2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Introduction
Has it really been a year since the Jaguar F-Type first went on sale? This luxurious roadster still looks and feels so fresh that it could have sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus mere moments before I picked up its key fob and opened the garage door to reveal its sultry presence. In a short space of time the 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE has become almost the anti-hero of the sports car segment, a brash, loud, unspeakably gorgeous, and ridiculously quick option for drivers tired of the clinical precision of the Porsche Boxster and disappointed by the comfort-first attitude of the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class.
Given the opportunity to spend a week behind the wheel of the 2015 Jaguar F-Type S, the middle child of the convertible's line-up, I was curious to see how the car would fare without Jaguar's all-conquering eight-cylinder engine under the hood. How delightful, then, that the supercharged V-6 that is standard with the F-Type S proves to be more than up to the challenge of kicking sand in the eye of everyone sitting beside you at a stoplight, all while demonstrating the poise and visual excitement of a supermodel genetically spliced with a middleweight boxer.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Models and Prices
There are three different versions of the 2015 Jaguar F-Type roadster currently on sale. The base Jaguar F-Type (MSRP $69,000) comes with a supercharged V-6, LED running lights, 18-inch rims, HID headlights, power windows and door locks, leather seats, suede upholstery, automatic climate control, a navigation system with a touchscreen audio interface, Bluetooth connectivity, and power buckets. The F-Type S (MSRP $81,000) features a more powerful version of the same engine, bigger brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, an adaptive suspension system, power folding side mirrors, 19-inch rims, subtle trim differences on the exterior of the roadster, a dual-mode exhaust system, three driving modes, and keyless entry and ignition, while the F-Type V8 S installs an additional two cylinders under the hood along with 20-inch rims, rear parking assistance, an electronically-controlled rear differential, dual automatic climate control, additional leather inside the vehicle, a memory feature for the driver, and grabbier brakes.
It is of course possible to customize the F-Type with a variety of options packages. Additional equipment on my test vehicle included performance seats, a heated windshield, satellite radio, metallic paint, and the Premium package (14-way adjustable buckets, dual automatic climate control, keyless entry, valet mode, heated seats, heated steering wheel, wind deflector), bringing the total MSRP of the roadster to $87,100.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Design
- The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S makes no changes to the debut model year's design.
The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S is stunning to behold. Finished in Italian Racing Metallic, the roadster at rest looks as though it is waiting for its prey, be it in the form of a passing muscle machine, European sports car, or simply the eardrums of pedestrians startled by its melodious exhaust note. Everything about the F-Type S is eye-catching, from its broad, heavily-vented front fascia to its chromed side vents, to the elegant curves of its LED tail lights. The car's long hood calls to mind the twelve-cylinder heritage of the model it succeeds - the classic Jaguar E-Type - while its short rear deck enunciates that the car has been designed with performance, not practicality, in mind. There's even a small spoiler on the trunk that automatically raises at highway speeds (and which can of course be activated even while parked at the touch of a button). In the past year I have not had any other test vehicle elicit so many comments, compliments, and questions from other motorists or passersby as with the F-Type S. It's a clear win for Jaguar in the design department, and in my opinion this car is the most attractive roadster currently on the market.
The Jaguar F-Type's passenger compartment is somewhat more conservative in its approach, due in part to the need to source parts from the Jaguar/Land Rover catalog. This means that the gauge cluster, infotainment system, console buttons, and steering wheel buttons will be familiar to anyone who's spent time in one of the company's other products. This isn't a bad thing, as the car offers a well-executed cockpit, and there are of course a number of unique touches such as the toggles on the center stack that control the F-Type's climate settings. Passengers are treated to a large, leather-wrapped grab handle that rises from the console to their left, and there's also a pair of anti-rollover bars that sit behind the roadster's seats. On the subject of pop-ups, Jaguar has installed a trick venting feature on the dash that rises up to reveal two additional heating/cooling sources only when required (typically with the top down). It's completely unnecessary, but a lot of fun.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S does not introduce any new comfort or cargo features.
