2014 Jaguar F-Type V6S Review

Return of the great British roadster

By Shahzad Sheikh

Jaguar F-Type V6S

People have been comparing the new Jaguar F-Type to the Porsche 911, or the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4, but actually it sits in a niche of its own – that of the great British Roadster. Arguably the British popularised if not reinvented the Roadster in the 1960s and 70s with the likes of Triumphs, Healeys, AC Aces, MGs and the Lotus Elan.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

So once upon a time the Brits lead and others followed. Today however I can think of only three British roadsters – the hard core, completely unforgiving Caterham 7 that dates back to Stonehenge, the even more ancient Jurassic-age Morgan living on from a bygone era, and the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster which, whilst glorious and irresistibly desirable, is technologically past its sell-by date.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

The ultra-modern F-Type enters the fray with one clear mission as I see it, to reclaim ground lost to the Germans, the Italians, the Japanese, everyone actually. Oh and of course along the way it’s also admittedly tasked with stealing significant sales from Porsche.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Styling sensation

And it’s off to a great start if just the looks are anything to go by. Not just its own sensational appearance, but the stares it’s getting from everyone else. This Jag, particularly in this bright ‘firesand orange’, with 19-inch Tornado Black alloy wheels is big attention-grabber. (Base V6 gets 18s and the V8 is fitted with 20s.)

Jaguar F-Type V6S

You can’t really blame people for being transfixed. There’s no confusing this with anything else Jaguar does – this is not a scaled down XK, it’s very different. Short, stubby, squat, muscular, potent it’s a mixture of style wonderfully melded into a brilliantly conceived whole.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

From the rear it’s both futuristic and retro – being clearly influenced by the classic E-Type – the sharp pinch to the tail and the round rear lamps confirming as much. The side profile is more taught, more meaty and its bulging rear wheel arches more reminiscent of a Cobra.

At the front, the long contoured bonnet is very Jag, but the face is aggressive, more Germanic – efficient wind-cutter vents flanking a gaping, menacing grille.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

The sum of it all is stunning, and works just as well with the canvas roof up or electronically stowed just a few moments later behind the rear seats and ahead of the tiny boot – don’t plan on packing too much for a weekend away in the F-Type!

With two passengers in the car, they say the weight distribution is 50:50, but it looks compact enough car to not really matter. Besides it’s all-aluminium – which means its lightweight. Or at least it should be. 1614kg isn’t exactly featherweight though – a Boxster S is 1350kg by comparison.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Engine and performance

But don’t worry, this V6 S has a 3.0-litre six-pot that’s supercharged and pumping out 380bhp (40bhp more than the base model V6) which is sent aft through a mechanical Limited Slip Differential (not on the base V6) via a snappy 8-speed automatic – sadly no manual is presently available.

That’s enough to propel this exquisite projectile to 100kph in 4.9 seconds and warp through space at over 275kph (the base V6 does 5.3 seconds and 260kph). There is a range-topping V8 version with nearly 500bhp making it six-tenths quicker to 100kph and capable of about 300kph but we’ll review that at a later date.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Comfy cockpit

The door handles pop out to meet you – a unique and endearing affectation that’s a neat surprise-and-delight feature, although I’m not sure what happens if the battery is dead. It’s a long door and this is a low-slung sports car, getting in and out is not a cinch for the rigid-limbed, particularly if you’re tall.

Once in though, it’s cosy, comfortable, usefully adjustable, sufficiently spacious and very, very driver-focussed. As far as the passenger is concerned, the F-Type seems to be saying merely: ‘shut-up and hold on; here’s a grab handle for you’.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

The seats are okay, I was hoping for more lumber and side bolster support, particularly when pressing on, and the seat belt could have sat a bit more snugly on my shoulder rather than chaffing my neck, but at least it all looks nice with its contrasting exterior-matching stitching.

In fact the cabin looks deliciously inviting – a small flat-bottomed steering with a fat-rim, a double-hooded binnacle with a graphic interface in the middle, easy-to-use and JLR-familiar touch-screen with quick-access buttons in the centre of the dash, very obvious A/C controls and a bank of neat toggle switches below that.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Thankfully the Jaguar signature rotary knob transmission selector is not present – it wouldn’t have been appropriate – and instead there’s a BMW-style shifter on a centre console populated with e-brake, roof-button, and switches for the traction control, rear spoiler and sports exhaust – trust me, always keep that pressed on!

