Jaguar F-Type review
The Jaguar F-Type is one of the world's best sports cars; extremely desirable and thrilling to drive
The Jaguar F-Type Roadster is the spiritual successor to the famous Jaguar E-Type of the sixties. It comes with a choice of supercharged V6 and V8 engines, as well as dynamic styling and a luxurious, driver-focused cabin. Buyers can also opt for an F-Type coupe if they prefer a hard top.
The entry-level F-Type V6 produces 335bhp, while the F-Type S model ups this to 375bhp. 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 models feature adaptive dampers for improved handling, plus an active exhaust that produces a spectacular engine note.
Whichever model you choose, you're guaranteed an exhilarating driving experience that rivals the Porsche 911 Convertible, Porsche Boxster and Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster. The entry-level F-Type is more expensive than the sporty Porsche Boxster S, however - so it's the higher-spec F-Types that actually offer the best value for money.
Although the four-wheel drive models cost nearly £5,000 more than rear-wheel drive cars, the driving experience is even more thrilling (and safer) and we’d say it’s worth the extra cash.
Our choice: F-Type S
The F-Type looks dramatic enough to make it 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 spades. Size-wise, the F-Type sits somewhere between the compact Porsche Boxster and larger Porsche 911. The soft-top is particularly elegant: it boasts tight lines that work perfectly with the body design, and folds down in just 12 seconds.
The F-Type V6 and V6 S have alloy wheels and a neat twin-exit central exhaust, while the V8 R looks even bolder, thanks to its larger wheels and four-exit exhaust. Four wheel drive cars get 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, 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 a revised touchscreen system is far better than before, if still not up to BMW and Audi standards of usability. Jaguar’s InControl apps provide added and useful functionality.
All version get leather trim as standard, but 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 both cost you extra.
No matter what version of the F-Type you choose the buy, you'll be rewarded with a superb driving experience. Impressively, there's very little twisting or vibration for a convertible, and body control in corners is excellent. Quick and precise steering plus strong grip enhance things further, along with 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive. It all ads 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 smooth eight-speed automatic transmission's shift pattern. The S and R models add adaptive dampers for even better grip and response.
The overall effect is still not quite as poised as what you'll get from a Porsche Boxster, but the F-Type is an amazing car to drive nonetheless. Four-wheel drive cars are a real thrill – you don’t notice the added weight, and most of the time the car feels like its rear-drive brethren, but the added grip and quick-witted all-wheel drive system adds to the fun and the grip levels are phenomenal.
It goes without saying that all models are properly fast - but the V6 S and V8 R add the drama of a crackling active exhaust system to this. 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.
Initial teething troubles with the F-Type seemed to be with the electronics, but a series of software updates have 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. As the F-Type only seats two people, there's room for a pair of fixed rollover hoops, and it's 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-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 boasts 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.
You don’t buy a two-seater sports car for its boot space, and the F-Type convertible has certainly substituted practicality for style. 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.
So, space is pretty limited, but the cabin itself is quite roomy. Drivers over six feet tall can easily get comfortable behind the wheel, while there’s a deep storage bin and twin cup-holders on the centre console. The slim doors feature decent bins, and the glovebox is a pretty reasonable size, too.
Standard rear sensors are parking essentials, while the £255 optional reversing camera is recommended.
Fuel economy is unlikely to be a big concern for those lucky enough to afford a Jaguar F-Type. Nonetheless, a stop-start system is standard on every model, keeping CO2 emissions down to a relatively reasonable 209g/km. This is very impressive for such a high-performance sports car.
Jaguar cars traditionally suffer from heavy depreciation, but experts predict the F-Type will buck this trend, with residual values of over 50 percent after three years. Jaguar has also been performing very well in recent customer satisfaction surveys: it finished seventh in our 2014 Driver Power poll.
Servicing costs are a worry, though - unlike some rival brands, Jaguar doesn't over good-value pre-paid servicing packs, so maintenance costs will be a factor as the car gets older.