First, in case there is any doubt after three years, the two-seat Jaguar F-Type is a true-blue sports car. It might look a bit like the XK 2+2 that was Jaguar’s sporty contender for years, but the XK was a pretender. The F-Type is real and distinctly Jaguar, a coupe or convertible with heaps of character. It’s a contender against the Corvette and Porsche 911, as well as the 718 Boxster and Cayman.
The F-Type has expanded since its introduction for 2014, with an R model, all-wheel drive, and a manual gearbox added over past couple of years.
New for 2017: Jaguar F-Type SVR. With 575 horsepower, it’s the fastest Jaguar since the XJ220 supercar.
Four engine types are available, two V6s of a design that’s been around a few years, and two V8s; all four are supercharged.
All-wheel drive is standard with the V8 and optional with the V6.
The standard 3.0-liter supercharged V6 makes 340 horsepower, sufficient able to accelerate from zero to sixty in 5.1 seconds and hit 161 miles per hour. Next is the F-Type S with the same engine making 380 horsepower that can accelerate from zero to sixty in 4.8 seconds and can reach a top speed of 171 miles per hour. The V6 models sound a little coarse under acceleration, with the whine of the supercharger subdued to the point where it’s drowned by engine noise.
The F-Type R uses a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 making 550 horsepower that accelerates from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds, with a top speed of 186 miles per hour. Optional sports exhaust makes it sound throaty like a V8 Mustang. The Coupe R and Convertible R are two of the best sports cars on the road today.
The new F-Type SVR makes 575 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, dropping the 0-60 time to 3.5 seconds and raising the top speed to 200 miles per hour. There’s lots of carbon-fiber trim, and a titanium exhaust system makes the engine downright raucous. Starting it on a cold morning produces a sound akin to a tearing a massive telephone book in half. Its suspension and steering are tuned for performance, while carbon-ceramic brakes are available. It needs a track to be pushed.
The 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is just about the best automatic we know (that isn’t a twin-clutch). If you must have an old-school manual gearbox, you’ll have to stick to the base 340-hp F-Type with rear-wheel drive. It’s good but the sweet automatic is more efficient, able to shift faster and bring higher fuel mileage, achieving an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon Combined in the base V6.
Jaguar F-Type comes standard with leather, power seats, infotainment, 770-watt audio. Coupes come standard with a panoramic sunroof. The F-Type S model has an active exhaust system and driving modes.
The F-type offers safety technology including blind-spot monitors, rearview camera, and adaptive cruise control. The F-Type hasn’t been crash tested.
The nose of the F-Type is sleek and tall, with a big grille that isn’t an oval and LED accents that sharpen the look from front. Hints of Maserati and Corvette might be seen in the styling, a notion we suspect Jaguar would call rubbish. The lines along the side flow beautifully, with inset door handles to keep things flat and smooth. The roofline of the coupe is streamlined. The best view is from the rear, with powerful haunches and rounded taillamps that suggest history.
The F-Type cockpit is intense, with deeply set gauges, elevated mechanical bits, and a grab handle for the passenger. It’s snug but comfortable, and focused on leather, non-traditional in that there isn’t one splinter of wood. It might feel focused on functional, if it weren’t for the wide screen providing infotainment, and big rotary climate knobs, not to mention the start button and paddle controls in orange like a ship’s emergency raft. Options for trim include red leather and carbon on the dash.
The seats get firmer and more bolstered, as the horsepower in the models rises. The trunk stays the same tiny size, although no smaller than any two-seat sports car. The power convertible top folds so that a tonneau cover isn’t necessary, at speeds up to 30 mph.
The cabin is quiet inside, until you hammer the throttle and either the coarse V6 or throaty V8 do their thing.
The Jaguar F-Type delivers performance that rivals the best. The aluminum chassis is about balance as well as lightness.
The base F-Type is quick and nimble, but yaw-happy, and lacking the precision of a Porsche Boxster or Cayman. The ride is stiff but not jarring. The coupe, being more rigid than the convertible, handles better. But it’s the adaptive dampers in other models that brings out the sports car in this Jaguar.
We like the F-Type all-wheel drive for its practicality, though there isn’t a strong sense of all-wheel drive when driving it. The V8 doesn’t handle as light and direct as the V6, but almost.
The F-Type R almost matches the precision of the Boxster and Cayman, in spite of the Jaguar’s greater mass. The F-Type feels at home on the track. It’s more entertaining to drive than anything in its class, except the Porsche 718 Cayman S and Corvette Z06.
The Jaguar F-Type is among the best sports cars in the world. F-Type models cleanly cover the stretch from daily-driver V6 style to staggering challenging V8 power. Best 8-speed automatic in the game. All engines supercharged!
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with staff reports by The Car Connection.