by Andy Enright
The F-TYPE looks the finished article. We’ve been waiting a long time for this one and Jaguar has built the car to its own specification, refusing to be heavily influenced by obvious competitors. It seems at its best with the lighter V6 engines but the V8’s sheer thump and raucous soundtrack is going to be hard for many to overlook.
There are three engines offered in the F-TYPE; two V6s and a V8, all petrol powered, all sending drive to the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters offering manual override. There is a mechanical limited-slip differential on the V6 S, while the V8 gets an electronic item. You get an all aluminium chassis, an electrically operated fabric roof, double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear with adaptive dampers on some models.
Designer Ian Callum reckons the V6s are the proper drivers’ cars of the range with the V8 reserved for those who want to wield the really big stick. Both flavours of the V6 are supercharged 3.0-litre units, one good for 340PS, the other a healthy 380PS; in other words somewhere between Porsche Boxster and 911 territory, which mirrors the price.
The V6 S with 380PS engine will hit 60mph in 4.8 seconds and run on to 171mph. The 5.0-litre unit that powers the V8S flagship develops fully 495PS at 6,500rpmm, along with 625Nm of torque and gets to 60mph in 4.2 seconds on the way to an electronically limited 186mph. The purists will want the V6 but the sound of the V8 engine will have a few wavering over the decision, that’s for sure.
My first encounter with the F-TYPE almost passed me by. Walking from the airport to the Geneva show hall, I spied an XK-R convertible in the airport concourse, briefly pondered why Jaguar wasn’t showing the racy XKR-S and then as I spied the tail lights realised it was an F-TYPE. That tells you something. It’s bigger than I expected and there’s a really strong family face at the front. Some commentators have carped about the back and the front not really matching and beauty is in the eye of the beholder but to this eye it looks a cohesive piece of penmanship. While it could have used a little more shape in the flanks, it nevertheless works well, with little in the way of extraneous gimmickry.
Jaguar could have made it easy on themselves. They could have, in effect, retired the legendary E-Type’s shirt, and given up on ever replacing it. That’s what the company has, in effect, done for the past four decades. That was then and this is now though. Jaguar is a company with a new-found swagger and in the F-TYPE it has poured in all it knows. It shows too. Although the formula is classically old school, the execution is anything but and it takes a manufacturer with a rare and deft touch to be able to balance such a rich historical legacy with the needs and desires of today’s demanding sports car consumers.
Have Jaguar hit the nail on the head with the F-TYPE? Initial opinion seems to differ, but there’s still such a huge collection of the rabidly positive that order books have swelled. My initial take is that the company has played it a little safer than I would have liked.
It’s understandable, given the amount riding on this car but from here the F-TYPE looks the solid addition rather than the model that knocks it out of the park. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong on that count though.