Unless you’ve been living in the back of beyond with a family of internet-loathing Luddites for the last few months, you’ll undoubtedly have seen and read about the Jaguar F-Type. It’s one of the most exciting cars to have emerged from Jaguar in recent years and certainly the most hyped.
The pre-launch hysteria even included some claims that the two-seater convertible is the spiritual successor to the E-Type, an object of timeless beauty that ceased production in 1975. That’s just asking for trouble.
Fortunately the F-Type is a looker, although it was always going to struggle to repeat the huge impact of the E-Type’s unveiling in 1961. It shares the same long bonnet/short boot proportions of the old-timer but adds a modern twist to that classic design. Some sharper creases here, pumped up bodywork there, a bit of dental work at the front. I like it.
It would be daft to turn down the opportunity to drive such an exciting new car and when the chance came I grabbed it. My steed was a Polaris White V6, the entry level model (if you can call a car with a near £60k price tag ‘entry level’). It may be the lowliest model in the range but the V6 still packs a powerful punch. With a supercharger boosting the 3.0-litre V6 to 336bhp the F-Type can reach 60mph in 5.1 seconds, less than a second behind the range topping V8S.
You sit low, the dash and centre console wrapping around you while the seat gives you a reassuring hug. The materials are all top notch with aluminium highlights contrasting against the leather and suede upholstery. The short lever for the eight-speed automatic box falls easily to hand, as do the paddle shifters behind the wheel.
Press the start button and the V6 starts with a loud bark and settles into a throaty idle. That vocal startup is one of the party tricks of the dynamic exhaust, a £1,600 option that’s an absolute must. It forms an essential part of the the F-Type experience and makes every squeeze of the throttle a pleasure.
On full throttle the V6 builds to an intoxicating wail. Every gear change is accompanied by a loud ‘parp’, manual downshifts are executed with a computer-controlled blip of the throttle and when you lift off there are dramatic rumblings and pops from the rear. It sounds raucous, exciting, and you won’t want it to stop.
Now I’m not going to pretend that I explored the F-Type’s limits in one lap of the Millbrook hill route. What I can tell you is that the front is incredibly responsive to steering input. The steering has good weight and feel. The eight-speed auto is quick and smooth, and responds quickly to every flick of a paddle. And, of course, with 336bhp being channeled through the rear wheels the F-Type will oversteer if you feel like indulging yourself.
The V6 feels remarkably good, especially when you consider it’s missing out on the adaptive suspension, limited slip differential and bigger brakes of the V6S and V8. It makes me wonder how much better they are to drive.
The F-Type’s obvious rival is the Porsche 911 cabriolet. Many have already argued that the 911 is still sharper to drive, has better steering and is more practical (the F-Type’s boot is tiny). Does that mean you should buy a 911 instead? No, not at all.
There are those who will buy an F-Type simply because it isn’t a Porsche. There are those who will buy one because it was love at first sight. Then there are those who fell for the wonderful exhaust note when they watched the promotional film Desire, filmed by Hollywood great Ridley Scott.
Whatever the reason, if you are in a position to buy a Jaguar F-Type I doubt you’ll regret it. It really is a beautiful car that offers serious performance, even in base V6 form, makes an intoxicating noise and feels great to drive fast. Expecting it to fill the E-Type’s shoes was asking a lot and in the emotional and aesthetic stakes the F-Type just falls short, but despite that it is still a damn fine car.
Jaguar F-Type V6 Specifications
|Engine:||2,995cc supercharged V6|
|Transmission:||8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive|
|Power:||336 bhp @ 6,500 rpm|
|Torque:||450 Nm @ 3,500 rpm|
|0-60 mph:||5.1 seconds|
|Top Speed:||161 mph|
|Fuel Economy (EU combined):||31.4 mpg|
|CO2 Emissions:||209 g/km (Band K)|
*Prices taken from Jaguar website, May 2013