Jaguar F-Type - Introduction
The Jaguar F-Type is a very significant car for the British car company, a car which returns the brand to its original roots, that of a sportscar manufacturer. Modern Jaguars are without exception of the sporting luxury saloon variety, and so it was critical that a two-door, two-seat sportscar make a return to the range. The name ‘F-Type’ is the greatest clue yet, a powerful homage to the grand old E-Type from the 1960s and ‘70s. The new Jaguar F-Type will be available with a choice of three different engines, which includes two 3.0-litre V6 engines and a 5.0-litre V8.
We drive Jaguar’s most recent offering along some sinuous roads in Spain’s wine country to bring you this exclusive test drive report.
Jaguar F-Type - Design & Engineering
Classic proportions are evident in this picture.
You’re immediately aware that with the F-Type, form and function are more intimately linked than with other, more conventional cars. The new F-Type follows the classic front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, but Jaguar still had to ensure near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution. It also had to have a hint of this car’s exclusive lineage, but not too much so as to make it a cheesy re-make with retro overtones. How do you really improve upon a timeless design like the E-Type, yet keep the new design modern, relevant and beautiful to look at?
It was undoubtedly a challenge, but one that Jaguar’s designers have met head-on. Indeed, they acknowledged the singularity of the task, with Julian Thomson, Director of Advanced Design at Jaguar Cars, saying: “History can be an anchor which holds you back.”
The most distinct visual lineage is apparent in the treatment of the new F-Type’s haunches, which bulge powerfully from aft of the doors, before swooping around the rear, similar to what the E-Type had. The tail lamps fit flush with the body work, but are reminiscent of the E-Type’s shape as well.
The front of the new F-Type has a wide grille, while the wrap-around front bumper has two snarling intakes each side of the grille.
When you look at the two ends of Jaguar’s new sportscar, you can’t shake the feeling that distinctive as the design may be, it appears to have germinated from two completely different schools of thought.
One tricky aspect of designing and building this car was the designer’s insistence of a clam shell bonnet. This design ensures a clean and crisp front end, with no extra panelling. The entire bonnet folds over the front of the car before meeting with the front bumper. Stamping the bonnet from a single sheet of aluminium was proving difficult, so the engineers created an all-new alloy, called A170 especially for the bonnet. This alloy allowed for crisper lines and tighter radii of the stamping as well.
Aluminium. That is Jaguar’s (and Land Rover’s) ‘secret ingredient’ for light weight, corrosion-free durability. Aluminium makes Jaguars both light and strong, and this in turn makes them both green and fun to drive. The new Jaguar F-Type is mostly made of aluminium, with only a single front cross member and a couple of supports in the A-pillars made of high-strength steel.
Different components are made by different processes, including stamping, extrusion and casting, but they’re all made of the same material, which is aluminium. The manufacturing process itself is ‘greener’, Jaguar’s patented riveting and bonding technology using only 30 % of the energy required for spot welding a comparable steel body. Also, almost half the aluminium which goes into the F-Type is recycled material.
Weight distribution, which I mentioned earlier, was one of the key design considerations, and with the F-Type V6 S, Jaguar’s engineers managed a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. (The lower spec F-Type V6 is 49:51, while the brawnier F-Type V8 S is 51:49).
Spoiler deploys automatically at speeds over 120 km/h, generating 300 kg of downforce. You can also deploy it with a button on the centre console.
Jaguar F-Type - Interiors & Comfort
Straddle the broad sill and drop into the comfortable bucket seats of the F-Type, and you’re greeted with a modern yet sober interior. A lot of restraint is evident in the design, and there’s no part of the F-Type’s interior which can be described as ‘funky’. If anything, you expect a little more sense of occasion when you’re inside, but then, it wouldn’t be quite British, would it?
All the tactile surfaces are trimmed in high-quality leather, and the switchgear is what you get on other Jaguars. The F-Type V8 S has suede trimming on the steering wheel, which feels just slightly chunkier and grippier to hold, and Jaguar should make this standard across the range, really.
The centre console is dominated by the large screen with controls for the satnav, stereo and what Jaguar calls “Dynamic-i”, which is basically a set of electronic overrides for the car’s mechanical systems, and controls damping, throttle response and steering.
