Is the soft-top Jaguar F-Type just eye-candy? Does it live up to all the hype? Let’s find out…
I’ll start by putting you out of your suspense, No, it’s definitely not just eye-candy and yes, it does live up to the hype – if you have the money – with knobs on!
A year on from its launch and a shedload of awards later, the Jaguar F-Type convertible is a thing of beauty and still turns heads. And now it’s time to put this big cat to the ultimate test – a British summer.
I spent a week in the company of the F-type convertible and it was a fairly typical experience with a blend of city driving, country lanes and motorways in sunshine and showers.
But before I go on, let’s not forget the significance of the F-type, because it took Jaguar more than 50 years to launch a successor to its iconic E-Type.
Three F-Type convertible models are available – the F-Type, F-Type S (the one I drove) and the F-Type V8 S.
The first two are powered by Jaguar’s willing 3.0-litre V6, while the range-topper boasts the awesome 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
The V8 S will reach 60mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of 186mph, while the V6S hits 60mph in 4.8 seconds (171mph top speed) and the F-Type has a 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds and tops out at 161mph.
This year the convertible got a “little” brother in the shape of the F-Type coupé. Still just as stunning (some say even more), but with a fixed roof.
My V6 S in Polaris White had an on the road price of £67,520, though the car I tested cost £71,470 because it had optional extras including red brake callipers (£2,500), keyless entry and start (£450) and a sports steering wheel (£400).
Yes, it’s an investment, but for that you get a car that goes like the wind, handles like a dream and looks ravishing – not just from the front, but every angle. In fact, from the back it’s definitely a candidate for rear of the year.
The F-Type is a car that rewards. Admire it from afar like a work of art, then unlock it remotely and the door handles pop out to greet you.
Slide into the beautifully designed cockpit, press the Start button and the engine pops and crackles into life. Slip in into drive (automatic) or opt to use the shift paddles (manual) behind the steering wheel and you’re away.
Then it’s up to you. This big cat will purr in town or roar on the open road. Your choice.
Handily, the electronic hood can be lowered and raised in just 12 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph – essential when the weather can turn from one minute to the next.
With the fabric roof in place it’s a refined, if slightly confined, experience. Go topless and it adds a new dimension. The sky’s literally the limit. As well as being invigorating, it’s also the best way to hear the engine do its thing. Accelerating in a tunnel is especially rewarding and there’s even a button near the gearshift to change the exhaust note from tenor to baritone. I defy anyone not to at least smile during that party trick.
However, there is a penalty to pay for such a beautiful rear end – there’s only really room for two weekend cases and a couple of small, soft bags stuffed into the oddly-shaped space.
The rear visibility is limited so the reverse camera (viewable from the centre console) is essential. Finally, the engines won’t win awards for economy. The V6S should be capable of 30-40mpg if driven reasonably carefully, but I’d say you’re looking nearer 25-30mpg.
So the Jaguar F-Type V6S convertible isn’t just drop-dead gorgeous, it sounds the part too and is supremely rewarding to drive. It’s also one of those rare cars that make you feel special, attracting admiring glances from men and women alike. Just remember to travel light.