2014 JAGUAR F-TYPE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Performance convertible
Price: $171,045 (plus on-roads), $207,675 as-tested
Engine/trans: 280kW/460Nm; 3.0 supercharged petrol V6 | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.1 l/100km | tested: 14.3 l/100km
It's obvious; there are styling references everywhere - everyone knows that the F-TYPE is a homage to Jaguar’s classic E-Type.
And who could not be seduced by those delectable curves?
But this car is more than just a nostalgic nod to the past, and much more than just a beautiful drop-top.
It is, in essence and in character, a bloody good sports car. One that just happens to look a million bucks.
Quality: The F-TYPE’s interior, as we've now come to expect from Jaguar, is well built, stylish in a sports-focussed way, and filled with leather and soft-touch materials and surfaces.
It looks and feels great, only the antiquated appearance of the touchscreen infotainment display’s graphics drag it down.
There are other nifty touches - the centre air-vents rise out of the dash every time you start the car, while the starter button itself pulses with light when you unlock the doors.
The roof is also beautifully and harmoniously integrated with the car’s bodywork when it’s lowered.
The fabric roof has no cover when it’s in the down position, but the contour of the visible fabric matches the shape of the F-TYPE’s decklid perfectly. Not only does it look great, but the roof gets up and down faster because of it.
Comfort: This is strictly a two-seater, and a pretty small one at that. Want to put your briefcase behind the driver’s seat? That’s probably a bad idea, unless you like your sternum resting against the airbag cover.
But though it’s snug, it’s a nice cabin once you’re settled in. Both seats are electric and so is the steering column, and heated seats are also the norm.
However, Melbourne’s hellishly hot weather has had us yearning for ventilated seats. All that black leather gets mighty hot very quickly.
The passenger could also do with more legroom, and long-legged drivers may find that the seat doesn’t travel all that far rearward.
Happily, headroom under that well-insulated fabric roof is pretty good, and wind rustle with the roof down isn’t all that intrusive even at highway speed.
The optional Performance Seats ($2730) that our car came with are also worth the extra premium, given how much more lateral support they give over the rather ordinary standard-issue seats.
Equipment: Keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, sat-nav, powered-seats, a power-retractable roof, single-zone climate control, reversing camera and bi-xenon headlamps are all standard on the V6 S
Naturally, so is Bluetooth phone/audio integration, a trip computer and USB audio input.
But, curiously, rain-sensing wipers, front parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, a wind deflector and memory seats are cost options.
That’s a bit hard to swallow for a car that costs $171,045 retail. Almost as hard to swallow as the whopping $34,780 bill for all the options fitted to our test car.
Storage: The worst aspect of the F-TYPE is by far its boot - or what passes for it.
It’s ultra-shallow and measures just 196 litres, and would barely contain the average weekly groceries of a childless couple. If you’re planning on a road trip, consider shelling out for Jaguar’s special fitted luggage - most ordinary suitcases won’t fit.
If you choose to put a space saver tyre in there you lose almost 50 litres of boot capacity, making it almost useless.
What could be even more pointless? Why, the glow-in-the dark emergency release handle, which is presumably there should you accidentally lock a limbless midget in the boot.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The supercharged V6 of our tester is 'just' the mid-range engine option. But with 280kW and 460Nm, it is hardly lacking for muscle.
At 1614kg the F-TYPE V6 S is quite heavy, but its power-to-weight ratio is actually slightly better than the Porsche Boxster S.
The Porsche though is faster in a straight line, needing just 5.0 seconds flat to get to 100km/h against the V6 S Jag’s 5.3 seconds.
It may have to do with the weight balance. Pin the throttle in the Jag, and the 275-section rear tyres scrabble for grip before they eventually bite - even with traction control active.
Fun, but not the quickest way of getting off the line.
But the engine is a peach. It pulls strongly from idle right up to redline, and the power delivery is wonderfully linear.
Keeping it above 4000rpm puts it in its sweet spot, and as we mentioned earlier this supercharged motor has wonderfully crisp throttle response.
And paired with this engine is an equally likeable gearbox.
The ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic is no fancy-pants twin-clutch unit, but it cracks out upshifts in the blink of an eye and has a ratio stack that compliments the V6 S’ engine perfectly.
Manual changes can be done via the stubby BMW-style (BMW also makes use of the ZF 8-speeder) gearlever or the two steering wheel-mounted paddles, and are ultra-fast.
