Jaguar F-Type review
The Jaguar F-Type is beautiful and thrilling to drive - a worthy rival to cars like the new Porsche 718 Boxster S
The Jaguar F-Type convertible guarantees a thrilling driving experience, whichever variant you choose. On top of that, it’s almost universally acclaimed as one of the most stunning open-top sports models on the market today. Indeed, those two facts combine to explain the F-Type’s great success, as it satisfies the demands of both driving enthusiasts and the style conscious, in one terrific package.
The F-Type is priced to take sales from both the Porsche Boxster S and Porsche 911, with pricing that falls somewhere between the two. That means it’s the higher-spec F-Types that provide more value for money, although we’d not argue much if you wanted to pick the entry-model Jaguar over a Boxster.
F-Type 4x4 models cost £5,000 more than the rear-drivers, but they're even more thrilling, safer, and definitely worth the money. The massively powerful - 200mph and 568bhp - SVR model is a bit more of an indulgence at £110k. It doesn't quite have the sharpness to beat the best of its rivals on the road, but it’s not far off, and looks amazing.
The Jaguar F-Type Convertible is the spiritual successor to the famous Jaguar E-Type of the sixties. It was revealed in final production trim at the Paris Motor Show in 2012, although Jaguar had already given a clear indication of what to expect by revealing the C-X16 concept coupe in 2011.
Not least to rivals like the Porsche 911 Convertible, Porsche Boxster and Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, which are all in the F-Type’s firing line. Interestingly, at launch the F-Type Convertible was pretty close in pricing and configuration to the Jaguar XK roadster range, although that model has since been discontinued, and the expectation is that the XK will be replaced by a new car that raises its sights towards upmarket rivals like the Bentley Continental GT.
The F-Type is built on the latest generation of Jaguar’s all-aluminium platform architecture. It comes with a choice of supercharged V6 and V8 engines, and rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive transmissions, as well as dynamic styling and a luxurious, driver-focused cabin.
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Buyers can also opt for an F-Type Coupe if they prefer a fixed metal roof, but the Convertible features an electrically operated fabric hood, and when folded, the top section conceals it neatly, so there’s no need for a lifting tonneau cover.
The entry-level F-Type V6 produces 335bhp, while the F-Type S ups this to 375bhp. Formerly at the top of the range is the F-Type R, with its roaring V8 that offers a massive 543bhp and 625Nm of torque. Both S and R models feature adaptive dampers for improved handling, plus an active exhaust that produces a spectacular engine note.
For ultimate F-Type performance fans, Jaguar has recently introduced its hottest 568bhp SVR model promising even more driver-focus, not to mention a 200mph top speed. You can read about the F-Type SVR here.
When the F-Type was first launched, the only gearbox option was a ZF eight-speed automatic with shift paddles. However, as part of 2015 model year changes to the line-up, a six-speed manual box was introduced on six-cylinder versions. The all-wheel-drive transmission appeared on the options list at the same time.
Engines, performance and drive
No matter what version of the F-Type you choose, you'll be rewarded with a superb driving experience. Impressively for a convertible, there's very little twisting or vibration through the bodyshell, and body control in corners is excellent.
Enhancing things further is quick and precise steering, plus strong grip, along with 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive. It all adds up to an extremely involving and agile car.
All F-Types allow the driver to select Dynamic Mode, which sharpens throttle response, increases steering weight and changes the shift pattern of the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. The S and R models add adaptive dampers for even better grip and response, and there’s torque vectoring which helps sharpen turn-in during fast cornering.
The six-speed manual gearbox is a welcome addition for driving purists. It’s a slick-shifting unit, although it’s not quite as finely honed as the manual box offered by rival Porsche – and besides, the auto versions change through the gears faster than you can yourself with the manual, for faster acceleration.
The overall effect is still not quite as poised as a Porsche Boxster, but the F-Type is an amazing car to drive nonetheless. It differs by blending superbly engaging performance with the sort of supple ride that makes cruising a pleasure. German rivals tend to adopt a more firmly sprung approach, which sometimes jars on Britain’s mixed bag of tarmac surfaces.
Four-wheel-drive cars are a real thrill. They feature an active system that generally sends only 30 per cent of torque to the front wheels, but feeds more in as the rear wheels lose traction. You don’t notice the added weight, and most of the time the car feels like it’s rear-wheel drive, but the extra grip and quick-witted all-wheel-drive system adds to the fun, and the levels of grip are phenomenal.
