With a tag line “the art of performance”, it became necessary to hit the ball right out of the park.
Today’s automotive world is changing pretty rapidly. Mostly it’s in favour of new technologies and advancement towards autonomous driving. It seems as though every single manufacturer is trying to develop the most progressive driving aids, which undoubtedly will gear the car-buying public towards distracted driving. Jaguar is doing things a bit differently, and simplifying things in an old-fashioned way in order to engage drivers who care more about the art of driving. We were assigned the keys to a 2017 Jaguar F-Type V6 S Convertible, complete with a rarity – a six-speed manual transmission.
When looking at the F-Type Convertible side-by-side with cars like the Porsche 718 Boxster (reviewed here), the Jaguar unequivocally takes the torch for most cutting-edge design. Whereas the Porsche takes a more conservative approach to design, the F-Type takes designer Ian Callum’s talents to the next level and is just simply beautiful. It uses angular lines, sharp edges, carefully positioned exhaust tips, and stunning wheels to create a look that not only looks great now, but will age in just as spectacular a manner as the previous-generation XK. Our vehicle was equipped with a black styling package, which blacks out the grille, wheels, and other accents to create a factory “murdered-out” look. This works very well, and the F-Type garnered plenty of looks and positive attention throughout our test period.
Flush when locked, the door handles flip out when the car is unlocked, revealing a flat stainless steel panel with the Jaguar logo embossed on it. Pulling them and stepping into the interior reveals a modern take on the classic British roadster. The interior is relatively sparse of buttons, and the climate control unit is simplified to three knobs. Vehicle dynamics, exhaust sound, and start/stop are all clearly marked buttons, and the power seats are adjustable in many ways, including side bolster support. This is a very pleasant place to spend time, with an excellent driving position and high-quality materials throughout.
Again preferring to use more engaging and visceral technology, the F-Type uses a supercharged 3.0L V6 engine with an aluminum block, heads, and direct injection. This motor on the V6 S trim is massaged to 380 horsepower, peaking at 6,500RPM, and 339 lb-ft of torque at 3,500RPM. The power is instant, allowing the F-Type a 100 km/h run in 5 seconds flat. It’s not as fast as some rivals, but the power band is smooth and the car is far more engaging to drive. I prefer a supercharger over a turbocharger, because the additional low-end pull is highly beneficial when zipping around the city.
But my favourite part of the F-Type has to be the six-speed manual transmission, which was introduced later in the car’s cycle rather than advancing the eight-speed automatic to a dual-clutch unit. The shifter is effortless to use, with light throws and a gate locking out reverse that’s impossible to miss. The clutch is also easy to learn, though manual F-Types have been notorious for premature clutch slippage and failure. The clutch damper on this car is also very noticeable, and rev-matching downshifts became second nature in a matter of minutes.
Something the F-Type offers over any other competitor in its segment (and most other segments) is the noise emitting from the exhausts. Whether it’s the V6 or the V8, the Jaguar produces a ferocious roar from the rear that’s met with snaps, crackles, pops, and bangs when letting off the throttle. The manual transmission models have actually been calibrated to be quieter than the automatics, only producing such immense noise at higher RPMs. It’s still a symphony of sorts, and no other car offers this much of a difference between turning on/off the active exhausts (toggled via a button just to the right of the shifter). This is the closest you’ll get to a car that breathes fire from the factory.
The noises and engine is just part of the whole F-Type lifestyle – this car provides more than just an aural experience. The slick manual transmission and chassis that transmits a good amount of road feel makes the driver feel at one with the car, and that’s a huge deal in the age of electronics. The power steering is electrically assisted, but it’s still responsive and the car’s rear-drive nature means it’s a joy to navigate through your favourite driving roads. Those who live near the real twisties will have a truly enjoyable daily commute. All-wheel-drive can be had on automatic models for Canadians who opt to drive their cars in the winter, and the V8-powered F-Type R is now AWD-only.
Perhaps it’s the low-profile tires on 20” wheels, or the actual suspension of the car, but I found the Jag to be a little bit too stiff in an everyday setting. The car is firm as a sports car should be, and despite its convertible body style, it’s startlingly rigid. When traversing the pothole-ridden streets of Toronto though, we found the ride to be a little too harsh, which may be an issue for older buyers looking for a more soft and uninvolving ride. Thankfully, the BMW 6-series and Mercedes-Benz SL (reviewed here) offer just that, and are also decent picks.
With this motor, transmission, and engine configuration, Jaguar estimates fuel economy at 15.3L/100km in the city and 10L/100km on the highway, making for a combined rating of 12.9L/100km. Our test week consisted of mostly city driving, with a few highway runs in between. Running strictly ethanol-free 91-octane premium, we averaged 12.8L/100km, which is right in line with the suggested numbers. The F-Type’s fuel tank will hold 70L of premium fuel.
The base model F-Type (340hp) can be had in Canadian dealers for as little as $78,500, which is enticing enough to lure potential clients right in. The convertible starts at $81,500, and the 380-horse manual starts at $92,500. Our test vehicle was loaded to the gills with options, including but not limited to the 20” Tornado wheels, Super Performance Braking System, Jet Premium leather, the full Black Pack, Premium + Vision Pack, and Climate Pack. The total crested $111,000, which is a good chunk of money for the V6 model. It’s worth noting that the V8 convertible starts at $121,500.
With a tag line “the art of performance”, it became necessary to hit the ball right out of the park with this car. Riding the coattails of success that the XK and XKR luxury sports coupes, the 2017 Jaguar F-Type V6 S Convertible has quickly become one of the most desirable new cars available today. Its clamshell-style front-hinged bonnet, stimulating styling, high-quality interior and impeccable road manners allow it to keep up with the likes of the Porsche 911 (reviewed here) and even the Aston Martin Vantage. The Mercedes-Benz SL has been around a very long time, but it’s just not an interesting choice. If you want to own something truly excellent your neighbours definitely won’t already have, the F-Type is an exclusive pick.