It’s tough watching your beloveds get older. Whether it’s friends, family members or pets, no one wants to see something they cherish move into the twilight years. That includes cars – cars like the Jaguar F-Type.
Once strong, cutting-edge, at the top of the game, the talk of the town. Now? Not so much. It’s what happens as time passes.
This isn’t to say that things can only get worse with age. But this is the feeling I’ve been getting from the F-Type over the past few years. It’s aging gracefully, but aging nonetheless.
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That’s why, when Jaguar rang me up and asked if I’d like to have a go in a 2022 F-Type convertible, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to know how an old car stacks up in a world so different from the one where it was introduced.
Long story short, the F-Type feels its age. But that might not be an entirely bad thing.
Full Disclosure: Jaguar-Land Rover invited me to its corporate headquarters in Mahwah, NJ and gave me a F-Type and Defender V8 to drive for the day. They also fed me and gave me a very nice smelling cologne.
What Is an F-Type in 2022?
Travel back with me to 2013. Barack Obama is president. I’m a high school junior. “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore is the number one song in America, and the Jaguar F-Type Convertible is hitting showroom floors as a 2014 model. Life is good. The song slaps, everyone thinks Obama is cool and the F-Type is about as pretty as anything on the road.
Fast forward to 2022. Obama’s legacy is a bit dodgy in hindsight. Macklemore is corny. The F-Type is still pretty, but not as pretty as it used to seem.
And while we’ve all moved on from those days, the F-Type kinda hasn’t. Including when it comes to price: The car I drove was a modestly-specced convertible with the less powerful of the two engine options (P450), and it still MSRP’ed at $84,350. Look at what it competes with: the Porsche 718 Boxster, Chevy Corvette, BMW Z4, and Audi TT, among others. The F-Type really doesn’t stack up favorably in terms of pricing, and that’s before you even realize how much newer all those other models are.
The F-Type’s Engine & Driving Impressions
Something else contributes to the slightly geriatric image of the F-Type: the engine.
It’s the centerpiece of the whole car. The 5.0-liter JLR AJ V8 can trace its roots all the way back to 1996 when the 4.0-liter AJ26 V8 was introduced. Since then it’s gone through a number of iterations, culminating in the engine we know today, introduced all the way back in 2009. It absolutely feels like something from a different era of automotive engineering.
That can be a good thing. This engine is pretty much like nothing else on sale today. I’ve now done hundreds of miles behind this burly V8, in both the F-Type and the Land Rover Defender, and it always feels wonderful. The engine barks and snarls so loudly that it can almost be embarrassing at times. And since you’re in a low-slung convertible, people will notice. The F-Type has a two-mode exhaust that springs to life so dramatically above 3,500 RPM, it startled me more than once.
The engine feels delightfully mechanical. You feel like things are happening under the hood. It’s not buttery smooth, and it isn’t totally refined, but that’s part of the charm.
It also doesn’t have the most impressive output. Jaguar detuned this supercharged V8 to a mere 444 hp in the P450 test car I drove. (The same engine makes as much as 575 hp in the F-Type R.) But what the engine lacks in power, it makes up for in pure character. It pops and crackles whenever you take your foot off the gas, and every upshift comes with a thunderclap from the exhaust that’s just about the loudest noise known to man. It makes its presence known, like a 41-year-old Elvis.
It’s not too shabby around a corner, either. My rear-wheel-drive tester liked to kick its tail out the second I mashed the pedal, and that’s always welcome when you’re driving a V8 convertible. The steering feel is good enough and it handled itself fairly well over bumps.
The F-Type isn’t exactly a backroad canyon carver, but it’s at home when the road gets twisty.
Inside the F-Type
Like the rest of the car, the inside is old, too. It’s got some of the things you’d expect from a modern car, like a digital instrument panel and sort-of-large infotainment screen, but it all feels a little… added on. The digital dash has more noticeable lag than just about any other automotive screen I’ve encountered, and the center screen isn’t the fastest to respond either.
Something else that stuck out to me was the fact the F-Type doesn’t have any USB-C chargers, or if it did, I couldn’t find them.
Now, I get it. You’re buying a sporty convertible with two seats and a shouty V8. Tech features might not be at the top of your list. But if I’m dropping nearly 90 grand on a car, I want the tachometer display to keep up with the engine as I’m revving it. Would this issue keep me from buying the F-Type if I was in the market for one? Probably not, but it’s definitely something to note.
F-Type Exterior Design
The engine and the exterior styling are the two biggest selling points for the F-Type. I think the car is gorgeous, with one caveat: Unfortunately, I think the F-Type used to look better, before the facelift that came a few years ago.
Like all fading stars, the F-Type went in for some cosmetic surgery. It came out of that surgery with ANGRY HEADLIGHTS.
Are they ugly? Certainly not. But the front end just isn’t as good-looking as it used to be. Apart from that, little else changed with the F-Type from a styling perspective, and that’s an extremely good thing. It’s not too fussy, nor too understated. A nice balance of aggression and suave.
It’s got all the makings of a classically beautiful car: Long in the front, short in the back, masculine and feminine in equal measure. It’s all quite lovely when you put it all together... even with those damn headlights.
Where the F-Type Leaves Us
Man, I like this car, but not for any objective reasons. It’s not overly quick, not terribly refined, and it’s getting old. But out of all the competitors I listed above, this would probably be the one I’d bring home. It doesn’t make any sense, but then again, does any two door sports car? The answer is no, and I own one myself.
The F-Type is a car you buy with your heart. You buy it because you like the way it looks and the way it sounds. To hell with everything else. Are there better cars out there? Absolutely. But there are few cars that can pack this much character between two bumpers.
Sure, our old friend is showing signs of age. But it’s not ready to pack it up just yet.