Starter button standard equipment, as are shift paddles. Buttons on the centre console control Dynamic-i, Active Exhausts and rear spoiler.
The new F-Type’s climate control system fits flush with the top of the dashboard, extending upwards to reveal the vents only when switched on. I think this is a case of having your cake and eating it too. You asked for drama? Here you go…
Jaguar F-Type - Performance & Handling
But if you think retractable AC vents are dramatic, then you will be left speechless when you thumb the F-Type’s starter button. The engine erupts in a glorious manner, barking through the exhaust and snorting as it clears its lungs. Jaguar acknowledges that aural drama is part of what completes the sportscar experience, and thank god for that. There’s also a little button which opens a valve in the exhaust, allowing for extra volume if you must.
To set off, one must shift the drive selector into ‘D’, as is normal in a car with an automatic transmission. The trigger on the lever, however, is rather small and fiddly, and we’d appear that we’re nit-picking, but when we had to make a three point U-turn after turning up the wrong street in a village, it was an irritant.
Quad tail-pipes indicate V8 S model.
Jaguar has tuned the F-Type to pass legislation in all countries, which requires it to pass some stringent noise tests. The way the F-Type drives normally allows it to dip just below the decibel limit specified, but thankfully that’s only at low rpm on a moderate throttle. Prod the pedal some more, and the noise rises. The snarling intakes sound lovely especially on the chase up to about 4,500 rpm, after which the exhaust takes over, reaching a lovely crescendo near the 7,000 rpm redline.
Both the V6 and V8 have distinctive engine notes, and both sound wonderful. The V6 makes a fruity rasping sound at full throttle, which to my ears sounds a little sweeter than the gargle-with-stone-marbles noise of the brawnier V8. With optional loud pipes switched on, pitch and volume are both increased. You’d have to be someone with a truly huge inferiority complex to drive with them on all the time. If a topless sportscar that sounds incredible as is and drives beautifully as well cannot get you the attention you desire, then nothing will. That said, coming down the hills, it was fun to leave them on for a bit with the transmission in sport mode. Do that, and the transmission holds on to gears, allowing you to use engine braking for a more controlled descent, all the while playing a delightful two-step as the exhaust ricochets off the stone walls and echoes into the valley on the over-run. A bit childish, agreed, but who cares?
Chassis has been optimised for balance and control over outright grip. Note two tail pipes of V6 S model.
Handling is what separates good sportscars from the great ones. The new Jaguar F-Type had to be as good as anything else on the market. Jaguar unashamedly benchmarked the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage for the F-Type’s overall window of performance. The challenge was to make the F-Type fly straight as an arrow, dart from corner to corner like a humming bee and turn on a dime if called upon to do so. Yet, it still had to be easy enough for novice drivers to pass their driving test in.
So how was this achieved? For starters, the F-Type has the quickest-ever steering rack in a Jaguar car to date, 10 % faster than even the XK. The variable-damping suspension plays a critical role too, as does the limited slip differential. The V6 S has a mechanical limited-slip diff while the V8 S gets an e-diff with a separate clutch, driven by a motor. The cheapest F-Type V6 makes do without a limited slip differential, relying on a conventional differential instead.
E-diff one of Jaguar F-Type V8 S' bag of tricks.
While we’re on the subject, let’s clarify what the differences between the three variants are. The table below should help.
F-TYPE V6 S
F-TYPE V8 S
2,995 cc V6
2,995 cc V6
5,000 cc V8
Power PS @ rpm
340 @ 6500
380 @ 6500
495 @ 6500
Torque Nm @ rpm
450 @ 3500-5000
460 @ 3500-5000
625 @ 2500-5500
Top Speed km/h
Unlike many other cars where the differences variant to variant are mostly cosmetic, with the F-Type the differences are mainly in the mechanical specification of the cars. This provides three distinctive cars, each with its own unique character, while also allowing Jaguar to cover a broader range of competitors.
The base F-Type will not be coming to India, and although we did drive it, albeit very briefly, the focus of this road test will be on the F-Type V6 S and the F-Type V8 S, both of which will be on sale in India in the next couple of months. As you may have noticed from the table above, the V6 and V6 S use the same engine. The difference in power outputs is because of the tuning. In the V6 S, Jaguar’s engineers increased the boost pressure in the supercharger slightly, while reducing the back pressure in the exhaust to liberate the extra 40 PS.
