Jaguar brings sexy and sporty back with its 2016 F-Type

AP News
|
Posted: Jul 22, 2015 11:48 AM

Jaguar has made its sexy F-Type even sportier and more seductive for 2016, with a manual transmission, surprisingly precise electric steering and new standard equipment including a 770-watt sound system from British high-performance audio maker Meridian.

All-wheel drive is another new addition that is available on 2016 F-Types with automatic transmissions. Stick shift models are rear-drive only.

Meanwhile, the F-Type's top R trim line gets 55 more horsepower — to 550 — from its new supercharged V8 engine, and the R is now available as both a coupe and convertible.

The updates make the F-Type more competitive with Mercedes-Benz's AMG coupes and convertibles and Porsche's 911 sports cars. But it does so with Jaguar flair in a body that's as sleek and sexy as some of the carmaker's most memorable models of the past.

For tech-savvy buyers, Jaguar updated the F-Type with a new suite of Apple and Android smartphone functions that, among other things, can let a driver remotely start the car and open or close windows.

A longer-term limited warranty and free scheduled maintenance for five years or 60,000 miles is new, too.

A 2016 rear-wheel drive F-Type coupe with a base, 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 engine and new six-speed manual transmission costs $65,995. With eight-speed automatic, the price rises to $67,295.

These prices compare with the starting retail price, including destination charge, of $65,925 for a 2015 F-Type coupe with an automatic transmission.

The starting retail price, including destination charge, for 2016 F-Type coupes with all-wheel drive is $85,795 for models with the supercharged V-6 with 380 horsepower and $104,595 for those with the 550-horsepower supercharged V8.

F-Type convertibles carry a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $69,095. They also offer the manual transmission and all-wheel drive.

By comparison, the 2016 Mercedes SL400 roadster starts at $85,975 with a 329-horsepower bi-turbo V-6 engine.

In recent days, men young and old were drawn to a test-driven F-Type coupe painted in Italian Racing Red metallic. Like flies to honey, they ambled out of stores or off the sidewalk to encircle it and to see it from all angles. Others chased it down in their own cars just to get a better look.

At 14.7 feet long, F-Type looks long and lithe from the outside. Inside, though, the quarters can seem close for larger folks.

The low, form-fitting, optional, performance seats in the test vehicle had power adjustable seatback bolsters that closed in to help hold a person snugly in the leather seats. But that's assuming a person fits between the bolsters at all.

The test-driven model's flat-bottomed steering wheel, which mimics a race car wheel, thankfully provided clearance for some drivers' legs. Storage space also is at a premium, to the point that a large purse had to go into the rear hatch when both seats had passengers.

The niggling issues melted away once the test car's 380-horsepower supercharged V-6 came to life and the car began to move on its 20-inch tires.

The test-driven F-Type S coupe held tenaciously to the pavement in curves and corners and felt like it was riding on rails.

Yet the suspension absorbed a good number of rough road bumps that came through via the low-profile tires.

The steering — the first electric and not hydraulic version in an F-Type — was precise and responsive and didn't feel artificial.

Big brakes were always ready and came on powerfully to slow and stop the nearly 3,500-pound car.

Best of all, the 3-liter supercharged V-6 engine felt more like a V8 as the driver shifted through the gears, making the engine erupt in melodic purrs and pushing the car's occupants into their seatbacks.

Peak torque from this engine is 339 foot-pounds starting at a low 3,500 rpm, and it carries to 5,000 rpm.

Still, it was impossible to see where the car's long hood ended. As a result, the lower part of the front air dam bumped a couple times into concrete curbs at the front of parking spots.

The front dam also scraped on a driveway entrance that was minimally sloped.

The F-Type has large doors, so passengers must be careful not to ding adjacent cars when getting in or out.

Hatchback storage is 14.4 cubic feet. Items stored back there get a lot of hot sun through the glass.

The tested car averaged 19 mpg, which was better than the 18 mpg for combined city/highway travel that the federal government estimates. But that's only a 351-mile travel range on a single tank.

Premium gasoline is required, so filling the 18.5-gallon tank would cost $59 at today's prices.