What is it?
The fastest, most powerful, most expensive model within the new Jaguar F-Type range, and although it costs a whopping £79,950 and looks all but identical to the lesser versions, it’s a proper old-school hotrod and no mistake.
Like all the other F-types, the V8 S sits on a rear-wheel-drive aluminium chassis that features all-round double wishbone suspension, plus the same basic cabin architecture from which to survey the world. It has the same electric hood as the lesser models (12sec up or down), the same driving position, the same decently sized boot (200 litres) and even the same multi-function steering wheel (available with either a flat bottom in Alcantara or rounded and in leather, which is nice).
But in most respects, that’s where the similarities between the V8 S F-type and the V6s end. For although there’s the same eight-speed Quickshift gearbox through which to deploy the V8’s thunderous extra power and torque (489bhp and 364lb ft), it feels like a completely different animal on the road.
Partly this is because that’s the way Jaguar wants it to feel, hence the reason there’s an electronic diff (rather than a mechanical limited slip diff as in the Jaguar F-type V6 S) in order to manage the V8’s extra flow of power.
But at the same time there are also bigger brakes, 20in wheels, quad exhausts and a yet more sophisticated Dynamic Drive system that allows you to fine-tune the steering weight, throttle response, gearchange speeds and even the exhaust noise. All of which endow the V8 S with a very different personality on the move.
What's it like?
There’s a monumental step up in performance from a V6 F-type when you ensconce yourself in the V8 S. The noise it makes is totally different and the response from its power steering is also meatier. Even its body shell shimmies slightly when you press the throttle, as do those of all the finest hotrods.
But it’s what happens when you put your foot down in the V8 F-type, preferably with a lowish gear engaged, and ideally on a quiet and straight ribbon of road, that distinguishes this car as The Superior Being. The way it accelerates is frankly brutal and maybe even a little bit scary to begin with, to the point where I believe that some customers may find it a touch too much. In which case they’ll need to go away and learn their craft behind the wheel of an entry-level Jaguar F-type V6 instead
For the truly unhinged enthusiast, though, the V8 S is the only F-type to have. Jaguar reckons it’ll do 0-100mph in 8.9sec, which is deeply quick. But the way it thunders towards the horizon at the merest prod of throttle in any of the first five gears makes it feel quicker, even, than such a number would suggest.
The response from its 5.0-litre V8 engine is fantastic. If you didn’t know it was supercharged, you’d never guess. But it’s the way the acceleration keeps on coming at you, keeps on pummeling you in the kidneys as every rev is added, that makes the V8 seem so seductive, so addictive, so much more appealing at its core than either of the merely fast V6s.
The way the gearbox picks off ratios so efficiently when you short-shift is also delicious, as is the amount of traction on offer with the new E-diff switched to Normal (although having said that, massive tail slides can also be delivered at will if you switch it off).