The Dynamic-I system that Jaguar’s engineers developed plays a critical role in how the F-Type behaves in a given situation. There are sensors all over the car, which monitor diverse inputs such as throttle position, steering angle, suspension, wheel slip and engine torque. Dynamic-I monitors a total of 13 different systems within the car, and a pre-programmed algorithm works out the best position for everything, sending out signals to adjust the various systems up to 500 times per second. Jaguar is particularly proud of this system, claiming it allows the car to actually pre-empt a situation rather than simply being in a reactive phase of operation.
Dynamic-i lets you set up your F-Type to your liking. Also shows you data, including lap times, cornering force and pedal positions. On-board telemetry, eh?
The roads we drove on in Spain had very severe speed limits, and the Spanish police were in an intolerant mood following a crash a few days prior, so we got nowhere near the F-Type’s limit of capability on the road, but we were cut loose for a brief session at the Navarra race track. This circuit features a triple-radius, ever-tightening first corner. Braking from close to an indicated 250 km/h down the start-finish straight provided a good indicator of the F-Type’s balance and poise. The track was slick from a light spray, and temperatures were low. The F-Type V6 S I drove was fitted with the same road-going tyres. After a couple of laps learning the course, Jaguar’s pro-driver sitting beside me encouraged me to step on it. With a silent prayer on my lips, I did as instructed. The braking markers were conservatively indicated, but it takes a lot of belief to make you brave enough to take a car through a tightening corner at that speed. The way the F-Type felt on the way in and the way through was admirable. You feel absolutely connected in this car. It is intuitive and holds together with a degree of cohesiveness, which is not because of the clever electronics, but simply due to the well-engineered mechanics of its chassis.
Out on the open road once again, I began to appreciate the F-Type’s communicative steering on tight hairpin bends. The quick rack ensures you rarely need more than half a turn of lock, which is great is you’re fond of using the paddles behind the steering wheel. These paddles turn with the wheel, unlike in some sports cars where they’re attached to the steering column. Additionally, Jaguar has provided a conventional lever which you can tap forward to change down and tap back to change up. Jaguar has developed a new 8-speed transmission with specialists ZF, and this gearbox now features across the Jaguar and Land Rover range. The final drives differ in all three F-Types, with the V6 S featuring the shortest final drive and the V8 S the tallest. This gearbox is very smooth and quick to shift gears, despite being a conventional automatic rather than a dual clutch ’box
That the F-Type manages to be a responsive car to drive without screwing up the ride quality is one of the most admirable facets of this car. Some of the hilly roads we drove on were rutted, with frequent landslides taking their toll, but the F-Type took these in its stride most comfortably.
Jaguar F-Type - Fuel Efficiency
Spot the difference. V6 S at left and V8 S have same engine cover.
The Jaguar F-Type features stop-start technology, which helps it meet ever-tightening emission norms. Arguably, it has some benefits for fuel consumption as well, but these will be minor. As you can see from the table within this road test, the V6 S manages just under 11 km/l, while the full-fat V8 S manages 9 km/l. These are claimed figures under the European driving cycle, so expect real-world figures in India to be quite a bit lower.
Jaguar F-Type - Safety
Canvas roof folds and stows in 12 seconds, even at speeds up to 50 km/h. Roll-over hoops behind the headrests provide safety in the unfortunate event you flip your F-Type.
Modern legislation requires cars to meet stringent crash norms. In the F-Type’s case, Jaguar had to work harder still, given that the car is both low and without a roof. The low bonnet means that pedestrian safety is critical. Jaguar engineers told us, only half-jokingly, that if a pedestrian flies over the car in an impact, he’s as good as dead. Profiling the front bumper and bonnet to ensure the F-Type complies with the requirements was a tough ask, but the car has met these parameters. Roll-over protection in the form of sturdy roll-over hoops just aft of the passenger compartment should help as well. That said, the F-Type comes with a total of 6 airbags.
Jaguar F-Type - Verdict
Now we come to the most difficult aspect of all: judging the new Jaguar F-Type. Judging is too harsh a word, if you ask me. So let’s take a holistic look at what this car has to offer.
