The 2019 Jaguar F-Type pretty much looks like the 2013 Jaguar F-Type; it’s old news. Then again, so are Converse sneakers and Coca-Cola. The F-Type is not the freshest or most technologically impressive modern car but I’ll be damned it doesn’t hit the spot every single time.
(Full Disclosure: Jaguar loaned me an F-Type with a full tank of fuel for a week.)
At this point, I’ve driven almost every version of the F-Type. And if you’re into cars, you’ve probably already read a dozen shakedowns. Perhaps you bought one by now. Maybe you’re real lucky and got one of the few manual-shift cars I’ll be scouring classified ads for in a decade.
The only real excuse I could think of to revisit this vehicle was to answer the question of whether or not, in 2019, this is still a car worth worshiping. Or, if you have the means, actually plunk payments toward its substantial list price.
At the risk of kicking you out of my own article early, I can say unequivocally that, yes, the F-Type is such delight on so many levels that I’m actually convinced its mere existence helps keep car culture rolling.
The bodywork is physically incapable of going out of style. The cockpit is as close to sports car simplicity as you get right now. The sound, well, I’m not exactly smitten with the V6 exhaust note but strife over that and any other onerous situation that might be weighing on your mind melts away immediately as you step into the throttle and start linking turns together in one of these.
It’s too stiff to be a road trip car, too small to be practical for any purpose outside just driving, and it’s too pretty to fly under the radar anywhere. God bless the F-Type.
Today’s F-Type comes in six flavors:
- Turbo four-cylinder rear-drive
- Supercharged six-cylinder rear-drive
- Supercharged six-cylinder rear-drive with an extra 40 horsepower
- Supercharged six-cylinder with an extra 40 HP and all-wheel drive
- Supercharged V8 and all-wheel drive and...
- Screaming supercharged 575 HP SVR V8 with all-wheel drive
...times two, because you can have any of those configurations as a coupe or a convertible.
Crushingly they’re all automatics for 2020, though the paddle-shiftable eight-speed automatic is certainly not bad. Like I said, this remains a remarkably wonderful car to drive. Particularly in the Pimento Red R-Dynamic trim I drove for this road test.
The version of the car you’re looking at here has the supercharged V6, good for a claimed 380 HP and 339 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty, plus all-wheel drive. If you drive gently, the EPA seems to think you can squeeze 26 mpg out of it. My figure, between LA traffic and a few laps of almost every last one of my favorite canyon routes, was about 15 mpg.
This car lists for $86,350 but this tester’s option list, including a cold weather package, sport seats, and a beautiful panoramic glass roof you absolutely can’t skip, rang up at $96,471. Ouch.
Would it be any consolation to learn that the base four-cylinder is $61,600, and still has almost 300 HP?
The inside of the F-Type is, refreshingly, all business.
You get a pair of traditional dials ahead of your hands, which will be gripping a thickly padded and purposeful-feeling steering wheel. A 10-inch infotainment screen is neatly tucked into the center console, and below that, you get easy knobs for climate control.
The pistol-grip shifter can be set in “D” for full automation of gear changes, “S” for a more aggressive application of power, or snapped up and down sequentially. Manual shifting can also be done by steering wheel paddles, but before we leave the transmission tunnel the F-Type has one more important control: the drive mode button.
Instead of infinite adjustability, Jaguar presents you with three choices: a chill mode labeled “rain/ice/snow” which dramatically reduces the car’s throttle response, “dynamic” which exaggerates it, and “normal” which basically splits the difference.
I found myself using the bad-weather mode just to keep a lid on my behavior in town. The car becomes so much more docile that this mode actually goes a long way toward melting the temptation to drive like a menace to society. And you will need it—if you can drive a car like this and not struggle with self-control... you can probably open an Oreo box and only eat one cookie too, you stone-faced badass.
When you break out of chokehold traffic and make it to the mountains above Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to have long and twisty roads to yourself. Then, in this car, you can uncork the car’s exhaust baffles—and the full effectiveness of its supercharger. Fuel consumption be damned.
Half of having fun with anything is anticipation–and a huge part of the F-Type’s appeal is that it starts to sizzle before you even turn the heat up.
We already acknowledged that there’s a lot of drama in the car’s design, and that helps make the ride exciting when you’re just puttering. But when you do step up to a spirited drive, and you’ll find any excuse to in an F-Type, (did I mention that?) a very real sensation of speed comes on strong and comes on early.
The car’s capable of undeniably impressive figures: Jaguar posts a stop-to-60 mph time of under five seconds and a top speed over 170 for this version. But you don’t need to get near those numbers to have a blast; it just feels fast, long before you feel anywhere near its limits. And that’s something not every modern performance car can claim.
With the exhaust wide open (another console toggle), the engine wails under load and giggles when you brake late into a corner. So will you.
I do have to mention that in any situation outside driving for pleasure, the V6 F-Type’s exhaust feels like it’s trying a little too hard. I got tired of it after a day–I’ve really soured on loud pipes in my old age. But when the car’s in its element, the sound is just right. And those center-exit hydrocarbon cannons are really quite nice to look at.
This V6 all-wheel drive F-Type did a great job making me, an undistinguished and generally conservative driver, feel heroic without scaring myself. But it also left me with a lot of headroom.
The car had no trouble helping me have fun within reasonable standards of safety for road driving. So, I’ve got to imagine, if you were really trying to see what you could wring out of this thing, taking it to the track would take the experience to a whole other level.
I didn’t set any speed records with this machine, or collect VBOX data to print out and hang on the fridge. But the 380 HP F-Type left me with what I wish I could take away from every car: a feeling of deep satisfaction, and a serious desire to go back for more.
Given its age, it’s hard to recommend buying a new F-Type, versus a certified pre-owned one or something like that. But no matter which one you end up with, you won’t find yourself feeling disappointed.