Back in 1961, Jaguar stunned the automotive world with the E-Type sports car, which combined achingly beautiful styling with impressive power and handling. Fast-forward to the present, and the British automaker is looking to shake up things up again with the all-new F-Type roadster.
Designed as a smaller, sportier and less-expensive offering than the Jaguar XK grand tourer, the F-Type is 3.8 inches longer than Porsche's Boxster but 0.8 inches shorter than the 911. The platform and much of the body are made of aluminum, helping to keep weight in the 3500-3700 pound range depending on model. Torsional rigidity is said to be up 10 percent over the already railroad trestle-like XKR-S high-performance convertible.
Styled under the watch of Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum, whose previous credits include the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, the F-Type features an athletic stance and an oversized front grille that leans forward slightly to convey a sense of motion even when the car is stationary.
Aside from aggressive front air intakes and a set of de rigueur side vents, the F-Type's sheetmetal is clean and simple, with the visual highlights being two "heartlines" that define the front fenders and the muscular rear haunches. Hidden in the rear deck is a spoiler that automatically rises at 60 mph to improve high-speed stability.
The F-Type is offered in three different models, each with an engine of its own. All three utilize an eight-speed automatic transmission, though a six-speed manual is expected to be added to the options list in the future.
The entry-level F-Type uses a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The F-Type S uses a 380 horsepower, 339 lb-ft of torque version of the standard car's engine, while the F-Type V8 S gets a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that churns out 495 hp and 460 lb-ft of twist.
Jaguar says that the zero-to-60 mph dash takes 5.1 seconds for the standard car, 4.8 seconds for the S and 4.2 ticks for the V8 S.
To help provide an auditory experience that's appropriate to both spirited driving and relaxed cruising, the F-Type features an Active Exhaust system. Standard on the S and V8 S and optional on the base model, it features electronically controlled bypass valves in the rear section of the exhaust that open under hard acceleration, effectively providing a free-flowing straight-through arrangement. On the highway, the valves close to bring the volume down to a suitably moderate level.
F-Type S models feature a mechanical limited-slip differential, while the V8 S uses an electronic diff with a multi-plate clutch to transfer torque to whichever rear wheel has the most traction. Each of the three variants gets a unique brake setup: the "base model" employs 13.9-inch front discs and 12.8-inch rears, the S is fitted with 15-inch front discs while the V8 S boasts 15-inch front and 14.8-inch rear units.
The cabin is defined by a steeply raked dashboard and a grab handle that sweeps down the center console to separate the interior into distinct driver and passenger areas (Jaguar actually refers to the car as a 1+1). A flat-bottom steering wheel, sports seats and simple controls emphasize that the F-Type is fundamentally a driver's car, while hidden central air vents provide a bit of theater by rising up out of the dash when needed.
The softop is a power-operated unit that can be raised or lowered in just 12 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph. It features Thinsulate for improved thermal and auditory insulation.
Standard and Optional Features
The standard F-Type comes with leather and Suedecloth sports seats with partial electronic adjustment, a 10-speaker, 380-watt Meridian sound system, Bluetooth connectivity (including audio streaming) and 18-inch "Vela" wheels.
Aside from its more powerful engine and other performance-related goodies, the F-Type S adds a proximity key, configurable interior ambient lighting, 19-inch "Propeller" wheels and power folding, heated exterior mirrors with integrated LED turn signals and puddle lamps.
The range-topping V8 S brings fully power-adjustable sports seats, full leather upholstery, rear parking sensors with touchscreen visual aids, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and 20-inch "Cyclone" wheels.
The F-Type can be compared to a wide variety of roadsters depending on engine selection. Six-cylinder F-Types can be cross-shopped against the Porsche Boxster S, BMW Z4 sDrive35is and Audi TTS Roadster, while the V8 model counts the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible and the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG as its rivals.