There are a handful of sports cars that can lay claim to the kind of celebrated pedigree as the Jaguar F-Type, unofficially billed as the spiritual successor to the jaw-dropping E-Type sports car of ’60s and ’70s fame.
Only the Porsche 911 comes to mind with its unbroken lineage.
Jaguar Le Mans racers race were closely related to the E-Type road car which was capable of a genuine 150mph (241.4km/h), and like its XK120 predecessor in 1948 was the fastest production car in the world.
But it wasn’t just about the racing, success on track was only half its allure. The E-Type was regarded by Enzo Ferrari as “The most beautiful car in the world”.
It also became an indispensable item for the likes of Frank Sinatra, who on seeing it for the first time is reputed to have said “I want that car and I want it now…”
English design maestro, Ian Callum who held the top spot in Jaguar’s design office for 20 years said “You could own an E-Type and never drive it and still love it”.
When the Jaguar F-Type Coupe went on sale in 2014 it was practically a carbon copy of the Jaguar C-X16 concept, an innovative hybrid electric sports car from the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.
While Ian Callum was quick to hose down any ideas the C-X16 heralded a second coming of the E-Type, its design cues were unmistakable.
Its characteristic ultra-slim wraparound taillights were a dead giveaway, as were the side-hinged rear opening door and shape of the grille.
In the end, the side-hinged door didn’t make the cut for the production Jaguar F-Type but other features remained intact.
Last year brought with it the first facelifted F-Type from Jaguar’s new design director, Julian Thomson, who assumed the top job when Ian Callum moved on to start his own design studio.
COVID-19 restrictions meant Australian journalists weren’t able to attend the global launch overseas, which is why this First Edition on test here marks the latest iteration’s local arrival.
The new car takes an evolutionary approach to design with revised front and rear bumpers, along with a new grille surround, bonnet, and front guard vents.
Visual highlights include slimline pixel LED headlights with animated directional indicators, as well as the latest rear lights with a light signature borrowed from the I-Pace.
The end result is a Jaguar sports car that’s never looked better.
It’s better inside too, featuring the company’s latest 12-inch instrument cluster paired with the not-so-recent Touch Pro infotainment system that’s already been replaced by the Pivi Pro system from the all-new Land Rover Defender.
It’s important to note Jaguar is making its First Edition F-Type available for just 12 months over 2021– meaning it will likely cease mid-way through this year or when 2022 production commences.
Priced from $205,300 before on-road costs, the V6-powered First Edition Coupe sits near the top of the F-Type hierarchy, with only the range-topping F-Type R AWD sitting above it at $263,300 before on-road costs.
That’s no small amount of money. Even the entry point to F-Type V6 ownership is still going to set you back at least $173,100 before on-road costs for the R-Dynamic on which the First Edition is effectively based.
There are plenty of similarly-priced rivals in the luxury sports car segment worthy of equal consideration including the Porsche Cayman GT4 from $206,600 before on-road costs.
In the same breath, you’d also have to mention the Lotus Evora GT410 Sport with a price tag of $189,990 before on-roads and some very focused dynamics with luggage space to boot.
There’s also BMW’s handsome 840i from $207,900 and Lexus LC500 that starts from $194,393 with its stunning looks, sublime build quality, and raucous V8.
It’s a high-end Jaguar so expectations are high in this department. Apart from the wonderfully vocal supercharged V6 under the bonnet and Adaptive Dynamics system fitted to the First Edition, you get the choice between three special exterior colours including Eiger Grey (as seen here), Santorini Black, and Fuji White.
Disappointingly, the two metallics are actually optional and will set you back another $2950.
There are a few other specialty items that make up the First Edition, not least of which is the Dark Satin Grey exterior design pack, black contrast roof, and 20-inch diamond turned alloy wheels, which I’m not exactly sold on.
Personally I’d go for five-spoke gloss black as the better look for this particular F-Type.
You also get ebony suede cloth headlining, 12-way electric driver’s seat with memory, aluminium gearshift paddles, and First Edition tread plates.
Inside, there’s a choice of red or ebony upholstery. While the vibrant Mars Red coloured leather may appear blingy in the photographs, in reality it’s perfect for the F-Type and a fabulous contrast to the Eiger Grey paintwork on our tester.
Moreover, the Windsor Leather Performance seats with metal inserts and embossed logo on the headrests look the business, but also offer superb comfort and support.
Apart from the above listed inventory, the First Edition comes with a host of creature comforts including Premium LED headlights, auto-dimming/power-folding/heated door mirrors, 12-way electric seats with memory, electrically adjustable steering column, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and single-zone climate control.
There’s also a Meridian 380W 10-speaker sound system with two subwoofers, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 10-inch touchscreen with navigation, keyless entry, and a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors.
Our Jaguar F-Type tester was fitted with optional extras such as Configurable Dynamics ($3980), an uprated 770W 12-speaker Meridian sound system ($7260), fixed panoramic roof ($2110), powered tailgate ($1160), two-zone climate control ($1040), and privacy glass ($650) for a lofty as-tested price of $225,996 before on-roads.
