19 Sep 2013

2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S review

The Jaguar F-Type has been the most hyped British sports car for decades.  Search for F-Type in the Speedmonkey search bar and you'll find all manner of stories from up to, at, and after launch.  And now we've driven one.  Here's the Speedmonkey Jaguar F-Type review

2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S


The venue was a rather posh hotel in the Midlands, chosen by Jaguar for the variety of roads on offer around and abouts.  The route should have taken an hour.  I got lost, accidentally on purpose, and was out in an F-Type V6 S for 2 hours.

My colleague, Colin, had driven the car before me and you can read his alternative review here.  When he came back and before I set off one of Jaguar's marketing chaps took us through the F-Type's various features.  He was super-keen to show us the dynamic mode, lap timing, G-Force measurement and various other features you can use to enhance and measure performance.

It was when he pointed to a button that makes the exhaust louder that my interest was piqued.  I'd spent a week with a Jaguar XF powered by the same supercharged 3 litre V6 and, whilst it is a superb engine, its noise is dampened in the XF.

Not so in the F-Type, but I'll come back to that later.

The F-Type's shape is nothing like any Jaguar before.  Sure, there is the odd nod to past models (and Star Wars) but essentially Ian Callum and his team started with a blank piece of paper and designed it from scratch.

And they did a damn fine job.  What you don't realise from photos is quite how short and wide it is.  It has similar proportions to a Porsche 911, albeit shorter and wider, but the engine is resolutely at the front - it has to house the V8 as well as V6 - and is strictly a 2-seater.

The cockpit is snug and sporty.  It's not sparse by any means but is less overtly luxurious than the Jaguar saloons.  The 2 seats have plenty of head (with the roof up) and leg room but not many cubby holes to store things.  There are small door pockets, a space aft of the gearlever, a space under the armrest and a tiny net on the rear bulkhead which sits immediately behind the seats.

The seats are built by Lear for Jaguar and are completely different to any other Jaguar seat.  They are just as comfortable but more supportive - and they look great.

The dash top and most of the trim is leather.  The air vents rise out of the dash when you press the Start Stop button.  The dials are simple yet purposeful and there's a small screen in between the speedo and rev counter which has various uses, including satnav directions.

The touchscreen is similar to that found in other Jaguars but has the added performance monitoring functionality described above.  Below the screen are three aluminium dials for the climate controls and below that are a row of switches which are very similar to those found in the Subaru BRZ - except these are high quality, unlike the plastic affairs in the BRZ.

Then we come to the gear lever.  It's an automatic only so the lever is a forwards and backwards affair. It looks nicer than the old dial but is less easy to use.  The trigger you have to pull to select drive is a bit gimmicky and could be dispensed with.

The final cabin aspect is the passenger grab rail which is trimmed, as are most other things, in leather.  It's a nice touch which works from a practical and visual perspective.  Jaguar claims the cockpit is driver focussed and the grab rail certainly adds weight to that claim.
2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S interior

Press the Start button, feel the thick steering wheel and dab the throttle.  Immediately apparent: the supercharged V6 is something of a sonic treat.  It's more high pitched than the V8 but no less pleasing to the ears.

I set off with the roof up as there was a fine drizzle in the air.  The F-Type is designed to look good with the roof down.  As with any convertible it loses something with the roof up, but still looks mighty fine.

Select drive and go.  The throttle and steering are noticeably heavier than in any other Jaguar.  The steering is more accurate too.  The F-Type has a 50:50 weight distribution.  You can feel it immediately.

Just pootling around in the F-Type is fun.  This isn't a conveyance that fulfils your requirement to get from A to B, it is a carriage to fulfil your need for thrills and spills.  You'll need them.  At £67,520 before options you'll have to be earning a truckload to afford an F-Type, so you'll lack those physical thrills and spills in your job - that a sports car can provide.  And the F-Type will provide more than most in terms of kudos and entertainment value.

Take the exhaust note for example.  With the 'make the engine sound louder' button pressed it sounds good at a canter. It sounds fantastic at a trot.  It sounds epic at a gallop.  Proper, sonorous, high-pitched race car engine rorty.  And when you up-change (not on down-change as the XKR-S does) it crackles with a brief burst of exploding petrol.

