The F-Type is jaw-dropping to look at, even by two-seat drop-top standards
As the spiritual successor to Jaguar’s legendary E-Type, it’s no surprise that the F-Type is jaw-dropping to look at, even by two-seat drop-top standards. The sleek lines and angular details give an exotic, glamourous look, and to our eye, it has more on-road presence that the Porsches (Boxster and 911 Cabriolet) with which it competes. The looks differ slightly depending on which version you go for – the V6 has centrally-mounted twin exhausts and 18-inch alloys, while the V6 S gets 19s and the V8 R gets 20s and outboard-mounted quad pipes. Tiny differences in the design set the AWD models apart from the rest of the range, with a larger power bulge in the bonnet and unique vents to feed more air to the engine.
For the most part, the F-Type’s cabin has a high-quality feel. The dashboard is covered in sumptuous stitched leather and the fascia has a collection of glossy finishes. The cabin has drama, too, thanks to air vents that rise electrically out of the centre console when needed. However, some of the switches feel a little low-rent, and so do some of the less obvious interior panels (most notably, the steering column). The InControl touch-screen infotainment system is colourful and easier to fathom than it was before, if not quite up to the same standard as the class best, while rear visibility is terrible with the roof up.
The tiny boot is barely big enough for a couple of overnight bags, so you’ll have to pack very carefully
This isn’t an area in which the F-Type excels. The tiny boot is barely big enough for a couple of overnight bags, so you’ll have to pack very carefully if you’re going away for a long weekend. It’s also shallow, oddly shaped and hard to access. Granted, you don’t buy a two-seat sports car for its practicality, but rivals from Porsche offer much more luggage space. At least the cabin has plentiful room for two adults in the seats. Again, though, other drop-top cars do a better job of giving you places to stash loose items like coats and scarves, coffee cups and other daily baggage.
Ride and handling
All versions of the F-Type handle like a sports car should, with plentiful grip, sharp body control, superb balance and crisp, accurate steering with some genuine feel. The ride on the V6 model is firm without being uncomfortable, but the V6 S model gets an adaptive suspension that improves both the ride and the handling. That alone is worth the extra money. The V8 model has it, too, but the epic power available through the rear wheels means it’s quite easy to unstick the back end if you’re clumsy with the throttle pedal. It’s fairly easy to correct, but it’ll keep you very alert in the wet. Four-wheel drive cars are much easier to tame (especially on damp roads) but do add extra weight to what is already a fairly heavy car. This weight means that ride quality is not quite as impressive as in the Coupe, and you can feel some flex in the body under really hard cornering.
The 5.0-litre engine in the V8 R has a stonking 542bhp, which gives it properly nutty acceleration
The entry-level engine is a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with 335bhp, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as fast as a car like this should. The ballistic noise it makes only serves to remind you of what you’re missing. The V6 S has the same engine, but it’s uprated to give 375bhp. Thankfully, it feels much faster, and its rev-hungry nature really encourages you to play. Especially in the six-speed manual version, which lets you wring the engine out more often than in the auto’. However, it’s not the smoothest-shifting manual ‘box we’ve tried, and the awkward placement of the lever and the inconvenient obstacles surrounding it (like the side of the seat, the lid of the central storage compartment and a protruding part of the trim on the centre console) means you’re constantly catching your elbows and wrists as you change gear. The 5.0-litre engine in the V8 R can only be had with an auto’, and with a stonking 542bhp, it gives properly nutty acceleration. It sounds even better than the V6s, too, with a high-pitched scream accompanied by pops and bangs from the exhaust. The eight-speed auto’ is excellent, with quick changes when required and smoother shifts in town, and it suits the GT character of the Jag better than the manual.
Here’s the strange thing; the more you spend on your F-Type, the better value for money you get. The entry-model is very pricey compared with a Porsche Boxster, while the V8 R looks like an absolute steal compared with a similarly-powered 911 Cabriolet. The V6 S is probably the most sensible buy; it delivers a much better drive than the V6 and doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as the V8 R. No version will be cheap to run, though. Both V6s do around 31mpg, while the V8 manages just 26mpg. Other consumables like brakes, pads and tyres will be very expensive when they do need replacing, and insurance and tax rates are extremely high, too. But then, you probably already knew that didn’t you?
It’s too early to assess the long-term reliability of the F-Type. While the quality of the F-Type’s materials is mixed, most of the panels look solidly put together. However, Jaguar’s recent record in reliability surveys makes for grim reading, and the company features well down the list in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer standings. Similarly, some of our owners have highlighted engine faults that required multiple trips to the dealer to fix, and other electronic faults which have kept their cars off the road for several weeks.
The F-Type hasn’t yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP, and considering the sort of car it is, it probably never will be. All models come with an electronic stability control system, high-performance brakes and four airbags, and a wide range of optional extras are available, such as blind-spot monitoring and intelligent high-beam assist.
Even the base-level F-Type comes with keyless entry, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a decent touch-screen sat-nav system, while the V6 S model adds ambient interior lighting and an active sports exhaust that sounds fantastic. Aside from a great deal of power, the V8 R model adds rear parking sensors. Heating for the seats and windscreen, a rear parking camera and upgraded sound system are just some of the many optional extras and accessories you can specify.
The V6 S and V8 R models provide all the thrills you could want from your sports car, plus the exotic looks and soul-stirring soundtrack to match
We can’t see much to recommend the base F-Type when a Porsche Boxster is cheaper, faster and more fun to drive. However, the V6 S and V8 R models provide all the thrills you could want from your sports car, plus the exotic looks and soul-stirring soundtrack to match. Highly recommended.