Jaguar has refined its 75 years plus of experience with sports cars to deliver a light, aluminium, two-seat, rear-wheel drive stunner! It's hard to believe that it's fifty years since Jaguar produced a two-seater but the wait has been worth it.
F-Type's exterior is breathtaking and I’m sure Ian Callum has designed a future classic. The deployable flush door handles, the one piece clamshell bonnet (made from a single pressing), the aggressive nose and fantastic low-set tail end that features an active retractable spoiler are just some of the body’s styling highlights. With a footprint that is 6% bigger than Porsche 911 F-Type is a substantial machine in the flesh.
Inside F-Type is a 1+1. The cabin is divided in two with a large grab hand defining driver and passenger areas. The leather seats are supportive and very comfortable. The 'Z' folding soft top roof can go up or down in just 12 seconds (at up to 50km/h). But surely such a stunning machine can't drive as well as it looks? We went to Spain to test the newest Jaguar on the racetrack and roads to find out. Importantly there are three petrol F-Types in the range - defined (initially) by their power output. The entry car ‘F-Type’ has a three-litre V6 with 340hp that can do 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds. Next up is a tweaked version of this engine with 380hp (F-Type S) and a 4.9 second 0-100km/h time. This machine gets a mechanical rear differential that aids driving dynamics. The range topper is the 'F-Type V8 S' with 497hp and it can sprint to 100km/h in just 4.3 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 300km/h (186mph). V8 S gets an electronic differential among other performance enhancements. All engines are supercharged. Stop/start technology features as standard and Jaguar says this gives up to a 5% saving on fuel.
F-Type uses the latest tricks of the trade to deliver a glorious soundtrack to the driver. An 'active exhaust system' (standard on S models/optional on the entry car) opens exhaust valves in the rear box when you accelerate hard from 3000rpm to deliver a wondrous roar right up to the redline.
The induction note is also channeled into the cabin. There is a button to have the addictive throaty sound delivered all the time. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a quick shift eight-speed automatic with paddle shifts. A torque converter is used just for first gear then the drive is directly linked, which means sharper, instant power delivery. To engage drive you need to pull a trigger on the gear selector - how cool is that!
On the Navarra racetrack we put a V6 S through its paces. Dynamic mode lets drivers select various parameters like steering weight, traction control settings etc. On the limit the sharp steering F-Type is very forgiving. The rear differential makes the tail end much more controllable when cornering. Acceleration and braking impressed too, but for drivers who want true Porsche 911 rivalling performance the V8 S is the machine. It is devastatingly good at delivering its power to the road. F-Type's brakes get uprated with each model and the V8s do a good job of scrubbing off speed when needed.
The F-type will bring out the inner kid in you. Sadly the one thing that isn't childish is the price. The starting price is circa €108,000, rising to €125K for the S and €150K for the V8 S. In the real world F-Type is surprisingly easy to use. The suspension delivers a sophisticated ride that won't break your back. From chatting with Jaguar insiders I think we can expect a four-wheel drive version and a coupe in the future. Jaguar says 90% of F-TYPE buyers will be new to the brand.
F-Type puts performance back at the heart of Jaguar.