The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S is first and foremost a sports car, but that didn't stop the British engineers behind the car from building in the same standard of luxury that one would expect from any of the brand's other offerings. Absolutely every surface inside the F-Type feels like it belongs in an $80,000 car, with even the dash wrapped in soft leather in the unlikely event a passenger leans forward to stroke its smooth contours. The sport seats that came with my tester featured cutouts at the top that can be used to run a set of additional safety belts at the track, if desired, and they also featured inflatable side bolsters that could be controlled via a knob mounted on the door panel. Despite their performance pretensions the seats were quite comfy over a hundred mile trip, and their heaters were appreciated with the top down and the temperature dropping in the evening. The seat belt tensioner on the driver's side had already given up the ghost 3,000 miles in, however, leaving me with a billowing belt of questionable utility about half the time I was behind the wheel.
Speaking of the top, the Jaguar F-Type S makes use of a traditional soft convertible roof that raises and lowers in 12 quick seconds at the touch of a button, and it can be operated at speeds of up to 30-mph, which means you won't have to seek out an underpass to escape getting wet in the event of a sudden rainstorm. Drive with the roof open and the wind deflector installed (a small grille that sits between the tops of the seats) and there's very little buffeting inside the car, even at highway speeds. With the top up, around town it’s coupe-quiet, but the faster I went the more pronounced the whistling from the F-Type's side mirror became.
Cargo space is limited in the 2015 Jaguar F-Type S, especially compared to a Corvette Stingray convertible. Still, there's a usable trunk that comes with an elastic tie-down to keep your gear from moving around too much, and I was able to pack the car for a weekend trip for two and not have to leave anything behind - ideal for a roadster. Inside the F-Type you've got a small center console, an equally-modest storage bin between the seats, a miniscule amount of space behind the buckets themselves (if you're feeling adventurous), and a decent glove box. I made the mistake of purchasing a novel while out on a trip in the Jaguar, and ended up having to stuff it into one of the door pockets.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Features and Controls
- The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S does not introduce any new controls or features.
As I mentioned earlier, much of the 2015 Jaguar F-Type S' switchgear has been lifted from the standard Jaguar/Land Rover playbook. This includes its infotainment system, a useful if not particularly flashy touchscreen interface that sits at the top of the center console. The home screen is split between navigation, entertainment, and communications features, and it's a simple enough set of menus that shouldn't present any particular problem for owners. From a graphics perspective, it's on par with COMAND from Mercedes-Benz and iDrive from BMW, minus the need for a rotary controller on the center console.
The console does offer a volume knob for the stereo, along with a traditional shifter for the car's automatic transmission, a button to deploy the integrated trunk spoiler, and a toggle for the F-Type's various driving modes. On the steering wheel you'll find cruise control and stereo buttons (but no adaptive cruise even on this mid-range roadster), along with controls to interface with the LCD screen positioned between the analog tachometer and speedometer. The gauge cluster changes color depending on what driving mode has been selected, and when running through the ratios manually the gear indicator glows to let you know you've hit the redline. It's a neat feature that is very useful in a track situation.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S does not introduce any new safety gear.
The 2015 Jaguar F-Type comes standard with electronic traction control and stability control, dual forward airbags, and seat-mounted side airbags. Available active safety features include a blind spot monitoring system (which was installed on my test vehicle), a rear cross-traffic monitoring system, and parking assistance. There's no forward collision warning available with the Jaguar, nor is there a lane-keeping feature on offer.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Crash-Test Ratings: The Jaguar F-Type S has yet to be crash tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2015 Jaguar F-Type maintains the same engine options as the previous model year.
The 2015 Jaguar F-Type starts out with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that has become ubiquitous in the automaker's showrooms. In base trim this unit produces 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, but step up to the F-Type S and you get an additional 40 ponies (for a total of 380) and a slight boost in torque (339 lb-ft). The bonkers F-Type V8 S benefits from a supercharged 5.0-liter eight-cylinder motor that is good for 495 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
All versions of the car are shifted via the same eight-speed automatic transmission, with the S and the V8 S each getting paddle shifters on the steering column for improved manual control over gear changes. Fuel mileage for the F-Type S is listed at 19-mpg city and 27-mpg highway.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Driving Impressions
There are two ways to drive the 2015 Jaguar F-Type S and regardless of which one you choose, each attracts a huge amount of attention. The simplest way to sample the F-Type S' charms is to simply shift the car into drive and let the eight-speed autobox smoothly cruise you from point A to point B, keeping shifts imperceptible in normal driving and allowing the car's adaptive suspension system to absorb, rather than fight off, uneven pavement and railway crossings. You'll still have to deal with the throngs of people gawking at the Jaguar's impressive bodywork, but unless you move exclusively under the cover of darkness there's no real way to avoid that.
