2014 JAGUAR F-TYPE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: High-performance luxury convertible
Price: $201,945 (retail) | $212,020 (as-tested)
Engine/trans: 364kW/625Nm 5.0 supercharged petrol V8 | 8sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.1 l/100km | tested: 15.2 l/100km
A supercharged V8, rear-drive and just two seats makes for a pretty enticing sports car recipe, and the F-Type V8 S doesn’t just look amazing... the way it sounds, goes, turns and stops is equally impressive.
We took one for a week-long spin, and though there were some mild annoyances (see: options list), there can be no dispute that the F-Type V8 S is one very accomplished sports car.
- Standard equipment: Keyless entry and ignition, paddle shifters, sat nav, trip computer, cruise control, power seats, leather upholstery, power retractable cloth roof.
- Optional equipment fitted: Memory seats, heated steering wheel, lockable storage compartment, illuminated tread plates, parking sensors, dual-mode exhaust, dual-zone climate control, wind deflector, tyre pressure monitoring, valet mode
- Boot capacity: 196 litres
The F-Type’s compact, driver-focused cabin is far from spacious, but it sure does leave you in no doubt that this is the cockpit of a sports car.
The standard seats could use a little more bolstering (Jaguar will fit more body-hugging seats if you have the cash), but the thick-rimmed steering wheel, raked-back centre stack and high beltline reinforce the race-ready feel.
There’s also enough room for most body types, despite the F-Type’s compactness. Headroom is good with the roof up, and with the soft-top dropped (which takes all of 12 seconds) there’s minimal buffeting.
It doesn’t, however, feel any more special nor exclusive than the cabin of the entry-level V6 (which some buyers may find an annoyance).
There’s too much black leather and black plastic, and though the shift paddles and starter button add a few splashes of orange, it’s not enough to break up the monotony.
Thankfully, the options list includes both a tan and a light-grey upholstery scheme, as well as a few different shades for the aluminium dash trim.
Which brings us to the F-Type’s most irksome aspect: its list of optional equipment.
Dual-zone climate control and rain-sensing wipers should not be optional on a car that retails for $200k+, let alone the fact that Jaguar makes you pay $550 for a wind deflector and $590 for a lockable storage compartment.
Want a reversing camera? Front parking sensors? Prepare to pay more.
And then there’s the pointlessly small and shallow boot. The bulk of its space is taken up by the space-saver wheel; just a few shopping bags would see it at max capacity.
ON THE ROAD
- 364kW/625Nm supercharged 5.0 petrol V8
- 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters and sport mode
- Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension
- Adaptive dampers, torque vectoring rear differential
- Disc brakes all around, 380mm front rotors
While the V6 S had us dribbling over its chassis balance, steering and suspension, the F-Type V8 S experience is dominated by its engine.
And what an engine it is. Displacing 5.0 litres and force-fed by a supercharger, the V8 S pounds out 364kW and 625Nm - with much of that mumbo available from just above idle.
No matter which of the ZF transmission’s eight gears you’re in, the V8 S is capable of generating massive thrust. Yet despite channeling all of this muscle through its rear wheels, it doesn’t feel like it’s always on the edge.
Credit that to an incredibly well-calibrated traction and stability control system. Even with these systems active, the F-Type will launch from 0-100km/h in just 4.3 seconds - and acceleration remains just as fierce above that speed.
And the drama doesn’t end there. Prod the 'exhaust mode' switch, and the V8 S positively howls.
There’s little in the way of supercharger whine, but the exhaust provides more than enough of a roar when accelerating, halting only when the needle is resting against the 7000rpm rev cut.
Back off the throttle, and the V8 S roadster's quad tailpipes produce a rapid series of thunderclaps on the overrun.
It’s marginally more civil with the exhaust bypass switched off, but this is not a quiet car - and we mean that in the most complimentary way.
And don’t let the look-at-me styling and retractable roof fool you either: the V8 S is no boulevard cruiser.
On a suitably curvy road the F-Type comes alive. The steering is alert and reassuringly direct, and the big brakes generate huge stopping power. In Dynamic mode, the throttle, steering, suspension and gearbox are sharper still.
The V8 S also has active torque vectoring by way of a proper mechanically-variable limited slip differential (no brake-based pseudo-LSD here), which helps get power down earlier when coming out of a corner, as well as aiding turn-in under throttle.
And it helps a great deal, considering the V8 S is carrying more weight in its nose than its V6-powered brothers.
Turn in hard, pass the apex, give the throttle a squeeze, brake, turn in again, repeat. It doesn’t matter what gear you choose, the V8 S makes light work of most mountain roads.
But ultimately, the massive power of the V8 feels too constrained in this kind of environment - unlike the slightly more nimble and substantially less manic V6 S.
Instead the V8 S cries out for a racetrack, so it can stretch out its impressively long legs.
But, if all you want to do is cruise, then the V8 S is happy to accommodate. The adaptive suspension is surprisingly compliant considering it’s bolted to huge 20-inch wheels and their low-profile tyres.
ANCAP rating: The Jaguar F-Type has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control (switchable), ABS, EBD, brake assist, three-point seatbelts, rollover bars, dual front and side/head airbags.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Looking for a small, nimble, luxo convertible? There’s surprisingly few at or below the Jag’s $200k price point.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Driving purists (like yours truly) may prefer the V6 S for its lighter weight and more approachable engine, but there’s no denying that the nastier, meatier V8 S is far the more potent machine.
Acceleration from a standing start is like being strapped to the front of a rocket. How can anyone not be impressed with such bare-knuckle power as this V8 engine?
But the V8 S's capability is not just limited to the drag strip; its ability to dispatch tight and tricky backroads is proven.
The interior however isn’t quite as special as the driving experience, but given this car's other attributes we’ll happily forgive it the ho-hum cabin.
The slim standard equipment list is harder to overlook though, and omitting basics like dual-zone climate control is just plain stingy on a car costing well over six figures.
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