First Drive : Jaguar F-Type

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Honest John

Jaguar F-Type (1)

The Jaguar F-Type has finally arrived, more than 50 years after Jaguar launched the E-type to an awestruck world. And Jaguar is back to building sports cars, to complement its grand tourers and saloons.

Just as the E-type’s separate passenger tub and engine frame were revolutionary in their day, the F-Type breaks new ground with a combined body and chassis made out of recycled aluminium that weighs a mere 261kg. Two men can pick it up. Add everything else and the entire car weighs 1600–1665kg, which is still light for a sports car with engines offering 340-495bhp.

It comes as a roadster only, with a canvas top that goes up or down in 12 seconds. And there’s logic in that. The F-Type is a fun, fair weather car for people who have something else as well. It isn’t built to pound the motorways as a repmobile. All have eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ automatic transmissions, which again is entirely logical. The more ratios the better for exploiting engine power and torque, and paddles that turn with the steering wheel are a far quicker way of swapping ratios than messing around with a lever between the seats.

All of the engines are supercharged, putting out 340 or 380bhp as 3.0-litre V6s and 490bhp as 5.0-litre V8s and giving instant response to the accelerator peddle. Acceleration figures from 0-60 are respectively 5.1, 4.8 and 4.2 seconds.

To break us in gently, Jaguar put us into the 340bhp 3.0-litre V6 first, and it rapidly became apparent that to get the best out of the car you had to paddle rather than leave the ‘box to get on with it by itself. The cars had a significant extra: Jaguar’s barely legal ‘Active’ exhaust that turns the burble into a banshee wail that snaps crackles and pops on the overrun.

It’s good to drive. Comfortable on standard 18in alloy wheels and a more luxurious alternative to a Porsche Boxster, if not offering quite the same level of driving ‘feel’ and agility to perfectionists. For probably 75% of the people who buy a Porsche Boxster or specify one as their company car, it’s a very viable alternative.

Jaguar F-Type (2)

Next up, the 380bhp F-Type 3.0-litre V6 S, which we drove both on track and on the road. For your extra £9000, besides another 40bhp, you get 19in alloy wheels, standard Active Sports Exhaust, Sports Suspension with Active Damping, a mechanical limited slip differential, bigger brakes and some trim improvements.

This is quicker and louder, and could be used as an occasional track day car if you were so inclined. The F-Type V6 S has nice, responsive steering and is easy to ‘place’ on the road with an astonishing absence of understeer. Even on the track, very little tyre squeal was coming over the airwaves. The DSC is not intrusive, ‘Dynamic’ mode reduces it, and even switched off altogether, the car is so well balanced it’s actually difficult to get out of shape rather than requiring any skill to control.

And it’s a revver. Drive it quickly and you will regularly see 7000rpm, which probably isn’t very good for the catalytic converters. Off the track and onto the road, though, you start to feel the lower profile of the tyres (these were 20in, not standard 19in). The ride itself is fine. Jaguar has Mike Cross to thank for that and he’s the best Chassis Engineer in the business. However, with less rubber between the rims and the road you do feel ridges and potholes.

Being a progressive sort of company Jaguar saved the best until last: the 490bho F-Type V8 S and nearly 200 glorious road miles. I got the hot seat first and was relieved to find that around town it may be a Jaguar bit it’s also a pussycat. However, switch to ‘Dynamic’ mode, turn the DSC off and it’s a tyre smoking dragster.

In the V8 S, health and safety dictates that ‘Dynamic’ doesn’t reduce DSC as much as it does in the V6 S – if you want to set fire to the back tyres on hairpin bends you have to switch it off completely and then you may find that, a bit later in your journey, it has decided to switch itself on again. After all, you are not supposed to drive cars in full-blooded drifts on the public highway even though they are as controllable as this one.

The penalty for our exuberance was a nearly empty fuel tank. So don’t reckon on 25mpg if you’re hooning an F-Type V8 S. Think more along the lines of single figures. But on the motorway, despite the ECDC 25.5mpg, if you set the cruise to 75, we reckon you’ll see 30mpg plus and 35mpg plus for the V6s.

HJ’s Verdict? Well, all these F-Types are more my kind of car than a Porsche Boxster. I’m not sufficiently committed to all-out performance over comfort to put my coccyx in danger. I’d rather burble about than attempt to shave milliseconds off my time from Sainsburys to Waitrose. And to my mind a Porsche 911 should have a tin top, not a folding one – plus the letters ‘RS’ in its name somewhere, which makes it massively more expensive than an F-Type.

Quick facts:
CO2s: 209g/km, 213g/km (£280 tax) and 259g/km (£490 tax). Fuel ‘economy’ in the EC lab tests: 31.4mpg, 31mpg and 25.5mpg.

Prices: £58,500, £67,500 and £79,950, before you start loading the cars up. They all come with such things as satnav, DAB radios, Bluetooth, Xenon headlights, Dynamic Drive system and cruise control.

