What is it?
The Jaguar F-type roadster, the British manufacturer’s return to building pure-bred sports cars, tested here in base V6 trim. This entry-level car costs from £58,520.
It's not exactly highlights; the non-S V6 model misses out on the adaptive dampers and mechanical limited-slip differential of its more powerful six-cylinder sibling, while its 3-litre supercharged petrol engine is 40bhp and 7lb ft lighter. That means 0-60mph is completed 0.3sec slower at 5.1sec while its 161mph top speed is 10mph lower.
The basic F-type still enjoys most of the tech seen on the V6 S and V8 S, though, with power transferred to its rear wheels via the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox that’s proving so capable elsewhere (BMW M135i and new Maserati Quattroporte included) and an active rear spoiler that rises at 60mph, becoming pleasingly visible in the rear-view mirror as it does so. Elements such as hidden door handles, rising central air vents and ambient lighting ensure it’s just as feel-good as its more potent counterparts.
What’s it like to drive?
Predictably, it’s not as sharp or precise as the V6 S, but that’s not to say it’s gone soft – if this was your first and only taste of the F-type you’d still be impressed with its sweet handling balance, weighty (if slightly feel-less) steering and overall dynamic verve that makes it a proper Jaguar sports car after decades of fast GTs.
The ride is firm-edged – but rarely uncomfortably so – and it’s clear much work has been done honing the F’s suspension on choppy British tarmac. It doesn’t take many miles behind its flat-bottomed steering wheel before you adopt a very fast, flowing driving style of the kind the more lairy F-type V8 S rarely allows.
The V6 is plenty fast enough, too, and you’ll only miss the V6 S’s more bombastic top end if you’ve actually driven one. There’s real punch right from the top of the throttle pedal, and the eight-speed gearbox encourages you to flick into manual mode and chop and change gears quickly and intuitively. And while the noise it makes is a little lurid at low speed (particularly with the optional £1630 active sports exhaust), it can’t fail to put a smile on your face, especially on the loud crack of a high-rev upchange.
How does it compare?
It’s £9000 cheaper than the F-type V6 S, but add a number of sensible options (that exhaust plus heated seats, keyless entry and a wind deflector, among others) and the gap soon starts to close. We’d stretch the budget for the extra power and precision if possible. Otherwise, rivals include the £45,384, 311bhp Porsche Boxster S (with finer ride and handling but less drama) and the £61,500, 345bhp Lotus Evora S (not a convertible but exciting, British and rare).
Anything else I need to know?
With three models in the range, plenty. You can read how the Jaguar F-type V6 S and Jaguar F-type V8 S fare in our reviews, while we’ve also tasked Tiff Needell to pit the Jag against the Porsche 911 on track. Although launched as a roadster, Jaguar plans to start selling the new coupe version next year.
Promising that the Coupe will be sharper and more reactive than the Roadster, its aluminium construction will boast the highest torsional rigidity of any production Jag. Jaguar describes the F-type Coupe as its ‘most dynamically capable, performance-focused’ model ever, though it also boasts that the 407-litre boot – up from the convertible’s measly 196 litres.