Featured: I Prefer Mr Hyde

I Prefer Mr Hyde

By Jonathan WC Mills
August 4, 2015
18 comments

Photography by: Jonathan WC Mills

The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written in 1886 by Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson. Soon after, the short novella’s main character entered the English lexicon and has remained a shorthand for ‘split personality’, a term that has more recently become known in the modern psychiatric diagnostic and statistical manual as: dissociative identity disorder.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Recently, Jaguar Cars of North America was kind enough to offer me the use of its newest sports car, the F-Type R, a triumphant return to form after a long and illustrious heritage full of fast cars with two seats and lovely shapes. How lovely and important are its ancestors? The 1961 E-Type, a long hooded phallic emblem of speed and masculinity has a permanent spot in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Living up to that kind of pressure is no small achievement, but when the F-Type sportscar bowed last year it did so with almost universal acclaim. I will happily add my voice to the chorus: it’s a striking car.

With keys in hand, I drove it home to get packed for a 700 mile round trip to Las Vegas, NV. I figured this range-topping drop top would be the perfect high speed companion on a jaunt to Sin City to meet up with…my in-laws.

So, this was not going to be a Rat Pack weekend of sin, but perhaps the slinky Jag would be a great way to connect with my…teenage nephews? Maybe my wife would enjoy the…premium, leather clad interior and…uh, impressive sound system? (I also hoped my mother-in-law might be momentarily overwhelmed with the perception of success such a car conveyed on me.)

First, we had to get there.

We quickly ran into the F-Type’s first compromise: a lack of space. While I’m an efficient packer, my wife approaches travel along the lines of the familiar scout motto of “Be Prepared”. The resulting packing job combined Tetris-style space management and Donkey Kong-like barrel compaction…and I just managed to get the trunk closed.

Total baggage? Two weekend pieces, a camera bag, two large beach towels, and three extra pairs of women’s shoes. The philosophy on available space seemed to extend to the handsome cockpit as well: if it’s bigger than an iPhone or a tube of Hawaiian Tropic it is going to live at your passenger’s feet. Fair enough.

We were off. Slowly and painfully, but moving. For those that don’t live in Southern California and have built the idea of the L.A. to Las Vegas run as a sort of Cannonball Run thanks to movies like The Hangover and Swingers, let me tell you: the reality is not glamorous. It’s a five hour traffic jam in the middle of a 100-degree desert.

It must be hell on earth…for those not blessed with a $120,000 sports car. We were perfectly happy to burble along, with the Jaguar’s interior hovering at a chilly 69 degrees. Outside? 107. We reached Vegas without putting down the top.

After the valet’s “Good afternoon, Mr. Mills” treatment (something I solely attribute to the car) we settled into the MGM Grand for the evening. But as we stretched and limbered up for dinner, both myself and the Mrs. felt unpleasant kinks in our ribs and flanks. It seems that the seats are great for hugging during lateral acceleration, but not so ideal on a 280 mile traffic-filled desert commute. I was particularly aggrieved by a stylistic choice to run heavy stitching down down the middle of the seat.

The seats are compromise number two.

The next day we were up early to meet the family. My wife’s nephew was playing in a basketball tournament from back east and after arriving and settling in, the rest of the family trickled into the stands. All of them had noticed the Jaguar in the parking lot. “Nice car.” “Fancy!” “That’s a hot car.” Does it stand out? Of course it does.

After the game, I suggested my nephew, the 17-year-old game-winner, ride back to the hotel in the car with me. From the grin on his face, he was happy to oblige the request. Which leads me back to my original paragraph regarding Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My wife had been perfectly happy with the good doctor, never even aware of the half of a thousand horsepower—Mr. Hyde’s heart—lurking under the hood of the Jaguar. With a small press of the performance exhaust button and a shift to “dynamic” mode, I motored slowly out of the parking lot with a last wave to the family.

Once out of sight, I turned to my nephew: “Want to see what she’ll do?” I asked. A quick look in the rear views, a glance down the road, and a strong right foot to the firewall and BOOM! A grenade goes off. The four Pirelli tires and standard all-wheel-drive dig into the hot pavement. The mighty supercharged motor cranks like a NASCAR stocker at full clip, and the scenery goes blurry. And the normally serious teenager in the passenger seat? He cracked a huge grin.

Mr. Hyde is a hell of a lot of fun.

We did a few more pops of acceleration, savoring the cracking, burbling noise of the V8 coming off throttle and then found a tunnel under the I-15. “You might want to Snapchat this,” I said to my nephew and hit the gas again. 

The sound in the tunnel was both socially and aurally irresponsible, the auditory equivalent of offering my teenage family member some drugs. It was a gunship roar and a harbinger of the Apocalypse rolled into one. I half-expected to exit the tunnel alongside three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It was awesome.

Over the course of the long weekend, this experience and exposure to the Jaguar’s engine opened many eyes: everyone liked Dr. Jekyll but loved Mr. Hyde.

The rest of the trip was a bit of a blur, thanks both to the 24/7 nature of Las Vegas and my 4:45 AM wake up call to capture these photos you’re enjoying. That early morning trip north of town into the mountains was also my only opportunity to test out the car’s performance on a road that wasn’t straight as a ruler, and I am happy to report that it goes as advertised. Which is to say that the envelope of grip is so far out of bounds for an ordinary road and ordinary driver as to be laughable.

