A week on the road with the lowliest F-Type
I called in to see Callum at his Whitley studio on the eve of the announcement of his departure, after a week’s touring in an F-Type P300 R-Dynamic Coupé. Reactions suggested that, after six years in production, the F-Type is solidly recognised as one of today’s most beautiful cars and will have an enduring stature.
When I asked one woman why she was admiring it, she said: “It’s sleek and beautiful, obviously sporty but not shouty. It has a racy attitude with an elegance and style.”
A friend with whom we stayed went next morning straight to a dealer to see about buying one. Why? “It’s simply its line of beauty,” he said. “It has wonderful lines and very good proportions with a kind of discretion. It’s a head-turner without being flashy.” That’s the effect Callum sought, although I’ve always found the bonnet shut line across the front wings disruptive. He acknowledges its awkwardness, and Autocar’s recent scoop photos reveal that he’s eradicated it on the facelifted F-Type coming next year. The new nose, with a horizontal bonnet side shut line, should make the front blend better with the voluptuousness of the tail.
Apart from gauging reaction to the F-Type’s design after six years on sale, I’d wondered how good a sports car experience the least-powerful model, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder P300, would deliver for two people on enticing roads across northern England over five days.
Taking just under 30% of sales, the £55,265 P300 R-Dynamic Coupe is the most popular F-Type in the UK. The four-cylinder engine is popular: it now powers 58% of F-Types compared with 33% for the V6 and 9% for the V8.
Autocar’s test soon after the P300’s launch said it brought “richness, luxury and style to a part of the sports car market that doesn’t currently offer anything like it” and praised the greater handling poise gifted by a 24kg nasal weight reduction but reckoned 296bhp wasn’t enough.
As it turned out, the Ingenium four – working crisply with the ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox – had enough get-up-and-go for swift overtaking on the roads we were on and as much pace as they could handle.