"Again, again!" you will cry.

And it will, all the way up to 8.  The F-Type is fitted with a ZF 8-speed gearbox, but with gear ratios suited to normal road conditions rather than the Nurburgring.  The first few ratios are spaced close together and it's only in the top four it stretches its legs, to return a half decent mpg on a run.

You can run in automatic or manual modes, via the paddles or gear lever.  I tend to use the paddles rather than gear lever and the gear action is fast as you would ever need.  It's also an intelligent 'box in that if you use paddles and then stop, and rely on fully automatic, it knows and will change for you the next time a gear is required.  It's the best gearbox software on an Jaguar.

The V6 S has 380 bhp, 338 lb-ft of torque, weighs 1,614kg and does 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds.  It feels properly fast.  The V8 is more powerful and faster but the V6 S suits the car so well.
2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S

Grip levels are high when accelerating, stopping and turning, and the electronic nanny doesn't often take over.  The ride is quite harsh both with and without dynamic mode selected, but not too much - and certainly not as much as Clarkson made out on Top Gear.

It's fast and it grips well.  So far so good.  Take it for a serious drive on any kind of road with corners where any semblence of handling prowess becomes apparent and the F-Type's secret weapon is revealed.

Its chassis is stiff, with little in the way of scuttle shake.  The body and chassis (which you can see here) is built from 1,100 aluminium sections which are bonded and riveted together, and those that are in the sills are thick and plentiful.

The F-Type was designed as a convertible, so has stiffness inherent.  This, aligned with the weight distribution and suspension set-up makes for a superb drivers car.

It corners magnificently but its true skill is in mid-corner direction changes.  Give the direct steering a flick one way or anther in a corner and you can feel the chassis turn on its axis with very little in the way of pitch.  It feels alive, agile and controllable.  It instills confidence in the driver.  It also transmits a lovely feeling straight to the brain's pleasure centres.

Combine that with the sheer speed of the F-type, the engine and exhaust notes, the sporty but lush interior and the decent sound system and you have a brilliant sports car.

It's a good cruiser, but also a licence loser.  The exhaust note is apparent even at motorway speeds. When you pass under a bridge or through a tunnel it reverberates back in a fairly awesome manner.  Changing down the gears and flooring the throttle to make it even more noisy is fun, and sends you over the limit in no time at all.

The cabin is quiet at motorway speeds with the hood up (which takes 12 seconds and can be done at up to 30mph) but with the top down normal conversation is impossible at over 60mph.  It's not too draughty but it is quite noisy.

The Jaguar F-Type has very few negatives.  The boot is tiny, the gear-lever trigger is a bit daft and the pedals could be more special (they're just rubber with no aluminium trim).  That's just about it.

The V6 S costs £67,520 and the test car came with £15,105 worth of options.  Those I would choose are the £1,000 Firesand paint, £880 extended leather pack, £450 keyless entry and £350 active sports exhaust.

The Jaguar F-Type V6 S makes you feel special.  A Porsche 911 is sharper but is imbibed with less character (and 2 (tiny) extra seats).  The F-Type makes a better noise across all engines, a 911 is faster.  A 911 is slightly more responsive through corners but an F-Type is more malleable at the limit.  The F-Type has a more luxurious interior but the 911's is less fussy.

That Jaguar have created the F-Type from scratch to be a match for the 911 in several areas, and to beat it in some, is an incredible achievement.

I heartily recommend the Jaguar F-Type, especially with the V6 supercharged engine.  It is a wonderful machine.

Stats

Price - £67,520 (£82,625 as tested)
Engine - 3.0 V6 supercharged petrol
Transmission - 8-speed semi-auto
0-60mph - 4.8 seconds
Top speed - 171 mph
Power - 380 bhp
Torque - 338 lb ft
Economy - 31 mpg
CO2 - 213 g/km
Kerb weight - 1614 kg
2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S

2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S interior

2013 Jaguar F-Type V6 S steering wheel

The man from Jaguar showing us the buttons

Article by Matt Hubbard