Test Drive

Jaguar's long-awaited F-Type roadster is big on drama and performance

Jaguar's F-Type roadster is big on drama and performance

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The new Jaguar F-Type convertible has just arrived at dealerships. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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We test drove the Jaguar F-Type V-6 S model. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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There are beautiful details everywhere – vents in the hood, razor-thin LED taillamps, and even a beautiful, notched, crystal-like gauge needles. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Although smaller in every dimenstion, the Jaguar F-Type has sportier intentions. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Opt for the Performance Seats, which are superb.   Photo by Kevin McCauley
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The interior of the Jaguar F-Type is solidly made and most of the things you touch are wrapped in leather.  Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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There are beautiful details everywhere in the Jaguar F-Type convertible.
 
Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible.   Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible.   Photo by Kevin McCauley
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The Jaguar F-Type V6 S model is EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 27 mph highway. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible.   Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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The Jaguar F-Type is fast, and has tons of grip— basically what you'd expect from a $80,000+ sports roadster.  Photo by Kevin McCauley
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With the F-Type, Jaguar has built a fast car that's not necessarily for the track; a beautiful car capable of so much more than boulevard cruising.  Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Detail shot of the Jaguar F-Type convertible Photo by Kevin McCauley
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The Jaguar F-Type convertible remains true to the concept car's design, albeit in roadster form.  Photo by Kevin McCauley
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The standard Jaguar F-Type convertible starts at $69,000. From there, the S model costs $81,000, and the 186-mph V8 S begins at $92,000. Photo by Kevin McCauley
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Jaguar has introduced its first new sports car in 40 years, so it's no wonder that a lot of auto enthusiasts and sports car lovers are intrigued. What's the new Jag like? Here's our report.

What is it?

F-Type is the long, long anticipated small roadster that fits in below the Jaguar XK. Like the XK, it uses an advanced aluminum chassis construction, but the F-Type has sportier intentions it is smaller in every dimension (the overall length a foot shorter). It arrives at a time when Jaguar is in a much better place, has a brighter future and a confident vision, which shows throughout the car.

What's under the hood?

Three models are available: a 340hp supercharged V6, a 380hp V6 S model and a 495hp supercharged V8 in the V8 S. For our test, we drove the V6 S model.

Observations

The F-Type is fast, and has tons of grip — basically what you'd expect from a $80,000+ sports roadster. One of the most impressive aspects is the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, which offers shockingly fast shifts (up or down) with no hesitation. It can be controlled with gold adonized paddles behind the steering wheel (the gold bits are inspired by the EuroFighter jet) and is just an incredible piece of engineering.

But the most impressive aspect is the sound. With the dynamic exhaust enabled, it will howl, bark and snarl like an un-mufflered rally car. It's an incredibly raw sound, particularly on mid-throttle upshifts and hard downshifts (and with eight speeds... that's a lot of shifts you can make!). It's marvelous.

Styling

The design of the F-Type is what happens when Jaguar's master stylist Ian Callum is given the resources to make the most stunning Jaguar sports car possible. The result is pretty fantastic.

It was originally previewed in the CX-16 Coupe concept, and it remains true to the concept car's design, albeit in roadster form. There are beautiful details everywhere — vents in the hood, razor-thin LED taillamps and even beautiful, notched, crystal-like gauge needles.

Comfort

The interior of the F-Type is solidly made and most of the things you touch are wrapped in leather. Ride quality is compliant, and wind noise is well-controlled, even with the top down at speeds of 75 mph and above.

Utility

Not much to speak of. The trunk is somewhat deep, and thankfully the convertible top doesn't cut into the cargo space when the top is open or closed, but it's very shallow. Pack lightly.

Efficiency?

The V6 S model is EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

What's good?

"Sounds just like a racing car" is the most overused and often inaccurate trope that could be written about a car, but really: the F-Type sounds like a racing car. It's quick, gorgeous and very comfortable for extended periods of time. There's too much to list.

What's not?

The trunk is tiny. 

The cartoonishly-thick steering wheel might be just a tad too thick. We may have reached the peak of thick steering wheels in these last few years.

How much does it cost?

The standard F-Type starts at $69,000. From there, the S model costs $81,000 and the 186-mph V8 S begins at $92,000.

Our verdict:

Jaguar has taken a different road from its German competitors. They've built a fast car that's not necessarily for the track; a beautiful car capable of so much more than boulevard cruising. If you're looking for aural drama and visual panache, it is unmatched by cars twice its price. Beautiful looks and a spine-chilling exhaust note: Those are really the main qualities most of us our looking for in a sports car, aren't they?

How we'd buy it:

The mid-level V6 S model adds a limited-slip diff, bigger brakes, the active exhaust and a few other goodies, which might make it our pick. Opt for the Performance Seats, which are superb. You may want to pick a less subtle color than our Stratus Grey example — perhaps Italian Racing Red or Polaris White.

Special thanks to Momentum Jaguar in Houston for providing us with an F-Type to test.