The drop top that signified Jaguar’s return to the sports car sector
Finally in 2013 the long-awaited successor to the iconic Jaguar E-Type arrived, named – of course – the F-Type. With drop-dead gorgeous looks penned by designer Ian Callum, it would undoubtedly sell on style alone. But, this wouldn’t do for Jaguar, or driving enthusiasts.
Instead, the brand has the Porsche Boxster and 911 Cabriolet firmly in its sights, so has had to make its latest model better in every respect. Quality, handling and comfort have all been honed and the result is a very special car.
The entry-level F-Type comes with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 producing 335bhp, so it’s hardly a slouch. But, we’d recommend the V6 S, with the same engine tuned to 375bhp, launching the rear-wheel drive Jag from 0-62mph 4.8 seconds and giving it a top speed of 171mph. If that’s not quick enough for you, there’s a V8 version with a supercar-rivalling 542bhp.
Power in most F-Types is dealt with by an eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ automatic, with paddle shifters found behind the steering wheel for when the mood takes you. Left to its own devices this is an admirably smooth gearbox, making the F-Type easy to drive in town. Select ‘Dynamic’ mode with the toggle switch on the centre console and gears select with greater ferocity and an accompanying explosion from the exhaust. Exciting stuff. We tested the V6 S and found its exhaust note utterly addictive, especially when the Active Sports Exhaust button is pressed to make it even louder.
Introduced for 2015, there's also the option of a six-speed manual gearbox (Jaguar's first since the X-Type) if you go for the V6 or V6 S and all-wheel drive as an option for the V6 S and V8 R. The availability of a manual 'box should appeal to driving purists, but it's not as slick as you'll find in a Porsche, and this is one occasion where we'd plump for the automatic, as it suits the car incredibly well. But, with a reputation for smoking the rear tyres rather easily, four-wheel drive is something we'd wholeheartedly recommend, particularly if you often drive in cold or wet weather.
Ride and Handling
The F-Type has really responsive steering, so it takes hardly any effort to tackle corners, but despite this it also feels pleasingly settled at motorway speeds. Understeer is never an issue and neither is body roll, the F-Type simply slices through corners. Both the ‘S’ and ‘R’ versions feature active suspension able to adjust their stiffness hundreds of times each second to take account of conditions and even hard braking and acceleration.
In fact, the only time the F-Type can be a handful is under acceleration, particularly in winter when we drove it. Skilled drivers will love its willingness to slide, but most should find the traction control and winter driving mode keeps things neat and tidy.
Both the ‘S’ and ‘R’ versions feature active suspension able to adjust their stiffness hundreds of times each second to take account of conditions and even hard braking and acceleration.
Did you know?
The Jaguar F-Type is built in the Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands and was designed at Jaguar’s global HQ at Whitely, on the outskirts of Coventry.
Interior And Equipment
The standard seats are supportive and extremely low-slung, helping you take advantage of the F-Types cornering abilities. It’s easy to get comfortable and we found the steering wheel to be just the right size, while there was plenty of room for our feet in the deep foot well. The roof drops with the press of a button and can raise in 12 seconds at speeds up to 30mph.
There’s plenty to get the heart racing, from the pulsing start/stop button when you first get in the car, to the oversized numbers in the rev counter and copper paddle shifters. If we have any criticism, we wish these felt more metallic to the touch and, while the infotainment system is comprehensive in what it can do, the graphics look slightly dated.
While these are hardly deal-breakers, the boot might be. It measures just 200-litres and isn’t the most useful shape, so even short weekend trips will require soft bags and very careful packing. At least folding the roof down has no impact on this, unlike some rivals. The F-Type Coupe has a larger 407-litre boot if you do need more space.
The F-Type Convertible costs from £56,745, placing it between the Porsche Boxster and the 350bhp 911 Cabriolet, the latter starting from £82k, considerably more than the F-Type, making the Jaguar appear good value.
Fuel economy only drops from 33.6.4mpg to 32.8mpg (emissions increasing from 199 to 203g/km) when you go from the standard V6 to the V6 S, so there’s almost no cost disadvantage with the extra power. But, choosing either V6 in manual guise ups the emissions to 234g/km of CO2. It’s, also a different story for the 5.0-litre V8, with high running costs of 26.4mpg and emissions of 255g/km of CO2 making it expensive to tax.
It’s a different story for the 5.0-litre V8, with high running costs of 26.4mpg and emissions of 255g/km of CO2 making it expensive to tax.
The Jaguar F-Type Convertible is a stunning car, both in terms of the way it looks and the smile it puts on your face. Even driving slowly or through town, the wonderful burble from its exhaust will prove irresistible to anyone who loves cars. The Coupe is arguably even better resolved, but for some the extra rush of driving with the roof down will make the soft-top their only choice. Now Jaguar has added manual and four-wheel drive versions to the line-up, the F-Type should suit an even wider group of driving enthusiasts.