Matt Hubbard drives the Jaguar F-Type Coupe V6 S
When the Jaguar F-Type was launched in 2013 it was as a convertible only. It looked good, drove superbly and was powered by either a V6 or V8 engine. The car's only real let downs were its tiny boot and slightly harsh ride.
It is made in the same factory as the XK. The F-Type is the smaller, more sporty car and the XK the grand tourer which you can sling a pair of bags of golf sticks in the boot and your luggage on the back seat. Jaguar told us at the time that if the F-Type did well then space in the factory would have to be made at the expense of the older XK.
Then in November 2013 the F-Type Coupe was revealed. This was not good news for the XK. The new coupe looked even better than the convertible and it had a useable boot. The F-Type Coupe made its way into Jaguar dealers in April and shortly afterwards Jag announced the XK would be phased out in 2015.
As mentioned above the XK is a grand tourer and, in XKR and XKR-S form, is stupendously fast. It's never been a Porsche botherer but it was popular and sold well.
Jaguar had wanted to scratch the E-Type itch. They wanted a proper sports car successor to the iconic E-Type, and the F-Type was it. Now, as a coupe and convertible the F-Type is a car for those who want to replace their XK but also those who might have bought a Cayman, Boxster, 911, SL, M4 or even a GranTurismo.
Jaguar needs the F-Type Coupe to reach a wider market than the XK did in order to be truly successful. It needs to compete on an even footing with the very best sports cars and it needs it to ditch the faint 'old-man' whiff that Jaguar still carries.
The V6 S costs £60,235 and the test car came with a number of options, most of which I'd spec. It looks fantastic in Salsa Red. The £950 Black Pack turns all the exterior chrome into black. Add in the £2k, 20 inch Black Tornado Wheels and £1,250 panoramic roof and you get the F-Type Coupe V6 S you see in the photos. And everyone seems to love it.
Over the course of a week with the car I was stopped by at least a dozen people asking about it, and telling me how nice 'my' car was. The postman spent 20 minutes talking about how it was his lottery win car, a Toyota driver nearly crashed because he was staring at, boys walking home from school pointed at it and when I drove past a pub garden full of well heeled types half the people there turned to look at it. Three of them went, "Oooh".
The interior is spacious for a two seater. There's plenty of head and elbow room and a decent amount of storage space. The £250 optional steel pedals (with rubber inserts) are a must-have. The standard rubber pedals look pretty horrid.
Another option worth having is the £1,850 extended leather pack. Everything that can be leather is leather - even the headlining. This is a good thing.
The electrically adjustable seats are comfortable and have good side support and decent, adjustable lumbar support. The steering wheel is chunky and clad in soft leather.
The dials and infoscreen are all positioned well and function intuitively. The infoscreen's software has been criticised by some but I love its simplicity, usability and the small features that make it easy to use.
Press the Take Me Home button on the home page and the satnav immediately tells you how to get home. In other satnavs this is buried deep within the software. Likewise the volume button for the (excellent) sound system is located on its own next to the gear lever so you don't end up jabbing at the wrong buttons to change volume.
The rear hatch door swings up (by itself if you spec the £450 powered tailgate) to reveal a boot that's still quite shallow but is much wider and deeper than in the convertible.
These features, as well as the overall grandness of the F-Type Coupe's interior, make it less of a hardcore sports car to inhabit than you might imagine. It is after all a Jaaaag. It might be fast and powerful but it's got to be comfortable too because most people who can afford one will be middle aged and appreciate a bit of comfort.
The engine is started with a button. The key stays in your pocket. The revs rise and the engine snarls.
Press the active sports exhaust button (a worthwhile £350 option) and the volume increases - and you get extra snap, crackle and pop. Take a look at the video below for a taste.
The V6 S has 380bhp and does 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds. It feels mighty fast and has a more useable power to weight ratio than the V8 S which has so much power it loses traction the moment you tickle the throttle pedal.
With the V6 S you get a great spread of power from low revs thanks to its supercharger. You don't get lag with a supercharger so there's no step in power, just great big lumps of it all the way to the screaming 7,000rpm red line.
The gearbox is an 8-speed ZF unit. It's never hesitant in changing up or down a gear, indeed when travelling at speed you only need to dab the accelerator a little for it to dip down a gear or two and then change back up as soon as you come off the power.
The paddles on the steering wheel are too close to the edge of the wheel so you can't grip in the normal position with thumbs around the spokes. Having said that the steering is quite light so you don't exactly need to hold on to it.
Using the paddles is great fun and can be addictive. With the dynamic exhaust selected changing down and trailing the throttle makes for a decent, spittling soundtrack. Changing up when the gearbox is in dynamic mode (a £400 option) and the exhaust makes a noise like you're quickly slurping the last of the milkshake through a straw.
Dynamic mode allows you to alter the steering's weight (along with throttle response, damper stiffness and gear change frequency) but I left it on the lighter setting mostly. The steering doesn't have the same feel or feedback from the road as in a Cayman but it's better than everything else.
Having said that it's communicative enough when driving on fast, sweeping roads. This is where its power, accuracy and huge amounts of grip are highlighted. It's a decent B-road hustler too as it isn't a big car so you don't have to come to a complete halt when an SUV rounds a bend ahead of you down some hedge lined lane.
On poorly surfaced roads the ride at low speeds can be stiff and slightly jarring. Speed up a little and this smooths out. The ride is fine over larger objects such as dips or lumps in the road (it handles speed bumps well) but it gets caught out when the finer road surface is rough.
On the motorway you can cruise for hours and step out at the end feeling fresh. The stereo has DAB and easy to use Bluetooth and iPod integration and a £1,700 770W Meridian 12 speaker audio system that sounds crisp and clear. Subwoofers are installed in the bulkhead immediately behind the seats so you feel the music through your seat - a strange experience at first but quite pleasant.
The only to concern you on the motorway is the ease and smoothness with which the V6 S accesses silly speeds. Best to set and leave the cruise control on if at all possible.
The coupe takes the F-Type into new markets for Jaguar. It is now a genuine match for Porsche in several areas - refinement, luxury, exclusivity (for now) and a dynamic and fulfilling chassis and driving experience. The Cayman, Boxster and 911 are more sports focussed and have a harder ride than the Jaguar but the differences to most buyers will be minimal.
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe V6 S is a fabulous car and it appeals to all ages without a hint of 'old man' about it.
You can see my video review of the Jaguar F-Type Coupe here
Price - £60,235 (£73,945 as tested)
Engine - 3.0 V6 supercharged, petrol
Transmission - 8-speed ZF automatic
0-60mph - 4.8 seconds
Top Speed - 171mph
Power - 380bhp
Torque - 339lb ft
Economy - 32.1mpg
CO2 - 213g/km
Kerb Weight - 1,614kg
By Matt Hubbard