Road Test: Jaguar F-TYPE V6 S
Sector: Sports Car Price: £67,520 Fuel: 31mpg CO2: 213g/km
There are few cars on the road capable of drawing the same attention as a Jaguar F-TYPE. Now a complete family with the equally beautiful Coupe on its way next year, this is a stop-in-your-tracks, devastatingly pretty car from the top shelf of Jaguar’s design portfolio.
So it should be. Jaguar had become a staid brand at the turn of the millennium, more recently revolutionised by XF, XJ, the facelifted XF and the F-TYPE. With new aluminium platforms, efficient engines, new technologies and models such as a compact executive car and SUV loom on the horizon, it’s back on the radar of enthusiasts old and young. Jaguar has become cool once again.
The F-TYPE might not account for a huge share of the cars sold in the UK, nor will it be a common feature of the company car park – though the manufacturer says it is expected to appeal to a lucky few. But it sits firmly at the spearhead of that design revolution, and does so with supermodel-esque looks in its favour.
It would’ve been easy for Jaguar to the F-TYPE into a piece of E-Type mimicking retro pastiche, but thankfully that hasn’t happened. There’s plenty of the E-Type’s DNA showing through in its grille, bonnet bulge, shoulder line and those rear lights, but the design looks cutting-edge rather than a rose tinted homage, and it’s all the better for it.
The cabin feels closely related to the XJ’s aviation-inspired interior. There’s plenty of familiar Jaguar Land Rover switchgear to be found inside, including the infotainment system, and the sports seats are near identical to the Range Rover Evoque’s. But toggle switches and highlights of copper on the starter button and paddle shifts give the car its own unique identity, arranging controls logically around the driver.
Jaguar makes claims to roar where others hum, and the F-TYPE lives up to that mantra. Prod the button with the twin tailpipes on the centre console and the exhaust note barks, spits and snarls through the gears, making noises good enough to stand hairs on end. It’s enhanced, and yes you can switch it off to avoid motorway booming, but aside from the lack of supercharger whine it’s also thoroughly addictive.
More importantly, the S’s 3.0-litre V6 engine also produces 376bhp and propels the car to 62mph in 4.9 seconds from rest. You get a good sense of what's going on through the steering wheel, and in V6 S form the mechanical limited slip differential, which maximises grip while accelerating and cornering provides a predictable playfulness to its slightly tail-happy handling. It’s good fun, without giving the sense that it’s trying to launch itself into the nearest ditch every time you touch the throttle.
But it’s not perfect. Those good looks come at a high price even before tapping into the options list, and the eight-speed gearbox has a tendency to shift needlessly through its ratios as it looks for the most efficient gear. Ride quality is also far firmer than in, say, a Mercedes-Benz SL, which dents its distance cruiser appeal.
Should you care? Of course not. Provided your pockets are deep enough, then the F-TYPE ticks all the right emotional boxes for you to overlook its foibles. It’s a car which makes you feel special every time you reach for its retracting door handles, which is exactly the hair-on-end reaction you ought to expect with a car this emotive.
Whether you’re a driver or a bystander, the F-TYPE provokes exactly the reaction a Jaguar sports car should. It’s not perfect, but for the experience of being behind the wheel it’s easy to overlook any niggles.