|Transmission||8 speed automatic transmission|
|Engine||5.0l supercharged V8|
|Power||488bhp at 6,500rpm|
|Torque||460lb/ft from 2,500 – 5,500rpm|
|Tyres||245/40 front, 295/40 rear|
|Top Speed||299km/h / 186mph|
The E-Type Replacement
It’s hard to believe that Jaguar, the creator of one of the best-looking cars in history (the E-Type, in case you were wondering . . .), took until 2013 to start selling a replacement, some 38 years after the E-Type went out of production.
The F-Type had a big name to live up to, particularly in the aesthetics stakes, but on top of that it needed to find itself a niche in the sportscar market already crammed with top quality competition. On release Jaguar made three variants: the V6, the V6s and the V8s. All convertibles. Shortly afterwards the coupe arrived with the more hardcore R model, before eventually the range topping SVR.
Where was its niche? Clearly Porsche had been identified as the benchmark and Jaguar pitched it accordingly; with the V6 a touch more expensive than the Boxster and the V8s slightly cheaper than the equivalent 911 Carrera S (the Turbo is simply in a different league in terms of performance and price).
I have driven both the V6s and the V8s and, like many reviewers, believe the more rounded package is the former. With more direct, accurate steering thanks to a lighter nose (due to the smaller, lighter engine) and less power fed to the rear wheels meaning greater traction, it is by far the more manageable car. Having said that I wasn’t a fan of the noise from the supercharged V6 (it sounded too effected) nor of the central twin exhaust, which look like trumpets. Plus the black plastic where the diffuser should be just looks cheap.
But none of that really mattered because all it took was one full throttle acceleration through second, third and fourth in the V8s and I was hooked. The car is fitted with an eight speed ZF gearbox which, although fantastic as an automatic, fails to let you hook up from a standing start with any great effect. This means that, by the time the smoke you have generated from your tortured rear tyres has cleared, the Porsche you were trying to show who’s boss has disappeared with characteristic Weissach efficiency.
However it’s once you get going you realise just how brutally fast the V8s is, with six figure speeds racking up alarmingly quickly. Its in gear acceleration is disturbingly rapid and, with 488bhp, it should be.
But didn’t you say the V6s had better traction? Yes, it does. In anything other than bone dry conditions, and with no more than a whisker more than half throttle, the V8s will wag its tail like an overexcited puppy and try to kill you. Call me old fashioned, but I loved that feeling; it oozed character and was one of the great modern sports car adrenaline rushes. I want to be tested when I drive a fast car; not to the point that it’s inherently unsafe (obviously), but I need to feel like I’m working for pace and that my skill is what is keeping me the right side of the line between speed and danger. Far too many cars these days fail to deliver that, but the V8s is not one of them.
The noise. Whilst the V6s sounded somewhat fake to me, the V8s appeared to have much more authenticity to it, other than perhaps the engineered backfires that made old ladies on the pavement, peacefully minding their own business, have a coronary when I let off compression. But notwithstanding this, this F-Type V8s, much like the XKR before and the SVR afterwards, makes a throaty, aggressive roar that puts many more expensive ‘supercars’ to shame. It’s epic.
But didn’t you say the V6s had better handling? Yes, it turns in more acutely and has less propensity to understeer. You would only know that when you’re really pressing on however; perhaps if you are driving at more than 7/10’s. And if you’re doing that on a public road, it doesn’t matter which one you’re in, the chances are you will shortly be wrapped around a tree before feeding through a straw for the foreseeable future.
It’s the interior where the big cat doesn’t cut it. First, the good points: the performance package seats are comfy and supportive, with the leather supple yet hard wearing. The grab handle is neat and, particularly when the car is specified in a two-tone colour combination, accentuates the trim well. The standard transmission paddles on the back of the steering wheel are grippy and look nice in burnt orange albeit they feel slightly computer game like in their use. The optional aluminium / carbon paddles help with this somewhat.
The negatives: overall the dash, electronics and switchgear feel last generation but one. There are too many cheap plastics on show and, ultimately, it has nowhere near the feel of robustness found in its main rival, a Porsche 911. I also have no idea what the point of the rising and falling central air vent is; it just seems like an attempt to be fancy (which it is) and some other electronics that have the capacity to go wrong (which they did). Totally unnecessary.
So how does the V8s stack against its competitors? Being totally objective, in so many ways it doesn’t even do so against its lesser sibling, the V6s. But that’s precisely why I wouldn’t buy that car, or indeed the 911 Carrera S. If, like me, you are searching for looks, brutal acceleration and noise, and you want a car full of character that will push your capacity for adrenaline to the limit, this is the one to have. It is compromised in so many ways but that’s exactly what makes it so endearing. It’s a riot.
The Jaguar V8s started at around £80,000 when new but, as with all Jaguars, suffered from painful depreciation. These means that, for the car available, there are some serious deals to be had on the secondary market.