Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: July 21, 2019
As always with a vehicle on the final years of its life, automakers begin rolling out the special editions to squeeze all the pulp and juice out of the orange, so the speak. And in the case of the 2020 Jaguar F-Type, it sings its swan song before a full refresh next year with the Checkered Flag Edition, a limited model celebrating 70 years of Jaguar sports cars since the XK120 reveal in 1948. In Canada, the Checkered (or Chequered if you’re following the British spelling) Flag Edition is available in both coupe and convertible body styles, but can only be paired with a 380-hp V6 engine with all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic, amounting to a $7,000 upgrade over the R-Dynamic AWD trim that it’s based upon.
What does a checkered flag mean to you? Some might see a picnic table cloth or their favourite plaid shirt but to our eyes, we see something a little more special. Whether it’s competing in Le Mans, winning a race at your local go kart track, or merely spectating Formula 1, it’s the symbol that the race has finished. To Jaguar, they’ve seen that flag more than most and to celebrate its storied heritage, this F-Type has been draped in aesthetic and cosmetic upgrades.
Unique additions include red brake calipers, red seat belts and treadplates, suede headliner, 20-inch gloss black wheels, brushed aluminum interior trim, a red stripe on the top of the steering wheel, and a checkered flag emblem embossed on the front grill, seats, bottom of the steering wheel, and carpet mats. There are only three paint colours available: white, black, and red. I have to say, even on its sixth-year running, the F-Type design is still as head turning as it was before and has aged like a fine wine, a rare attribute in the ever-changing and progressive automotive world. Other notable standard features include adaptive dampers, brake-based torque vectoring, and a two-stage active exhaust that allows this F-Type to sing and bark to the stratosphere.
Without any performance upgrades, the F-Type Checkered Flag Edition drives exactly like the standard F-Type P380 AWD. The supercharged 3.0-litre V6 dishes out 380 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque, an impressive number, but it hits 0-100 km/h in a scant 5.1 seconds. When put up against turbocharged rivals with their tidal waves of low-end propulsion, the F-Type easily falls behind, especially with its heavy all-wheel drive system and relatively low torque figure. Rather, it’s the way the Jag gets up to speed that blows the rest out of the water. The immediacy of the supercharger means there is no wait time, no delay, no lag. It’s 60 FPS all the way, and the noise is just incredible.
The accompanying exhaust sings up to the limiter and pops and crackles on the way down. There’s a raw crispness to its high-pitched wail that no other automaker can quite replicate, giving the F-Type a unique audio signature that can be distinctly heard from a mile away. Even with the coupe’s fixed roof shielding much of the noise, the soundtrack is nevertheless dramatic, soul-satisfying, and will quench your thirst for sonic bliss. In the auditory department, the F-Type has an edge over the bland sounding Porsche 911. It even holds its ground against some of our favourite V8 soundtracks from the Lexus LC 500 and Ford Shelby GT350.
With AWD on tap, it ensures all four paws are clawing into the ground for traction, and the F-Type is no longer a drift-happy feline. You can take a hot corner at speed and not have to worry about fishtailing into the nearest light pole. It inspires a surprising amount of confidence, and having such a sensitive and immediate connection from pedal to propulsion makes spirited runs on your favourite backroads just that much more engaging. If the 911 is a scalpel, then the F-Type is a sledgehammer. And which weapon are you really taking to the whack-a-mole?
Inside, the 2020 model year offers a larger 10.2-inch infotainment display borrowed from the new XE and I-Pace. The substantially-sized screen remedies previous concerns of its small cramped interface with hard-to-reach corner inputs, and performs quicker than before. The display is bright and doesn’t get washed out by sunlight, the colours are vibrant and high-definition, and the touchscreen’s ease of use and learning curve is small. It’s a system I enjoy using on a daily basis, as Jaguar seems to have sorted out all the kinks and input delays that have infamously plagued its units before.
Much of that comes down to the massive dials flanking each side that control the HVAC temperature, and heated and ventilated seats. There is no confusion as to which dial controls what. Everything is clearly labeled and ergonomically placed. In addition, the center console layout is by far one of the best in the sports car segment. Everything is within arm’s reach, and there is a dedicated volume dial right next to the fighter pilot-inspired gear shifter. The exhaust and spoiler buttons sit right below them. Yet, despite the exhaustive list of standard features, Jaguar nickels and dimes for even the most minor of creature comforts, like $620 for passive keyless entry, $510 for a powered tailgate, and $210 for an auto-dimming door mirror. Still, if you jump camp and take a look at the rivaling Porsche 718 Cayman, their case of price tag edema is even worse.
Once you cross the $100,000 mark however, you hit big-ticket waters for limited and exclusive sports cars. The Checkered Flag edition of the F-Type Coupe starts at $105,000, a very competitive price when compared against other two-seaters like the 365-hp Porsche 718 Cayman GTS (PDK: $96,850). It can even be stacked up against 2+2s like a base 370-hp Porsche 911 Carrera ($104,000) or Lexus LC 500 ($103,050).
If you’re looking for clinical precision, a no-compromise approach to quick driving, and a manual transmission, then the 718 Cayman is still your friend. If you’re in the market for a daily companion that can be driven confidently with more trunk space than these compromised bruisers and is still engaging behind the wheel, check out the cheaper BMW M2 Competition, one of our favourite sports cars of 2019. Keep in mind that neither of the two aforementioned are available with all-wheel drive like the Jaguar. But if you’re buying from the heart instead of the brain, and desire drama, excitement, and a drive that will stimulate the soul and inject adrenaline straight to the veins, the F-Type will be your opioid. There’s nothing that quite fills the void left by its signature auditory crackles and instantaneous acceleration. You may not realize it right away, but the moment you take away an F-Type from someone, they will know what they’re missing. It’s bottled-up emotion in material form.
Model: 2020 Jaguar F-Type Coupe P380 AWD Checkered Flag Edition
Paint Type: Fuji White
Base Price: $105,000
Price as Tested: $110,600
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,482 / 1,923 / 1,311
Curb weight (kg): 1,674
Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6
Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 339 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 5,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.0
Tires: Pirelli P Zero