that the F-Type still remains a car of unparalleled character.
As expected, the F-Type is equipped with Jaguar’s latest passive and active safety systems. You’ll find the full complement of airbags, as well as blindspot warning, active cruise control, a lane departure warning, and more.
Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system is Jaguar’s most advanced yet. Featuring a 10-inch touchscreen that recognizes smartphone-like gestures such as swipe, pinch-to-zoom and more, Touch Pro is the company’s latest and best effort in bringing its multimedia system in-line with its competitors.
There is an entirely new graphical user interface with advanced functionality and four pre-set display themes. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now fully supported, and the fantastic Meridian audio system is easy to control via the user interface.
The addition of the InControl Touch Pro system means that the F-Type is now a “connected car”. The system’s “Connect Pro” function links the F-Type to the internet, allowing for traffic information to be fed into the Navigation Pro system for dynamic traffic routing.
Moreover, there are InControl Apps built-in that enable media streaming, cloud and location-based services.
There is now also a W-Fi Hotspot feature available, enabling up to 8 devices to be connected to the internet. Finally, the “Remote Premium” optional subscription package allows you to interact with your Jaguar via your smartphone from virtually anywhere in the world.
But (and you knew there was a but coming), the system still seems to be on the laggy side. Touchscreen responses aren’t as snappy as they should be, particularly when compared to the latest BMW iDrive system.
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, Jaguar’s User Interface designers have also made some curious and even confounding choices when it comes to displaying the video feeds from the F-Type’s multiple cameras. For example, rather than utilize the entire screen, the 360 bird’s eye view is relegated to an image that is only a couple of postage stamps tall with a lot of black space around the video feed.
That would not be so bad if the 360 view could be displayed side-by-side with a front or rear camera view, but alas, the driver has to press a button to have the surround view image display over top of the former feed.
Unlike our European friends, the Dual View Display functionality isn’t available in North America. That feature allows for driver and passenger to view completely different content on the same screen.
Jaguar’s heritage of elegant design and breathtaking performance has excited and delighted the world for over 70 years. This latest special edition F-Type continues that tradition and is the kind of sports car you’d want to show off to everyone
Even though hits underlying design is a few years old, I’m still a tremendous fan of the way that the F-Type looks and drives. The supercharged engine and a brilliant chassis mean the vehicle delivers performance to match its looks.
Sadly, you can’t get this limited edition in conjunction with the F-Type’s walloping 5.0-liter supercharged V8 but the uprated supercharged V6 is more than sufficient for most.
While the Chequered Flag trim won’t make the car any faster, it certainly looks even more so the part. It has a unique story and has been developed by one of the finest performance car builders in the market today.