19 Sept 2013

Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6 S – second opinion

We've got not one but two reviews of the Jaguar F-Type.  Colin and I drove the V6 back to back so I thought it would be fun to post both reviews at the same time - Matt

I drove the F-Type on Friday and you know what, you should believe the hype it’s a fantastic little car!

The car I tested was the V6S which sits in between the cooking spec V6 3.0 and the monstrous V8 5.0S all with a superchargers as standard.  This has the same 3.0 V6 as the non S model but with added purr. The V6S is equipped with 380 bhp and 338 lb/ft torques so can hit sixty in 4.8 seconds and runs out of puff at 171 miles per hour which is more than enough for most people.

It's not just the figures that stand out for this ‘mid’ spec model but the way that it achieves these speeds, being a supercharged engine gives instant power throughout the rev range as it is belt driven so doesn’t relying on a build up of air like a turbocharger. Floor it at any speed and the 8 speed gearbox drops from its Ecosentual mode and picks the right gear for optimum acceleration in an instant, and before you know what’s happened you’re hurtling towards the horizon at jail beckoning speeds.

This particular car is finished in a discrete hue of ORANGE which Jaguar calls Firesand and has chips in the paint which sparkle in sunlight and show off the flow of the body to good effect. Starting at the front it has a flat nose which then arcs off at the sides of the bumper which incorporates vents for cooling duties. Below the flat front there’s a deep splitter and above it a heavily creased and vented bonnet that wraps over the side of the car where normally there’s the upper wings. The side of the car is smooth and sculptured with nothing to ruin the lines. 

A standout feature is the door handles which are normally flush to the body but when they sense the driver approaching they glide out to enable the driver to open the door. The rear arches are a beautiful shape and incorporate shoulders that add to the drama of the body. The rear lights have a look of eagle eyes in them and have round central lenses that eat into the rear bumper. 

I love the exhaust on the V6 models which are two twin central 5 inch outlets which are made by Unifer, the company who make bespoke exhaust for Ducati and are the real deal rather some fake chrome openings with a visible pea-shooter at the far end. The V8S features two pairs of exhausts, one pair either side to distinguish it from it’s lesser cylindered brothers but in my opinion the twin central look is much sexier.

Looking back at the pictures and I still find details about the body that I missed the first time. - on this occasion the blended skirt in the bottom of the door and toward the rear arch. The body is made from aluminium for added lightness and by adding shapes to it the effect is to make the panels stiffer so this complex shape adds to the driving experience as it’s torsionally stiffer than a bland car with few creases.

The wheels are 20 inch ‘Cyclone’ units and are effectively five twin spoke wheels and whilst they match the black pack I would think an anthracite colour would have been more apt but this is just down to my personal taste.

The cabin has a very upmarket feel and could take on an Audi R8, the leather is to the highest quality and the details unique. One such example is when you start the engine the top centre of the nicely sculptured dash rises to reveal the centre air vents. The seats have orange stitching to match the external finish are a hard but comfortable.  They provide good cornering support especially in the shoulders which is important in a car of this calibre. The gear selector was modelled on that of the Typhoon Fighter and has a nice feel to it even though it’s effectively a switch for forward, reverse, and neutral but the little details are important on this class of car.

The boot on the F-Type has come under scrutiny from the motoring press as it’s quite pathetic.  Being very shallow it can’t take much more than for a long weekend and the issue was caused by Ian Callum’s pen, the master of design penned the shape but unfortunately when you add essentials such as rear diff, fuel tank, battery etc it doesn’t leave much room the humble suitcase. As Clarkson said the boot size can be forgiven for the looks and driving experience the car boasts. The only saving grace is that a full size set of golf bats can be accommodated in here keeping its target audience happy.

The car doesn’t just have a body of a god but it’s also been equipped with a Buddha of a chassis.  It’s shorter but wider than a 911 so is very nimble and the near 50:50 weight distribution means it’s well balanced to take advantage of its size. When pressing-on the mechanical limited slip diff means very little rear wheel slip and when it does the computers reins things in seamlessly so you hardly notice anything other than pure grip. The steering is well weighted and the car feels alive in your hands, yes the 911 will provide more feedback but theres sufficient to know it’s position on the road.

As in the XJ I tested I really like the 3 litre engine and especially in S form, it’s a sweet vocal unit (even more so when you press the loud button) and with all the fuel saving features it can deliver over 30 miles per gallon which is frankly unbelievable for the performance on offer and would seriously tempt me over the V8 model in these fuel savvy times. As mentioned previously it has more than enough power to have serious fun and make overtaking a safe pastime,  OK it isn’t as fast as the V8 but does it really matter as it’s as fast as a 70’s supercar the Lamborghini Countach up to motorway speeds. Any faster and you’d be liable for eating prison food on a regular basis.

The engine noise is special with a deep constant burble and as the revs increase those big bore tailpipes get bassier with the finale of a loud pop spit bang when the fuel is cut off and the next gear triggered.

Jaguar has very obviously spent many man hours developing and honing this car so it all melds together.  Of particular mention is the advanced electronics which are on par with a Nissan GT-R and include G meters for cornering, acceleration and braking along with other numerous dash display configurations. The quality of the finish and construction is as superior as a German made car with precision to rival the best of them. It can hold its head up high in stiff competition such as the Porsche Boxster S/911 and SLK 55 AMG with striking looks and immediate and accessible power.

OK it’s an expensive car for what it is, the range starts at £57k and ends at £78k while the V6 S as tested is nearly £83k which is into 911 territory and for a 3.0 V6! Well I think it’s worth every penny and judging by the looks you get in this car so do the public audience, it may be just a 3 litre but the well integrated supercharge adds inherent character proving unlimited fun even without the engine on.

I’m not a fan of the Firesand Orange it’s more at home on a Lamborghini but I spotted a V8S in Salsa red with Blade alloys with carbon fibre fins that looked amazing so thats the colour/wheel combo I would opt for, together with the twin central exhaust it would have looks to die or remortgage for!

I have just worked out what the F in F-Type stands for – F**king gorgeous.

Article by Colin Hubbard