With looks this good, one wonders why the Jaguar F-Type even really needs to be brilliant to drive. But the British marque’s spiritual successor to their famous E-Type of the 1960s was painstaking considered during its development against the Porsche 911 and aims to be the sports car success it deserves.
It turns out that the F-Type was also handed the mantle as Jag’s performance flagship after the demise of the previous XK, spawning even faster versions with more powerful V8 engines to go with less aggressive V6-powered models.
The suave two seater is offered in either Coupe or soft top Convertible configuration in a number of grades and corresponding powertrain options such as R-Dynamic, 400 Sport, R, and SVR. Each comes with rapid performance, a masterpiece chassis, a cracking soundtrack, and masses of appeal.
Jaguar’s initial plan to offer the F-Type as nimble sports car rather than a full-on GT has also meant that it’s one of the most potent performance cars out there for the price, especially in the range-topping SVR guise and its monstrous 423kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
By comparison, an equivalent power figure from the 911 Turbo S would set you back a considerable sum more, and considering the F-Type can be had with all-wheel drive now, harnessing all that power is a lot less intimidating.
And at the lower end of the spectrum, the six-cylinder F-Types have been proven to be a strong contender to the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman, offering a rousingly sharp and rewarding drive as well as a sweet supercharged exhaust note that can no longer be matched by the Stuttgart camp.
“The overall shape of the car is traditional, with a long bonnet and short rear overhang, while the muscular wheelarches and wide track add to the aggressive looks.” - AutoExpress
Especially as a Coupe, the F-Type’s aesthetic appeal is quick to be recognised and matches up with the sloping roofline to remind you ever more of the E-Type Low Drag Coupe models if the long bonnet and layout didn’t already.
There’s a very obvious shoulder line to the F-Type that swells up around the wheel arches for an extra muscular effect. This flows at the rear into the pillars and together form a structure that’s also 80 percent stiffer than the Convertible.
The car underwent a minor update in 2015 and a facelift in early 2017 but kept the visual alterations to a minimum, relegated to a set of LED front and rear illumination as well as sleeker looking bumpers.
Engine and Drivetrain
The V8 R is certainly faster, but with so much power can be a bit wayward and has traction… issues. So you’d expect the R Coupe to be even more wild, but it’s not. - Top Gear
Two basic engines are offered for the F-Type, that being the a 3.0-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8, each being supercharged and delivering varied levels of performance depending on the grade chosen. While the question of power is a more personal one, there’s really no weak link here as each F-Type is more than adequately quick and engaging.
The base V6 pumps out 250kW could well satisfy most drivers out there when set against the car’s lively rear-drive chassis, but can be increased to 280kW or 294kW in the 400 Sport variant. Meanwhile, the V8’s vicious grunt will more than likely get the wheels to spool up in a cloud at a careless prod of the throttle, but is easily modulated for a more civilised cruise.
In this case, those worried about the car being too tail happy can opt to have any version they’d like with all-wheel drive (standard with the V8). An 8-speed automatic sourced from ZF is the default choice, and it’s a transmission we know well to be excellent, though a 6-speed manual can be had as an option for an extra layer of driver engagement.
“…it’s unashamedly sporting, with only a few big, chunky controls for the ventilation, a large touchscreen and not a lot else.” - CAR Magazine
Fittingly, the cabin is clearly been developed to envelop the driver and the layout does make every control surface fall easily to hand. Material choices are also of a high standard, though build quality and some odd ergonomic choices make it trail behind the class leading 911 and 718 Cayman.
Overall, it’s very sporty, even luxurious place to be and certainly very comfortable for what is a hardened sports car, but the interior advancements of newer cars have made the F-Type’s look dated somewhat, a little like a luxury GT car from 2009 though fitted with present day technology.
Still, when compared against the rather uninspired cockpit of the XK, the F-Type’s is miles ahead. But where that was a four-seater GT, strictly two-seats available here make the cocooning effect of the high and angled dash feel cramped when sat inside at idle.