Next to the shift on one side is an oddly position volume knob (although there is a slow-reacting remote button on the steering wheel too) and on the other side a chunky gold-accented toggle to activate Dynamic mode (or snow mode for when you might deem that necessary), which simply shouts, ‘don’t forget to pull on me!’.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Driving it in dynamic mode

The Dynamic mode is complemented by an onscreen set-up screen that allows you to individually select engine response, gearshifts, suspension and steering. You can also get a lap-timer and measure how many Gs you’re pulling through the corners. The stop-start button and the paddle shifts are also gold for some reason.

I don’t have a lot of time with the car, so after a brief cruise in regular mode, which was fine if slightly discreet and docile, it’s a case of ‘sod-this’ and it’s sports exhaust on, dynamic modes all selected and the transmission lever pulled to the left for manual changes (it’ll auto change down on slowing, even for kickdown, but you have to change up).

Jaguar F-Type V6S

You won’t get much wheelspin, even in halfway traction mode – it’ll hook up and catapult you at the horizon, unless you press and hold the traction button to deactivate. Acceleration is verging on brutal, with surprisingly clean and quick but satisfyingly snappy upchanges, the exhaust prap-prapping and snap-crackling viciously, angrily.

It doesn’t seem to let up either, though you don’t need to climb to high up the rev band with top torque running out 5000rpm and power hitting its peak at 6500rpm – so those eight ratios come in handy after all.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

In fact attacking corners and even during an uphill run through the twisties, the gears I was employing were at least one higher than I would in some cars – this is one lusty motor, don’t let that ‘V6’ tag leave you in any doubt. The mind boggles as to what the V8 is going to be like?

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Poise and control

So how does it handle? You’re expecting me to say (especially after having mentioned the standard LSD) that this is a tail-happy, slidey-sideways rubber vapouriser. Actually it’s not. Okay, perhaps if you turned that traction full off again it might be.

But leave it on and even in Dynamic mode it’s a very composed, very precise machine that’s about straight-lining the apexes, tenaciously gripping the black-top and incredible poise and purpose. There’s even a hint of understeer through fast, tight corners although initial turn-in is positive and the steering response is startlingly quick and accurate.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Startling, perhaps, because there isn’t quite as much feedback as I was hoping for, particularly as Jaguar has eschewed the trend for electronic power steering, which is usually the culprit for dampening feel in the helm. But the weighting is good, and the compact dimensions and low central seating position is transmitting plenty of info to your bum, so that makes up for it.

This is a very quick point-to-point car, not as much point-and-squirt as you might be thinking, but devastatingly effective and a fast with a confidence-inspiring chassis, it perhaps not quite as much involvement.

Jaguar F-Type V6S
Ride… not ruined!

Astonishingly the ride isn’t ruined either. Okay, it’s not typically Jaguar smooth, but then you have to concede a bit of the pliancy for the superb body control and the level attitude. Even so it’s not crashy or bone-jarring – the ever-so-slight floatiness gives way to surprisingly more preferable brittleness in Dynamic mode, so for once I didn’t really wish for the softer suspension in the harder charging mode.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Verdict

Jaguar has kept to the brief of building a quick road car – sure this’ll be a hoot on the track – but it’s designed to for road trips on the best roads. If it wasn’t for the limited luggage space, you could go long-distance touring in the F-Type easily. It’s almost a GT, but still very much a sportster.

It’s beautiful to look at, superbly executed, deeply desirable. On paper this mid-level V6S priced at AED329k ($89.6k) versus AED289k ($78.7k) for the V6, and AED409 ($111k) for V8 would seem to be the pick of the range. It’s got all the performance, the ability and the charisma you could ever want.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

This is a car you should always drive with the roof down, sports exhaust on and everything turned up, including the rock music pumping through the Meridien sound system. It’s a joy to behold and be in, and it could be a winner for Jaguar.

Could? Why the hesitation? Well the price is a bit higher than I would have expected, a Porsche Boxster S with similar performance is AED222 ($60k), although the F V6S is cheaper than a 911 Carrera Cabriolet at AED380 ($103.5). If the prices were about AED50k lower across the board it might have made a little more sense.

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Also, whilst it would need a comparison test against a Boxster or 911 to be sure, I suspect the Jaguar is not quite as focussed a driver’s car as those tools, so Porsche can breathe easy that their clientele won’t be abandoning them in droves for the Jag.

Having said that, the Jaguar F-Type is a hugely desirable new car that will provocatively tug at the heart strings, playing a tune that will reverberate across the industry: the great British roadster is back!

[Read Noel Ebdon’s review from the launch of the F-Type]

Jaguar F-Type V6S

Spec
2014 Jaguar F-Type V6S
Price: AED329,000 ($89.6k)
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6 Supercharged, 380bhp @ 6500rpm, 339lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.9seconds, 275kph, 9.1L/100km
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear wheel drive
Weight: 1614kg

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