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2016 Jaguar F-TYPE Test Drive Review
The Jaguar F-Type aims to be a gorgeous, powerful, drool-worthy sports car, and that’s exactly what you get when you buy one.
There’s nothing subtle here, no effort to be practical. It’s a sports car with two seats, a small trunk that will fit only a day’s worth of groceries, and a high price tag. It is worth every single penny, and really, you can stop at the grocery store daily, because this is so much fun you’ll want to drive it as much as possible.
Look and Feel
It’s hard to look at the F-Type without slipping into a dropped-jaw stare. It’s simply a beautiful car with large rear haunches and styling that make it modern while hearkening back to Jaguar’s roots. Its smooth lines include the door handles, which are set into the vehicle and deploy only when you unlock the car, before sliding back into place to drive away. The wide grille lets you know it means business, and its low stance holds the promise of incredible driving dynamics.
The interior continues the sports-car theme with lots of luxurious leather surfaces and a quiet and comfortable cabin. Space is tight, but no more so than in any other sports car out there, so unless you’re exceptionally tall, there’s room aplenty for two lucky occupants. The seats are highly adjustable, so a comfortable driving position is easy to find.
The 2016 F-Type has changed slightly since last year with the addition of all-wheel-drive and manual-transmission options to the lineup. There’s also now a convertible F-Type R and warranty improvements that include free maintenance. Since this car arrived in 2014, it has remained otherwise unchanged, with no styling changes, because the thing looks fantastic already.
Your first choice is either the coupe or convertible, and each comes in four flavors. The base F-Type starts at $65,000 with a 340-hp supercharged V6 engine with 332 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 161 mph. It’ll do 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds with the 8-speed automatic transmission or 5.5 seconds with the 6-speed manual. Standard features include a switchable active exhaust system, high-performance braking, 18-inch Vela alloy wheels, and intelligent stop/start.
The interior comes with leather and suedecloth sports seats that are 14-way power adjustable with memory for door, mirror, seat, and steering-column positions. The GPS navigation system features a color 8-inch touchscreen as well as a suite of apps and a 770-watt Meridian 12-speaker audio system with an AM/FM stereo and CD/DVD player.
Step up to the F-Type S to take advantage of a more powerful 380-hp V6 engine with 339 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 171 mph. The 0-60 mph time improves to 4.8 seconds for the automatic or 5.3 seconds for the manual transmission. There are 19-inch Propellor alloy wheels, orange steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the automatic-transmission model, driver-selectable active sport exhaust with center-mounted dual pipes, high-performance braking with black calipers, a limited-slip differential, and “S” badging.
Those who want to drive their Jaguar in less-than-ideal road conditions can opt for the F-Type S AWD, which offers all-wheel drive rather than the standard rear-wheel drive (RWD). Your only transmission option is an automatic, so if you’re looking for the thrill of driving a manual, you’re out of luck.
Sitting at the top of the lineup is the F-Type R with a 550-hp supercharged V8 with 502 lb-ft of torque. It posts a 0-60 time of only 3.9 seconds and is available only with an automatic transmission and AWD. Its top speed is 186 mph, and it rolls on 20-inch Gyrodyne Silver alloy wheels. It also gets a quad exhaust, electronic active differential with torque vectoring by braking, dual-zone automatic climate control, performance seats with “R” embossing, heated seats and steering wheel, reverse park sensors, and silver paddle shifters. Pricing on this model starts at $103,600 for the coupe or $106,450 for the convertible, so there’s a $40,000 climb as you move up through the model range.
Since its debut, the Jaguar F-Type has received plenty of praise for its performance, and with very good reason. Our F-Type S AWD with its 380-hp V6 engine had us grinning ear to ear. You will wake the neighbors the second you push the Start button, but the sound is so wonderful, they’re not going to mind, and if they do, take them for a ride, and the issue will be settled.
With 339 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 171 mph, there’s no denying the F-Type’s performance chops. Lightly press the gas and you’ll still find the car zipping ahead of traffic before you’ve even managed to find the end of highway on-ramps. A 0-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds means you'll merge whenever you darned well please.
The 8-speed automatic transmission shifts crisply with paddle shifters that let you take control if you feel the need. It’s fun to tap those levers, but this transmission is so well tuned that it performs wonderfully on its own without any interference from drivers who think they know better. Some will complain that the lack of a manual is a problem, but the automatic works for the F-Type. It makes this more of a luxury ride, one where you don’t have to expend extra effort to have a sports-car experience.
Handling matches performance, with tight steering and very solid braking that keep the driver always in control. It’s as fun on a straight shot down open highway as it is on twisting side roads, though the latter is where it shows off. Its superior ride quality with very little road or wind noise combines with brilliant handling to make this nothing short of a joy to drive.
Three drive modes allow for some customization of the drive experience. Normal is for everyday driving, while Dynamic tightens things up for a more sports-car-like drive that might be the setting we’d use all the time. The third setting is Rain and Snow, which has a negative influence on acceleration. It would likely come in handy for keeping things in control in the snow, but even in a downpour, we stuck with Normal mode and maintained easy control of the F-Type.
