The Jaguar F-Type convertible is the brand’s hero that takes to the fight to the likes of the Porsche, sitting between the Boxster and the 911 in terms of price and size. With winter officially over, we drive the V6 S F-Type and begin to wonder why you’d pay more for the V8 version of Jag’s two-seater.
What’s the Jaguar F-type V6 S come with?
Those stunning looks – the bold face, those muscly curves and those hindquarters – the F-Type has presence and charisma is spades, and turns heads quicker that it devours corners. Those narrow rear taillights flank the central exhaust pipes, which tell onlookers that this is the V6 – the V8 has separate pipes for each side.
The S starts at £67,520 – that’s almost £7k more than the same-spec hardtop F-Type, but still £13k less than the V8 convertible. It’s also £15 less than a Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolet, but £21k more than the (admittedly smaller) Boxster S.
On top of the base F-Type, the S gets a nearly 40bhp power boost, with 375bhp from its supercharged 3.0-litre. There are also 19in alloys instead of 18s, and a limited-slip diff among the upgrades.
>> Watch Martin Brundle drive the V8 F-Type convertible here
Is it as good inside as out?
The F-type S is a car that rewards: you just keep on finding clever details as you live with it. From the ‘deployable door handles’ that pop out of the skin to greet you before you get in, then the superb, supportive leather seats and that chunky, Alcantara-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and swooping dash.
The centre stack has neat touches, like the texture on the rubbery rotary dials, and details like the gold starter button and shift paddles. It’s smart and reeks of effort, but there are a few unpleasant surprises, like the manual adjust of the seat base, but electric tilt, and the slow-to-react touchscreen.
What’s it like to drive?
This is a quick car. From the excellent driving position, which offers superb all-round visibility on the firm yet not uncomfortable leather driver’s seat, you’re in charge of a seriously capable, comfortable drop-top which Jaguar claims covers 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds. While that’s 0.7 down on the V8, the fight is much closer in terms of timbre and charm. That V6 fires up with a bellow, and a pop and cackle that would drown out a Porsche flat-six and it simply loves to rev hard. Select D from the square-edged gear lever, and the F-Type begins its march towards the horizon with relentless pace and an adrenaline-fuelled backing track.
>> Read our Jaguar F-type V6 S vs Porsche Boxster S comparison here
In the standard drive mode, the throttle has a progressive feel, but hit that exhaust button on the console for a louder note, and you’ll often have the eight-speed’s cog-swapping too often in your ear. Still, it’s an easy car to drive around town, feeling nimble and flexible thanks to its aluminium body, and despite that beautiful steering wheel needing large amounts of lock before it answers.
Refinement’s not bad, either, with a glass rear windscreen when the fabric roof is up, and it feels solid with no scuttle shake even if you drop the roof – which takes only 12 seconds – and soak up that exhaust note. The ride, too, is firm bit not overly intrusive. It’s more sports than luxury, so it crashes over larger bumps, but while it all comes back trough the wheel, the car is composed and settled, even when you’re on those strong brakes.
What about when you’re on it?
Switch to Race Mode, and that throttle goes from being reasonable to stellar: it’s much sharper, unlike the steering which weighs up and is precise, but doesn’t feel grades away from the standard mode. This is where the F-Type proves it’s not a mere curb crawler: there’s so much low-down torque that it responds from a mere 2000 rpm. Lolling about in eighth gear on the motorway, and needing to grab a gap, a stab of the loud pedal gives you third gear in a snap and has you backing off earlier than you’d expected.
>> Read our first drive of the F-Type R Coupe here
It’s not all positive, though: flick the shifter to Sport, and it’ll hold gears for you, but the changes aren’t as quick as they should be. Those shift paddles, too, feel a plasticky and cheap – and while there’s not so much dive and squat, the F-Type rolls too much – this is a Grand Tourer, not a sharp track warrior. That means it’s not so confidence inspiring mid corner, despite solid road holding, and in the wet it’ll wheelspin in straight line with the stability on. We love that, though – a bit of character and aggression.
The six-cylinder F-Type S lacks almost nothing compared to the V8. Yes, it has less power, but that engine’s pop and cackle is as creamy and desirable as any bent-eight – and even more characterful than some muted German offerings.
This is a fast car that’s a work of art, so if you’re expecting pin-sharp reflexes, you may be disappointed, but only slightly. It’s also expensive, but the F-Type’s charm will be, for some, more than worth bottling.