When the Jaguar F-Type convertible launched three years ago, it marked the beginning of a new era for the iconic British brand. The successor to the legendary E-Type was meant to (and did) further cement Jaguar’s credibility as a maker of agile and powerful sports cars.
The newer F-Type coupe version you see here is arguably one of the most beautiful cars on the road today. Penned by world-renowned designer Ian Callum, who has been an icon of modern British car design for the last two decades, involved with designing the likes of the Aston Martin DB7 and DB9 as well as everything from Jaguar since the XK in 2005, the British sports car certainly holds a very unique presence that remains unrivalled the world over.
From a sales perspective, though, the F-Type has either been a resounding success for Jaguar Australia or a relative failure, depending on how you look it. With 173 F-Types sold in all of 2015, and 168 for 2014, the Jaguar sports car was outsold by the cheaper Porsche Cayman (199, 255) and Boxster (191, 211) as well as the more expensive 911 (377, 366).
The Jaguar F-Type is positioned somewhere between the Cayman/Boxster combo and the 911, so being able to sell in near equal numbers to such an established model lineup is actually rather impressive, the way we see it.
The latest additions to the Jaguar F-Type range include versions with all-wheel drive, something to further bolster their credibility against the extensive list of Carrera 4 models. Our test car here is a 2016 Jaguar F-Type AWD ‘S’ sporting a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine with 280kW of power and 460Nm of torque.
It retails for $172,080 (plus on-roads) and ours had a further $9520 worth of options (listed at the end of this review).
Jaguar claims it can do 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds, which felt somewhat absurd to us during our weeklong test considering the F-Type ‘felt’ significantly quicker than that. A few test runs showed figures closer to 4.7 seconds, which made us think it’s likely that Jaguar is overly conservative with the car’s performance figures as to not detract from the V8 model’s positioning.
What the Jaguar F-Type has always been about, apart from its gorgeous exterior design, is sound. The V8 variants scream such a delightful note that you genuinely do not need a stereo in the car, every time we’ve had one come through the CarAdvice garage we have gone through so much fuel just having the exhaust baffles open and screaming on every possible occasion. The V6s models though, at least to this reviewer’s taste, have always felt somewhat second rate in comparison.
The quad exhaust pipes (two on each side) of the V8 give way to two central exhausts on the V6, which really look like trumpets. They certainly create enough noise to justify their shape. But is it a good noise? That depends on your taste, no doubt the constant crackles on the overrun and high-pitched supercharger scream on acceleration make the experience very lively, but there’s no V8 bark, which really makes the F Type the almost-supercar it really is.
On the plus side, the lighter weight of the V6 engine on the front axle and its willingness to rev quicker makes it a more nimble and at-time enjoyable experience than the V8. Where the V8 feels more like it’s all about the show, the V6 is ready for serious business at any moment.
The in-gear acceleration is ferocious and the new all-wheel drive system really helps that out-of-corner speed. Not once did our V6 F-Type feel lacking in power or torque. If the decision on the F-Type is based on performance, the V6 would be the ideal choice given the better dynamic balance of the car, but the V8’s theatrics are really hard to look past.
Furthermore, while the AWD system makes the F-Type a quicker and more capable car, it no longer has that hooligan characteristic of the RWD models, which would be the definition of consistent “attempted murder” if charges against a car could ever be laid. A trait we love about the RWD F-Type, dearly.
Our biggest gripe with the F-Type remains the car’s steering system, which provides relatively lacklustre levels of feedback and somewhat ruin what is otherwise a very good and dynamically capable sports car.
You wouldn’t notice it in traffic or around town, but get the car on a twisty mountainous road and while the steering response is sharp and immediate, there’s very little communication from the front wheels being passed on to the driver. It’s hard to know where the grip ends, though in the F-Type AWD's case it isn’t as bad as it sounds, because the grip seems to never end.
That’s, perhaps, the F-Type's underlying charm. While it’s certainly no 911 in terms of its overall dynamic stance or composure, it’s a different car altogether. One that feels more on edge at all times without that ‘tightness’ you may get out of its German rival.
We felt its dynamic balance to be rather neutral with little hint of under or oversteer if driven close or at the limit. Push it past that and you’ll find the front wheels arguing about which direction to take.
Then there’s the car’s interior, which really hasn’t changed all that much. The multimedia system is the previous-generation available on Land Rovers (as is the key), though the Meridian sound is absolutely top notch, even if the sub in our car seemed awfully keen on vibrating my spine.
There is basically nowhere to store anything inside, which you’ll get over in less than a day and learn to live with. The boot is big enough for the regular visits to Coles or an overnight bag, but if you get a rear wheel puncture the full size rim won’t even fit in there. So while you may be able to get a space saver on, you’ll be a rim short on the drive home unless your passenger is keen on having one sit on their lap. The sacrifices one makes for a good-looking car.
Ignoring all the practically issues, the Jaguar F-Type’s interior doesn’t feel all that luxurious, which it needs to considering the price tag. We find this surprising, as no other mainstream manufacturer seems to be able to match sister brand Range Rover for its interior ambience. Maybe it’s the closed space in the coupe, maybe it’s just that Porsche does it better.
Buying an F-Type is a decision one makes with the heart, for its Porsche rivals are better choices if you think about the purchase decision logically. At the end of the day though, spending near enough to $200,000 (or significantly more for the top-spec V8) on an impractical two-seater sports car is never about logic.
It's about passion, that love of the automobile. So if your idea of a sports car is more about theatrics than track times, the F-Type is the perfect choice, make it the convertible version and perhaps it’s even better still.
Options fitted to 2016 Jaguar F-Type V6 AWD S test vehicle:
- Seat Memory Pack 2 (Programmable 14-Way driver and passenger seats, adjustable steering column with memory) - $2040
- Panoramic glass roof - $2000
- 19-inch wheels – Volution Grey Diamond Turned - $1700
- Centre Console- Light Hex Aluminium - $1400
- Black Pack (Gloss Black day light opening, aero splitter, side power vents, rear valance and front grille surround - $1280
- Powered tailgate/ bootlid opening - $1100
Full price: $181,600 plus on-road costs