By on June 2, 2014


How much power is enough? 300 horsepower? 400? 500? Let’s put it another way? How much is enough to impress people you don’t even like?

The vehicle above is identical to the Jaguar F-Type V8S I drove: Sandfire Metallic, Dynamic Mode, cheesy gold-painted plastic paddles (ugh) and an exhaust note that sounds like a 1200cc Harley with the mufflers cut off – with some added popping-and-farting noises programmed in for good measure.

2014-Jaguar-F-Type-S-interior (1)

This is a car that impresses other people. It looks like a sports car, or even a junior exotic. It certainly sounds like one. As I recounted in my last review of the F-Type V6S, it is one automobile that really does make you more attractive to the opposite sex. It’s also the worst F-Type variant on the market.

Ok, the soundtrack is intoxicating – to a point. The only way you can enjoy that mechanical orchestra is to accelerate really quickly and then let off the gas, to decelerate to the point where you might get a hefty speeding ticket, but not a roadside impound. Forget flying under the radar (literally) –  it’s so bloody loud that every highway patrolman or concerned citizen within a 25 mile radius can hear what you’re doing. The Group B rally-car noises plumbed in to the V8 exhaust note is like spiking Chateauneuf-du-Pape with Grape Kool-Aid.


While you’re doing busy making a scene, you are probably negotiating some bends, and the V8S, with its extra two-cylinders, supercharger and associated plumbing and massive wheels, feels substantially heavier than the other models. The difference coming out of the two cars is drastic, like you’ve just removed a rucksack full of dumbbells from its back…err, front.

The best comparison that can be made is between the various last-gen Mustangs. As you go from a Shelby GT500 to a V8 to a V6, you feel the nose get lighter and lighter progressively. Which shouldn’t matter on a less track-focused car that’s all about excitement and getting attention to make up for a lack of parental love. But it does, especially when you’re getting an indicated 11 mpg, while trying to use the F-Type’s quad pipes to recreate the sounds of the Battle of Britain.


When it was time to return the V8S, I felt satisfied that I had been sufficiently validated by anonymous motorists and pedestrians. It was time for the V6S – or so I thought. Horror of horrors, it turned out that I was incorrect. It was a V6. The base V6. Oh, the indignity of having to drive a base model F-Type, with just 340 horsepower (rather than the 380 ponies of the V6S), a (slightly) quieter exhaust, and smaller wheels without faux-Brembo red calipers.

photo 3 (1)

Well, it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As good as the V6S I raved about last fall? No. But there would be no shame in driving one of these every day, because if nothing else, it’s more exciting than a base Boxster. For starters, the aforementioned front-end liposuction works wonders in everyday situations. The base F-Type actually feels nimble and easy to toss around, to say nothing of maneuvering through traffic. There’s still Dynamic Mode, the active exhaust and a Sport Mode for the transmission, which makes things a fair bit louder and a bit more raw, without sacrificing everyday comfort or drawing the ire of your neighbors when coming home late at night.

Despite being down 40 horsepower compared to the V6S, the base car is still reasonably quick, but adds another level of engagement to the experience. You have to work the car a bit harder to access the still-plentiful power reserves, and in the real word, that’s often more rewarding – meanwhile, fuel economy was an observed 23 mpg, or about double what I recorded during the V8S’ totally unscientific acceleration/efficiency testing. At a base price of $69,000, it’s also about $23,000 less than the V8S.

photo 3 (1)

Ask yourself, can you live with an extra $23,000, while also having to tell people that yes, the V6 models are actually the superior choice? I tried, and my explanations about less weight over the nose, a more exotic soundtrack (the V8 sounds like a cross between a Spitfire aircraft and a Pontiac GTO – the V6 sounds like a cross between a Lancia Stratos and Hendrix’s version of Voodoo Chile ) and, worst of all, less horsepower

Personally, I gave up, exasperated, but I didn’t care. A lot of people do. They have to be able to tell people that they bought the best, the most powerful, the most expensive, even if its capabilities are so beyond them, it would be like giving a .500 S&W Magnum to somebody who doesn’t know how to fire a .38. It’s all that most F-Type buyers really need, but when does logic ever pop into the sports car purchase decision?

