Stylishly slinky, elegantly finished, eager handling and sensationally swift, the F-Type is Jaguar’s first purpose-built compact sports car since its legendary predecessor E-Type was introduced in 1961. Long-awaited and much-feted upon its arrival, the F-Type is a high-tech rag-top convertible with an indelible feel-good factor, and certainly deserves the fuss. Among its accolades, the F-Type was crowned Middle East Car of The Year 2013 and Best Premium Sports Convertible at last week’s annual Middle East Motoring Awards ceremony. Of three supercharged variants including two 335BHP and 375BHP V6s, the range-topping 488BHP F-Type V8 S is most powerful, and boasts near-supercar performance levels.
Succeeding a car hailed as the “the most beautiful car ever made” as the Jaguar E-Type was described by Enzo Ferrari in 1961 isn’t an easy job, but the sultry, moody and athletic F-Type pulls it off. Penned by Ian Callum, the F-Type is basically the convertible version of the 2011 Frankfurt motor show’s C-X16 concept car, and features the same elegantly athletic lines and subtle Coke bottle curves. Stretched tightly around its lightweight and rigid aluminium frame with its wheels pushed far out to the corners, the F-Type’s body radiates a purposeful dynamic tension, as if were ready to pounce – much like it’s big cat namesake.
Associated with several beautiful women in the media, the Jaguar F-Type successfully combines a sense of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ design cues, with its low-slung waistline and salaciously curvy haunches blending seamlessly with its broad hungry wire-mesh grille, bonnet vents, side ports and aggressive front vertical shark-gill air intakes and sharp spoiler-lip air splitter. Curvy like the classic E-Type, the F-Type’s bonnet is not as indulgently long as its predecessor, but it has an altogether more toned, sinewy and athletically packaged sensibility. A low-set boot and clean flush rear deck are complemented by large quad tailpipes and slim moody horizontally-set rear-lights hinting at Jaguar’s 1954-67 D-Type racer.
Hinting at the D-Type’s segregated cabin with a pod-like arrangement the F-Type’s elegant interior is low-slung, driver-focused and distinctly sporty. Supple stitched leathers are contrasted with real metal dash and console fixtures. Sports seats are supportive, body-hugging, adjustable and comfortable. Thick and contoured, the steering features gearbox paddle shifters. The F-Type’s heating and airflow facilitate top-down winter driving, while the cabin is well-insulated with top up. A blind spot warning system compensates reduced top-up visibility. The F-Type’s folding cloth roof deploys in just 12-seconds at up to 50km/h. A 200-litre boot volume is acceptable, the F-Type’s slinky and flush rear deck design however make it shallow.
Powered by Jaguar’s brutally effective direct injection 5-litre supercharged V8, tuned for 488BHP at 6500rpm and 460lb/ft at 2500-5500rpm, the F-Type V8 S pounces with indefatigably blunt vigour. Dispatching 0-100km/h in 4.3-seconds, 80-120km/h in 2.5-seconds and onto a restricted 300km/h top speed, the F-Type V8 S’ enviable headline figures however don’t relate just how effortlessly and muscularly this is achieved. With mechanically-driven Roots-type supercharger offering instant off-the-line boost that a turbo cannot match, the V8 S charges with electrifying immediacy. Generous full-spectrum torque availability throughout the rev range and peaking throughout a broad mid-range provides on-the-move responsiveness and flexibility at virtually any speed or gear.
Muscular and effortless throughout, the V8 S’ relentless and seamless power accumulation is underwritten by an ever-present current of torque. With its Active Exhaust feature engaged the F-Type’s V8 S evocatively throaty, rumbling, crackling and bellowing soundtrack is more vocally and viscerally amplified. The F-Type is fitted with a ‘Quickshift’ 8-speed automatic gearbox, which operates like a regular torque converter auto for setting-off smoothly from first and second, but uses fully-locking clutches for seamless, crisp, direct, quick and sporty cog changes. Matching its immense performance, the V8 S’ massive 380mm front and 376mm rear ventilated disc brakes are powerfully halting, highly fade-resistant and have nuanced feel.
