The classic Jag driver has always made me think of a dashing George Best, helping a beehived hotty into a low-slung E-Type. So it seems only right that I’m test-driving Jaguar’s current tribute to the F-Type with that modern footballing legend Gary Lineker.
Gary answers the door to his immaculately fronted west London house with a grin and an adorable dad joke about me ‘ignoring that restraining order’. He’s pretty much everything you want him to be off-screen – chirpy, good-natured and with the athletic bounce of someone who once ran around scoring 48 goals for England. He eyes the Jag F-Type happily, saying, ‘They’re lovely, aren’t they?’ And it is a ridiculously good-looking car. It has the signature long bonnet and slightly squat tail of the retro E-Type, but with all the sleek lines of a very modern thoroughbred.
We lower ourselves into the plush leather seats, and I survey the impressive cockpit. I’m busy admiring the glow of gentle daylight from the panoramic glass roof, but Gary’s already immersed in the engine noise. ‘You’ve got to hear this get going, it’s a really gritty sound’. The V6 roars impressively. Does he listen to music when he drives, as the F-Type has a very decent six-speaker set-up? ‘I’m more of a 5 Live man. But I might listen to a bit of Coldplay or The Smiths.’
The steering is surprisingly light for such a big boy’s motor – the solid suspension means you won’t take corners like Lewis Hamilton, but you do feel a proper power surge when you get going. As Gary puts the F-Type through its paces, he tells me he always drives Jags – currently a roomy XJ Sport (‘I’ve got four lads so I need the seats in the back’).
Does he get road rage? ‘Yeah, like when someone just pulls out in front of you and and does something LIKE THAT! LOOK!’ he gestures to the car in front, then smiles guiltily. ‘That’s about as bad as it gets. I try very hard to be bad, but people never take me seriously.’ Does anything else annoy him?’ ‘Being called Gary. It’s a crap name. I wish I’d been called by my middle name, Winston. Mind you, the fans would still have shouted, “You’re a w*****.”’ I decide the F-Type is exactly the kind of car you’d want your dream date to drive (if he had a spare £67K) – it smacks of confidence and glamour but you feel you’d definitely get a follow-up phone call. It’s the Tom Hiddleston of motors. All too soon our test drive is over, but not before I check out the F-Type’s boot – and I can reveal it has more than enough space for a shopping addict.
The F-Type is a noble successor to the 60s legend – exciting and fabulous to look at, but comfortable and reassuring to drive. A bit like Gary really.
For more information, go to jaguar.co.uk
Gary’s Life On Wheels
A battered old Datsun. It was my dad’s old car but I reversed it straight into his new one. I was only paid £16 a week for playing back then – but I think being paid thousands of pounds as a teenager leads you astray.
Car You'd Never Drive:
Ferrari or Lamborghini. Never fancied one of those – too flash for me. I don’t really like seeking too much attention.
Ever used your fame to get you out of an incident?
I clipped someone, and they got out and went, ‘What the f… oh God, so sorry. I didn’t realise.’ I still had to pay the insurance, though – they weren’t that impressed.