What is it?
This is the entry-level version of the much-anticipated new Jaguar F-type sports car, and at £58,500 it has raised more than a few eyebrows with its price. However, now that we’ve driven the F-type in all of its various guises and realised that it is more than just a little bit good, that asking price now makes if not perfect then reasonably decent sense.
What Jaguar has produced, even in this basic model, is a not a car that sits beside the Porsche Boxster as an obvious rival. It sits above the mighty Porsche (but beneath the 911 in this instance), which is why its pricing strategy now just about adds up.
What you get with the basic V6 model is not exactly a basic car. The supercharged V6 engine produces a rousing 336bhp at 6500rpm and 332lb ft between 3500-5000rpm, and the gearbox is the same eight-speed Quickshift from ZF that you get in both the more expensive F-types. All up, the largely aluminium F-type V6 weighs just 1597kg.
You lose the diffs from the more expensive versions (mechanical in the F-type V6 S, electronically controlled in the V8 S), and the wheels and tyres shrink to mere 18s, but the V6 doesn't feel like it is missing much on the road.
What is it like?
There’s a delicacy to the way the V6 F-type drives that not even the delightful V6 S can replicate in certain circumstances. Its steering seems especially sweet, as does its ride, both of which are almost certainly the result of it riding on smaller, visually less arresting 18in wheels, which also happen to bring slightly higher-profile and therefore slightly more comfortable 18in Pirelli P Zero tyres.
The V6 flows beautifully along any road, feeling nimbler but also a lot less manic than the He-Man V8 S. Yet it’s still perfectly quick enough, thanks, with 0-60mph taking just 5.2sec. That’s the sort of thrust that impresses rather than frightens, and for quite a lot of Jaguar’s new customers – as many as 85 per cent of F-type buyers will be new to the brand, reckons Jaguar – the V6 might well provide the perfect cocktail of grip, grunt, style and desirability.
And for the purist, it might even provide the most satisfying driving experience of the three. How so? Because you can drive the V6 hard on the road without scaring yourself or incurring the wrath of other road users, which is a genuine concern in the F-type V8 S.
Its handling balance might well be the sweetest of the range, with almost no understeer to speak of on the road and no oversteer either, simply because there isn’t the torque to unstick the rear tyres like there is in the other models. Instead, the V6 glides soothingly from apex to apex, with lots of control but also lots of feel – not just through the steering but through the seat, and especially via the beautifully damped rear axle.
In pure feel terms, in fact, I’d say it’s at least as rewarding as a Boxster, with more intimate steering and a better ride to go with it on most surfaces – although to be fair we won’t know for sure until we’ve done a proper comparison back on some favourite UK roads
The gearbox also works especially well in the V6, again because it doesn’t have such a big hit of torque to deal with when shifting gear. Indeed, Jaguar’s new Quickshift eight-speed transmission feels more like a dual-clutch automatic in the V6 than it does in either of the other models.
What you don’t get in the V6, you might not actually miss anyway. There’s no Dynamic Drive system so you can't fiddle with the engine, gearbox, damper and throttle settings. Nor is there the nagging 'am I really in control of this car?' doubt that can send shivers down your spine in the wonderful but wild V8 S. Instead, what you get is a traditional rear-wheel-drive sports car, pure and simple. With a lot more emphasis on the pure than on the simple.
Should I buy one?
The V6 F-type nestles itself neatly into a gap that we didn’t think existed until we drove it. It sits above the Boxster but beneath the 911 in its pricing, and that’s exactly how it feels dynamically.
As such, it could actually be the pick of the range for many. It’s not as bombastic (or as expensive) as the other versions but still has most, if not all of the charm of the more powerful models where it counts. And its steering and handling balance are possibly the sweetest of the three.
At £58,500 you could even describe it as a steal.
Jaguar F-type V6
Price £58,500; 0-62mph 5.1sec; Top speed 161mph; Economy 31.4mpg; CO2 209g/km; Kerb weight 1597kg; Engine V6, 2995cc, supercharged; Power 336bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 3500-5000rpm; Gearbox 8 speed auto