By Shari Prymak
The XE and F-Pace might be the cars that save Jaguar and turn it into a mainstream luxury brand, but the F-Type is the car that made Jaguar into a brand worth caring about in the first place. It is the pinnacle of the brand in terms of performance and desirability. It is the model that every other car in the lineup shares a bit of sporting DNA with. And it is a true sports car in every sense of the term.
The F-Type became one of those rare occurrences in the auto industry where a concept car managed to make it to production unchanged. The C-X16 concept which became the F-Type was just so breathtakingly beautiful and looked right from every angle that change was simply unnecessary. With those slender taillights, and long hood, short rear deck roadster proportions, it manages to pull off a subtle nod to the legendary E-Type, yet it isn’t retro in any way. It’s just a properly good-looking car.
The F-Type doesn’t just deliver the looks of a proper sports car, it drives like one too. It feels firm and aggressive and makes no apologies about it. Compared to the ultra-precise Porsche 911, it’s more of blunt instrument, but not by much. It’s a thrilling and involving car to drive, especially when equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive like my test car. An excellent 8-speed automatic is available as well, as is all-wheel drive, but a sweet-shifting manual with drive going to the back wheels feels right in a sports car like this.
Far more significant than the way it drives, however, is the way it sounds. The exhaust note might just be the defining characteristic of the F-Type. It doesn’t matter whether you go with the V6 version tested here or the full-on SVR. Every F-Type comes with a brutally loud exhaust note that crackles and bangs on the overrun like the sound of heavy artillery. The noise of the V6 I tested is a little bit less insane than the R or SVR, but that’s a bit like saying that a Gatling gun is a little bit less eardrum shattering than a Howitzer.
Fortunately for those with regular use in mind, the F-Type isn’t all just aggression and firepower. The interior is comfortable and properly luxurious. The driving position is just right, and almost everything is covered in acres of fine leather. The touchscreen has a few too many menus to navigate, but it’s not a bad system. The controls angled towards the driver is a fitting touch in a sports car, as are the rising centre air vents, which add a minor bit of theatre (as if this car needs it). The biggest letdown is probably the convertible model’s pitiful amount of trunk space. The coupe is better in this regard, but not by much.
The F-Type range has a starting MSRP of $78,500 for a V6 Coupe and can go as high as $145,000 for an SVR Convertible before options. Like the Porsche 911, there’s a version for just about anyone within that range, from coupe to convertible, V6 to V8, and rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive. As incredible as they are, the R and SVR are a bit excessive for a city car, which is why, for me, the sweet spot is the V6 S Convertible with the manual gearbox. It’s not as loud or nearly as fast, but it’s significantly cheaper and just as much fun, if not more fun, to drive. Then again, any F-Type is just about the most beautiful, thrilling, desirable sports car you can buy, so really, just close your eyes and choose. You can’t go wrong with this cat.
For more details, please visit the Jaguar Canada website.