Being a purpose-built sports car, a commodious boot is something between an afterthought and a nice bonus feature. Golfers won’t be happy with the paltry 196-litre cargo capacity in the Convertible, and the Coupe merely takes this to a respectable 315-litres - probably enough for a weekend getaway - but only if you opt to not carry a spare wheel.
Behind The Wheel
“It delivers poise, thrill and interactivity above and beyond the ability of many rivals, but casts them over a backdrop of refinement, touring comfort and high-speed stability.” - Autocar
In short, the F-Type is one of the best handling and most fun cars to drive currently on sale. In dissecting why we discover that the poise and refinement it exhibits 85 percent of the time is peppered by a playful, almost wild other side that’s accessed with a boot full of throttle.
It’s eager at all times to turn sharply into a corner and stay planted, providing an uncommon level of communication to the driver the whole time. But at the right engine speed and the right surface conditions, the car’s yaw can be modulated to scintillating effect. And in the V8, this breaking of traction is nearly impulsive.
Once the car moves around, though, it’s a a surprisingly mouldable beast, allowing even inexperienced drivers the thrill of power oversteer for a split second long enough to feel like a hero before the onboard systems cut in to make sure nothing gets out of hand. When it comes to stopping too, the standard vented steel discs were up to task, with enough feedback through the pedal to modulate the car’s rapid but smooth deceleration.
Niggles lie with the with the car’s slightly muted sense of combatting lower-to-medium speed understeer, which can cause some uncertainty with more experienced drivers who are used to this characteristic in other sports cars.
Safety and Technology
“The Jaguar F-Type was European NCAP crash tested and passed with ease, gaining five stars.” - CarsGuide
The F-Type comes standard with 6 airbags, plenty for the two occupants that the car will be carrying at maximum and the usual fare of stability control and anti-lock brakes, though there isn’t much by way of active safety tech on offer here.
There’s a standard 8-inch InControl Touch Pro infotainment system that’s permeated through many other Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity and a suite of its own custom applications, though support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would have also been appreciated. Audio is piped through a premium 380W 10-speaker Meridian speaker array.
As the next two-door sports car after the XK, Jaguar has upped their game considerably in a single bound. The F-Type, by comparison, is almost revelatory in the way it condenses this many talents and attributes into a car that can seemingly span price classes.
It also reintroduced Jaguar to the world as a serious dynamic and performance authority as well as marking the brand again as a purveyor of truly and objectively desirable machines. Does it parry the strikes of every performance car rival with aplomb? No, and in fact, the car isn’t as polished as some others, though it can make up for this by sheer charm.
That aside, Jaguar crafted an immensely talented car with the F-Type to a degree that should worry other brands like Porsche and BMW as its this kind of momentum that could so easily materialise in other areas of the line-up. And what a starting point for a roll this is.
AutoExpress - 5/5 - “The Jaguar F-Type is a perfect flagship for the British firm. There's a thrilling driving experience with whichever variant you choose, and it’s almost universally acclaimed as one of the best looking open-top sports cars on sale.”
Top Gear - 9/10 - “The F-Type is fun to drive, sounds fantastic and looks amazing. Job done.”
Autocar - 4.5/5 - “…there is no question that the F-Type coupé is another landmark in the 21st century recasting of the Jaguar brand. It’s an inspired car, but it’s not encumbered by its maker’s sporting legend. It may not be perfect, but it is wonderful.”
CarsGuide - 3.5/5 - “A brilliant British sports machine, the Jaguar F-Type S coupe is a viable alternative to the numerous German machines in this class and certainly deserves a test drive.”
CAR Magazine - 4/5 - “They’ve different characters, the F-type and the Porsches, but we commend those who want to try the flair of the Jag after such a a longstanding repeat prescription of Germanic precision.”
EVO - 4.5/5 - “Jaguar has tried to position the F-type between the Porsche Boxster and the 911, and while it can’t beat the Porsches on pure driving thrills, it is nonetheless a very appealing alternative for those with an aversion to Stuttgart’s products.”