I think we can all agree that a car with an obscenely powerful motor is a good thing. But there's also something to be said about usable power, reasonable power, power that can be applied everyday. Power that doesn't overwhelm, like the kind you get on the Jaguar F-Type S Coupe, which has a 380 horsepower supercharged V6.
What's the point of a car so powerful that you'll never come even close to realizing its potential, unless you're on a track and happen to be an amazing driver? Those cars are great, for sure, but I do think there's such a thing as "enough," especially for a car that will spend most of its time on the street.
That's what I figured the V6 F-Type would be like. I thought it would be a more relaxed, easier-going sports car than its 550 horsepower V8 big brother. Something you can push to its limits on a normal road. Something that was "enough."
I was completely wrong. The V6 F-Type is stupid fast. It's fast enough to make you wonder why Jaguar even bothers with a V8.
(Full disclosure: When I moved back to Austin, I emailed the Jaguar Land Rover PR person in this region to introduce myself and she said "Let us know if there's anything in the fleet you'd like!" and I was like "Do you have an F-Type?" and she was like "Sure, we'll send one down!" and I was like "Yaaaaay!")
There are three things the F-Type Coupe does exceptionally well: beauty, power and noise. I will address them in that order.
The day before this car was delivered, I was talking about it over a beer with motorsports photographer and friend of Jalopnik Kurt Bradley. He said he thinks it's the most beautiful new car currently on sale.
I thought about that for a while, and I believe he's probably right, to be honest. The convertible F-Type looked amazing and the coupe looks even better. There is no angle from which this car doesn't look stunning. From its long hood to its tapered rear end, from the perfectly shaped grille to those narrow tail lamps, it is a car you just want to stare at when it's sitting in your garage.
You know who else agreed with this? Everyone. In the span of 20 minutes on one Saturday afternoon drive, a guy on South Congress Avenue rolled down his window to tell me what "a bad motherfucker" I was for driving one; a family in a Chrysler sedan followed me a bit while they filmed the car with their cell phones; and a teenage boy leaned out the window of his dad's BMW to take photos of the car. On MoPac, at 65 mph.
Everyone loves the F-Type because the F-Type is beautiful.
It's a car that reminds us why we love sports cars in the first place — because they're bold and provocative and exciting, designed to make us feel things that ordinary cars simply cannot.
One perk of my job is that I get to drive cool cars sometimes, but I've never really gotten a universally positive reaction to a car like that before. In fact, a few months back when I tested a Porsche Cayman S — which cost about as much as this Jaguar — I mostly got dirty looks from people, and I even got called "an asshole in a Porsh" by a random pedestrian when I drove by.
(Then again, that was in Washington D.C., where a sizable portion of the population thinks it's okay to have a football team called "the Redskins...")
There's more to the F-Type than just its body; it has inner beauty, too. Inside the cabin, all materials feel upscale, and fit and finish is top notch. I especially loved the copper accents on the shift paddles, the start button and the "dynamic mode" switch.
It's also pretty straightforward. The Brits, like us Americans, don't like wasting time fussing around with complicated controls and infotainment systems the way the Germans apparently love to do. As such the controls on the Jag are intuitive and easy to figure out. The eight buttons toggle the major functions, and the ultra-responsive touch screen has menus for fine-tuning them. It all just works, and it works well.
But this is a sports car. You aren't here because you care about infotainment systems; you're here for the drive. In no way does the V6 F-Type disappoint.
Horsepower figures will only tell you so much about the way a car drives. More important, I think, is the manner in which the engine delivers power. I have driven cars with a lot of power that dole it out in a lazy, unenthused manner.
Not this one. That supercharged V6 has 380 horsepower, and it truly feels like it has three hundred and eighty horsepower, if you catch my drift. It gives out that power in a frantic, furious fashion, turning the crazy-faucet all the way on at even the slightest touch of the accelerator.
Standing on the gas from a stop means you will spin the rear tires to well up to 50 mph or so. The car has abundant power and torque all the way up to its 6600 RPM redline.
Jaguar claims that the 60 mph dash gets done in 4.8 seconds, but that feels overly conservative to me. What I can tell you is that the car feels incredibly fast to the point where you're always holding it back in normal driving, for you will run out of road or space or room to explain to the cops why you were going so fast long before the F-Type runs out of breath.
This acceleration is certainly helped by the F-Type's 8-speed ZF gearbox, aka The Best Thing That's Ever Happened To Torque Converters Ever, aka The Automatic That Does Exactly What You Want It To All The Time. Should the F-Type have an available manual gearbox like it's supposedly getting? I say yes, because it's a pure two seat sports car and those should have manual transmissions.
But the ZF transmission is so good that I'm not sure the car would be any better with one. Manual-mode shifts are lightning quick, and in hard backroad driving, you can just leave it in full auto mode and let it do the work because it's always in the gear you want.
Speaking of hard driving, this is where one of my only grievances with the F-Type rears its head: the steering feel. The F-Type's steering is hydraulic, not electric, and while it's got a perfect weight to it and is extremely direct, I didn't think it was great in terms of transmitting road feel. It could easily be mistaken for an electric rack.
That doesn't stop the car from being an extremely adept handler, though. It's not quite as good in this regard as that Cayman S, and to me it felt a bit heavy at times, but it's still very sharp and easily at home on a track. Body roll is basically non-existent, and the rear end can be set loose with ease, should you feel like unleashing your inner hoon a bit.
And you will, for one huge reason: the noise. The noise, you guys. My God, the noise this car makes. You know how worked up we got over the sounds of the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe? The V6 isn't too far off from that.
When you hit the copper start button, the engine roars to life with a loud popping of the exhaust right at the end, giving you a sweet appetizer to the aural buffet you're about to experience. Even in normal driving the car emits a low, raucous, bellowing, addictive sound that fills the entire cabin. It's just wonderful.
That's just the exhaust note, too. The engine itself sounds pretty fantastic, like a high-pitched, small-displacement V8 with just a hint of supercharger whine at high RPMs. This makes sense considering Jag's V6 is basically their V8 with two cylinders lopped off.
And when a car equipped with the Performance Pack S like mine engage the car's "Dynamic Mode" — I know, two things I hate, the word "dynamic" and the "sport mode" button — it engages the active exhaust, which makes the car even louder and angrier and sexier. The best part is the loud, crackling burble when you roll off the throttle.
Dynamic Mode also does all the normal, good dynamic things you want, like sharpen throttle response, stiffen the suspension and shift faster. It's also pretty customizable, which is awesome. And if you don't feel like being dynamic at the time but still want the noise, the active exhaust can be turned on anyway.
So considerate, the F-Type. Always thinking about your needs.
If it sounds like I liked the F-Type Coupe S, it's because I did. A lot. But all that love doesn't come cheap. My tester, equipped with the $1,200 panoramic glass roof, $3,400 performance pack and other goodies brought the price to $92,125.
You may be thinking "That's an awful lot to pay for just the V6," but that's the wrong way to think about this car.
I get why Jaguar makes two more powerful versions of F-Type coupe and convertible with a supercharged V8, one of which has a whopping 170 horsepower more than this car. They need to compete with the Porsche 911 and its ilk, a tough crowd that now includes the Mercedes-AMG GT. They need their sword, and that's what the F-Type R is.
But for normal people, for people who don't spend all their time hunting Porsches on a track, the V6 S is way more than enough. It has more power, more speed, more handling and more noise than you will ever conceivably need, and that includes occasional track days, where this car would excel.
In the week I spent with the F-Type V6 S, I just never found myself wanting more than what it already offered. Sometimes two extra cylinders aren't necessarily worth it.