PRETTY, isn’t it? Jaguar’s F-Type might have been around a few years now but it’s one of those cars you never fail to have a second look at when one elegantly prowls by. Whether you opt for the coupe or convertible, they just have a knack of looking right.
You absorb all of its intricacies: its wide front grille, the thin rear lights and the downright gorgeous side profile. It may have made its debut in 2013 but Jaguar’s shape will become timeless, it truly is that good looking.
Since its debut, it’s gradually evolved into a sports car for everyone, with engines ranging from a 2.0-litre turbo to a fire-breathing V8. This Madagascar Orange convertible test car, in P380 guise, comes with a middling 3.0-litre V6 which is helped somewhat by a supercharger. It looks every bit its £70,000 price tag - people stop and stare regularly - but things start to slip when you open the door and get settled inside.
You’ll find many of its parts on Jaguar’s cheaper models such as the XE saloon and while the overall look is still appealing when taken on face value, it’s definitely starting to feel its age in a sector dominated by forward-thinking marques such as Porsche, Audi and Mercedes.
Start it up and it’s immediately apparent that the engine is a sweet one. As there’s no turbocharger, which immediately dilutes the aural theatrics, the P380 has a frenetic, free-revving feel to it from the off. Superchargers - a staple of fast Jaguars for as long as I can remember - seem to have been outlawed by other firms but it plays a huge role in the F-Type experience. The combination of it with the active exhaust, which sounds like thunder with its cracks and pops, is fantastic. I implore anyone not to giggle at the sheer magnificence of letting off the throttle in second or third gear and allowing the exhaust to do its thing.
As this test car is a convertible, stowing the roof only adds to the drama and that’s done with no fuss at all; a push of a button is all it takes.
Headline performance figures are as follows: 375bhp, 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds and a 171mph top speed. Plenty for anyone, but the F-Type just doesn’t feel that fast until you’re in the upper reaches of its rev range. That’s the supercharger versus turbocharger conundrum - the latter gives much stronger mid-range whereas the former provides more character and a linear delivery, of which the F-Type has. It’s strong, it’s quick, but it’s not gobsmackingly so.
The steering wheel, which is rather on the large side, kind of suits its GT-like character. It relays a decent amount of feel but it’s not exactly brimming with feedback, and although you can ramp up the dampers’ stiffness, the F-Type in P380 guise at least isn’t one of those Porsche 911-style sports cars which dance to your inputs. It’s a laid-back sort of character and that’s no bad thing.
There’s no option of having a manual gearbox and while I’d normally bemoan that, Jaguar’s got that call spot on because its eight-speed auto is a peach. It’s great when it’s left to its own devices and it’s a cracker when you opt to take control of its paddleshifters, allowing the exhaust to give off indulgent and hilariously loud crackles.
All F-Types now get torque vectoring as standard, which is good, while the P380 also gets a limited-slip diff and adaptive dampers straight off the production line. Sure, there’s practically unavoidable convertible traits such as scuttle shake and a large amount of wind noise but there’s always the coupe - which I think is even prettier - if you want to avoid that.
I drove a V8-engined Ford Mustang not so long ago and while eyebrows will no doubt be raised when I compare the F-Type to it, I don’t mean it as a jibe in the slightest. The big, loveable old-school Mustang was simple, honest, unapologetic and traditional - in many respects that’s just like the F-Type.
Yes, it’s probably in need of an all-new model in the next two years or so but it’ll be remembered fondly by those who just want a loud, beautiful car that never fails to put a big grin on your face. After a week with it, my smile never once diminished. It’s not perfect, but what is?
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Middle-level F-Type is the sweet spot
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