It was always going to happen. And it was always going to sting a little bit. The Jaguar F-Type has entered its final model year, and when the last one rolls off the line in 2024, a 75 year history of petrol-powered Jaguar sports cars will end. As a sort of celebration/commiseration, Jaguar’s launching the ‘75’ edition. To give the car a decent send off, Jag laid on something of a road trip through Spain with the opportunity to play in an R (and the P450, but the R was more fun) over 500 (ish) miles. It also served as a bittersweet journey through time.
[Full disclosure: Jaguar asked if I wanted to spend some time in F-Types and I said yes. Flights, accommodation, food, booze, the whole nine was covered by Jaguar.]
Available on the P450 V8 or R models, the ’75’ edition gets some natty black wheels, the option of ‘Giola’ green paint, special seats, ‘75’ badging, and, if you get the ‘R’, blacked out R badges. The powertrains haven’t been played with at all, which means you either get a 444bhp V8 (in RWD or AWD), or a 567bhp (AWD only) one with silly performance to match.
The F-Type’s been around since 2013, and was hailed as the next great thing. Initially launched as a convertible with a couple of V6 motors and a perky V8, it cut a figure that hadn’t really been seen before. That’s thanks to legendary designer Ian Callum and his team. It was a tightly packaged machine, with every millimeter used to fullest effect. Grace, pace, and space was the old Jag motto, and while the trunk in the drop top was a little small, it managed the other two perfectly.
A year later, the Coupé came out and, hoo boy, was it a looker. With the hardtop came the R, a 542bhp rear drive angerbox that boasted the sort of soundtrack that your middle aged neighbors will complain about years after you’d moved out. It shifted, too, cracking 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds before heading to 186mph. And that was before the SVR rolled around with a more aggressive body, more power, and a 200mph top speed.
After the XK had been around for so damn long it was a breath of fresh air for the brand. Under Callum’s eye, the company’s design direction had shifted from the kind of car your dad drove to something more modern, dynamic, and, dare I say it, pretty damn cool. With the F-Type, Jaguar had a sports car again, and one that packed some serious punch. When it came out, Aston Martin’s VH-platform Vantage was coming up on a decade old (showing no signs of being replaced), and Porsche had just dropped the 991-generation 911–a car that, while most wonderful, made the 911 feel a little less sporty, and a touch more GT-ish. The market was Jag’s for the taking.
Today’s F-Types are largely the same as they ever were. Sure, the suspension’s been tweaked, the instrument panel is now all shiny and digital, and the facelift’s headlights are different, but the feel of the thing remains the same. The coupé still has one of the finest rear ends out there.
Getting in is like wrapping yourself in a blanket of pre-world-going-terrible nostalgia. There’s wonderful theatre in there–when you press the pulsing start button the HVAC vents rise from the center stack, the pipes bark (though thanks to an emissions-helping GPF not quite as loudly as they used to), and the car settles into a delightful burble. The F-Type is unashamedly old school, and won’t be taking any crap from anyone asking about electrification.
Its eight-speed auto remains sublime at town speeds, seamlessly shifting up and down as the car requires. For a car with ALL THE POWER, it’s quite soft in the city, should you need to nip to the store or take an elderly relative to church its just fine, though the massive 20-inch wheels do make the ride a little harsh from time to time (big wheels are an Ian Callum hallmark–if the arch isn’t full, he isn’t happy). Its steering is just so, which is neat. Town does highlight the F-Type’s biggest issue: It. Is. WIDE.
At nearly 76 inches across, you find yourself breathing in when traffic comes the other way, or if you need to go between… kerbs. In fact, the whole thing’s pretty big, yet there’s not much space inside. It’s a big-small car, a bit like an Audi R8. This is because every tiny bit of available space is being used for the powertrain, and to make sure it looks awesome. I’m OK with sacrificing luggage space so it can move.
The F-Type R’s party piece is its incredible power. Now only available with AWD (the old 544bhp car and RWD was an… interesting combo. Especially in the wet.), it puts its power down effortlessly, noisily, and rather savagely. Yeah, a 911 has better balance, an Aston has a better badge, but on noise alone this shits all over the pair of them. It’s exciting, visceral, and makes you do big silly grins every time you nail the gas. Pull the shift paddle and the car will lurch forward like a race car, drawing you into the moment, the silliness of it all deeper and deeper until you realise you’re going very, very quickly and you should probably calm down before you end up in trouble.
Thanks to also having to drive its front wheels, the steering isn’t quite as sweet at speed as in the RWD P450, but you can certainly feel what’s going on. Its brakes are decent, too, and easy to play with. You can spec carbon ceramic discs, but other than for bragging rights or extreme track use you’re best with the standard set up.
Watching the world go by through the F-Type R’s windshield everything feels… right. It’s not perfect, but those imperfections make it feel just peachy. And that’s no surprise when you consider where it came from.