It’s no secret that Jaguar wants the F-Type to be as many things to as many people as possible. The three different variants are intended to appeal to three very different kinds of people. For those who want a classic British convertible, like to make a style statement but do not want anything overtly flash, then the standard F-Type works beautifully. You might argue that it has 'only' 340 PS, but that is more than you will deploy on any given road in reality. Customers who are looking at performance as a priority will be gently nudged towards the sportier V6 S. The limited slip differential and the extra 40 PS point in that direction.
Finally, for those who want a no-compromises sportscar that can mix it with the truly big bad boys of the supercar world, nothing short of the V8 S will do. Sure, it has way more performance than you could ever hope to access in the real world, except for some stretches on the German autobahn, but the F-Type V8 S is the sporting Jaguar to buy if trump card willy-waggin’ is your thing.
In one swoop, Jaguar wants to compete with everything Porsche, Boxster, 911 and Cayman included, and provide an alternative to the likes of Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage. There are some very snotty customers for whom British made, low volume cars are the only automobiles worthy of their powdered bottoms, and the F-Type fits the bill nicely. Jaguar intends to make no more than 15,000 units a year, and almost half of these are destined for sale in the United States alone.
The new Jaguar F-Type's breadth of capability is frankly impressive, and accessing the performance isn't difficult, and neither does it require a high degree of control. This car encourages you to drive faster, and you will relish it no matter what your skill level. Shame the boot can hold but a couple of soft bags, because given its everyday usability, this is the kind of car that is best enjoyed on a driving holiday. It isn't a GT, and Jaguar is at pains to point that out, but its supple ride tells you otherwise.
Official prices in India will only be announced at launch, but we expect the two-variant range to span between Rs 85 lakh for the F-Type V6 S, going up to about Rs 1.1 crore for the V8 S. (The base F-Type V6 won't be sold in India). These are guesstimated prices, mind, so the actual figure could vary.
The truly good bit? Even for this kind of money, the Jaguar F-Type actually comes across as a bargain, given its pedigree, its performance and its overall usability. It may not look a million bucks, but it certainly drives like it.
Jaguar F-Type - Competition Check
|Length x Width x Height (mm)||4470 x 2042 x 1308|
|Ground clearance (mm)||108 (V6 S), 121 (V8 S)|
|Turning circle dia (m)||10.7|
|Kerb weight (kg)||1614 (V6 S), 1665 (V8 S)|
|Fuel tank capacity (lt)||70|
|Boot space (lt)||196.2|
|Engine & Transmission|
|No of cylinder & configuration||6 (V6 S), 8 (V8 S)|
|Valvetrain||24 (V6 S), 32 (V8 S)|
|Capacity (cc)||2995 (V6 S), 5000 (V8 S)|
|Power (PS @ rpm)||380 @ 6500 (V6 S), 495 @ 6500 (V8 S)|
|Torque (Nm @ rpm)||460 @ 3500-5000 (V6 S), 625 @ 2500-5500 (V8 S)|
|Gearbox||Quickshift 8-speed automatic|
|0 - 100 kph (s)||4.9 (V6 S), 4.3 (V8 S)|
The Jaguar F-Type returns the brand to its original roots, that of a sportscar manufacturer. The name ‘F-Type’ is the greatest clue yet, a powerful homage to the grand old E-Type from the 1960s and ‘70s. The new Jaguar F-Type will be available with a choice of three different engines, which includes two 3.0-litre V6 engines and a 5.0-litre V8. We drive Jaguar’s most recent offering along some sinuous roads in Spain’s wine country to bring you this exclusive test drive report.
Jaguar’s re-emergence as a luxury car-maker has ridden much on the shoulders of the XF saloon. From being a company which was regarded as a has-been to being the only brand globally to rub shoulders with the German Big Three of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, Jaguar today is poised for greater things. Developed under Ford’s watch, the XF as we know it is now over 5 years old. It has received a face-lift in 2012, and now it has a new 2.2-litre oil burner under the hood as well.
Jaguar 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged XF may be the cheapest car it sells in India, but does that compromise this big cat character in any way? We seek to find out after this road test, which combined city driving, highway and handling tests.
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