Jaguar F-Type S
Gorgeous F-Type shape has clear echoes of the E-Type
- Eye-catching design nods to the past without being too retro
- Impressive performance across the model range
- High quality feel inside and out
- Hugely impressive blend of comfort and sharp handling
- Steering wheel has too many buttons and switches
- Limited storage space in the cabin
- Boot space is relatively shallow
- Entry-level model feels superfluous compared to S and V8 versions
It's the most hyped car of 2013 but Jaguar's F-Type has finally arrived. Designed to slot beneath the current XF, bring in a range of young customers and also compete head on with its arch rivals from Germany, the F-Type has a big task ahead of it.
Jaguar has a great deal of heritage when it comes to sports cars although much of it dates from the distance past. The name given to the F-Type clearly hints at its illustrious E-Type predecessor and therefore marks it out as a clear sporting car; although the XK has its high performance variants it has always been more of a Grand Tourer.
The starting point for the F-Type is an aluminium structure, as with the XJ saloon, to give it the equivalent strength of steel but with a significant saving in terms of weight. A strict two-seater, the F-Type offers respectable space for the driver and passenger as well as a decent boot, although the boot space available is restricted by the slim rear deck.
The engine range comprises of two V6 petrols, the higher output version fitted with a supercharger and already available in the XF and XJ saloons, with the range-topper using a supercharged V8 already used across the range. All models are fitted with the impressive eight-speed automatic transmission that is also seen across the Jaguar range. This gives the driver the opportunity to drive the F-Type as a full automatic or use the lever to manually select gears or the steering wheel mounted paddles for full manual control.
Further tailoring of the driving experience is also possible thanks to the Dynamic mode, which alters a number of parameters including the gearshift speed, suspension stiffness, throttle response, exhaust sound and the level of ESP intervention depending on the model and the options chosen by the purchaser.
Our verdict on the Jaguar F-Type S
Although the brief for a proper sporting Jaguar was a difficult one, the F-Type has unquestionably delivered. The fundamental traits of any Jaguar - a controlled ride and comfort - are maintained, yet as a sports car it feels absolutely superb, providing huge thrills without any significant compromise. It delivers all this with a sense of quality, attractive design and genuine kerb appeal - in short it is everything that a 21st Century Jaguar sports car should be.
Pitched to compete with its key rivals the F-Type nonetheless requires a sizeable financial investment. Driven with restraint it is capable of respectable fuel consumption but exercising the performance will be hard to resist.
Space and practicality
Although the F-Type makes no claims about being particularly practical it makes a reasonable job of doing so. Storage space in the cabin is relatively limited although the glovebox is of a respectable size. The boot itself has a class-competitive amount of room although it is relatively shallow along its length and so restricts the type of luggage that can be carried.
Controls and display
The cabin layout of the F-Type is arguably more simple and clear than the rest of the Jaguar range, thanks to the attractive instrument display and stripped-back centre console with just a few buttons to operate the climate control.
For what is undoubtedly a sporting car the F-Type stays true to its Jaguar pedigree with a remarkable level of comfort for driver and passenger. Noise levels are kept well in check, the ride is impressive regardless of the surface or the suspension settings and the seat comfort is also very impressive even over long distances.
Other than the standard alarm and immobiliser the F-Type has no additional security equipment. A fabric roof can never be as secure as a folding metal version or a fixed roof but the solid rear deck at least keeps valuables covered.
A strong aluminium structure combined with high levels of grip, acceleration and braking power plus a sophisticated ESP system makes the F-Type a very safe sports car indeed.
A usable sports car was clearly the brief for the F-Type and it hits the mark in fine style. In normal driving it is quiet, smooth, refined and easy to pilot, and the suspension copes admirably with broken surfaces. Up the speed and it is equally adept, encouraging the driver to exploit the available performance without ever feeling edgy or nervous. All the engines are impressive in their own way but the V6S is the ideal compromise of performance and running costs.
Family car appeal
With only two seats and a modest boot, the F-Type is unsuited to family duties aside from taking an enthusiastic son or daughter out for a spin on a sunny day.
First car appeal
Even in its most humble form the powerful, rear-drive F-Type is too expensive and too fast for a novice driver to manage.
Quality and image
Jaguar's level of quality has come a long way in recent years and the F-Type is the perfect demonstration of this. Despite offering a very different cabin to its stablemates the F-Type provides an attractive and well-constructed cabin with quality materials throughout. The F-Type also aims to build on the E-Type's flawless image and the combination of performance and sharp design gives it sufficient kudos to stand out on its own.
A novel feature of the F-Type is the pop-out door handles, giving a smooth and undisturbed flank until entry is required - they work well although the handles themselves feel a little cheap. The long doors make access easy and even with the roof in place there is no need to duck excessively in order to climb aboard.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The F-Type inherits the impressive touchscreen system already seen elsewhere in the Jaguar range, including the option of a high specification Meriden audio system. The screen itself works very well as do the alternative controls on the steering wheel.
Colours and trim
Thanks to the dramatic exterior the F-Type suits a wide range of colours, both loud and discreet. Even the range of wheel options allows silver or carbon-finished spokes to increase the scope for personalisation. On the inside there are several options in terms of finish, but the standard mix of leather and chrome trim is attractive and feels of good quality.
The F-Type's sporty bodyshell doesn't lend itself to great visibility or easy parking, but the inclusion of parking sensors as standard as well as the option of a rear view camera makes short working of parking up. The alloy wheels are always going to be vulnerable to kerb damage however.
Emergency tyre repair kit fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 3.0-litre (332bhp and 375bhp); 5.0-litre (488bhp). Eight-speed automatic fitted as standard on all models. Trim levels denote engine fitted: F-Type, S and V8S.
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