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The Jaguar F-Type - First Drive

By raccars Published

F-Type - the new Jaguar E-Type is here. It’s been worth the wait…

10 Second Verdict

Beautiful new British two-seater sportscar is special to look at and sit in, has performance and character in abundance and is a very talented car to drive It is a true rival to the Porsche 911, and it costs a lot less than the Porsche, too…

Price: £58,500 - £79,950
Engine range: 3.0 V6 SC 340, 3.0 V6 SC 380, 5.0 V8 SC 495
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic with paddleshifts
0-60mph: 4.2-5.1 seconds
Top speed: 161-186mph
Fuel economy: 25.5-31.4mpg
CO2: 209-259g/km
On sale: Now

What is it?

This is the two-seater Jaguar sportscar the world has been waiting for since the famous and fabulous E-Type stopped production in 1974. Finally, after decades of waiting, it is here.

Contemporary and modern, there are E-Type references in the styling, but lots more that’s 21st century. Made entirely from aluminium, the body is based around two key lines – one starting in the front bumper and flowing through to the rear wheelarches, another starting above the doorhandle and sharply arching back to the fallaway, cut-back tail. Wide, muscular, short and squat, it oozes purpose but is pretty and elegant with it.

On sale now, Jaguar has launched the F-Type with an all-supercharged range of petrol engines. The 3.0-litre V6 variant comes with two power outputs, either 340hp entry-level or 380hp S guise. There is also a 5.0-litre V8 variant with a staggering 495hp (that’s a huge jump up in performance!).

We took to the twisting, challenging roads of Northern Spain to try out the F-Type behind the wheel for the first time. What did we discover? Something with possessing more than a slice of brilliance…

Performance

Performance is what the F-Type is about and Jaguar doesn’t disappoint. Even the base 340hp V6 will have enough for most people, reaching 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds and proving muscular and effortless on the move. Really though, this is such a talented car, you quickly crave more power and more intent.

The 380hp F-Type V6 S delivers this in abundance. An extra 40hp doesn’t sound that much more, but the difference in its character is marked (helped by a standard active exhaust that releases so much more noise). It is brilliantly eager and free-revving, charging to the redline with relish and never feeling like it doesn’t have enough. The high-tech, high-pitched howl from the twin central exhausts is also absolutely fantastic.

The 495hp F-Type V8 S is the real firebrand, though. This has genuine heavyweight punch, again just a flex of the right foot away. It doesn’t make you wait to accelerate, hard, because the surge is always there. 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds tells only half the story because this monster really does feel supercar fast (that the top speed is limited to 186mph is telling – we wouldn’t be surprised if this could easily top 190mph). The V8 rumble from the quad exhausts is loud and prominent as well – power fiends will love it.

All F-Type come with a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, with steering wheel paddleshifts. You really won’t miss a manual because this transmission is fast, direct and immediate. The F-Type is so fast, you actually get more out of it relying on the automatic’s wide spread of gears and easy gearchanges – and left in full auto mode, it’s extremely intuitive and second-guesses your demands well.

Ride and handling

This is the most sporting Jaguar in a decade – more focused even than the headturning XKR-S (and we thought that was a beast…). From the off, you sense this: the ride is taut, the steering fairly light but super-quick, and the fact you’re sat so low and so far back in the chassis adds to this sporting feel.

You quickly learn it’s a very confidence-inspiring sort of focus, though. The Jaguar is accurate, clear and targeted in its feedback, connecting you to the chassis without overwhelming you with a flood of confusing messages. This purity means you have no qualms stepping on it – or even beyond, given how willingly we indulged in power-oversteer moments during a track session…

We like the V6 S best of all. This has the variable damper Adaptive Dynamics system also shared with the V8 – which gives so much extra ability on twisting roads – but doesn’t have the 5.0-litre car’s abundance of power. It’s the most well balanced of the three rear-drive sportscars and the most satisfying to drive at speed.

Being a Jaguar means also riding well, though. Although it’s focused in town, it displays an amazing ability to remain composed and measured at speed, impressing all the more as the surfaces degenerate. We reckon it is made for tough, twisting British B-roads, despite its considerable width. That you hardly ever sense this or are hindered by it says it all.

Inside story

Jaguar has given the F-Type an interior to match its enchanting exterior. Designed to wrap around the driver, it purposefully moves away from the clean lines of Jaguar’s saloons and introduces a more characterful, expressive look. A pistol-grip gearshifter replaces the other cars’ rotary dial, for example: chunky heater controls and switches replace the premium hi-fi consoles of XF and XJ.

You can choose a huge range of interior trims, colours and materials for the F-Type, and even take ‘Performance’ seats from the expensive XKR-S. All share the same low-set driving position though, plus an interior that stays surprisingly bluster-free even at motorway speeds with the roof down. That canvass hood takes 12 seconds to go down or up and you can operate it up to 30mph.

All models get paddleshifts behind the steering wheel, but only ‘S’ models come with the rubberised orange finish that’s also on the engine stop-start button. We reckon it’s worth choosing an S for this alone…

Marketplace

Jaguar has been bold with the pricing of the F-Type – in that it’s billed as a Porsche 911 alternative but costs significantly less than the German sales leader. Spec for spec, a Jaguar director told us, it costs 25% less than a 911 Cabriolet – and all because Jaguar wants to lure buyers away from the default Porsche choice.

Prices start at £58,500 for the F-Type V6 SC 340 model. An entry-level Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet with a PDK automatic gearbox costs over £84,000. Indeed, the most expensive Jaguar F-Type costs LESS than the cheapest Porsche 911 Cabriolet – and the F-Type packs that snarling 495hp 5.0-litre V8 motor!

Verdict

The F-Type hits the bullseye and, after all the high anticipation, it gives us much delight to report that. It looks great, feels special to sit in and is very entertaining to drive. It has great depths of ability and provides genuine British-biased competition to the class-leading Porsche 911.

Which is our favourite? The standard V6 is a surprise and there’s no denying the sheer fireworks of the V8. But we reckon the best-balanced and most appealing is the 380hp V6 S – and the gorgeous noise it makes really is epic. All are terrific though, and you won’t be disappointed with any. Is the Jaguar F-Type a fitting successor to the E-Type? Unequivocally, yes.

Five rivals

Porsche 911 – the benchmark sportscar and rightly so
Aston Martin V8 Vantage – jewel-like but expensive Jaguar alternative
Mercedes-Benz SL – the comfortable sportscar but now with added bite
Audi R8 – the world’s easiest supercar to drive and live with
Maserati GranCabrio – leftfield Italian choice, but at a price

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