The final car in our Road Test of the Year lineup is the highly anticipated Jaguar F-Type. We've waited decades for a true successor to the iconic E-Type and it seems Jaguar has finally delivered. But will it live up to the hype? James Batchelor finds out.
I slipped into the F-Type at the A34's Chieveley Services before enduring the 80-or-so miles on the M4 to the southerly depths of Wales, and Jaguar's new sports car was refined but nothing more so. The stereo was good; the seats comfortable; the readout between the speedometer and rev-counter slightly cheap-looking.
But once we turned off the M4, with me bringing up the rear of our little convoy and heading towards our overnight stay in deepest south Wales, this was the point at which the F-Type captured my heart.
And boy did I want it to. Jaguars have always had an unusual grasp on me. I could spout the names of Jaguar's '60s models well before I could recite the 12-times table. MK2, 420G, S-Type and MK10 to me were the cars for real men.
And so it's no surprise the E-Type is my answer to the best car ever. Oh, it had its foibles, but there's no other car as pleasing in my eyes.
But my goodness, the F-Type is startlingly fabulous. Push the adaptive dynamics slider on the centre console backwards until a chequered flag symbol appears on the readout between the speedo and rev counter, hit the sports exhaust button and flick to manual mode on the automatic gearbox, and the F turns into a D-Type for 2013.
On the road through villages with names like 'Craddock' and on to our rented cottage, we took in lanes featuring trees growing in the middle of the road and farmers in Land Rovers going about their business.
The supercharged 3.0-litre V6 emits an ear-piercing noise. A howl followed by a staccato bark on upshifts - it sounded like a D-Type with a trumpet up its backside.
Through another village and back on to a narrow lane traversing green peaks revealed the F-Type's slight imperfections - steering that could be crisper, brakes that could be less woolly.
Dynamically, it's a gem but it's the styling - so retro but simultaneously forward-looking - that is this Jaguar's crowning glory.
Jaguar F-Type V6 S
Price: £79,230 (as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6, supercharged, petrol
Power: 357bhp, 460Nm
Max speed: 171mph
MPG (combined): 31.0
Emissions: 213g/km CO2