EDITOR WES RAYNAL: When we took the F-Type V8 Convertible to Michigan International Speedway last fall for Best of the Best testing, I expected big things. The car mostly delivered, but the Chevy C7 Corvette eventually won, primarily because it destroyed the Jag on the road course/handling loop; that’s why the Jag finished second. If I recall, we found it too twitchy compared to the Chevy. That was my first F-Type experience. I haven’t driven the coupe on the track, but I can say on the road and around town, it’s a hell of a good car.
For starters, the coupe’s exterior shape is just stunning. Being the Ian Callum fan I am, of course I’m going to love it. I’m not alone -- the car gets tons of looks and thumbs-up. The interior is sharp (though the gold-colored plastic shift paddles look a little weird and the screen/interface is arguably becoming a bit dated). Love the seats, snug and supportive. The view out is a bit restricted, but seriously? Who cares?
As West Coast editor Mark Vaughn has pointed out, this is like a British muscle car, but one able to turn corners and brake. Stomp the throttle and it gets right down the road. Put it in sport mode and it’s quick as all get out off the line and snaps crackles and pops. Wonderful engine sounds that will make you smile. I don’t know that I’d bother with the V8 were I a paying customer. This powertrain felt great. Steering is quick and accurate. Ditto the transmission: Fast and smooth.
Body roll is near non-existent and yet I didn’t feel like the ride was beating on me.
From here I get into the long-term V8-powered F-Type R coupe. I might be taking back what I said above about not bothering with the V8. We’ll see.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I see Jaguar’s F-Type, I smile. I think of it, I smile. I drive it and I smile even bigger … and I truly laugh out loud when the exhaust cracks and pops on the overrun like a can of firecrackers turned up to 1,000.
Everyone who has written or commented in some way about the F-Type mentions the exhaust sounds when turned to sport, but it’s such an integral part of the drive here that it must be mentioned again. I absolutely love it. And if you don’t for some reason, you can dial it down with a single button push.
If the soundtrack carries a drawback -- for me, anyway -- here it is: it goads you into driving like a moron. No, I’m not talking about speeding or any overly aggressive behind-the-wheel behavior. Rather, I find myself often leaving it in as low of a gear as possible just to hear the race-car reminiscent tone screaming to redline. Rev this engine high while barking through a tunnel or beneath a concrete-walled overpass; if you don’t giggle, you must be dead. Similarly, I also found myself shifting repeatedly up into fourth or fifth gear on reasonably slow streets solely so I could then crack off downshifts repeatedly to hear the exhaust popping as frequently as possible.
Neither of these behaviors has gotten old to me yet in the F-Type, but I started to consider my relative lack of mechanical sympathy after driving the car, and it stopped me in my tracks. If I owned an F-Type, I would have to exercise incredible self-restraint (not something easy for a driving enthusiast to do … ) -- or just say the hell with it and worry about premature engine and gearbox wear when it occurred. Neither proposition appeals much.
But other than that? Ibid Raynal’s mention of a dated touchscreen, but I didn’t spend a lot of time fiddling with it because this is a driver’s car. The F-Type R with V8 is the real ticket, but as Wes asked, do you need to spend the extra money for the extra power? For the street? Most gearheads will answer in the affirmative, but if this supercharged V6 were the only engine available, I’d still say the F-Type is one of the most fun new sports cars to hit the market in quite some time. The car turns-in nicely with a strong front-end, and the tail wags easily if you’re looking to play in that manner; steering is well-weighted, seats are outstanding … a good time all around.
One note: Did anyone figure out if there is a way to program the gearbox so it doesn’t default to second-gear starts from a dead stop, even in sport manual mode? You can pull the downshift paddle and select first, but this becomes annoying in short order. I meant to look in the owner’s booklet several times and forgot until I was already driving the car, at which point I was stuck dealing with this, er, fuel-saving “feature.”
What is it?It's the Jaguar F-Type made better and even more beautiful. Some eyes out there might genuinely prefer the Brit brand's two-seat sports car in convertible form. That's fine, but the arch of ...
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I’m not sure how Jag has managed it but the F-Type -- in seemingly every variant I’ve sampled so far -- practically demands to be driven very fast. Exhaust note probably has a lot to do with it. As Mac notes, the snap-crackle-pop-roar tempts you into depressing what must be one of the loudest of loud-pedals on the market every time you get an open stretch of road.
Or a not-so-open stretch of road. I thought the steering felt artificially weighty, but it was direct and precise. You can tuck and weave if you’re so inclined, but don’t -- you’ll look like a jerk, and it’s not really safe. At some point I discovered a speed limiter on the steering wheel. It might not be a bad idea to use it on those occasions that you’re feeling particularly punchy.
Given how one is likely to drive this thing, and the rate at which the fuel gauge seems to drop, I was expecting to do far worse than my 18.1 mpg. So it’s economical, or relatively so!
Price is high, and like Wes, I’m eager to compare the V6-equipped car to our long-term F-Type R coupe with the supercharged V8. But no matter which route you take with the F-Type, you’re getting a lot of style for the money. The packaging is stunning (more so outside than the mostly very nice C7-like interior), and you will get compliments at stoplights, gas stations, etc.
Bonus: The marque has few of the arrogant prick connotations attached (rightly or wrongly) to, er, certain German sports car brands, so you won’t feel sheepish rolling up to anywhere in an F-Type. Although I’m sure once more of these get on the road, and more drivers discover how easy (and fun!) it is to drive them like turn signal-abhorring jerks that perception will change.
Far from a lacking entry-level version of the “real” F-Type coupe, though, this V6 car manages to pack in a lot of character and it’s absolutely a riot to drive. And speaking of cost, what’s the sticker on a Porsche 911 these days? Maybe this near-six-figure tab isn’t so bad.
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