► Jaguar F-type 400 Sport driven
► Launch edition celebrates MY18 changes
► Yours from £70k, ours was £83k
Like most Jaguar Land Rover products, the Jaguar F-type has been fettled almost every year since its launch. With the ‘18MY’ (or 2018 Model Year) changes, Jag has introduced this limited-run F-type 400 Sport model for an added dose of exclusivity.
This slightly pokier V6 model sits above the V6 R-Dynamic model but below the bellowing V8 R, and is available either as a coupe or a convertible with rear- or all-wheel drive. The cheapest 400 Sport is a rear-wheel-drive coupe (pictured) at £70,115; an all-wheel-drive convertible will cost you £81,005 before options.
So, what does the 400 Sport bring to the party?
Its upgrades are more than just skin-deep, thankfully. Power from the supercharged V6 has been boosted to 395bhp (20bhp more than an R-Dynamic model), and performance brakes with larger discs than a V6 S have been fitted, along with a limited-slip diff, 20-inch alloys and Jag’s ‘Configurable Dynamics’ system that allows you to individually tailor the steering, throttle response and ride comfort.
From the outside, it’s easy to spot the liberal sprinkling of luminous yellow and grey '400 Sport' badges, but what you’ll notice shortly after is the more prominent front splitter, thicker side sills and rear diffuser finished in satin grey.
Climb inside and you’re greeted by a beautifully finished interior, upholstered in black leather with yellow detailing. Other unique 400 Sport touches include embroidered headrests, a brushed black aluminium centre console finish and anodised aluminium gearshift paddles – the 400 Sport is available with an eight-speed auto gearbox only.
More power and yellow bits, got it. How does it feel?
Prod the heartbeat starter button and the V6 makes its presence well and truly known. Even in the regular driving mode with the sports exhaust deactivated, the noise is enough to startle deer in another county; great for when you’re feeling like a cheeky B-road blast, not so much if you’re leaving for work early in the morning and don’t want bags of flaming excrement on your doorstep when you arrive back home.
Pootling around town quickly reveals the F-type’s weighty steering and a suspension setup geared for handling more than comfort. The ride is firm, but not irritatingly so; you feel most bumps in the road but the F-type tries its best to round off the edges.
In the convertible version, there’s a generous amount of sound insulation when the roof is up, so motorway journeys are a breeze, but the 400 Sport’s slim seats got uncomfortable after a while, even after adjusting them to fit. We’d also love a taller rear window, but that’s nitpicking on a convertible.
Storage inside isn’t great; two shallow cupholders are complemented by a small centre console storage box and door bins that can’t hold more than a bag of crisps.
Okay so it’s not the most practical car out there, what is it like when you’re purely out for a drive?
Flicking the drive mode switch into Dynamic firms up the ride, makes the throttle response spikier, sharpens the eight-speed auto’s changes and adds more heft to the steering. The active exhaust is on, too, so your eardrums are overwhelmed by the howl of the V6 when on the power, and crackles and bangs when you lift off. The noise is truly addictive when you’re in the right mood, but it’s always there, even when you’re driving in a relaxed manner.
Even at half-throttle in Dynamic mode, the 400 Sport is keen to drop a few gears and let the V6 stretch its legs. It’s quick; a 5.1sec 0-62mph time confirms that, but it doesn’t kick you in the back like its hairy-chested V8 sibling.
The all-wheel drive system does its best to hem in the power, but even so the traction control light occasionally blinks under less-than-full load. Moreover, while the meaty steering inspired confidence during turn in, the F-type feels uncomfortably wide on the road, enough to make you drive in fear of a close encounter of the swerved kind.
More than anything else, it’s the Jaguar F-type 400 Sport’s V6 heart that steals the show. The steering feels great, the interior feels well-made and the jaw-dropping looks alone are enough to make you feel like a celebrity, but it’s the noise that echoes from those chrome-tipped exhausts that will stay with you.
That said, there will be days when the unrelentingly boisterous engine noise can be unwelcome, and the irritating lack of practicality will tire, especially in the convertible version.
Then there’s the price; our test car weighed in at £83k, a huge amount of money. Especially bearing in mind an R-Dynamic AWD model will feel almost as quick, comes with just as much theatre and costs £9k less.