Jaguar F-Type review
The Jaguar F-Type is one of the world's best sports cars; it oozes class and is thrilling to drive
The Jaguar F-Type Roadster is a two-seat sports car with a choice of V6 or V8 supercharged engines – a coupe is due later in 2013. With head turning looks and an upmarket, driver-focused cabin, it oozes desirability. The standard F-Type has 335bhp, while the F-Type S comes with the same engine tuned to deliver 375bhp. The range topping V8S has 488bhp and a 625Nm of torque. S models get adaptive dampers and an active exhaust, while across the range the F-Type's sharp handling, flawless body control and fast steering ensure it's up there with great sports cars such as the Porsche 911 Convertible, Porsche Boxster and Aston Martin V8 Vantage roadster.
Our choice: F-Type S
The F-Type looks every bit as exciting as you'd expect a Jaguar sports car to look. With thoroughly modern, beautifully detailed lines and taut proportions, it has the desirability to live up to one of the most famous sports car bloodlines in the business. It's modern, but the tucked-under tail and distinctive slender rear lights are reinterpreted nods to the iconic E-Type. In terms of its exterior dimensions, the F-Type sits somewhere between the compact Porsche Boxster and legendary Porsche 911. The taut fabric hood is nicely incorporated into the design and it folds neatly away in just 12 seconds. All versions get a twin exit exhaust and alloys wheels, while the range-topping S versions get larger rims and unique badging. The upmarket cabin features tactile switchgear and a sporty, driver-focused layout, while leather trim is standard throughout the range.
All three versions of the F-Type are a joy to drive. Body control is excellent and the chassis is impressively free of twist or vibrations. The steering is fast and accurate, while grip levels are high. The combination of a 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive mean the F-Type is wonderfully agile and very engaging. Both the S models get adaptive dampers as standard, while all three versions feature a dynamic mode that sharpens throttle response, increases steering weighting and alters the shift patterns of the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. It's not quite as poised and engaging as a Porsche Boxster, but it's close enough to make little difference. Performance is strong across the range, while and intoxicating engine note adds to the drama - particularly on S models, which get an active exhaust system as standard.
Even though the F-Type is an all-new car, reliability should be good. It has an aluminium chassis and this is an area where Jaguar has vast experience, while both engines have elements of carry-over technology from more established models. The F-Type's two-seater layout allows for a pair of fixed rollover hoops, and the chassis is the most rigid Jaguar soft top ever made. To ensure safe grip levels, all cars get two-stage stability control, while the F-Type S has a mechanical limited slip differential and the V8S has an electric version. The V8S also features the largest brake discs ever fitted to a production Jaguar. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay extra some of the safety kit, including blind sport warning and a reversing camera.
Practicality isn't the overriding priority for sports car buyers, but even so the small 196-litre boot is an awkward shape, which makes it hard to carry luggage. Specify the optional space saver spare wheel and the useable space becomes almost non-existent. Rivals like the Porsche Boxster are more practical. On the plus side, the fully electric roof folds neatly behind the seats without affecting boot space. It can operate when the car is travelling at up to 30mph, which is handy if you're caught in a rain shower. However, Jaguar cheekily charge extra for useful additions such as lockable storage box and a mesh wind deflector.
For those lucky enough to be able to afford a performance roadster like the F-Type, fuel economy is unlikely to be a major worry. But every F-Type has engine stop/start and the entry-level car emits just 209g/km – not bad for a 335bhp supercharged V6. Residual predictions for all three models are over 50 per cent so the F-Type should more resistant to depreciation than other Jaguar models. Jaguar dealers have been achieving improved customer satisfaction ratings in recent years, too – finishing third in our 2012 Driver Power Survey.