It’s fair to say we’re fans of the Jaguar F-type Coupe. It looks sensational, and the V8 R and V6 S models are as good to drive as they are to look at. The trouble is, they also both cost north of £60,000.
However there is an option for those of us with a mere £51,250 to spend. The entry-level model has a detuned version of the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine from the S, in this case developing a fulsome 336bhp and 332lb ft of pulling power.
However, with the new BMW M4 having just hoved into view, and the Porsche Cayman as stunningly talented as ever, the F-type has a seriously tough life ahead, even at this price.
What’s the Jaguar F-type Coupe V6 like to drive?
The engine fires with a suitably enthusiastic ‘blarp’ before settling into a smooth idle. Engage drive in the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and the F-type pulls away smoothly and unobtrusively.
Acceleration is quick rather than searing, but the transmission shifts up through the ratios seamlessly. The Jag deals well with motorways, sitting reasonably quietly at a constant cruise and generally easing away the miles.
However, if you need a sudden burst of acceleration or even simply want to ease past slower traffic the gearbox changes down two or three ratios and sends the revs blaring unnecessarily. This can prove wearisome at best.
Still, get off the motorway and onto some twistier stuff, engage Dynamic mode and the F-type comes alive. It accelerates with genuine enthusiasm and somehow manages to sound like an old D-type at full chat while doing so.
Take charge of gearchanges yourself and upshifts are accompanied by a crack from the exhausts, while downshifts as you brake elicit a full artillery barrage of cracks, bangs and pops; our car came fitted with the optional (£1630) switchable exhaust system.
The steering is accurate and quick, and while it doesn’t offer as much fingertip feedback as you get from the system in the Porsche Cayman S, it is at least faithful and smooth.
The F-type grips well too, and changes direction with real nimbleness, although this entry model doesn’t have quite the poise and traction of the more expensive versions, and certainly not as much as the Cayman.
When the time comes, the brakes are strong, and let you know just how hard to push the middle pedal.
What’s the Jaguar F-type Coupe V6 like inside?
Like the Cayman, it’s a two-seater. There are no ‘occasional’ rear seats or an area for extra luggage.
Nonetheless, there’s enough space for two sizeable adults in the cabin, and the electrically adjustable seat and steering wheel make finding a good driving position simple.
There are enough cubbies dotted around the cockpit for odds and ends, and the boot is easily big enough for a weekend’s luggage. You’ll get more luggage into the two boots of a Cayman S though.
Still, everything’s well built and the added theatre of the vent ‘pod’ rising from the top of the dashboard whenever you start the car adds to the sense of drama.
However, we recommend that you spend some extra on a couple of options. First, the extra £1500 for the panoramic glass roof is well worth the cash because the cabin is far too claustrophobic without it.
Second, you need to spend an extra £350 to get dual-zone climate control, although we cannot comprehend why you should have to pay extra for this on an £51,000 car.
Should I buy one?
In F-type terms, £51k is as cheap as it gets. However, the problem is that a Porsche Cayman S is more than £2000 less to start with, is quicker, handles better and is at least as practical as the Jaguar.
However, if getting there as quickly as possible is less important to you than enjoying a bit of automotive theatre, and you want a car that you can simply sit and stare at when you have the time, then the base-spec F-type is more than worth a look.
If your pockets are a lot deeper though, the V8 Coupe R is definitely the pick of the range.
What Car? says