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All the Jaguar F-Type’s engines are supercharged, and all are familiar from other models in the Jaguar line-up.
It goes without saying that all versions are incredibly fast, but the V6 S and V8 R turn up the drama with a crackling active exhaust system. We think the V6 S is the pick of the line-up for keen drivers: it's almost as fast as the V8 R on typical UK roads, yet it handles just a little better thanks to its lighter, more compact engine.
The entry-level 3.0-litre V6 claims 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds (with an automatic gearbox) or 5.7 seconds (manual), plus a 162mph top speed. Go for the F-Type S, and the uprated engine promises 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds (auto) or 5.5 seconds (manual), along with a 171mph maximum.
The F-Type R with its 5.0-litre V8 is only available with an automatic gearbox. It dispatches the 0-60mph sprint in 4.2 seconds and hits a top speed of 186mph.
If you specify all-wheel drive with either the S or R models, the auto is the only transmission option.
Interestingly, while the extra weight of the AWD system adds a couple of tenths of a second to the 0-60mph time of the V6 S, the set-up has the opposite effect in the arguably overpowered V8 R; it’s one tenth faster thanks to the extra traction off the line.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Fuel economy is unlikely to be a big concern for those buyers lucky enough to be considering a Jaguar F-Type. Nonetheless, a stop/start system is standard on every model, and this helps to keep CO2 emissions down to a reasonable 199g/km on the automatic V6 model (or 234g/km for the manual car). Plus, Jaguar claims 34mpg fuel economy for the auto and 29mpg for the manual.
Our favourite F-Type, the V6 S, promises 203g/km and 33mpg in auto guise – and considering its performance potential, both figures look very impressive.
The F-Type R weighs in with 255g/km emissions, which put it in tax band L, and has a claimed economy figure of 26mpg. Go for the V8 R with AWD, and as well as paying around an extra £5,000 to buy the car in the first place, you’ll go up a road tax band. That currently means a first year VED charge of £1,100, and £505 annually thereafter.
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Maintenance costs are likely to be expensive, too. While this is to be expected on a sports car, Jaguar doesn't offer good-value pre-paid servicing packs, unlike some of its rivals, so budget for costly dealer check-ups as the F-Type gets older.
Insurance premiums for the F-Type are going to hit you hard in the pocket whichever way you look at it, so the question is how they compare to rivals.
Our favourite model, the V6 S, falls into insurance group 50, so it will cost a little more to insure than the Porsche Boxster S, which sits in group 43. Incidentally, the Jaguar is faster, but either way, both cars are likely to cost the average driver more than £1,000 a year to cover.
The V8-engined F-Type R also sits in insurance group 50, which is the same as the Porsche 911 Turbo.
Jaguar cars traditionally suffer from heavy depreciation, but experts estimate that the F-Type will buck this trend. Consistently strong demand means predicted residual values stand at over 50 per cent after three years.
Interior, design and technology
The F-Type looks dramatic enough to be a worthy modern incarnation of the show-stopping Jaguar E-Type. The short tail and slim rear lights hint at its predecessor, but at the same time its lines are finely detailed and completely modern.
The car also looks perfectly in proportion from almost any angle. Desirability is almost as important as performance and handling in this class, and the F-Type has both in abundance. The soft-top is particularly elegant: its tight lines work perfectly with the body design, and it folds down electrically in just 12 seconds.
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The F-Type V6 and V6 S have 18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels respectively as standard, plus a neat twin central-exit exhaust, while the V8 R looks even bolder, thanks to its larger 20-inch wheels and quad exhausts. Four-wheel-drive cars are marked out by a bigger power bulge on the bonnet and new air vents, while a Sport Design Pack beefs up the styling – it’s standard on the R, and optional on the other models.
Climb inside, and the drama continues. For starters, the pop-out door handles add a sense of occasion; then, when you press the starter button, the air vents rise from the top of the driver-focused dash. The joystick-style gearlever and toggle switches all feel special, while all versions get leather trim as standard.
Jaguar has taken a leaf out of the Porsche book by putting many of the most desirable features on the options list. Comfort items such as heated seats and a wind deflector will cost you extra.