I know this because I’m the kind of person that felt exactly the same way about the V6 Mustang – it’s more nimble and agile, it’s got plenty of power and it’s the better choice for most daily driving situations. But I’m vain, and I’d never buy a V6 Mustang because then, you won’t be impressing strangers and people you don’t actually like. But I’m human, and prone to inconsistencies bordering on the hypocritical. And with the F-Type, I’m making a deviation from my usual logic.

I wish I could close out the article by saying that my girlfriend agrees that the V6 is her choice too, but she just dumped me.  All I can think about is how even though the Porsche Boxster is a sharper machine, I’d really like to go for a drive in the F-Type right now. Given the chance, I would take the V6, not the V8, to help me clear my head and get over the fact that my passenger seat is going to be empty for the next little while.


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46 Comments on “Capsule Review: Jaguar F-Type – Base Is Best...”

  • avatar

    Bleeding in public before everyone at a site like this is poor form. Including a pic of the gf, no matter how innocuous the pic, is REALLY poor form!

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I think I’d rather have the V6S, just for the extra supercharger whine. But I’d also rather the coupe.

  • avatar

    “How much power is enough? 300 horsepower? 400? 500?”

    If you can’t get your adrenaline flowing with 200 hp, hell even with 100 hp, then you don’t know how to drive.

    Go ahead B&B flame away!

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on the weight of the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup. Towing A 6000 lb trailer with a 5000 lb van that has 125 HP is one of the most adrenaline-inducing automotive experiences I’ve ever had:

        OH GAWD, Will I have the momentum to make it up this hill!

        HOW HOT can I get this transmission before it spills its guts out the side of the case!

        CRAP CRAP CRAP! That guy is going to come out of his driveway and I’m not sure if the brake controller is set exactly right

    • 0 avatar

      In motorcycles, we have a saying:

      “Its a hell of a lot more fun to go fast on a slow bike, than to go slow on a fast bike.” I had a ’69 BSA A50R that was living proof of that statement, and what I learned riding that transferred nicely to my ’69 Bonneville and ’72 Trident.

      And in preparation for the expected smart-ass rejoinder, let me just say that if you can actually go fast on a fast bike, where’s your racing contract?

      Cars are no different.

    • 0 avatar

      Morea and Syke, exactly!

  • avatar

    I don’t care about track times or the car being nose heavy with the V8 up front. There is no replacement for that V8 sound or throttle response. Give me the V8 all day long and twice on Sundays.

    • 0 avatar

      100% agreed.
      It’s the soundtrack I choose V8’s for, not the power.

    • 0 avatar

      Piff. There are plenty of I4, I6, and V6 engines that sound FAR better than any V8. Mostly, but not exclusively Italian. V8s mostly just sound cheap to me. There is nothing like the sound of a high strung 6 wailing away. Or the completely unmuffled I4 in my Abarth.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll agree with you on the I6’s, I *LOVE* the sound of my 1JZ-GTE. And a street racer I know has an AE86 that sounds simply glorious for an NA I4….But I’ve never met a V6 that could best the greatest V8’s. I mean, the 458 Italia’s engine note is a tall order to defeat.

  • avatar

    I’m curious just how loud this thing is. I still bet my 79′ Chevy could drown it out, not beat it, but sound better and even louder. True dual exhaust, big-cam SBC; I put the quiet flow masters on it, but most people assume it’s running straight pipes.

    With that being said, I’d go for the V6, but then again, I’m not vain (but I am cheap). I went for the V6 in the Mustang. It was a several thousand dollar savings, got better mileage, and the power is still far more than adequate. Plus the V6 gives you a lot more room to work around under the hood.

    Most of the time I rather have people I’m some broke bum, which I’ve actually been mistaken for homeless before by some of my wife’s co-workers when I met her for lunch if my 78′ Chevy one day…..
    There is something classy about the man who could afford the V8S-Supecharded-GT-R model, but won’t.

