We’ve driven the new Jaguar F-type as an entry-level V6, a sharper and more expensive V6 S and, arguably best of all, in its top-flight V8 S specification and the overall consensus is that it’s extremely good, going on excellent. Which is a genuinely nice piece of news for us to deliver.
Jaguar hasn’t so much bet the farm on it, but Jag’s entire reputation as a sports car maker rests on the success of the rear wheel-drive F-type. So to find out that the fruits of its labours have been worth it – and then some – is more than enough reason celebrate.
But the best news of all is this: all those doubts we once harboured about the F-type’s asking price being a touch too high have, at a stroke, been eliminated. This car is expensive, yes, but it’s also worth it because it delivers. And in the end, not a lot else matters.
The entry-level Jaguar F-type V6 costs £58,500 and manages, through a combination of strong performance and achingly well judged driving dynamics, to fill that narrowest of gaps between the Porsche Boxster and the Porsche 911. With a supercharged V6 engine that develops a rousing 336bhp and a standard eight-speed Quickshift gearbox, it feels more grown up than a Boxster but also more approachable financially than a 911. And it steers and rides more sweetly than either of them.
There’s nothing basic about the entry level F-type. Even though it is the entry point to a range that will attract up to 85 per cent of its customers from outside the Jaguar brand.
The Jaguar F-type V6 S delivers more power – 375bhp – and a fair bit more performance to go with it. The 0-60mph time falls from 5.2sec to an impressive 4.9sec.
Its steering, chassis, suspension and brakes have been tuned to deliver sharper responses than the entry-level car. At the same time the exhaust note can be heightened via a new Dynamic Drive system that allows drivers to tweak steering feel, throttle response, gear change speeds and exhaust noise at the press of a touchscreen button. This may or may not appeal to Jaguar’s customers depending largely on how old they are, and how they feel about such technology in the first place.
Either way, there’s also a mechanical limited-slip differential fitted to the £69,500 V6 S which, perhaps more than anything else, proves just how keen Jaguar is to separate the characters of its three new F-types. The entry level car is just that, the V6 S is a more focused, harder edged version of the same. And at the top there is the V8 S, which is where the F-type gets very serious indeed.
Be in no doubt, the Jaguar F-type V8 S is a monster of a car. Jaguar says it will do 0-100mph in 8.8sec and reach a restricted top speed of 186mph, which is fast with a capital 'F'. But in reality it feels even faster than that on the road, and has a delicious flamboyance to its handling, steering and ride to match. This is a hairy-chested sports car of the old-school variety, and we fell in love with it completely for that.
Even so, the F-type V8 S is also a sophisticated car beneath its dynamic He-Man dynamic personality. Power comes from a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 that produces 489bhp and 461lb ft. Although potent by class standards, these aren’t exactly rule-bending outputs, but when you bear in mind that the F-type is made largely from aluminium, you’ll realise why it drives the way it does.
In simple terms it’s light for such a relatively big sports car, and that means it’s more agile than you’d expect. And faster, more economical, less polluting, better responding and so on.
The star of the range is probably the middle-spec V6 S. Why? Because its steering has more delicacy to it than the meatier, brawnier V8 S. In pure performance terms it’s not that much slower across the ground than the V8, even if it can’t compete with it in a straight line.
But the real winner here is the customer, the one lucky enough to be in the market for a £60-80,000 sports car; the sort of person who would previously have headed straight towards the nearest Porsche dealer.
In one rather glorious movement, Jaguar has doubled if not trebled the options in this most exclusive of markets, and in the process produced one of the best sports cars of the modern era. No one could have asked for more than that.