Jaguar F-Type S
Our verdict on the all-new Jaguar F-Type S, which gets a 375bhp 3.0-litre supercharged engine
The F-Type has been worth the wait. It’s a world-class 21st-century sports car that more than lives up to its illustrious predecessors. Stunning looks and a well designed cabin are matched by wonderfully engaging handling and a smooth supercharged engine. It makes you feel special every time you get behind the wheel, which is surely the hallmark of every great Jaguar sports car.
It’s been 38 years since the last E-Type rolled off the production line, but Jaguar has finally returned to what it says is the company’s “two-seat convertible sports car heartland”.
It looks every bit as exciting as you’d expect a pure Jaguar sports car to look, with the thoroughly modern, beautifully detailed lines and taut proportions ensuring it has the desirability to live up to one of the most famous sports car bloodlines in the business.
At the front, shark-fin vents flank the chrome-surrounded grille, while the bumper flows smoothly into the curved flanks.
The one-piece clamshell bonnet features the signature Jaguar power bulge and twin vents, while the vertically stacked headlights draw your eye along the sharp shoulder line all the way to the sloping rear deck. This, along with the tucked-under bumper and slender tail-lamps, gives a reinterpreted nod to the E-Type.
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The range starts with a pair of 3.0-litre supercharged V6 models – the 335bhp standard car and this 375bhp S – and is topped by the flagship 5.0 supercharged 488bhp V8 S.
The S sits in the middle of the line-up and gets 19-inch wheels, wider side sills and subtle badge branding, while under the bonnet the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 produces 375bhp and 460Nm of torque – 10Nm up on the standard F-Type.
Neat pop-out door handles mean that even getting in is an occasion, while the central air vents rise serenely from the top of the dash when the car senses it’s too cold or too warm.
However, it’s the simple, smart and upmarket cabin that really sets out the car’s sporting intent. Sitting 20mm lower than in an XKR-S, the standard sports seats are electrically adjustable and very comfortable.
The controls wrap around the driver and are framed by the large grab handle that sweeps down from the dash to separate the passenger from the action. All the major knobs and dials have a lovely tactile feel, and there’s a real sense of being in a truly driver-focused machine.
That’s something that’s even more obvious as soon as you move off. With a wide track, wheel at each corner set-up and stiff aluminium chassis (torsional rigidity is 10 per cent up on the XKR-S), the F-Type has a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
It’s a delight to drive, with the quickest steering rack ever fitted in a Jaguar. Turn-in is fast, and accurate, while the weighting and feel of the hydraulic steering is up there with the 911 in terms of driver engagement.
Body control is faultless, and the F-Type has an eagerness and agility that’s usually reserved for mid-engined sports cars. There’s a lovely sense of balance and engagement with the road, while the S’s limited-slip differential ensures there’s lots of traction.
On dry roads at least, the two-stage stability control is rarely troubled, despite the punchy power delivery of the supercharged V6, and you’ll find yourself powering out of corners with little drama.
Stability at speed and under braking is superb, while the stiffness of the chassis means the car’s free of any twist or vibration around the screen.
Better still, helped by the S’s standard adaptive dampers, the ride isn’t uncomfortably firm. The large wheels rumble a little over really poor surfaces, but double-wishbone suspension and a taut chassis combine to deliver an impressively composed set-up.
As a result, the Jaguar has a dual personality – joyous on a twisty road but equally happy cruising on the motorway.
The eight-speed automatic box aids this breadth of talent. In auto mode, it’s smooth and relaxed, yet in manual shift changes, throttle blip and control are good enough to rival double-clutch systems.
Yet arguably the greatest pleasure is the soundtrack. All S models get an Active Exhaust System as standard. Above 3,000rpm, the baffles open up a symphony of noise that builds to a crescendo as the revs rise, taking on a wonderfully rich wail reminiscent of a classic six-cylinder D-Type on full song. Add in crackles on the overrun and fluttering on upshifts and you’ll be grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
Even better, the £67,500 price makes the S look good value compared to a Porsche 911, although the superb Boxster S makes it seem a little expensive. Either way, over half a century after the fanfare of the E-Type’s debut, Jaguar has again created one of the world’s best sports cars.