We’ve driven the Jaguar F-Type Convertible and Coupé in entry-level V6, a sharper and more expensive V6 S and, arguably best of all, in its top-flight R and SVR specifications 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 on the success of the rear wheel-drive F-Type (although all-wheel drive versions are available). So to find out that the fruits of its labours have been worth it – and then some – is more than enough reason to 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 convertible with the new 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine costs £55,385 and manages, through a combination of strong performance and achingly well judged driving dynamics, to provide stiff competition for the newly turbocharged Porsche Boxster. The mid-range supercharged 3.0-litre V6 that develops a rousing 335bhp and a standard eight-speed Quickshift gearbox (although a six-speed manual is available), amazingly slots itself into the narrowest of gaps between the 718 Boxster and the 911. 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 percent 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 £69,800 V6 S which, perhaps more than anything else, proves just how keen Jaguar is to separate the characters of its five F-Types.
The entry level car is a frentic high revving four-cylinder, the V6 delivers a rousing note with sweet handling, the V6 S is a more focused, harder edged version of the same. Then there is the sharper 400 Sport, which uses the same V6 unit churning out 394bhp. And at the top there is a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine powering both the R and the SVR F-Types and producing 542bhp and 567bhp respectively.
Be in no doubt, the Jaguar F-Type R and SVR are monsterous cars. 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', while the SVR in convertible form will power onto 195mph before hitting the limiter. 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.
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 F-Type is, by most measures, a brilliant sports car. But which is best? Which model should you turn your back on a Porsche dealership for? Read on to find out.