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Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on all models, and the revised eight-inch touchscreen system in the F-Type is far better than previous Jaguar efforts – although it’s still not up to BMW and Audi standards of usability.
Jaguar’s InControl Remote system provides useful added functionality, too, with features that allow you to monitor fuel level, remotely pre-heat or cool the car, or lock and unlock it. Other InControl apps connect your smartphone with the touchscreen so you can access maps, contacts and calendar functions, as well as your music.
The standard Jaguar sound system features six speakers with 180 watts of music, but you can upgrade to two Meridian packages developed for the F-Type, with 10 speakers and 380 watts or 12 speakers and 770 watts respectively.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
You don’t buy a two-seater sports car for its boot space, and the F-Type Convertible has certainly substituted practicality for style.
But while there isn’t lots of space for luggage, the driver and passenger should be very comfortable. Even owners standing well over six feet tall can find a suitable driving position thanks to a full range of adjustment from the comfy yet supportive sports seats and grippy steering wheel.
You sit low in the car, though, which means the extremities are hard to see during close quarter manoeuvres. Standard rear sensors are parking essentials as it’s quite difficult to judge where that shapely tail ends, and the £255 optional reversing camera is recommended.
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A deep storage bin and twin cup-holders on the centre console provide plenty of room for housing odds and ends on the move. The slim doors feature decent pockets, and the glovebox is a pretty reasonable size, too.
Other practical touches include a soft-top that can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30mph, which is very useful in Britain’s changeable climate.
In terms of dimensions, the F-Type sits somewhere between the compact Porsche Boxster and larger Porsche 911. The Jaguar is 4,470mm long, while the two Porsches measure 4,374mm and 4,481mm respectively.
The F-Type is wider than both, though – at 1,923mm, it’s roughly 12cm wider than the Boxster S and Porsche 911 Turbo. Park the cars side-by-side, and the Jaguar’s roof is also a few millimetres higher than both the Porsches’.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Luggage space is pretty limited, but the cabin itself feels quite roomy, even though it’s snug and enveloping with the roof up. The F-Type is strictly a two-seater, unlike the Porsche 911, which has the advantage of occasional rear seats, and this might put some buyers off the Jaguar.
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There’s a 196-litre boot, and while the capacity is unaffected by folding the roof, if you add the £255 space-saver spare wheel, it takes up all of the room. The F-Type Coupe is a little more practical in this respect, but more tellingly the Porsche Boxster S offers noticeably more space than the F-Type Convertible. The German car’s rear-engined configuration allows luggage compartments at both ends, for a total of 280 litres.
Reliability and Safety
Initial teething troubles with the F-Type seemed to relate to the electronics, but a series of software updates has gradually ironed these out, and you shouldn’t have any problems if you decide to take the plunge.
Jaguar has amassed huge experience building aluminium chassis, and both the V6 and V8 engines incorporate elements from the company's other models so they certainly aren’t unknown quantities.
The first F-Types debuted in the Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey in 2015, and the model ranked a reasonable 34th out of 200 cars. However, when you break down its individual category scores, it only came 72nd for reliability and 51st for build quality – the older Jaguar XK and XKR placed 63rd overall, plus 112th for reliability and 32nd for build quality. Still, the brand scores very highly for customer service, so at least any problems should be dealt with efficiently.
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Safety is clearly at the top of the Jaguar agenda, and as the F-Type only seats two people there's room for a pair of fixed rollover hoops. It's also said to be the most rigid open-top car Jaguar has ever made.
Two-stage stability control is standard across the range, ensuring even inexperienced drivers won't be caught out by the powerful rear-wheel-drive F-Types in adverse conditions. The V6 S adds a mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD) for even better grip, and the V8 S goes one better with an advanced electronically controlled diff. The torque-on-demand four-wheel-drive system on AWD cars works brilliantly to flatter drivers and provide secure access to all that power.
Stopping power isn't a problem, either: the V8 S features the largest brake discs ever fitted to a production Jaguar. As with luxury items, though, some of the advanced active safety kit on the F-Type is optional: this includes the blind-spot warning system and reversing camera.
Jaguars come with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty as standard, but you can pay to extend it for up to five years’ cover. The picture is pretty similar across the board in the premium sector.
There are no fixed-price servicing arrangements organised for F-Type owners, so charges are down to your local dealer. Expect premium rates, but they’re likely to be a little more cost-effective than Porsche dealer charges.