2013 Jaguar F-type review
Despite the choice of name – and the classic front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout – the F-type is a thoroughly modern car.
Its aluminium body is both stiff and light, which should help agility, and Jaguar has even dispensed with the oval front grille that it's been putting on its sports cars for decades.
The F-type goes on sale as a convertible, but a coupe will follow later this year, with more hardcore versions also planned.
What's the 2013 Jaguar F-type like to drive?
The entry-level F-Type uses a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with 335bhp, so it’s certainly not slow. However, its ride is overly firm, and it doesn’t sound especially good unless you specify the optional active exhaust system.
This lets you up the noise at the touch of a button, and is standard on the 375bhp V6 S model. However, even with this system fitted, the entry car doesn’t sound as good as the S, which pops during gearshifts and makes a glorious crackling noise on the overrun.
Just as importantly, the V6 S swaps the entry-level car’s conventional dampers for an adaptive set-up that improves ride comfort, while helping to counteract pitch and roll. The result is a car that stays flat in corners and remains beautifully controlled over high-speed dips and crests.
These qualities are combined with precise steering and forgiving handling, although the F-Type does feel like a heavier car than a Porsche Boxster (it’s no illusion) because you’re more aware of its weight loading up onto the outside wheels when you turn into bends.
It’s a similar story in the range-topping V8 model, although this does have its own distinct character. It sounds even better than the V6 S and offers stunning performance, but you have treat it with respect when getting back on the power on the exit of corners, because the back of the car breaks away far more suddenly than it does in the V6 models.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard no matter which F-type you choose (a manual will follow later). Fortunately, this delivers quick shifts and can be controlled manually by nudging the gearlever back and forth or pulling on steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Upshifts are pretty smooth in the V8, no matter which setting the gearbox is in, but you feel them really kick through the V6 S car when it’s in Dynamic mode, adding to the sense of drama.
Dynamic mode also speeds up shifts and throttle responses, adds a bit of extra weight to the steering and – on car’s with the adaptive dampers – firms up the suspension, although you can program it to affect only one or two of these areas if you prefer.
There are some niggles; the motorway ride is rather unsettled on all cars, while the sheer number of gears can be frustrating when you pull out to overtake.
You also feel a tiny bit of shudder through the steering wheel over rough surfaces. However, refinement is surprisingly good when the roof is up, and a wind deflector that fits between the rear rollover hoops ensures that bluster isn't excessive when the hood is down.
What's the 2013 Jaguar F-type like inside?
The cabin feels very driver focused thanks to deeply cowled instruments and a central grab handle that seems to fence the passenger off from the dashboard controls.
Jaguar has also tried to keep the overall design uncluttered; many functions are accessed through a touch-screen rather than conventional switchgear, while the central air vents rise out of the top of the dashboard only when required.
Perceived quality is one area where Jaguar usually falls well short of its German rivals, but the F-type has one of the company's classiest interiors yet.
All of the cars we drove had the optional sports seats, which are far more solid and supportive than the ones found in most Jaguars, while the cabin is smartly trimmed. Only minor details, such as the lightweight gearshift paddles and cheap-looking plastic steering column let the side down.
There's plenty of space inside for a couple of six-footers, but they'll have to pack light because the boot is very small.
At least you don't lose any space when the roof is down; Jaguar decided against fitting a folding metal roof, and has instead used a fabric hood that can be opened or closed electronically in just 12 seconds, at up to 30mph.
Should I buy one?
We wouldn’t bother with the entry-level V6, because it’s the worst F-type to drive and looks overpriced; it costs £11k more than a Porsche Boxster S equipped with a PDK twin-clutch gearbox, despite the fact the Porsche is faster.
By contrast, the sweet-handling V6 S model has a 30bhp advantage over a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, while its £67,500 price makes it around £16,000 cheaper than the PDK version of the Porsche.
Even the £79,950 V8 S model looks surprisingly good value when you compare it with rivals such as the inferior Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster.
You need to go for one of the more expensive version, then, but the F-type was definitely worth the wait.
What Car? says...
Porsche Boxster S
Porsche 911 Cabriolet
Engine size 3.0 V6 supercharged
Torque 332lb ft
0-60mph 5.1 seconds
Top speed 161mph
Fuel economy 31.4mpg
CO2 emissions 209g/km
Specification F-type S
Engine size 3.0 V6 supercharged
Torque 339lb ft
0-60mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 171mph
Fuel economy 31.0mpg
CO2 emissions 213g/km
Specification F-type V8 S
Engine size 5.0 V8
Torque 460lb ft
0-60mph 4.2 seconds
Top speed 186mph
Fuel economy 25.5mpg
CO2 emissions 259g/km
By Steve Huntingford
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