Yesterday Jaguar announced a facelift of its F-Type, introduced in 2013. With used V8 F-Types now hitting lower prices than new Mustang GTs and V6 models going for the price of well optioned EcoBoost, it’s a seriously great used car bargain and probably the best choice for most sports car buyers. That is not to say it is the best sports car. It’s not. It does deliver what most really want from their sports cars.
At nearly two tons the F-Type isn’t a nimble autocrosser or canyon carver like a Miata. It won’t match the lap times of any Corvette or Camaro for the same price. And it won’t have the all-around competence of a 911. I don’t want to put down the performance of the F-Type too much. It may lack the precision of the best sports cars but it does sport double wishbone suspension front and rear and a limited slip differential. I’ve driven about 1000 miles on my dad’s F-Type S Roadster and I can confirm it’s a far better handler than any Mustangs I’ve rented. It’s not the most powerful thing but even the supercharged V6 can scoot—about 4.3 seconds to 60. I don’t think this car is about the numbers so that’s the last I’ll mention them.
When it was introduced, Jaguar billed the F-Type as a spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type. While they do share a long nose and short rear deck, typical of front engine rear drive sports cars, I think the similarities end there. Where the E-Type is low and sleek, the F-Type is muscular. Jaguar’s lead designer at the time, Ian Callum came from Aston Martin where he co-designed the DB9 with Henrik Fisker. The F-Type feels more than in that vein but as if designers from Dodge had been briefed to do their version of an Aston. I mean this as the highest praise. I’m not sure there’s a better-looking car made in the last ten years. (I’m pretty sure the facelift is worse.)
The exhaust on the V6 and V8 are some of the best made by any OEM. (I’m unfamiliar the four cylinder but with prices for the larger displacement cars so reasonable I’m not sure why anyone would bother.) The V6 sound deserves special praise because so many V6’s sound like garbage [cough: Nissan]. The F-Types sound the business when you are getting on them and go quiet when you aren’t. Best of all, unlike most aftermarket exhausts they don’t drone at low rpm. There’s a lesson here about modifying cars. No aftermarket company is going to put in the time and money that OEM will. When an OEM sets their mind to something, it’s not often the aftermarket will do better. Sadly few OEMs put in the effort Jaguar did with this exhausts. Purists may complain that the burbles on overrun are fake, and they’re right, but most buyers don’t care. They just want something that sounds cool.
I’ve been testing driving used M3’s lately and I said to myself that they may not have the most luxurious interiors, but I couldn’t imagine that a better interior would do anything for me…and then I drove my dad’s Jag again which is just on another level. There’s fine leather everywhere. The switch gear feels special. There’s an air vent that rises from the dash. The latter might be silly, a piece of theater but I think that most sports car buyers want to feel that driving their car is an occasion—even if it has nothing to do with how the car drives. My dad’s was optioned with the sports seats and I think they are some of the best I’ve used. With 14 way adjustment including lumbar and side bolstering, they can fit just about anybody snugly and comfortably. There’s none of the one-size-fits-most or just-for-skinny-guys sizing you get from most sports cars. Three memory buttons make them valet proof.
The Meridian sound system is fantastic and gives lie to the claim that two-seaters lack the room to create good acoustics. The best stereo offered in a BWM E90 3-series is no comparison. I’ve mentioned the specs in my dad’s car (leather, sports seats, stereo) so this is a time to talk about one of the neatest things about buying used luxury cars: at resale, non-performance extras depreciate almost completely. If you care about luxury—and if you are considering a used F-Type you probably do—then it’s worth looking for a model with lots of options.
I have not mentioned the transmission yet and for me the ZF 8-speed automatic would be a deal killer. (Some of the V6’s did come equipped with proper manual.) This transmission gets a lot of praise for being near as good a dual clutch, but at least as its implemented in the F-Type I don’t think so. There’s a solid one-Mississippi between downshifts. In auto mode it does well enough so I prefer to let the computer does its thing. I don’t bother with the paddle shifters. Having said that, I’m not really the market for sports cars. Most buyers want automatics and the auto here is perfect for them.
So the Jag F-Type looks great, sounds great, goes fast enough, handles ok, is comfy and is luxurious as fuck. Whether they’re buying Mustangs or 911s, this is really what most sports car buyers want.