There’s a good reason Jaguar’s F-Type feels like it’s been around for ages – it has.
The two-seater first broke cover as the C-X16 concept a full decade ago, at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show. One of those concept cars that was clearly a thinly disguised preview of an imminent production car, sure enough the F-Type went on sale the following year. And it was a big deal – the clue was in the name. That alone told you that this was the first Jaguar since the E-Type deemed worthy of being badged its successor.
So, the F-Type is no spring chicken. But at the time it sort of is, having been updated in 2018. Jaguar design boss Julian Thomson, who previously worked alongside the man responsible for the original F-Type, Ian Callum, tweaked the gorgeous design with a new nose. The engine line-up was also simplified (P300 four-cylinder or a supercharged V8 in two states of tune) and the cockpit and infotainment system were updated.
But while some things changed, many did not. Perversely, given the general obsession with the new, there’s a timelessness at the core of the F-Type’s appeal. As the world rushes headlong into the arms of electrification and new car after new car that all look pretty much the same, the F-Type sits one step removed with a crystal-clear sense of its place and purpose. It’s a proper sports car with a proper engine that looks, sounds and feels fantastic, and if that doesn’t feel like the most progressive set of attributes, who cares?
To drive, the P450 V8 F-Type is a nicely judged mix of the high-performance and the everyday-usable. The steering and suspension work well on UK roads; taut and responsive, but with enough fluency to cope with rough surfaces. And while the ‘entry-level’ four-cylinder P300 version is great fun, with Caterham-style thrills in the body of a proper grown-up coupe, the P450 is an altogether faster and more polished performer.
The P450 gets a significantly uprated chassis over the P300, not to mention a clever electronic differential, and the result is a car you can drive hard in total confidence despite its wicked turn of speed. The supercharged V8 engine (just confirmed for duty in the new Defender) sounds superb and delivers its power in a predictable and exploitable way. Combined with a halfway-off stability control setting that lets you play in safety, the result is a car that knows how to put a smile on your face, however mundane your journey.
The F-Type is not perfect. It’s always been expensive, there’s too much road noise for it to be considered a true grand tourer, and yet the car’s too heavy to give Porsches a hard time, particularly on a racetrack. But if you want a very pretty front-engined sports car that knows how to have a good time, you’d do well to consider the Jaguar that refuses to grow old.
Jaguar P450 F-Type: £69,990, 500bhp supercharged V8, 4.6sec 0-62mph, 177mph