The second way to experience the Jaguar F-Type S - and my preferred method, to be honest - is to slap the tranny over into Sport, activate the car's Dynamic mode via the console toggle, and click back one time on the left steering wheel paddle to select first gear. Thus armed, you are now prepared to unleash a sonic assault on anyone within a three block radius of a type that is more typically associated with sport bike and F1 cars.
You see, Dynamic mode doesn't just open up manual control over the transmission, institute a more aggressive shift pattern (when left in auto), and tighten the car's dampening - it also activates a secondary set of exhaust baffles that transform the Jaguar's supercharged V-6 into a burbling harbinger of doom. Floor the gas pedal and nail the one-two shift under throttle and you're rewarded with a loud BLATT exploding from the rear of the car. Release the accelerator and the car loudly bounces unburned fuel off of any flat surface in the immediate vicinity, creating a glorious soundtrack that you will repeat over and over again until you have run the roadster dry. With the top down there really isn’t any better way to enjoy the F-Type S than to give in to its sonic maelstrom and scare the pants off of anyone foolish enough to be within 100 feet of its exhaust pipes.
That the Jaguar F-Type S is loud and raucous is wonderful, but it shouldn't be overlooked that it also makes a comfortable long-distance mile-eater regardless of whether the roof is open or closed. It's a given that Jaguar knows how to build a strong driver with sporting pretensions, but the question in my mind was how well the F-Type S would hold up in the kind of track environment that quickly separates the posers from the pros. Fortunately, I was able to book a session with the Jaguar at a local short road course, and the result was astonishing.
The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S might not be a lightweight, but it's certainly no fat cat, with its aluminum-intensive body and chassis tipping the scales at just over 3,500 lbs. Once I had warmed up the tires, I quickly discovered that each and every one of those pounds had been accounted for and properly balanced by the Jaguar design team, as the F-Type S was a willing co-conspirator through the corners and a hooligan on the straights. Yes, there's some understeer built into the roadster's stock alignment, and paddle-shifting the eight-speed autobox imparts a rougher gear change than one would get from Porsche's PDK dual-clutch setup, but the front-engine, rear-wheel drive Jaguar delivers a visceral experience simply not available from its more antiseptic German competitor. Where the Boxster S is clinical, the F-Type S lets it all hang out, suggesting that at the edge of the performance envelope there lives a world of endless full-throttle glory, power-slides, and smoking tires. You don't so much pilot the Jaguar as experience it, with the car suggesting danger at every corner but actually delivering the utmost in control and precision when driven properly.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Final Thoughts
The 2015 Jaguar F-Type S manages to be something very few modern sports cars can realistically claim: undiluted. In a world where performance vehicles have become almost unbelievably fast in a straight line and utterly unshakeable when cornering, much of the romance has been removed from the art of driving quickly. The F-Type S is like a blind date on a rollercoaster with an Olympic-caliber athlete: mysterious, exciting, soaked in adrenaline and almost too good to be true. This Jaguar is no dream, however: park it in your driveway, go to sleep, and when you wake up the next morning it'll still be there, tempting you to blow off work and find a road together that neither of you have ever driven before.
2015 Jaguar F-Type S Review: Pros and Cons
- Gorgeous styling
- Comfortable in daily and long-distance driving
- Incredible exhaust sound
- Fun to push hard on a track
- Reasonably affordable compared to European competitors
- One of the best sports cars money can buy
- Some build quality issues evident (seatbelt, stereo speakers)
- Transmission not as slick as a dual-clutch automatic
- Price-to-performance ratio can't compare with the Corvette Stingray convertible
- Missing a true manual gearbox
Jaguar Land Rover Canada supplied the vehicle for this review.