  • avatar

    I still can’t help but wish they had built the whole thing at 90% size, with 90% of the weight. When I saw one in person, it just looked like more pony car than sports car. The Cayman GTS would get my money, despite the slightly less exotic sheet metal.

    But I recognize that most buyers in this segment probably prefer it this way.

  • avatar

    At the car show, Jaguar left their cars open for all to sit in and yes the kids were all taking pictures of themselves in “their” Jags. Like everyone else I sat in them and checked it out even tho there is zero chance I could afford one. So I look fondly on Jags and less so on those who think their cars are so special us normal folks aren’t allowed to touch.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Jaguars were all roped off at our local car show. So were the Volvos and Mercedes-Benz’. Although…now that I think about it, “Jaguar, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz” is a dealership here in my area, and those three brands were next to each other at the car show. It could be that the dealership supplied the cars instead of the manufacturer, and made a policy not to let people near them.

      BMW, Cadillac and Lexus, however, let people romp all inside of their cars…and I know that the BMW vehicles were supplied by the local dealership. There was a roped-off LFA, apparently belonging to the owner of the local Lexus dealership.

  • avatar

    You have my condolences, Derek. There will be others, as those cat posters would likely say. In the meantime — and I can’t speak for the rest of the TTAC Zaibatsu — I’ve got your back, even if it’s just for me to listen.

  • avatar

    If it were me buying the car, I don’t think I could justify paying $70k and not getting a V8. I would be forced to get the V8.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Your GF dumped you ’cause she had to go to summer camp.

  • avatar

    Honestly, most of the reason you buy this car is for the looks and the noise. Both of the V6 ones have the both of those.

    I’m only going by The Smoking Tire and Top gear, but they both drove V6 versions and the sound was already bananas. No real reason IMO to buy the V8 unless it’s some sort of absolute desire to say you bought the most expensive one.

    Though for the type of people that can afford one of these in the first place, that’s often the case. I recall reading about complaints of GTR brakes being too squeaky, and certain M and AMG vehicles having suspension that were too twitchy and harsh for the sensibilities of said buyers.

  • avatar

    Nice review, sorry to hear about the now ex. I’m going to apply dime store psychology and assume it bothered you enough to tell us, and that you’re looking for slight reassurance. I say, f*** that slut. Go out and get another one, heck while you’re at it get two for redundancy.

  • avatar

    I drove the V6S last summer; If the V6 “base” sounds much like it, i’d be happy. The noises were fantastic on the 380hp version. Me, I don’t need the power. I just like the noises.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m not a big fan of convertibles, but that orange Jag looks fantastic, especially the angle the photo was taken from.

  • avatar

    If the nanny-in-the-machine comes between your right foot and the throttle on the engine, then all those horses have been gelded to suit the driver’s presumed incompetence. Go ahead and brag about how big your engine is. Whooopiee dooo!

    ps sorry about your gal, DK

  • avatar

    Once again a TTAC article focuses on what other people think about the car, rather than its owner. I think most people opt for the top engine choice, trim choice, whatever, for THEMSELVES- for reasons other than what other people think.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately what has been omitted in this review has been the difference in the suspension between the base and other models. The Base does not have active dynamic control for the suspension, and therefor is a very firm and bouncy ride. Ask any service tech at Jaguar. I test drove the car 4 times and could not adjust to the horrible firm and bouncy ride of the base model. The V6S is the sweetest of all the models but over 10K more without options. I abandoned the F Type search and settled for an XK Coupe. The F Type is a nice car but the V6S is the way to go if you don’t want your teeth chattering on irregular road surfaces.

  • avatar

    The British press tend to recommend the V6s for the reason above. Personally I’m wondering if they will make a 4 cylinder and whether it will cost even less than the current base….

  • avatar

    Thanks for the writeup. I’ve long since stopped caring what non-enthusiasts think about cars that I like. I’d be willing to bet that 99% of the fine folks here feel the same way.

    When I got my E39, I first drove the 530 and then the 540. I could have gone for the 8 but loved the balance of the 6, so I went with the 530 and never regretted it.

