What is it?
The very latest, refreshed Jaguar F-Type two-seater, which has been updated for its, wait for it… eighth year in production (cue slightly flat, muffled fanfare).
Sports cars tend to have unusually long lives whoever they’re built by; but then this one was, in some ways, old beyond its years even when it was brand new, having been built on an aluminium model platform adapted from that of the 2006 XK.
There’s another reason, too, that some might think of the F-Type as old-fashioned. Over in the world of North American sports cars, after nearly 70 years of production, Chevrolet has just relocated the engine of its iconic, big-selling Chevrolet Corvette from the front to the back of the chassis. Well, Jaguar’s one of the few companies with a longer history in the sports car business than they have in Flint, Michigan; and no such switch has been made in Castle Bromwich.
Specialist historians will tell you that if it hadn’t been for American G.I.s driving British sports cars built by Jaguar’s forerunner SS Cars (among others) during the Second World War, it’s unlikely that the original Corvette would have even been dreamt of – but be that as it may. At Jaguar they’re still making their sports cars just as they did in the 1930s; engines up front, cabins behind. And, for the record, the F-Type still proves that there are convincing reasons for doing so.
And about those engines: there are now three of them – and two are still V8s. How wonderful. As part of the F-Type’s technical overhaul for the 2021-model-year, its supercharged V6 engines have been removed from the model range altogether (at least as far as UK and European sales are concerned). The choice remaining is between an entry-level four-cylinder, 296bhp turbocharged option and two supercharged 5.0-litre V8s, the more powerful 567bhp version of which was fitted to the top-of-the-range P575 R AWD we tested.
The F-Type’s four-cylinder engine now comes partnered with rear-wheel drive only, while the full-house V8 is four-wheel drive only, and the mid-range 444bhp V8 can be had with either. All versions can be had with convertible or coupe bodies; all now have eight-speed automatic gearboxes.
The F-Type R in particular, meanwhile, gets new suspension springs and adaptive dampers, new anti-roll bars; some new rear axle metalwork for better wheel location there; new wider 20in alloy wheels front and rear; and new control software for its power steering and torque vectoring systems.