Yes, there is a car we had more fun in than the McLaren.
I had the privilege to get behind the wheel of some amazing cars this year. There was the McLaren 650S Spider which took my supercar virginity. I got to see what the future of the automotive industry will look like when I was handed the keys to a new BMW 7 Series. Spoiler alert: The future will be filled with touchscreens and controlled via hand gestures. Among all the cars I was lucky enough to have driven in 2016, one stands out above all the rest. Yes, even the McLaren 650S Spider.
That car is, drum roll please, the Jaguar F-Type S Convertible. For some of you this may seem like a crazy choice. How could an F-Type that’s not even an R or SVR beat out a McLaren? How could a supercharged V6 with an automatic transmission be more fun to drive than a convertible with a naturally aspirated V8 paired to a manual (Camaro SS Convertible)? While I had more fun driving other cars I had the best week driving the Jaguar F-Type S Convertible. I'm convinced that the week would not have been notable in any other car. It actually wouldn’t be worth remembering at all if not for the F-Type. Here’s what went down. The first part of the week was spent at a fancy hotel in San Francisco, courtesy of Mazda.
I was there to drive the new CX-9, and despite living in the city I was not going to turn down a free hotel room right across the street from the iconic Ferry Building. One of the perks of my pricey room was free valet parking. I have never, ever owned a car worth valeting. Let me tell you, it feels great to call down and ask for the Jaguar F-Type S Convertible to be ready in 10 minutes. It feels even better to fire up the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine right in front of the hotel. Guests in the lobby stop and stare. People on the street give you a few seconds of their attention. The Jaguar looks great and sounds incredible. Being in it makes you feel amazing. Now I did throw the Jag around my favorite road, Highway 35, but that wasn't my favorite driving experience.
Actually, high-tailing it from Oakland to San Francisco in order to make a friend’s birthday party was the most fun I had. Earlier in the night I had been on a date with an English woman (I told you it was a perfect week). We drove around the East Bay hills and by the time I dropped her off in Oakland I realized how late it was. I hit the gas around 12:45 A.M. and was across the water, parked and at the door by 1:10 A.M. I remember the time exactly because the bar stopped admitting people then despite last call not being for another 30 minutes. Even at night being able to make that time from Oakland to San Francisco is impressive. Lap times are cool and all, but equally important is how a car performs, and how fun it is, in real-world scenarios.
The Jaguar F-Type S Convertible is not the most powerful or best handling car I drove in 2016. But it is the one that will be forever burned in my memory. Emotion is a big deal in the auto industry. Cars are supposed to make you feel things, ideally good things. My memories of the Jaguar F-Type S Convertible are nothing but good. It consistently proved to be the perfect car for the moment, and that’s why it ranks as the top car I drove in 2016.