The hard top version of the Jaguar F-Type Convertible, which bucked the usual trend and launched first. You can blame America: it’s the biggest Jaguar F-Type market and they demanded the drop-top first. So got it.
The Coupe launched in 2014, looking more like a modern-day E-Type than the roadster F does. Which is to say it looks absolutely belting. It received a light update in 2017, with an oh so subtle restyling and a new engine option.
That’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo – yep, even big lairy Jags aren’t safe from downsizing – and if you spec no options at all, means you can buy an F-Type for less than £50,000.
Happily, the four-cylinder doesn’t arrive at the expense of the F-Type’s bigger, more characterful engines. So there are supercharged V6 engines with 335bhp, 375bhp or 395bhp, which get two round central exhausts to visually differentiate them from the four-cylinder and its single central pipe.
See an F-Type with four exhaust pipes, though – two at each end of the bumper – and it’s running a V8. You’ve two to choose from: the 542bhp F-Type R and the 567bhp F-Type SVR. They’re all-wheel drive only, and all the better for it, finally able to put their power to use in a way earlier, RWD V8 F-Types couldn’t. And the SVR is the first Jag since the XJ220 to officially top 200mph, too.
The F-Type’s design is remarkable in its ability to be evocative of Jaguar’s sporting heritage, while it also sits pretty next all of the other vehicles from the brand. Most importantly, its design is aspirational and that is the most key element in its appeal. Being a late comer to the party, one which also constitutes only one per cent of total car sales worldwide, the F-Type needs to wean buyers away from established players. That is what the F-Type’s design will help it do.
If the F-Type’s alluring design is due to Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum and his team, then realising it and bringing it to life is due to the engineering team at Jag. The solution to the tapering rear for example was a special deployable rear spoiler that increases downforce by 120 kgs. Similarly, the solution to delivering the F-Type’s difficult curves and crisper lines was a special aluminium alloy that allowed better moulding processes.
The F-Type’s design direction is classic Jaguar. To preserve the purity of surfaces and clean lines, Ian Callum and his team have chosen features like deployable door handles that recede and stay flush with the surface. And there are enough collaborative touches brought on by design and engineering that allude to the power and intent of the sports car.
Slide into the F-Type’s driver seat and there’s no mistaking it for anything but a sports car. Even in base trim, there are plenty of cues telling you that this car means business, with racy stitching, well-bolstered seats and a beefy passenger grab handle on the center console. It’s still a Jaguar, though, which means top-notch materials. Such finishing touches as central air vents that rise from the dash and the “Ignis” orange start button and shift paddles (for S and R models) further increase the cool factor.
For 2016, some of the F-Type’s interior tech has been updated and all trim levels get the 12-speaker Meridian sound system as standard. The system also includes an 8-inch touchscreen and Jaguar’s InControl Apps, which allows for expanded smartphone connectivity and use of third-party apps. Unfortunately, these upgrades do not change the touchscreen’s slow response times, unintuitive menu structure and unappealing graphics that are extremely outdated compared to most rivals.
At highway speeds in the convertible, top-down motoring is calm, with buffeting kept to acceptable levels. If you suddenly remember you forgot your hat and sunscreen, though, the top goes up in just 12 seconds and it can do so at speeds up to 30 mph. The coupe provides a slightly more confined feeling inside, but there’s still plenty of headroom and the now-standard panoramic sunroof offers a much airier feel.
Road trips in the Jag may be a bit of a hassle. The padding in the full-leather seats is stiff and unyielding, so the more forgiving suede upholstery is a very attractive alternative. Those long of leg will find the seat doesn’t move far back enough, and trunk space is notably limited whether you’re in the coupe or the convertible. The convertible provides just 7 cubic feet of space, while the coupe offers a more usable 11 cubes. Medium-size suitcases will be a tight squeeze (a golf bag is iffy), and the oddly shaped space and awkward liftover make luggage loading even more difficult.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
Jaguar has taken the wraps off the new entry-level F-Type at the ongoing New York Motor Show. Under the hood of the cheapest F-Type is the new turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder Ingenium engine which makes around 296bhp and a healthy 400Nm.
The new four-pot F-Type has been positioned below the V6 variant instead of replacing it. Its power is down from 335bhp to 295bhp, and the top speed has been reduced to 250kmph compared to the V6, however, Jaguar says the new, smaller F-type is 16 per cent more efficient. The declawed F-Type will go from 0-100kmph in 5.7 seconds and will return a fuel economy of 13.8kmpl and a reduced CO2 emission of 163g/km – both of which will help the baby Jag incur lesser taxation in certain markets. It also gets the eight-speed automatic transmission as a standard which sends power to the rear wheels. There are no manual options.
Surprisingly, the British carmaker avows that their Ingenium engine is the most powerful four-cylinder unit offered in a production Jaguar, thus generating the highest specific power output of any engine in the F-Type range – 147bhp per litre. The smaller engine also helps the Jag lose up to 52kg over its V6 brethren, weighing just 1,524kg (convertible is 1,545kg). The suspension has been worked up to handle the loss of weight while steering has been improved, asserts the manufacturer. The exhaust has also been tuned to maintain the F-Type’s sonorous note.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
Accessing all this performance on the road is a daunting prospect. The long arm of the law would love to have speed-detection equipment aimed at the Jaguar as it rifles through corners and blasts down straight sections. While the steering is quick and communicates extremely well, the rigid chassis and the uncompromising suspension that never settles down do not inspire confidence as the car jumps around over midcorner bumps. The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system allows acceleration earlier in a corner without the threat of ending up sideways, with the front tires always eager to rein in the rears when they step out of line. The weight penalty of four driven wheels is forgivable under these circumstances and offers all-season drivabilty
The Jaguar F-Type has not been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is not unusual for a sports car due to the costs associated with testing.
F-Type Safety Features The F-Type has limited standard safety features; only rain-sensing windshield wipers come standard. Class competitor Porsche 911 comes standard with a rearview camera and front and rear park assist. The Chevrolet Corvette also comes standard with a rearview camera. Available safety features in the F-Type include rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, front park assist, and adaptive front lighting with cornering assist, which angles the front headlights to improve visibility during cornering.
There aren’t many reasons to buy the F-Type except for one, it’s a Jaguar; a car which breaks the stillness of mundane and brings character and dynamism to everything around. It does not look like any other mass production car as its gorgeous styling and ravishing interiors speak for themselves. In fact, we must all thank Jaguar in unison for their significant contribution to the automobile history with the F-Type, a sports car which will be remembered as a cult for years to come much like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and R.D.Burman.
For the ones standing with folded arms sceptical about signing the dotted line for this piece or British history, request them to get their ears near the quad pipes to hear the noble whisper from God himself. This Villain of a machine with a soul of a devil and a heart of a monster can outwit any hero that comes its way proving only one thing. It is Good to be Bad.