The Old Way
Jaguar World Monthly|January 2020
With manufacture of the X351 XJ now finished, the F-TYPE takes over the mantle of Jaguar’s oldest production model. To discover more about the continuing allure of this six-year-old sports car, we drive a 380PS V6 convertible from Lincoln to Bath on the UK’s oldest road, the Fosse Way
Paul Walton
THE ROMANS ruled England for almost 400 years, yet their impact on the country is larger than any other conquerors, even the Vikings, the Normans and Michael Bublé at Christmas. But, other than an odd wall here, or the occasional building there, there’s not much of them left. Apart from their roads.

The Romans were more prolific at road building than Highways England today, and many of these ancient routes remain the backbone of the British network. One of the oldest and most famous is the Fosse Way, built when Christianity was still in its infancy. It remains a direct route between Lincoln and Exeter.

What better car to explore this ancient road than the oldest model in Jaguar’s current line-up, an F-TYPE convertible? Like the Fosse Way, old doesn’t mean out of date. It’s time to put on my sandals and go

It looks like any other British junction – typically busy with morning commuters and endless lorries – but the Hykeham Roundabout (just outside Lincoln) marks the known start of the Fosse Way, one of the Romans’ most important British roads.

Of course, it would have been a lot different when it was built in around 43AD: the road signs would have been smaller and there would have been fewer BMW drivers hogging the fast lane.

With the natives adopting the Roman roads after the conquerors left, this ancient road is more or less intact, still linking Lindum Colonia (Lincoln) in the East Midlands to Isca Dumnoniorum (the current location of Exeter) in the southwest, some 230 miles.

Unsurprisingly, as any child will tell you, Roman roads are straighter than hipster jeans, and the Fosse Way is no different. Look on a map and it cuts the country in half more effectively than Brexit. It is an incredible feat, never straying more than six miles (10km) from a straight line. If only the bloke who landscaped my garden had been that accurate.

My journey will end at Bath, 180 miles away, taking in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Somerset. A decent day-trip by today’s standards, never mind 2,000 years ago, but I have the perfect car: an F-TYPE P380 convertible.

Although I’ve driven several before (including this Madagascar Orange example – see May 2019, p68), I’m still excited by the journey ahead. The F-TYPE might be six years old, but it remains the best-handling car that Jaguar has ever produced, while the Fosse Way is one of our most exciting cross-country routes. Together, they should make for a fun day.

From Lincoln to Leicester, the A46 follows the exact course of the Fosse Way. Although it diverts around Brough and East Stoke, the Roman road continues unabated through the villages, still called either Fosse Way or Fosse Road.

The word fosse is derived from the Latin fossa, meaning ditch, and it’s thought the road began as a defensive ditch that was later filled in and converted into a road, or possibly a defensive ditch ran alongside the road for at least some of its length.

As ditches go, it’s a good one. Arrow straight and very smooth, I can safely put my foot down, the car responding the moment I do. After the eight-speed automatic ’box drops down a couple of gears, the car accelerates forward crisply and quickly, the deep, fruity rasp coming from its sports exhaust heightening my excitement. I first drove an F-TYPE V6 six years ago, and it’s no less entertaining this time around.

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