The Jaguar F-Type recalls the legendary 1960s E-Type and is a driver's car to its core. While its 2-seat configuration may lack a certain amount of interior space, the F-Type more than makes up for it with "pace" and "grace," long-time hallmarks of the Jaguar nameplate.
The F-Type features an aggressive front end with air intakes and side vents, with two distinct design elements Jaguar calls "heartlines"--the styling starting points in the F-Type's shape that highlight the car's front fenders and rear haunches. Beyond that, the F-Type wears elegant aluminum sheetmetal available in one of 13 colors. A 3-layer power soft top with Thinsulate provides thermal and acoustic insulation in convertible models. It is available in four different colors, including black, gray, red and beige. Jaguar states that its soft top opens and closes in just 12 seconds. Additionally, seven different wheels ranging from 18 to 20 inches are available.
F-Type coupes and convertibles each come in one of four different trims. The base F-Type features a supercharged 3.0L V6 making 340 horsepower and 332 ft-lb of torque. The F-Type S carries the same engine, but tuned to produce 380 horsepower and 339 ft-lb. The F-Type V8 S has a 550 horsepower, 5.0L supercharged V8, while the SVR uses a more powerful 575 horsepower version of the same engine. All models put the power to the rear wheels through an 8-speed "QuickShift" automatic transmission, but base and S trims offer an available 6-speed manual. Even the base model is no slouch-- Jaguar says it will make 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, while the V8 S does the job in just 4.2 seconds.
The F-Type is rich with features, including xenon HID headlights with LED daytime running lights, automatic climate control, ambient lighting in Jaguar Phosphor Blue and sport seating in leather and Suedecloth with 6-way manual and electric adjustment, though the V8 S includes 14-way power adjustment and full leather Performance seats. Configurable ambient lighting (Phosphor Blue, Pale Blue, White, Coral, Red) is standard on the S and V8 S.
The cockpit also features a distinct division between driver and passenger, with a prominent grab handle on the center console and even distinct trim materials on either side. Analog instruments are complemented by a 5-inch screen mounted between the speedometer and tachometer and a 3-spoke leather steering wheel features multi-function controls for the audio system and cruise control. A 770-watt Meridian sound system with 12 speakers is standard audio system.
A host of options and packages make the F-Type nearly endlessly configurable and allow buyers to spec their new Jaguars to suit their specific tastes. The most popular include the Performance Pack, which adds Configurable Dynamic Mode to adjust engine mapping, steering feel and gearshift response, while the Premium Pack ups the luxury and technology inside the F-Type, with dual climate control and heated seats and steering wheel.
Carbon ceramic brakes offer larger rotors and bigger calipers to increase braking performance. The Vision Pack adds safety features including a blind spot monitor, adaptive headlights, parking sensors and a back-up camera.
The Jaguar F-Type is arguably best experienced with its rip-snorting 575-horsepower V8. But the lesser I4 and V6 models are still party monsters in their own rights, too. That's evident from the moment I fire up the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 in this P380 R-Dynamic test car. With the center-mounted exhaust pipes belting out a sonorous wail, I know that, even with just six cylinders onboard, this F-Type means business.
As its name suggests, the P380 makes 380 horsepower, in addition to 339 pound-feet of torque. That's enough to scoot this two-seater to 60 mph in a Jaguar-estimated 4.9 seconds, which is hardly slow, but it also lacks drama. Since the full brunt of the engine's horsepower and torque don't arrive until 6,250 and 4,500 rpm, respectively, you've got a pretty big dead zone in the lower part of the rev range before the V6 really wakes up. Then again, this means the F-Type P380 is super-easy to drive in traffic -- it never feels like a puppy on a leash, constantly trying to bolt. In fact, this F-Type is downright sedate at times, but I think that's OK for a sports car you might want to actually drive every day.
Keep the engine on boil, however, and the F-Type really comes alive. The eight-speed automatic transmission will hold gears all the way to redline and drop a cog or two under braking. Adaptive dampers and a well-sorted chassis result in flat and composed handling through tight corners, though the steering is a little light for my tastes. A limited-slip differential and brake-based torque vectoring do a good job of shuffling power side to side as needed for maximum grip. The P380's standard all-wheel drive adds an extra level of surefootedness, too.
The Good ~ Strong supercharged V6 ~ Nicely tuned suspension ~ Good roster of infotainment and driver-assistance tech
The Bad ~ Styling update is hardly an improvement ~ Not as entertaining as a Boxster
The Bottom Line The Jaguar F-Type is a lovely two-seat roadster, and you don't have to splurge for the V8 to have a great time.
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