Fuel economy, as you might expect, is not the F-Type’s strong suit. It is rated at 18 mpg city/26 highway/21 combined, so it will cost you at the pump. Does that even matter in a sports car that starts at over $60,000 and can run upward of $150,000? Probably not, but it’s one of the F-Type’s few negative attributes.
Form and Function
Sports cars are not practical things, so if that’s what you’re looking for, the F-Type falls short. If you’re looking for a fun two-seater with eye-catching style, performance handling, and luxury appointments, then the F-Type is exactly on target.
Despite a small cabin, this is one of the most comfortable sports cars we’ve driven. The seats are heavily bolstered, but not tight. The leather surfaces look and feel fantastic with a range of seat adjustments that accommodate those of short stature right on up to the 6-foot set. There's plenty of room for long legs, and headroom becomes an issue only for the tallest of passengers. Heated seats and steering wheel are optional on the S as part of the $3,900 Premium and Vision pack which adds safety and convenience features including dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tailgate, and a garage door opener.
The interior is luxurious, but not in the way of full-size sedans. There are no wood surfaces or analog clocks. Instead there's chrome and lots of shine with a simplicity and elegance that puts the focus on driving, not on making this into a touring vehicle in disguise.
Storage is at a premium with a glove box, small center console storage, pockets on the doors, and an area centered behind the driver and passenger that can hold your wallet and a phone. There's also a hook on the back of the driver's seat. Those who have large purses and a passenger will have to make use of the trunk, which is surprisingly large. You’re not going to fit a week’s worth of groceries back there, but 11 cubic feet is large in this segment.
Controls are within easy reach due to the cabin’s tight confines, and they're all well-placed and easy to read. Even the touchscreen is easy to tap without having to lean forward from those oh-so-comfortable seats. It’s also nice that none of the buttons are hidden somewhere down at your kneecaps due to space considerations. You can see everything rather than having to hunt for a button you know is there, but can’t be seen when you’re driving—something that's common in small sports cars.
The multimedia system for the F-Type includes a 770-watt Meridian 12-speaker audio system. That’s a lot of speakers for a space this small, which means you get incredible sound. The system offers AM/FM/CD/DVD with HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio. It’s all controlled through an 8-inch color touchscreen that is within easy reach of the driver and passenger and responds well to inputs.
Jaguar InControl provides a suite of apps that will let you monitor your F-Type. InControl Remote shows fuel levels, activates remote heating and cooling, and can lock and unlock your car, all through your smartphone. InControl apps can be used to access contacts, music, your calendar, and a range of third-party apps including Glympse, Stitcher, and Parkopedia. Finally, InControl Protect provides emergency and roadside service when you need help.
GPS satellite navigation is easy to use with a clear and uncomplicated menu for inputting locations. It includes the ability to store up to 20 destinations and can help direct drivers around delays due to construction or accidents. The system is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.
There were no crash-test ratings for the 2016 F-Type from either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration at the time of this review, but that doesn’t mean the car isn’t well-equipped with safety features.
It has the usual airbags along with emergency brake assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, electronic brakeforce distribution, and xenon headlamps with an LED signature. A high-performance braking system, all-wheel drive, and adaptive dynamic suspension add additional safety and driver control.
The optional Premium and Vision Pack adds a suite of safety features for an additional $3,900 that's well worth the rather high price point. A blind-spot monitor with closing-vehicle sensing, front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera, rear traffic detection, and adaptive and intelligent front lighting with cornering lamps are all a part of that package, as well as convenience features like heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Although you’re low to the ground, there's a solidity to the F-Type that lends the driver and passenger a sense of security. Combined with the standard and available safety features and its fantastic handling, the F-Type is a comfortable and secure environment.
Yes, the F-Type is an expensive car. It’s expensive at $65,000 and out of reach for many at over $100,000, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of money. Buying a luxury sports car isn’t purely about crunching numbers and figuring out if you’re going to be able to resell it in 5 years and get a good return. Driving a luxury sports car is about the drive and the experience it provides.
Does the F-Type do what it’s supposed to do? Yes. It looks and feels exactly the way you imagine it should in your mind. It lives up to the Jaguar reputation and provides an experience, not just a car, which is very hard to quantify by the numbers. Fuel economy isn’t good, and the price is high, but you’re paying that price for a premium product that absolutely delivers.
The owner experience is important when buying a luxury car, and Jaguar has pulled ahead of the pack. It's currently the top-rated luxury brand in J.D. Power and Associates’ Customer Service Index. Also of note is its new warranty that's a first in the United States: It includes complimentary 5-year/60,000-mile scheduled maintenance on all Jaguar vehicles along with a limited warranty and 24/7 roadside assistance over the same period.
Nicole Wakelin's passion for cars started on the day she went for a ride in a bright red Ferrari as a teenager. She writes reviews and covers everything cars for CarGurus, The Boston Globe, BestRide, and Be Car Chic and blogs all things geek over at TotalFanGirl.
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