ROAD TEST: Jaguar F-Type V8S
Let me make this clear. Jaguar’s F-Type V6S, yes the middle spec one, is plenty of performance car.
Unlike, say... a 911 Carrera S or Merc SL500 which, despite being fantabulous sports cars, are undeniably shortchanged in unashamed raunchiness when compared to their more balls-to-the-wall Turbo and AMG siblings. No, the F-Type V6S, even with a cylinder and power deficit to its flagship V8S counterpart, can still set arm hairs a-tingling with sensational wheelspins, powerslides and general naughtiness. I know, because on a recent four-day supercar rally I used one to upstage many a multi-million rand machine.
So what does that say for the F-Type V8S on test here then? It says absolute overkill, that’s what. A supercharged 5-litre V8 with 364kW and 625Nm in a relatively small roadster body like this is like hauling out a five-pound sledgehammer to drive home a thumb tack.
And I’m not talking about “Oh honey, this car’s quite fast. Please slow down a little” levels of crazy. I’m talking about burning rubber through the first three gears crazy. Wince with fear of swapping ends through intersections crazy. Zero to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.3 crazy. To put that in perspective, the F-Type V8S is inside the top ten quickest cars we’ve ever tested at Motoring.
It’s quicker than its R530 000 more expensive XKR-S cousin. Quicker than a way more powerful BMW M6. Quicker than a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. And the most impressive part is that it’s capable of these figures without a launch-control system.
This is because Jaguar has used a torque converter gearbox in the F-Type – a transmission which by nature is not up to the forces involved in high-rev power dumps like most high-performance multi-clutch ‘boxes are today. There is an upside though, in that torque converter-type gearchanges are velvety smooth, and in my opinion more pre-emptive and responsive to throttle inputs.
Obviously there’s a manual function too, operable by your choice of gearlever or steering paddles, which when in full track mode is perfectly tuned with sharp kicks between gears. I also love that Jag has programmed the gear lever to shift up when pulled and down when pushed, like any proper racing car with a sequential transmission would. Most road cars’ levers are set up backwards for some reason.
TRACTION IS AN ISSUE HERE
I hate to use the word dangerous in a road test, but in the wrong hands this car is just that. Even partial throttle gets this F-Type squirming, and with the driven rear wheels so near your backside it feels like you’re guiding a lassooed rocket from its tailfins.
I sincerely recommend traction control in its fully-on position or suffer the consequences of snap oversteer like in no other car.
The sledgehammer and thumb tack reference comes into play in the handling department too. Stick with sensible throttle and steering inputs (as hard as it may be) and this roadster’s quite a comfortable tourer even with that 20” wheel and tyre combo. But, try to thread a mountain pass with any sort of precision and a short wheelbase teams-up with huge power resulting in real bull in China shop stuff. Constant corrections are required to right a rear-end that’ll fishtail at will.
This F-Type is also extremely loud. Possibly one of the most boisterous road cars I’ve ever experienced. Just like in other sports cars, there’s an exhaust button that opens flaps in system allowing gasses an easier escape, although I’m not sure why anyone would ever want it off – so scrumptious is the noise it makes. Hard on the gas it shouts with a shattering rasp, and for short overrun periods between downshifts (there are eight gears for maximum pleasure) it fires random parps and pops that literally sound like handgun shots. Bravo Jaguar. Aural perfection.
For full effect the fabric roof can be retracted, although the combination of wind, acceleration and gunfire can be a frightening (or exhilarating depending on passengers) affair. My girlfriend preferred the roof up because it offers an illusion of security.
However, with the exhaust left in its quiet (er) setting, the console-mounted Dynamic mode toggle left off, and a more chilled driving style adopted, the car can take on a more docile personality if need be. I repeat, if need be ...
Understand that the F-Type, especially in this maniacal V8S trim, is a motoring plaything and not much else. Its boot, or serious lack thereof, prevents weekends away despite its convertible grand tourer profile. At R1.385-million it’s also R410 000 more expensive than the next model down – the V6S, which as mentioned is plenty of performance car on its own.
The V8 is an outrageous, sledgehammer of a machine though, and even at this price offers almost unrivalled bang for buck.
There is Nissan’s similarly-priced GT-R, but it’s nowhere near the rear-wheel drive hooligan this is. -Star Motoring
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