I will note that the 8 speed transmission has been given a great many kudos by almost every writer before me, and with good reason: it’s one of the best I’ve used. Fast, crisp, immediate shifts. The new (and standard) AWD gives the steering a bit less feel but provides a welcome sense of security against the 550 horsepower under foot.

It is a gorgeous sports car that your grandmother could drive, and a vehicle that symbolizes the new Jaguar in a way that the XJ or XF can’t match. It’s both a spiritual successor to the single letter cars of the past and a strong nod to the future of the brand. My in-laws were impressed, my significant other didn’t hate it, and now I dream of sneaking away to spend more alone time with Mr. Hyde. 

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18 Comments on "I Prefer Mr Hyde"

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Dennis White
Dennis White

Didn’t those guys without any teeth in the movie Deliverance use the phrase “y’all” a bunch?

TVOHIO
TVOHIO
A few comments: I own an ’08 XKR with 420 HP. Awesome car. – Even those who like Track Days spend 99\% of their miles on the roads. Great cars need to have multiple personalities if you want to enjoy them from commuting to touring to track. – Before purchasing my XKR I test drove an Aston V8 Vantage. It basically has the same configuration as the F Type. Small trunk, no space behind the seats. One of the reasons I chose the XKR was the storage space I got from the rear seats which are useless for human beings… Read more »
Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Nice write up.

Your best to date, Jonathan. The car is not my cup of tea, but you captured the moment (if even the illusion), in which case, nothing else matters. I’m all in for experience.

…three of the Four… 😉

Jon Ulrich
Jon Ulrich

I have to confess that I love Jaguars -always have and always will. I might not own one past the warranty, but the F may be the best sporting Jag in a long time. Beautiful, fast, and its a Jaaaaaag.

Ian Clarke
Ian Clarke

Would the administrators please ban this Guitar Slinger character since he or she is merely a tiresome bore and is spoiling the spirit of this excellent site. Thank you.

Jon Ulrich
Jon Ulrich

Mr. Guitar Slinger has been banned from so many sites as Colorado Kid, Martin James, TJ Martin and probably many more aliases. But each time he rides off into the sunset he leaves a bit of vacuum and I kind of miss his nasty posts and his unconventional spelling and punctuation. And I wish he would just tell us his real name so I could listen to his guitar playing.

JB21
JB21

No.
Viciously, and often annoyingly accusatory and opinionated Guitar Slinger may be, his comments are also often insightful and entertaining, so let’s be fair.
Besides, he isn’t attacking anybody personally, and the spirit of the site love of cars and free exchange of comments, no?

Kenyon Stewart
Kenyon Stewart

It’s just his thing I guess. The issue is that he often does attack people personally. It typically follows a pattern. First he writes a lengthy tirade calling out the author for whatever injustice or error that only he has the breadth of knowledge and/or sense of justice to correct. He will then personally attack anyone who tries to disagree or point out any problems in his reasoning.

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel

I could not agree more KStewart. If it is true that we identify with our cars, and they are a part of us so very much, then to slam on certain cars and the “deluded souls” that buy them then it is personal. To point out a flaw is one thing. ALL cars have flaws. All people have flaws. But we still love them. The cars and the people. Why? The cars are a creation of people. One follows the other. But my goodness everything is a pile according to this certain poster.

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel
JB, with all due respect to you (not gun slinger) I think that to convey an idea about a car is one thing. But these postings I fear do hurt the feelings of people that own the cars that are examined by these postings. They are neither positive nor worthwhile due to consistent negative perspectives. I fear these negative comments can drive timid posters away out of fear of being made to look foolish or something. I may be off base here and if so forgive me however I have a hard time with basicly negative perspectives from the postings… Read more »
Ross Ruschhaupt
Ross Ruschhaupt

I don’t want them to ban him until we can get to the bottom of why his punctuation is so uniquely terrible….

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
If this is Mr Hyde then I must be ole Slowhand [ Hint ; I’m not ] Without going into the multitude of reasons why I’ve come to call todays Jaguars ‘ Asthmatic Kitty’s ‘ suffice it to say 90\% of what you ‘ experienced was pure unadulterated illusion … from the overly synthesized and digitally enhanced exhaust [ which like Infiniti’s exhaust in my opinion is pure embarrassment ] .. to the illusion that it was the car that got you called Mr [ in reality they call everyone they think is about to drop a bundle Mr regardless… Read more »
ACFowles
ACFowles

As someone who as owned a number of excellent jaguars, has driven many F-Types, and is considering the purchase of an example, I can assure both you and Jaguar that your inconsequential, inaccurate and ill-informed opinions will not influence my purchase nor lessen my enjoyment of my choice.

Jacopo Villa
Jacopo Villa

Well…that was one hell of an illusion!

Take care,

J

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet

are you serious?
did you ever drive this car?
the F type is the one of the best car on the market today. it’s not a perfect car, the interior is not the better one, but the loock is gorgeous, the engine SOUND is astonishing, and the driivability is really fun. Please try it and then come back to talk about.

Josh V
Josh V

You’re seriously going to sit there and tell someone that the fun they had was actually just an illusion because your criticizing anything/everything makes you feel intelligent?

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