Downchanges can be a touch slow at times, but are always perfectly rev-matched.
This gearbox will also hold the engine against redline when in manual mode, which is our preference. There’s nothing worse than a gearbox that auto-upshifts when you intend to shift manually.
Refinement: Hit the exhaust bypass switch, floor the accelerator and it’s like Thor’s hammer has descended from the heavens. This thing is LOUD.
Thunderous doesn’t even begin to describe it, and we struggle to comprehend how such an exhaust is legal. On the overrun, it sounds like a cement mixer full of fireworks.
And keep in mind that this is the V6 S, not the even-more-cacophonous V8S. We’ve never heard a V6 that sounds as intoxicating as this one.
Ride and Handling: Traditionally, sports cars are ultra-firm and not terribly comfortable. Traditionally, convertibles aren’t all that rigid. Thankfully, the F-TYPE breaks with tradition.
Though it’s missing a roof, the F-TYPE’s body feels taut and tight. There’s no scuttle shake nor steering column wobble, and only once did we hear a creak from the roof/windshield junction - and that was after inadvertently hitting one mighty pothole.
Its body is rigid, but the F-TYPE is surprisingly supple. On poorly-maintained roads, even though shod with 19-inch wheels, there’s little ride harshness to report.
But show it a curvy road, and the Jaguar hunkers down and grips like a cat on carpet.
It’s superbly balanced, and you have to get mighty aggressive with the throttle on exit to get the rear-end unsettled.
The steering is also delightfully direct and progressive. It’s not the last word in tactile feedback, but this hydraulically assisted system does a great job of telling the car where to point.
Braking: The huge rotors of the front brakes barely squeeze behind its 19-inch alloys, red calipers peering out from between the spokes.
It’s the mid-grade brake system in the range, but it works very well. We experienced no fade during a fast downhill run, and the pedal stayed firm and responsive no matter what we did.
ANCAP rating: The Jaguar F-TYPE has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Standard safety equipment includes traction control (switchable), stability control (switchable), ABS, EBD and brake assist. Blind spot monitoring and reverse traffic detection are available as cost options.
Driver and passenger are protected by four airbags (dual front, side) as well as rollover hoops, and a pop-up bonnet helps reduce trauma in the event of a pedestrian impact.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Jaguar offers free scheduled services for the first three years or 100,000km, however this doesn’t extend to wear-and-tear items such as oil, tyres or batteries.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Porsche Boxster S PDK ($131,490) - The handling benchmark for luxury two-seater convertibles, the Porsche Boxster is light and nimble and powered by a revvy 232kW360Nm 3.4 litre naturally-aspirated flat six.
The Jaguar’s power advantage would see it outrun the Boxster if the road was long enough, but the Porsche’s chassis dynamics make it the better sports car. It’s cheaper too. (see Porsche reviews)
Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG ($154,690) - Alongside the SLS, the SLK 55 AMG is the last of the naturally-aspirated AMG products.
Its 5.5 litre V8 churns out 310kW and 540Nm, and it’s a monster in a straight line - Mercedes says it’ll do 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds. The SLK is substantially cheaper than the Jag (but is cost a consideration?). (see SLK reviews)
Audi RS 5 Cabriolet ($175,900) - The odd one out, being a four-seater, but the closest competitor to the F-TYPE on price.
It belts out 331kW and 430Nm from its high-revving 4.2 litre V8, which is hands-down one of our favourite V8s of all time. It may weigh a whisker under two tonne, but takes just 4.9 seconds to run to 100km/h from rest.
The chassis is a bit floppy though, and the Jaguar absolutely creams it around a curve. (see Audi RS reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Well, it’s not the cheapest of the two-seat luxo drop-top set, but the F-TYPE V6 S offers a tremendous package for the money.
It’s got style by the shovelful, a brilliant engine, sublime chassis balance and more than a modicum of ride comfort.
This is a car that’s equally at home cruising along inner-city boulevards as it is attacking a mountain pass.
One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is just how much attention it gets. Few other cars that have passed through the TMR garage have attracted the gaze of so many onlookers.
And it draws attention for all the right reasons.
It’s both beautiful and capable. It’s an Olympic athlete with a modelling contract - the Jaguar F-TYPE V6 S.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- F-TYPE 3.0 V6 - $138,645
- F-TYPE 3.0 V6 S - $171,045
- F-TYPE 5.0 V8 S - $201,945