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The Top Gear car review:Jaguar F-Type
For:Engine noise, performance, handling, sense of occasion
Against:Not very practical, sharp brakes and steering
3.0 Supercharged V6 S 2dr Auto
The F-Type: great-value alternative to the 911, or a seriously pricey Boxster rival? Erm, it’s both.
The F-Type isn’t perfect, but it’s an exceptional sports car, sharp and invigorating and full of life and charisma.
Paul Horrell reports from Scotland’s finest roads on Jag’s first proper sports car in decades…
What we say:
Good news - Jaguar hasn't messed this one up. The long-awaited F-Type is a real cracker
What is it?
Only the most exciting (and arguably significant) car to be launched in Britain this year. Maybe even this decade. It’s possible we’re overstating this a bit, but we’re British after all and want to support the home team, especially when they turn out products as mesmerising as the new F-Type.
After all the concern about prices (still not entirely forgotten), the worry about how it will behave, and all the hype, it’s good to just drive it and realise that Jaguar hasn’t cocked up. There are three models, all rear wheel drive with eight speed automatic gearboxes: a 335bhp V6, 375bhp V6 S and a, ahem, 488bhp V8 S. Let’s call that one the hot rod.
Let’s deal with that V8 first, because it is pretty ferocious. In fact the power dominates the driving experience as you calculate how much of it the car will let you use before a) the traction control cuts in or b) it spits you forcefully into the scenery because you’ve turned it off. It can be a handful in a way that not many cars are these days. Put it this way: you have to concentrate in the V8 S. A lot.
By comparison the base V6 is a pussycat, but perhaps too much so. It’s a lazier car to drive, and without the clever diff and active damping, can start to jounce around on bumpy roads.
So, in the manner of the three bears, it’s the middle one that’s just right. The V6 S comes with active dampers and mechanical limited slip diff, plus that bit of extra power and control that gives its handling an edge that’s missing from the base car. It’s the one to have. One more thing. Just because it’s a Jag doesn’t mean this isn’t a proper sports car. It is. The ride is firm (but very well damped), tyre noise does intrude and the controls are very sharp.
On the inside
Again, it’s worth pointing out that this is a sports car. It’s a strict two seater where interior storage is at a premium and boot capacity is sadly lacking. It’s not just small in size, either: the flat, shallow shape isn’t ideal – contrast it to the thoughtful layout of a 911 boot.
But what an interior it has, though. The driver-centric layout looks fabulous, there are orange-gold highlights and vents that pop out of the dash top. And you can drop the roof at the press of a button, all the better to hear the superb engine crackle and roar.
This is an expensive car, real Porsche 911 money, rather than the Boxster cash many expected it to cost before launch. The base car is £58,535, and that’s before nik-naks have been added. A rich array of tempting personalisation options means self restraint must be shown here. Consider yourself warned. The V6 cars are fairly economical, mind. The V8, not.