The 75 edition F-Types celebrate Jaguar’s incredible, groundbreaking sports car past. The XK120, the firm’s first sports car got its name from its top speed: 120mph. It was, at the time, the fastest production car in the world. Hell, a heavily modified XK120 averaged 172.4mph on a test run in 1953. The C-Type, the competition version of the XK120, was not only a Le Mans winner, but was a test bed for automotive disc brake technology–something that saves lives on a daily basis today, but was instrumental in competition back in the day. The D-Type was a masterwork of aerodynamics, and won Le Mans three times. And the E-Type..? One of the most celebrated sports cars of all time. It wasn’t a star on track, but if you see an E-Type in the wild you’ll see a hundred eyes scouring every detail, and camera phones capturing it for posterity. Each one left a huge mark on the world.
With the F-Type, Jaguar entered a busier market and held its own remarkably well. It was never going to upset a 911, nor have the caché of a Vantage, but it was from an attainable brand at a keener price point. And it looked a damn sight better than everything else out there. In 40 years a 911 will look like just another 911 (sorry Porsche people, but your cars all look the damn same). An F-Type will look special.
Jaguar’s future is still largely shrouded in mystery, though the next car will be a GT revealed next year–that much we know. If it doesn’t continue a legacy started three quarters of a century ago and build a sports car somewhere down the line it’s not only missing a trick, but dishonouring what got it there in the first place. For now, let’s enjoy the F-Type while we still can.
On a personal note, the F-Type has been around for most of my career and the R is one of my all time favourite cars. Here’s what I made of it in 2014 (huge props to Nick Wilkinson for putting it together).
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Photos: Alex Goy, Jaguar
The most beautiful (new) car on the road today.
Let’s call it a tie with the Roma.
Always love seeing your byline, Alex!
The F-Type does not come out too bad when compared in size to the XK120 in that picture, if you think about how bloated a new 911 looks next to an original one. Having said that, a side-to-side picture taken from the front or back might be quite different, though.
I remember being surprised when I first saw the F Type in a parking lot, that it was smaller than I expected it to be.
I miss the manual F-Type. That was one of the best cars I’ve ever tested. Gorgeous to look at, fun to drive everywhere.
Watch for Stef to have a conniption over the Porsche barb.
Also it’s cachet, not caché.
Great article that oozes love for jags.
I LOVE THAT HE’S RIGHT. Well, except that part about the 991 going chonky. That sucked, and modern 911s are just too big. Bring back small 911s, but never, ever, ever, ever change how it looks. Ever. They nailed the design the first time! Why change what ain’t broke?
tl;dr—MESS WITH THE 911’s HEADLIGHTS AGAIN AND I WILL MAKE FART SOUNDS OF DISAPPROVAL THAT YOU CAN HEAR FROM URANUS (the planet)
Flat Beetles. Can’t ever make a feature film about Porsche as “The Blob” has already been used as a title.
So, the funny thing is that as we started getting news of the upcoming F-Type, I started saving cash. When the configurator came online l configurated ENDLESSLY. I had owned a Triump TR8 and an MG Midget and I would yet AGAIN splash through life in a British 2-seater.
And then…I couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money, for a car that would immediately depreciate. My life is pretty lightweight and I could have pulled it off, just once, but it didn’t seem a smart thing to do at all.
So I looked around online and bought a cute little used car that I thought would give me at least 80% of the fun for maybe a quarter of the cost of my configurations. Just $23,000, actually.
For an ’87 911. A good one. In 2013. And that turned out to be a reaaally super choice.
Man, I need a 911 so badly. I’m jelly.
The headlights on the prefacelift F-Type never looked an integral part of the design to me, as though whatever Ian Callum had intended got vetoed due to cost or legislation so those bland ones got slapped on on ast minute.
Still better than the facelift ones tho.
Remember this sound when the F Type EV replacement comes.
So I know this is a tiny little thing I’m picking out, but I have to object to your assertion that disc brakes save lives every day. Cuz that’s just wrong, and I’m tired of people hating on drum brakes.
I’ve owned several old cars with drum brakes, and even when properly maintained and in good condition, they are still shit compared to disc brakes. And drum brakes needs much more maintaining.
Meh, the Drum Brakes inside the rear discs for e-brake seem to not self adjust and they stop working at the worst times. the discs out back do a much better job of not fading, but outside of maybe needing a wheel cylinder versus a whole caliper when doing a brake job, they need nothing more than discs for maintenance
They look absurdly good in that dark metallic green as well, one was top 3 of the Colorado Concourse last summer.