Jaguar F-type (3)

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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40 Comments

  1. That rear shot to my eyes, has some strong Italian styling influences, and is non the worse for it either.
    Should nick a few sales from the Cockster, and maybe also the Z4 and SLK.

  2. I used to deliver E Types new in 68 – 70.
    I’d be happy to come out of (semi) retirement. Just give me ring on………..etc

  3. I’ve warmed to the face of it but like a nicely built young lady, it’s the curves of the rear end that get me every time. And do we perhaps see the return of the Lyon’s line? The curves have always reminded me of a feline in it’s crouching prowling position, moving ready to pounce.

    If the saloons lost a little in character and personality I think it’s the fact that they were difficult to relate to our wild feline friends (semantically). There’s a certain poise this has got that, quite, frank would make any young 5 year old look up to his old man as it goes by, asking, “what’s that Dad?”…..

    “It’s a Jag son…. It’s a Jag.”

  4. @Eezee

    “It’s a Jag son…. It’s a Jag.”

    That. That’s the sort of statement that you’d struggle to make about a mere bmw or audi. That is what makes Jag special.

  5. Jaguar is back where they should be for the first time since 1970. Even the series 3 E Type lost the plot somewhat
    Never much liked the XJS, loved the original XK8. My only slight criticism is that Jaguar have pitched the price very high. This might work in world markets if supply is restricted to 15,000 a year but it won’t worry the Porsche Boxter that is 10k cheaper at least and sells about 30,000 a year. Jaguar are obviously not going for big sales, but an extra £10k profit per car obviously makes sense for them.

  6. The high price may relate in part to pedestrian friendly bonnet that rises in a collision,the hinges and pyro gear costs £5000 to replace.

  7. @11 And I always thought the Croatians to be such a charming people, now if its the Krauts your talking about well………

  8. Nice car, but again a mess up with the name type…..the E type and the XK8-(R) family were and are pure GT, the F type is a pure spider-so a definitly different type of car.
    Personally i dont like the front lights, but is a personal taste, what disturbes me more is that no manual gearbox is avaliable. I like to drive the car and not to be driven by the car, and adore the 3 pedals driving technique…..thats why i drive an x300 xj6-manual, last inline last manual and in a sense last jag-but its me with a classic taste

  9. @Simon
    “…..the E type and the XK8-(R) family were and are pure GT”
    What planet are you on??? the E in its original form was an all out sports car.. Greaham Hill took one from a show room in 1961, drove it straight to the easter goodwood meeting an promptly won, against proper sports racer like the Ferrari 250.. thats no soft GT car, even if the cigar lighter was still fitted. That was its first ever track apearance

  10. @Ford
    hope that about xk8 there is no doubt what it is……
    about the E type…i’m from slovenia, we re on the continent and we drive on the rifgt side of the road….so i can be for you from another planet….
    The E type or XKE for the americans is a GT car is simple to know it not only by its definition but also looking to some literature books or simplier on the wikipedia page (that you can not have as an reliable source of definition but….
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_E-Type

    so if the E type raced against a ferrari 250 you probably leave out the GT (A, B or O or SWB….GRAN TURISMO-GRAND TOURER)so quite the same class of car……and at last and not at least ist true that Graham Hill take a Jag Type E and won the first race without any preparation but…..according to the Jaguar Heritage (you’ll probably agree that they know about the cars they produced)the race in fact was a Grad Touring Car race……
    source
    http://www.jaguarheritage.org/News/18-first-e-type-race-win.aspx
    so if all we are wrong…….

  11. The E-Type started off as a sports car. A posher, faster, better engineered version of Big Healys and TRs.
    But by the end of it’s life it was pure GT. Look at a V12 auto E-Type and you’ll get just what I mean.

  12. @Simon..
    utter rubbish, the E raced aganst the 250GT SWB, the Aston DB4 Zagatos, the 250 GTO.. and won.
    In the ’62 lemans Brigs Cummingham and Roy Salvadori brought a 3.8 FHC home in 4th place (310 laps) , not bad for a production car. 1st was a Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spyder (331 laps), 2nd and 3rd were 250GTOs, (326 and 314 laps) None of which could really be called ‘production cars’
    5th was another E-type, 6th was a 250 GTO

    . The V12 was a boulvard cruiser but many at jaguar felt it should have been the F-Type anyway as it was a very differnt car to the real E-type

  13. @Simon
    And have you looked to see the other entries in said GT race at Oulton Park in ’61?? in fact you obvioisly did not bother to look in the photos on the page you suggested.. or you would have seen a 250GT SWB trailing the 2 E-Types.. I beleive Number 5 Graham Whitehead driving for Equipe Endeavour, one of 2 250GT SWB in the racem the other being driven by Jack Sears for Maranello Concessionaires, whihc amounts to a works backed car. In fact its well known that the 250GTO was created to to beat the E-Type (Jaguar countered with the Lightweight) but to claim the original E-type was not a sports car is just ludecrous

