Right up there with serious Porsche 911s and the Audi R8, the Jaguar F-Type straddles the line between sports car and supercar
Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader
The F-Type is a serious two-seat sports car, especially in the most powerful R guise, which is the version we’ve tested. Currently, it’s sitting on our driveway, looking forlorn, thanks to the coronavirus lockdown, but happily we got some miles in before cars were effectively furloughed. The F-Type R is right up there with serious Porsche 911s and the Audi R8 – it straddles the line between sports car and supercar, with a near-six-figure price tag and a mighty V8 engine.
The F-Type R starts at £97,280 but can easily top £100,000 with a couple of optional extras on board. That V8 engine is a supercharged 5.0-litre job, so it’s pretty thirsty on the fuel and emissions will also be high, meaning you’ll pay more in tax, not to mention insurance. For most customers, however, this will not be their only car, so as a luxury purchase, such expense is par for the course.
Our car had Santorini Back Metallic paint (£730), suede headlining (£1,000), a panoramic roof (£1,310), black brake calipers (£320) and privacy glass (£375).
This new F-Type is a major facelift for the model, which is now seven years old, rather than an entirely new car, but it’s a very strong new look, with the headlights now angry streaks of glass across the wide bonnet, with LED lights shaped like upticks. Our car had a “black exterior pack” to go with the glossy black paintwork, which means black aerodynamic touches like the low front lip and diffuser at the back, plus a black Jaguar badge and script across the boot lid, which has an active spoiler in it that lifts at motorway speeds, raising that leaping cat into the air. The all-black styling is a great look for this grown-up, serious sports car.
Inside, the new F-Type looks pretty similar to the old one, with a few buttons and screen in the centre and a panel of the dashboard housing the air vents which rises up when the engine is turned on. The combo of black exterior and black interior is a winner for the ultimate urban lounge lizard in us all.
Jaguar Land Rover’s infotainment system is getting a bit dated for a car costing this much, and is roundly beaten these days by the amazing MBUX system that Mercedes offers. But it’ll just about do for this update to the F-Type, because it was ahead of its time when it launched a few years ago. The major update for the F-Type is the digital screen behind the steering wheel, which shows two digital dials as standard but, like Audi’s MMI system, you can change the screen to show different functions in the car like satnav or audio.
Our car came with the optional Blind Spot Assist Pack, consisting of blind-spot assist and a rear-traffic monitor, for £450. You also get as standard in the R version a rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, and the brand’s Meridien sound system which is crystal clear.
This is a very wide, commodious two-seater, which has its drawbacks when it comes to handling, but does mean two large adults can travel long distances in the car. The boot will take a family supermarket shop, which came as a pleasant surprise, and that long rear windscreen makes reverse parking a doddle, although there’s not much visibility out of the side when you’re exiting a junction.
Given there’s a huge engine under the bonnet, the car is also calm, unruffled and quiet unless you choose to boot it, or press the button that looks like binoculars but is in fact dual exhausts, and should simply have “LOUD” printed on it. Press that and your neighbour will know about it.
There are two cupholders, electric seats and sun-visors with mirrors which sounds like a given but often isn’t in high-performance cars. We had the £670 Climate Pack which includes heated windscreen, heated steering wheel and two-zone climate control.
That 5.0-litre engine is supercharged, which means that as the engine revs rise, so does the power. The result is a car that feels pretty bog standard as you set off, but keep accelerating on an empty stretch of road and you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about. The car just keeps getting faster, and you’ll be forced to brake well before you reach the full extent of the power, unless you want to lose your licence. You will, however, have time to giggle before you bring everything under control, because this car has 575 horsepower which is proper supercar territory, and means it accelerates from 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds.
You get an eight-speed automatic transmission which takes care of itself and shifts gear very quickly, flattering the driver, as does the all-wheel drive which is needed to cope with the power and maintain traction. Lesser F-Types have rear-wheel drive, but there’s just too much oomph here.
If you’re a true speed demon and know all about drifting, feel free to switch traction control off when away from public roads, but for mere mortals we wouldn’t advise it.