I put 35k miles on an F-Type R (british racing green, blade wheels), most of that on road-trips to twisty roads all around the west, & while I loved it & think it’s the most beautiful car ever made, it was also super unreliable and I’d never ever own one out of warranty. Even with a warranty, it was at the dealer maybe 15-20% of the time I owned it – nothing major ever went wrong, just loads of little/medium stuff. Absolutely loved driving it though, just a blast. Shame they neutered the sound and made it worse looking for the newer ones
I’d take a GTR – a straight forward proposition – hammer with wheels – and I don’t have to pretend to know which is the salad fork.
Love my F Type, does everything that I need in a daily driver sports car, plus it looks and feels more exotic than the price point.
I saw an F-Type yesterday here in our smallish town of Grass Valley CA. We do have a brisk vintage, custom, and expensive car scene here, so it isn’t too surprising.
The F-Type has always been a dream car of mine. It looks beautiful from every angle and it sounds even better. It’s special enough to break necks for those that know, but anonymous enough to not be ostentatious.
It’s a shame they ruined its mug with the facelift though. Give me something like a 2015 F-Type S coupe in BRG with the brown interior and I’d die happy.
Here’s the Stig thrashing an F-Type convertible around a street circuit in Spain:
Wait: All this talk about the history of the F-Type and its history. And not one mention of “Desire”? Such a shame. For those have have missed it, head to YouTube and search on “Jaguar Desire”. Enjoy the fun!
The sound of the old V6 was simply astounding. If I were ever in the market for one, that’s the one I’d be looking for. As much as I am all about power, this car has presence in every model and while the V8 sounds like a V8 that V6 simply sings.
My son bought a used F-Type S (with the supercharged V6) not too long ago. Its got the sport exhaust on it…when its in sport mode there’s crackles and pops for days.
“In 40 years a 911 will look like just another 911 (sorry Porsche people, but your cars all look the damn same). An F-Type will look special.”
My biggest complaint is how big and heavy this car is.
I’d much rather have a svelte, narrow, slippery D-Type than this F-Type pig. It’s rather sad that these cars have gone backwards from the perspective of chassis/body efficiency over 3/4 of a century, rather than forward. The E-Type, while pretty, was a massive downgrade from the D-Type in this regard. And the D-Type is STILL a looker, in spite not really trying nearly as hard as its successor. The XJS that came after the E-Type was a bigger step down still, AND it wasn’t nearly as pretty as the E-Type that came before it.
All the F-Type has going for it, IMO, is looks, and even then, it’s still no C, D, or E-Type, eschewing the sexy feminine curves for more of today’s ubiquitous aggressive angular bullshit. At least it’s not nearly as bad as a modern Lamborghini, I’ll give it that… but the weight and size are very Lamborghini-esque, as it is very much obese. The E-Type was delightfully narrow in comparison.
IMHO, the D type/XKSS are the best looking cars ever. Full stop.
I personally prefer the D-Type over any other Jaguar. Most people favor the E-Type, but my preference for aerodynamic slipperiness is showing there. And that XKSS is what the E-Type SHOULD have been. They bloated the E-Type up and loaded it with useless trim pieces, which hampered its performance. Compared to the F-Type, the E-Type is still very svelte and slippery, but the bar is not very high to beat these days.
A D-Type coupe should have been built with even more major emphasis on cheating the wind. They might have been able to hit 190 mph thanks to the drag reduction with a bit of taller gearing instead of the 170 mph the D-Type that was made could actually reach.
Still, a beautiful car. It’s a crying shame stunningly sexy things like that are not mass produced for people of average financial means to aspire to. With modern technology, we could have it all: Prius-beating fuel efficiency, scooter-like operating cost, racecar performance, Toyota reliability, reparability with basic tools, sub-Miata purchase price, 80s-era diesel Mercedes longevity, and stunning looks that will never go obsolete. But the mainstream auto industry will never allow us to have that, as it is in conflict with planned obsolescence and maximizing money to shareholders, and they always want to sell you the next totally soulless “new and improved” fad corporate styling dujour angry angular blob of crossover that was predestined for the landfill before it ever left the factory floor.
For me it wasn’t just the weight, but absolutely the width was an issue when I drove the F-Type a decade ago.
Cars keep getting bigger, but backroads aren’t. The F-Type was as wide as a Ferrari 458.
On old mountainous New England backroads that’s a problem when you’re trying to stay in your lane. I couldn’t imagine on something as narrow as British b-roads.
These wide-assed things are unusable for the application that they are marketed for.
The width of these things, as well as the wheel size, grille opening size, length, and mass, have all gotten into mid-sized SUV/truck from 20 years ago territory. It’s only a matter of time before ride height eventually follows, and they aren’t currently getting any lower.
Real sports cars are a very rare breed these days. The Mazda Miata is one of the few that remain.
>It’s only a matter of time before ride height eventually follows
911 Dakar and Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato both now available. Already started.
People sleep on Jaguar, I get asked all the time about my XKR.
“Hey, what kind of car is that!? Is that an Aston Martin?”
“No, it’s a JAAAAAGGG”