Why we’re running it: This type of car has had its time. We’re about to find out if that time’s come too soon
Month 1 - Specs
Life with a Jaguar F-Type: Month 1
Welcoming the F-Type to the fleet - 8 November 2023
When the Jaguar F-Type was launched a decade ago, after years of anticipation and hype, the very last thing on our minds was that it would be one of the marque’s last-ever combustion models and it would have no clear replacement.
After about five years, as the certainty of its demise became clearer, we all began to focus on what last-ever versions would be like and how much we’d miss this most recent relative of the E-Type.
Now that the final year is here (there will be no more F-Types after 2024), we’re taking the opportunity to assess the last, most powerful era, to judge whether the F-Type’s departure is a disaster or the demise of a dinosaur.
We’ve chosen the most powerful V8, the 567bhp R 75 – the ‘75’ part marking the fact that this car ends 75 years of continuous production of Jaguar sports cars. It’s an optimal-spec car complete with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine, a specially adapted eight-speed gearbox and tuned suspension, along with a four-wheel drive system that does its best to emulate rear-drive handling until traction from all four wheels is most urgently needed. In practically every way, it’s the optimal F-Type.
Only the £1335 Carpathian Grey paintwork lets it down; we’d have preferred a louder, more defiant hue for such a key exit model. Still, the spec of this car shows two things: what good performance value top-end F-Types continue to be and just how rich the specification is. Only about £8000 of our car’s £111,000 total price is options, and at least half that (the fixed panoramic roof, the optional wheels, the grey paint and the extended leather) we could have done without. Against others of the same performance (186mph top speed, 0-60mph acceleration in 3.7sec) and similarly rakish shapes, the outgoing F-Type almost looks like value for money.
Your first impression, if you haven’t been close to an F-Type for a while, is that this is a substantial car. It’s as long as a Ford Focus and pretty wide, what with those beautiful but exaggerated rear haunches. We’d have labeled any two-seater with a 1780kg kerb weight pretty hefty in recent times, but these days it’s 400-600kg lighter than most battery-powered cars with similar power and a greater road footprint. But your first impression – especially after you hear it start – is that this is a muscle car of the old school and it’s about to be substantially different from almost everything on the market.
The impression is reinforced when you slip behind the wheel. The sports seats have firm side bolsters and your backside is close to the floor, with a high console dividing your driving ‘tub’ from the passenger’s to the left, a high fascia, thick windscreens and a low roof. The view isn’t exactly panoramic, but it’s as purposeful as the rest of the car.
If you’ve been eyeing the pulsating starter button and scanning the specs, starting the engine might be a bit of a disappointment. It commences with that blip they insist on building into such cars, but it doesn’t sound very V8-ish. That's probably the fault of the Euro 6 clean-exhaust rules with which Jaguar now complies. There's an exhaust button on the console that's supposed to make it throatier, but at the speeds and revs you'll usually drive this car, it won't sound greatly different.
The engine needs to be working above 3500rpm to start sounding like a V8, and such is the influence of the torque - which peaks at 516lb ft around that point - that you'll be going pretty fast by the time you reach that level.
The performance is explosive. It doesn't quite have the instant step-off of the latest crop of full-torque-from-zero EVs, but the way the beautifully adapted eight-speed ZF auto deploys the trust is a delight. Hearing the engine at 6500rpm, where it develops full power, is an electrifying experience but likely to be a rare one.
You’re going to have to find suitable track days to exercise this car properly (and apply your skills to near-limit control). To enjoy it on the road, you’re going to have to find something else.
Luckily, there is something else. Few cars are better than the F-Type at brisk cruising, obeying speed limits but reaching them promptly, soaring up slopes and using the superb, powerful brakes to minimise delays. The steering
works beautifully: you feel no ill effects of the occasional application of power to the front wheels and the gearing, rim effort and wheel size have clearly been developed within an inch of their lives. Here’s a car you’ll enjoy settling into for long journeys, its only foible being some rather historic levels of road noise on coarse surfaces. F-Types used to be terrible for this; now they’re merely pretty poor.
Because many of us have become used to cheaper fuelling of our EVs and hybrids, the F-Type’s 27mpg in my hands so far makes it seem pretty thirsty: the £100 fill-up of the 70-litre fuel tank is going to become pretty usual. Still, the realistic touring range of around 320-340 miles beats most EVs in the bracket, although not by all that much.
The bottom line so far? The F-Type feels every biy as old-school but very pleasantly so. EVs are smoother and more powerful at the very bottom of the scale but definitely less characterful. Even in an 'emotional' ICE car, you notice the greater faff of departure (engage clutches, breathe in a column of gas, ignite it) compared with a much smoother electric car.
In an EV, you're pleased by the comparative lack of departure effort, but miss the engine sound and the emotion attached to hearing it work. It will be fascinating over the coming weeks to see how these impressions move.
We have had an F-Type R on our fleet before, back in 2014-15. Then it really was an old-school bruiser and somewhat agricultural. If that counted against it then, it’s the opposite now: the F-Type R feels like nothing else you can buy. Steve has a fabulous long goodbye ahead of him with it.
Jaguar F-Type R 75 Coupe Auto specification
Specs: Price New £103,075 Price as tested £111,000 Options Carpathian Grey body colour £1335, 20in five split-spoke alloy wheels £2000, extended leather seat upgrade £1055, fixed panoramic roof £1335, Driver Assist Pack £470, anti-theft tracker £545, Climate Pack £685, Blind Spot Assist £500
Test Data: Engine Supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine Power 567bhp at 6500rpm Torque 516lb ft at 3500-5000rpm Kerb weight 1780kg Top speed 186mph 0-62mph 3.7sec Fuel economy 26.4 (claimed) CO2 243g/km Faults None Expenses None