Distributing its ample power through an intelligent electronic limited-slip rear-differential, the F-Type V8 S directs power to the wheel with the best grip and best able to put it down as forward motion when powering through tight or low traction corners. Designed as a convertible from scratch, the F-Type’s lightweight bonded and riveted aluminium frame’s rigidity aids handling and ride comfort, and on test drive one couldn’t detect any of the scuttle shake that often plagues many convertibles’ less rigid frames. Like its frame, the F-Type’s body is built from lightweight aluminium, with advanced molding and pressing techniques that allow for the required shaping and detail.
Sublimely precise, agile, responsive and engaging, the F-Type well-reconciles dynamic handling and ride qualities. Refined, smooth and fluent over tight winding and imperfect B-roads, even the V8 S’ heavier front-bias weighting is near-perfect. Even with the largest, heaviest and firmest tyre and wheel option, the V8 S remains fluid and sure-footed over B-roads, with adaptive damping and sporty double wishbone suspension operating intuitively and ironing out imperfections with unexpected fluency and grace. Brisk, balanced, poised and engaging cross-country, the F-Type is also reassuringly stable and refined at speed, while adaptive hydraulic steering has better feel, directness and feedback than electric systems.
Switching from the most responsive throttle and gear change setting to the more forgiving winter setting in conjunction with the sportier firmer damper setting for a fast and winding hill-climb on greasy post –drizzle tarmac, the F-Type V8 S was controlled, precise and progressive. In its element on such a cross-country pounce, the winter settings emphasized the V8 S’s long-legged throttle control, while its firm dampers ensured an eager and crisp turn-in, as well as tight, poised and flat body control through brisk corners. With 495HP on tap and greasy roads underneath the V8 S commands respect and focus but is hugely rewarding and effective.
Carving through the long open and snaking ascent and descent with grace and pace, the F-Type V8 S lets out a guttural exhaust rort and brakes shave speed as one downshifts rapidly. With meaty direct steering, the F-Type is eager turning in and delivers good feel through corners and is taut, balanced and grips hard and true. With its limited-slip differential and dig into the greasy tarmac as one smoothly dials back power. Viciously swift but controlled out of an apex, with a ferociously pounding soundtrack, the V8 s leaps onto the straight. Rewarding finesse with fluency, the F-type’s electronic stability and traction controls effectively but subtly work with the driver when called into action.
- Engine: 5-litre, aluminum block/head, supercharged, V8-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 92.5 x 93mm
- Compression ratio: 9.5:1
- Valve-train: 32-valve, DOHC, variable timing, direct injection
- Gearbox: 8-speed auto, RWD, electronic limited-slip rear-differential
- Ratios: 1st 4.714; 2nd 3.143; 3rd 2.106; 4th 1.667; 5th 1.285; 6th 1.0; 7th 0.839; 8th 0.667
- Final drive: 2.56
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 488 (495)  @6,500rpm
- Specific power: 97.6BHP/litre
- Power -to-weight ratio: 293BHP (297PS)/tonne
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 460 (625) @2,500-5,500rpm
- Specific torque: 125Nm/litre
- Torque-to-weight ratio: 375Nm/tonne
- 0-100 km/h: 4.3-seconds
- 80-120km/h: 2.5-seconds
- Top speed: 300km/h (electronically governed)
- Fuel economy, combined: 11.1-litres/100km
- Combined CO2 emissions: 259g/km
- Fuel capacity: 72-litres
- Length: 4,470mm
- Width: 1,923mm
- Height: 1,307mm
- Wheelbase: 2,622mm
- Track, F/R: 1,585 / 1,627mm
- Boot capacity: 200.5-litres
- Kerb weight: 1,665kg
- Weight distribution, F/R: 51% / 49%
- Suspension, F&R: Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers, stabilizer bars
- Steering: Variable power assistance, hydraulic rack & pinion
- Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 380 / 376mm
- Tyres, F/R: 255/35R20 / 295/30R20