It seems crazy to think Jaguar’s F-Type has been on the road for nigh-on 5 years now; initially launching in soft-top ‘roadster’ form, then coupe shortly after. We first sampled the F-type 2 years ago in roadster form, but have thus far missed the opportunity to test out the fixed roof version. Until now that is – with an ‘Ultra Blue’ coupe left in our care for a week. Team MenStyleFashion were off to experience, The Jaguar Classic Track experience.
First things first; lets discuss the F-Type’s looks. Surprisingly, this proved to be a tricky task – how do you expand on ‘it looks fantastic’. The simple truth is, Jaguar have absolutely nailed the appearance of the F-Type – the roadster was a looker, but the coupe takes it up to the next level.
Beyond the body shape, there’s numerous details to further entice the eye. The door handles sit flush, only popping out either by a button press on the key or a small button on the handle itself. The handles that are duly presented contain the Jaguar logo embossed on the top face and look ever so neat. It’s a small detail, but it adds to the exterior sleekness, as well as building the ‘experience’ of getting into the F-Type.
There’s also a small spoiler/air brake along the rear lip, which pops up either under heavy braking or speeds above 70mph. Sat centrally below that, there’s a large, single exit exhaust pipe. This is a unique feature to the engine spec’d on this model (more on this later), with most models having twin exit pipes flanking the rear end.
Finally, we have to talk about the wheels – spec’d up from the 18” standard to the 19” ‘Style 7013’ wheels, they’re a real sight to behold. They’re a £1050 option, but on the F-Type they look proportionally spot on. 20” Wheels are an optional extra too, should 19’s not be enough for you…
Step/stoop (this is a low car) into the F-Type for the first time, and it’s immediately obvious that this is a very pleasant place to sit. The seats drop nice and low, hunkering you down into the cockpit. They’re supportive in all the right place too, really holding you in – ‘fit like a glove’ springs to mind. Some may find them a tad on the firm side, but even after lengthy drives, aches and pains failed to set in.
The fit and finish is generally very good, although a couple of areas of the interior (particularly up high) feel cheaper than you’d like on a £50,000+ car, letting it down slightly. Whilst we’re on the negatives, the infotainment system also feel a bit dated, especially compared to rivals in this class. Basic features such as the navigation and phone pairing are simple and easy to use, but more advanced features and fancy graphics are in short supply.
The steering wheel controls are straight out of a Range Rover, which means they feel nice to the touch, if a little cumbersome; they lack the precision and tactility you’d expect from a sports car such as this. The steering wheel does have a trick up its sleeve however, as it seamlessly raises/lowers itself to aid access to and from the car – nice!
The standard ‘Meridian’ sound system came fitted to the car on test, with impressive results. 10 speakers are neatly dotted around the cabin, and they do a fantastic job of making the sound-stage feel very open. They have some decent punch too, although crank it up too hard and it goes a little off-beat, with cabin rattle and distortion creeping in. Occasions that require this sort of volume are rather rare, but if it’s a worry Jaguar have you covered; an upgrade which doubles the system’s power and adds additional speakers can be had for £990.
Other neat features include heated front and rear screens, heated seats and a heated steering wheel – frosty morning simply don’t stand a chance! The panoramic glass roof also comes highly recommended, making the cabin feel incredibly airy and open – night driving is a real spectacle. On the flip side, the £470 powered tailgate seemed a little OTT, especially as the boot hatch is so small on the F-Type.
Most MSF car reviews touch on a vehicles engine, but few vehicles engines are so divisive that they demand their own section. This F-Type’s is. The F-Type has typically been available with a choice of two engines; a V6 or V8, both supercharged, both very loud, both very dramatic. Power isn’t in short supply either, as depending on configuration they chuck out between 340 and 575hp.
The F-Type on test came fitted with a turbo-charged in-line 4 however, producing 300hp. On pure horsepower then, not a million miles short of the 340hp produced by the base spec V6; it’ll still shift the F-Type to 60 in 5.4 seconds. However, there’s one problem – it sounds like an inline 4. It’s difficult to explain in words, but when you have a car that looks as exquisite as the F-Type, it needs to sound the part too, and the 4-cylinder just can’t get there.
In fairness, Jaguar deserve credit, for this is one of the best sounding 4-cylinders I’ve heard, but it just pales in comparison to the drama, excitement & character offered by the V6 and V8. As someone put it to me when I took them out in the F-Type; you’re getting a £20k hot hatch engine with a very fancy frock…
On The Road
Ignoring the aural experience, how does the rest of the car perform on the open road? Well, the good news it’s as nice to drive as it is to look at: The F-Type chassis is an absolute gem. The connection between all four wheels and the driver is fantastic, with sensations often diluted or lost on other cars easy to feel and enjoy.
You can really work the F-Type, and because the engine hasn’t got unearthly amounts of power you won’t end up going at silly speeds either (so it’s not all bad for the 4-cylinder). It can really be leaned on, with the back end coming alive as you exit corners. The brakes hold their own too, stopping the F-Type with great efficiency & haste when required.
I’m sure a large part of this fun-factor is thanks to the all-aluminium body, which helps to tee the F-type up at just over 1500kgs. This does swell somewhat with the larger engines, so it would be interesting to see how this affects the dynamics.
When it’s not being driven enthusiastically, the F-Type is compliant and smooth, just as you’d expect from a modern Jaguar. Road noise is kept under control, the blind-spot monitoring system (part of a £1085 ‘Drive pack’) works fantastically and frontward visibility is good. The only gripes whilst on the road were with the gearbox and fuel economy; Down-changes in Automatic mode were occasionally a little sluggish and we’d have hoped for more than 28mpg on a long run from the ‘down-sized’ engine…
As a driving experience, the F-Type is right up there with the best I’ve driven. The chassis is great, the driving position is spot on and the level of feel and control is fantastic; it’s a real joy to drive. The F-Type doesn’t feel like it was designed purely based on numbers – it was developed to have a soul, to have character and to be an enjoyable car to drive, a major plus in my book.
Sadly, as much as I tried, I just couldn’t get my head around the choice of engine. My initial rational was that fuel economy would be fantastic, but it was far from it – we got similar figures from the 450hp V6 RS5. All it does is make a car which is verging on greatness into something which feels a little incomplete. The looks and driving experience are there, it just needs the dramatic soundtrack to complete things and elevate the F-Type Coupe to the highest level. With any luck, we’ll be able to get a taste of the V6 or V8 F-Type pie in the next few months and report back…
Thank you to Jaguar UK for supplying our review car.