    When I got my Cayman, I could have had the 911, but I preferred the Cayman. (Still do).

    Both times I had to listen to fools tell me that I bought the ‘slow’ BMW, and later, the ‘fake’ Porsche.

    Buy what you like, and don’t worry about what people who don’t know anything about cars think.

    • 0 avatar

      Re: E39 530i vs 540i. My father also opted for the 530i for the same reasons.

      • 0 avatar

        @ Craiger and Derek:

        the handling difference may not have just been due to the lighter six cyilnder. I believe on the E39s the six cylinder models had rack and pinion steering whereas the V8s (including even the vaunted M5) were saddled with recirculating ball steering.

        And Derek, you’d really take the Jag over a Boxster? Is that because the Porsche has gotten soft/worse or is the Jag genuinely that good? I have unfortunately not been given the chance to drive one, but between the weight and slushbox only transmission, I see the Jag as being more in the vein of an SLK/SL or 6 series than a Boxster/Cayman or Evora (the latter likely being choice of the lot – seems the closest to the late lamented NSX).

  • avatar

    The tone of this review and the comments are really bizarre to me.

    I mean even with a “base” F-type aren’t we talking about a $70K convertible from a luxury brand? Out in the general population how much modesty are you really projecting?

    • 0 avatar

      Kinda what I was thinking. Even the base F-Type will be a weekend toy or daily for the trophy wife for the majority of buyers well-heeled enough to pick one up.

    • 0 avatar

      Since I see plenty of fake M and AMG badges on BMWs and Benzes my guess is plenty of members of the “general population” are indeed interested in what kind of status signifiers they want to drive. Jack apparently likes the clean look of debadged cars but doing so has opened him up to attacks from people who think he’s trying to hide that it’s a lower trim level.

      When I upgraded my bicycle to one with an expensive titanium frame I gained instant credibility with some folks on the Wed night ride the Wolverine sports club runs every week in the summer. Since Ti doesn’t corrode under normal conditions, the frame’s satin finished, not painted. Bikies can be snobbish sometimes and I was tempted to have the bike painted and put on Huffy decals.

      • 0 avatar

        My thought is that any F-type is a big status symbol, no matter what version is purchased.

        You aren’t under the radar or slumming it just because you went for the $70K “base” version over the $94K V8 version.

  • avatar

    Where’s the straight 6? Give TVR a call, they’ve got a nice one all dressed up with nowhere to go.

  • avatar

    The V8 does sound raucous, but I do prefer the sound of the V6. Most cylinder counts have their “best X cylinder sound” representatives, but after a while, to me, the new era of high strung cross-plane crank V8s sound too manufactured, too raspy. The lub-lub-lub sound of bigger bore less stressed V8s with deep full tones in that traditional American style is just some of the best stuff. Kudos to Mercedes and their ’55’ and 6.3′ AMG V8s…and to Audi’s R and S line 4.2s for achieving such vicious/murderous sounding 8s, too…which I understand undermines my previous statement, but you get the drift. Those sound more natural to me–one has the opportunity to hear the changes in their tones as they rev. For example, a 3rd gen Firebird 305 (TBI in this specific case) 5 speed with Flowmasters–idle vs low rev range rumble versus dual frequency mid to upper range tone. That mid-range sound. Man, you drive the thing just for that!

    The Jag V6 has that rich snarl–fantastic sound! Really really wish I could hear it with a manual transmission. And hear me out! It’s not for the “connectedness” (though it is fun), it’s not for the “they’re fools for auto-only!” and it’s not for some manly factor. It’s because that snap and crackle is ’rounded off’ at every upshift. Sounds like any garden variety automatic-equipped car sound track. The engine sounds special, it has bite. The 8 speed, as good as it is (and it is very good), blunts that character at that audibly-critical (to me) point. Kinda kills it for me. Would I drive one if given the opportunity? Oh yes. The V8 is easy to love, but I heard that V6 on Top Gear and was hooked.

  • avatar

    Bummer about the girlfriend – perhaps

    But cheer up, you get to drive F-Type press cars as your “job” so things could be worse

    more money for car parts!

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