Back in 2011, Jaguar blew our tiny minds when it unveiled the C-X16 concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It later decimated the remaining brain fragments when it confirmed it would make a production version in the form of the Jaguar F-Type. So you can imagine what sort of mental state we were in when, on a hot Summer’s day at Millbrook Proving Grounds, we got the chance test the car for ourselves.
Enzo Ferrari once said the E-Type, the F-Type’s grandfather, is the most beautiful car ever made – no pressure then. Luckily, the F-Type fills the E-Type’s enormous boots pretty well, with top-notch styling that turns heads wherever it travels.
It looks, in a nutshell, like a slightly toned-down drop top version of the gorgeous C-X16 concept, which is no bad thing. The front end looks as aggressive as the leaping predator immortalised on the badge and the diffuser and centrally-mounted exhausts of the V6 and V6 S (the V8 S gets quad exhaust pipes for added rawness) really look the part.
We do have a couple of gripes with the exterior, though. We’re not keen on the mono-brow-esque ridge that runs between the rear lights, and the door handles that pop out when you unlock the car seem unnecessary – it’s obvious where the opening mechanism is. That said, this is a car that will make your heart skip a beat every time you clasp eyes on it.
When you sit in the Jaguar F-Type, you will instantly notice the seat is incredibly low down and sort of swallows you up. Because of this, the dashboard suddenly seems vast. The quality of the materials and buttons seem solid, although the cockpit is generally quite restrained in its styling.
The interior layout is well thought out – controls for the electric seat are positioned on the door, not hidden out of sight under a seat, for example – and most functions can be accessed either from the steering wheel or via the touchscreen display.
The F-Type has two cup holders in the centre console and each door pocket has sufficient space for small water bottles and general flotsam. You also get a good-sized glove box and central cubby hole.
The 200-litre boot is reasonably deep but not very tall, so it’ll struggle to accommodate anything more than a small bag or a couple of days’ worth of shopping. Unless your idea of golf is pitch and putt, you’ll struggle to fit your clubs in. Cleverly, the roof folds away without eating into the storage space, and can be deployed at speeds up to 30mph.
Ultimately, all two seaters have limited practicality, but if this is a key consideration you’ll be better off with a Boxster S.
All the F-Type’s practicality issues melt away the minute you push the engine start button. The V6 S model comes with a 375bhp, 3-litre supercharged engine that fires into life with a gorgeous bark, though at low speeds, this beast is remarkably tame. The 8-speed ZF automatic transmission changes through the gears in silky fashion and without hesitation, so we’ve no doubt this is a car that will feel at home whether you’re driving through traffic or on a long motorway cruise.
Use the F-Type in anger and Jekyll becomes Hyde. Push the Dynamic mode button and you’ll get a sharper throttle response, firmer suspension, reduced steering assist and more control over gear changes via wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Switch on the Active Sports Exhaust and you’re given a unique, powerful howl thats sounds like heaven. Or hell. Either way, it’s mesmerising. The volume increases every second you keep your foot planted and lifting off the throttle rewards you with an addictive cracking, popping sound on the overrun.
The Jaguar F-Type is a pleasure to drive at speed. The car hugs the road marvellously, even when imperfect road surfaces conspire to unsettle the chassis. It offers tremendous levels of grip, minimal body roll and feels utterly composed through corners, while the brakes inspire plenty of confidence. Only a truly ballsy driver, or one that has switched the traction control systems off, will upset an F-Type in the bends.
Standard equipment is fairly generous. The central touchscreen has built-in navigation and you get a DAB digital radio, not that you will ever use it with an exhaust note that good.
The middle V6 S model also benefits from ambient interior lighting, keyless entry, active sports exhaust for added noise and leather seats. Rear-parking sensors only come with the V8 S model but with the roof down parking is pretty simple.
Even after one, admittedly short, drive we’re thoroughly sold on the Jaguar F-Type V6 S. It’s stunning to look at and feels at home whether cruising the high street at low speed, flying down the motorway or carving through twisty B-Roads.
The Porsche Boxster S provides similar kicks for far less cash, and is pretty good looking, but the F-Type feels more special and will be raise more eyebrows and cause more double takes out and about.
If you’re looking for a car that will keep speed freaks and posers grinning from ear to ear, you could do a hell of a lot worse. It’s no E-Type, granted, but the F-Type is destined to blaze its own glorious trail.
Model tested: Jaguar F-Type V6 S
Engine: 3-litre V6 supercharged
Torque: 460Nn, (332lb/ft)
Acceleration: 0-62 in 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 171mph
Emissions: 213g/km CO2
Price: From £58,500