The Jaguar F-Type has not been crash tested by either ANCAP here in Australia or by Euro NCAP, so there’s no safety rating for this model.
Safety kit includes autonomous emergency braking, driver monitoring, and lane-keeping assist.
Our tester was also fitted with the optional Blind Spot Assist pack ($900), which adds blind-spot assist and rear cross-traffic alert, which we would have expected to be standard.
There’s no mistaking the latest iteration of the F-Type for anything other than a proper sports car. The initial drop into the low-set and heavily-bolstered bucket seat will leave you in no doubt whatsoever.
It’s similar to a Porsche 911 in that regard and just as easy to slide in and out of, too.
The steering wheel with superb leather-bound tactility that sits in the perfect position is another welcome sign of good things to come. The ergonomics are pretty much perfect for a two-seat sports car of this ilk.
While I can’t speak for the other available interior colour, the vibrant finish in our tester is surprisingly tasteful against the grey paint and most likely what I’d opt for myself.
Moreover, the leather upholstery extends well beyond the seats, wrapping the entire dashboard, door cards and much of the centre console.
To offset the all-red interior there’s a suitable compliment of real metal accents that go a long way to create a premium ambience inside the F-Type.
Cosy is how I would describe the overall space inside the cabin and I’m well under 180cm tall.
I’m also a fan of Jaguar’s latest 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster for its clarity and colour, but it still falls short of the technology offered by Mercedes-Benz in this regard.
Not so great is the now-superseded (by the latest Pivi Pro) 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment screen for its relatively milky screen which is also glare-prone, though functionality and response are excellent.
Storage wise, there’s no rear bench but there is a bit of space behind the seats depending on your seat position. There’s also room for keys, wallets and phones in the small centre console bin or larger items will likely fit in the glovebox.
Likewise, there’s USB-C and USB-A ports as well as a 12V socket.
For overnight stays or even the weekly grocery run, you’ll find sufficient load space in the boot (it’s essentially a lift back) as proved by myself in a shopping spree at Aldi during my time with the Jaguar F-Type.
Lurking under that long bonnet that opens up from the windscreen end (just as it did with the E-Type), is a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 making 280kW of power at 6250rpm and 460Nm of torque between 4500 and 5000rpm.
It drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Top speed is 275km/h, while performance from standstill to 100km/h is 4.9 seconds.
To give that some perspective against the rest of the F-Type line-up, the entry four-pot makes 221kW and 400Nm to the rear axle and can go from 0-100km/h in a respectable 5.7 seconds.
The range-topping supercharged V8 deploys its 423kW and 700Nm to all four wheels giving it a 0-100km/h sprint time of a rapid 3.7 seconds.
Jaguar claims 8.6L/100km fuel consumption on a combined cycle, but my week with the F-Type was mainly confined to local trips with the occasional run into the city consuming an average of 13.1L/100km.
Hit the starter button and the supercharged V6 awakens with a proper bark before settling down. It might only be a six-pot but believe me, it can be downright ferocious when leaned on from a standing start – like the proverbial scalded cat, if you will.
Mid-range punch is also very impressive, but honestly you’ll need some track time if you intend to let this particular cat off its leash and explore the F-Type’s potential for speed.
Switching to Dynamic ups the ante considerably, especially when it comes to throttle response. It feels quicker than its 4.9 second claim. A lot quicker.
It’s exceptionally pointy and there’s strong front-end grip on turn-in, but the lighter-than-ideal steering means you’ll need to be measured in your inputs, otherwise it can feel a tad nervous.
While the F-Type First Edition doesn’t get adaptive suspension with switchable damper settings, it does have Adaptive Dynamics which effectively controls the car’s pitch and roll attitude using a suite of sensors that monitor everything from steering inputs to damper rebound.
The ride is reasonably good. It’s firm but with sufficient compliance to absorb the more severe bumps but again, it’s not quite as poised or supple as a Porsche 911.
At 4470mm long the F-Type feels compact, making it a cinch to place on the road or at an apex should you be so lucky to have the right conditions for a spirited driving session.
Stopping power is also prodigious thanks to 380mm brake rotors up front and 325mm units down back.
That said, the F-Type is the sort of car you want to take by the scruff of the neck to get properly acquainted. Do that and it rewards with its confidence-inspiring chassis and crackle and pop sound effects.
This is a car that is as much about aesthetics as it is about performance and there’s a good blend of both in this First Edition model.
The F-Type is covered by Jaguar’s three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Given some rival brands like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are offering five-year/unlimited-kilometre coverage, the Brits have some catching up to do.
With that said, Jaguar Land Rover Australia regularly offers extended warranty with free servicing. At the time of writing, the entire Jaguar line-up is being offered with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with free scheduled servicing for the same period (ends 31 March 2021).
The deal also includes three years of roadside assist.
While the F-Type with its supercharged V8 might be the hero car, it’s the supercharged V6 that has more in common with its E-Type heritage.
It’s also the car that feels the most manageable and the most alive in the handling department while still offering explosive off-the-line pace and unrivalled beauty.
I’d argue the Jag is the clear winner in the beauty department. And that will likely satisfy its fare share of willing Jaguar aficionados with sufficiently deep pockets.
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