  14. @ ford
    dear can you be so kind and explain me where did I wrote that the Jaguar E-type is not a sport car?????? I wrote that is a GT….why beacouse is sure that a E type can not be compared as a same class car like an original Lotus 7 (to have an same era car, both sport car but both tottaly different)

    For your information i saw the pics and again dont see your point….the racing ferraris 250 were without the Gt in the name, those on the pics are as you saw all GT in different trims (again GT-Gran tourismo-grand tourer) and the compentition was for GT cars (its named like that) and guess why maybe thats the reason why all the cars in are GTs beacouse is the class of the cars, like in the formula 1 they are all f1 cars and they dont allowed any cart (or F3, or a indy car) to compete even if they are all racing cars

  15. The 250GT SWB not a racing car?? now you are just being silly.. I guess the 250GTO isn’t a racing car by the same logic.

    And I belive you said ‘so if the E type raced against a ferrari 250 you probably leave out the GT (A, B or O or SWB….GRAN TURISMO-GRAND TOURER)’

    and the 250GT SWB IS the 250SWB (there is no such thing as a 250SWB, correctly it is the 250GT SWB, just like there is NO Ferrari Daytona, it’s a Ferrari 365GTB/4)

    In an earlier post you stated that the F-type follows on better from the D-Type than the E-type as a raw sports car.. well if next year we see a mostly standard one in 4th or better overall place at Le-Mans I will belive

    Actually in F1, F2 cars often competed in the same race for many years

  16. I’m very impressed, but a little dismayed at the weight. 1600kg for a car with a 261kg body, an engine that weighs presumably under 250kg (in V6 form). I would imagine it has aluminium suspension and the ZF 8 speed isn’t a particularly heavy auto.
    An original MX5 with a steel body and iron engine weighed 960kg, a Jag V8 is lighter than an original MX5 four and so presumably is the body, so just where are all the extra kilos going. A Porsche 991 is only 1395kg, with the same power, a steel body and a similarly complex gearbox. No wonder they didn’t give it a folding metal roof it would be pushing 2 tons.

  17. Ford ill stop arguing with you, beacouse find you offensive and not very informed about cars….
    and for your information there is also not such thing as a ferrari 250 gt swb but there are 2 cars that can be identified by a similar name

    Ferrari 250 GT Belinetta SWB
    and
    Ferrari 250 GT Spider California SWB
    just not to teach people silly things

  18. Actually it is you who are ill informed.. the 250GT SWB is the car, berlinetta, spider ect is the body fitted to it get it right.

  19. At that time Ferrari built nothing but racing cars, and racing car chassis. Some were fitted with sports car bodies. Very few are the same, most are one offs, in fact I don’t think any 2 250s (or 330s) are identical. In point of fact all ferrari 250s are the same car, with two chasis lengths and numerous differnt bodies, very few, if any are identical

  20. Sounds like the early days of Rolls Royce, when they would supply a chassis to coachbuilders.

    Until the Silver Dawn, when Pressed Steel built factory bodies.

  21. The thing is, E-Types and 60’s Ferraris don’t really have any relevance to this product. The only relevance that the E-Type will have to the F-Type, will be in teary-eyed adverts if Jaguar play the past catalog card. I really hope they don’t, as Jag seemed to have ditched their obsession with the past and got on with making products for the here and now.

    If Jaguar are serious about stealing sales from Porsche, and at one stage they said they were, this thing needs an old fashioned gear box.
    While flappy paddle gearboxes do well enough here, old school manuals still have some relevance in the USA, believe it or not.
    The stereotype may be someone who keeps a gun on the backseat with a son called “Junior” who owns a “Veeayte moderrrr Chevy”, but as we all know (I hope) that mostly isn’t true.
    A lot of Yankee driving enthusiasts still want to “drive stick.”
    Even BMW bowed down to pressure from the US to fit a conventional manuel to the E60 M5.
    I know most of sales will go to the UAE and China, where only autos at a guess, will sell.
    But is it really a good idea to ignore America’s tastes?

  22. Good point from Frankie.

    A lot of Americans seem to be genuinely impressed by ‘driving stick’. Seems a good way of pulling 🙂

  23. Saw my first one in the flesh yesterday. Absolutely stunning. Photographs dont do it justice. Still people bang on about how we dont make anything in this country and have no motor industry. In the past 6 months alone we have seen the launch of not just the F type but the new Range Rover and Range Rover sport. People still seem to equate success to the ability to make Austin Allegros!

  24. Front view echos Maserati/Ferrari even a little of Aston..
    Rear view? Meh, generic…

    I’m guessing it’s ragtop only to encourage the wimpier buyers to push for a hardtop (which I’m sure is ready to roll when demand is high enough)

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