Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible Review – Dynamic Drop-Top Jag Scarily Fast Yet Utterly Sublime

Aggressive supercar looks, awesome exhaust note, massively powerful V8, soul, beautiful cabin

V8 S almost too powerful for small UK roads, tiny boot space

Jaguar F-Type?

Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible Review-5673-2

Unveiled at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, the Jaguar F-Type raised eyebrows and dropped jaws. This compact 2-seater was like nothing else out there, and its dynamic design and stance had the motoring world seriously revved up. A huge amount of hype surrounding a fresh model can be a good thing, or a bad thing. If it lives up to it, great, but if it’s a let-down the world is gonna know in double-quick time. Keeping that in mind, we were sent the top of the range Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible to test and find out…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

Rounding the bend to where the F-Type was delivered, my pulse physically sped up as I spied the car, coloured Ultimate Black with 20" Turbine wheels in silver.

The answer to the above is obvious. I think it’s fairly safe to say that the majority people asked would agree that the Jaguar F-Type is utterly stunning. In fact, every single person that saw the car while we had it on test were absolutely enthralled by its looks. I saw the F-type in the flesh for the first time in early 2013 at a Jaguar Land Rover media day, and I was completely blown away. At that stage, they had just the one version to show us; we weren’t even allowed to start it, yet alone get in (although a decent PR chap fired it up once for us), and for the entire day it had people milling around it, desperate for a closer look.

The next time we saw it was at an SMMT (Society of Motoring Manufacturers & Traders) media driving day, and we were able to drive the V6 S version for a short time, which only made us want to test one thoroughly even more. A year and a half down the line and we’re fortunate enough that Jaguar sent us the F-Type V8 S Convertible.

Before driving it, I took in every line, angle, cut, flare and curve of its magnificent exterior. No doubt at all, the F-Type is an amazingly designed machine, and its designers should be over the moon with their creation.

Rounding the bend to where the Jaguar was delivered, my pulse sped up as I spied the car, coloured Ultimate Black with 20″ Turbine wheels in silver. I’d been genuinely excited about having a Jaguar F-Type for the week, as the shorter drive months ago in a V6 S had left me exhilarated, and jabbering on about it to whoever would listen to me for the next few days. To now be able to pour over and take in the F-Type thoroughly was a genuine thrill.

Before driving it, I took in every line, angle, cut, flare and curve of its magnificent exterior. No doubt at all, the F-Type is an amazingly designed machine, and its designers should be over the moon with their creation. The F-Type is one of the most muscular, hard-looking two-seater sports cars you can buy. From the front, it’s about as masculine and powerful as it gets with shark-gill type cut-outs in the front bumper feeding air into the engine, while super-modern front lights take on the appearance of a real jaguar’s eyes from certain angles. Back from that, the bonnet juts up and down sharply, while the windscreen is raked back at an extremely keen angle. From the front, it's about as masculine and powerful as it gets with shark-gill type cut-outs in the front bumper, feeding air into the engine, while super-modern front lights take on the appearance of a real Jaguar's eyes from certain angles.

While the front is brawny, from the side and rear the F-Type is beautiful. It is, in fact, quintessential of how a sports car should look. The convertible car looks way better with the roof down actually. It’s not a bad-looking fabric roof at all, but with it folded away the F-Type looks almost like a different animal.

Over the week that we had the F-Type V8 S, it drew a massive amount of attention both when driving and when it was parked – the monstrous exhaust pipes silent. On one occasion, I parked it in a fairly busy section of a small town and then went for lunch. I could see the car from my table, and the number of people that stopped, stared, did a 360 circle around it, or cupped their hands to look in through the windows was crazy. Almost every passerby did so, and even when an Aston Martin V8 Vantage parked tail-to-tail with it, the Aston was largely ignored, with people preferring to get an eyeful of the Jag. While the front is brawny, from the side and rear the F-Type is beautiful. It is, in fact, quintessential of how a sports car should look. With the convertible version, it looks far better with the roof down than up.

Each day, from the moment I exited my house and walked towards the F-type, I’d smile, spontaneously get a spike of adrenaline and feel a quickening of the pulse. And I think that’s the point of having a fast sports car. Simply looking at the Jaguar F-Type evokes physical emotions and feelings before you’ve even started the engine. If it’s that impressive on the exterior, what’s it like inside?

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

I love all the recent Jag's interiors, and whichever model I've tested - including the XF and the XJ - I find it very hard to find anything I dislike.

I love all the recent Jag interiors, and whichever model I’ve tested – including the XF and the XJ – I find it very hard to find anything I dislike. It’s exactly the same with this F-Type V8 S too. Have someone open either one of the two doors, and the one first word that usually escapes their lips is ‘Wow’. And that’d be the correct term to use to sum it up. I could end this section here, and tell you to pop down to your local Jaguar dealership, poke your head into an F-Type and without fail you’d say the very same thing.

I’ll do the decent thing though, and try to explain just how nice it is in more than one word. I think one major factor that separate Jaguar’s cars from other marques is that somehow the designs have interwoven soul and character into the interiors. Attributes that the majority of luxury cars do not posses, no matter how expensive they are or what materials are used.

one major factor that separate Jaguar’s cars from other marques is that somehow the designs have interwoven soul and character into the interiors.

The F-Type V8 S Convertible interior is a delight. On opening the driver’s door, it could be mistaken that the cabin is cramped and tiny. Restrictive even. However, that is not the case. Slide into the driver’s low-slung seat, close the door, and rather than feeling uncomfortably confined, you’re encompassed and it feels very natural too. It’s like something in your mind tells you ‘This is exactly how it should feel in a sports car’. There’s plenty of leg, elbow, and head room, even for someone on the taller side.

The F-Type V8 S cabin is an especially driver-focussed place to sit. The triangular handle you see the on the passenger side of the centre console divider does two things. Firstly, it’s something for them to grip when you’re pushing hard around the bends – which is regularly. Secondly, it’s a dividing line between the passenger and the driver’s controls, and subconsciously it tells you the passenger to sit there, enjoy the ride and don’t touch anything. Slide into the driver’s low-slung seat, close the door, and rather than feeling uncomfortably confined, you’re encompassed and it feels very natural.

On the side of the divider that is the drivers territory is reminiscent of a cabin you’d find in one of those insanely-fast cigarette boats that are often used in erm… high profit criminal activity. While the centre console is extremely contemporary, I couldn’t help but think it’s somehow also got classic elements to it. That aside, the gear selector looks like it’s been taken directly out of some military stealth fighter, the Ignis-coloured starter button and dynamic/snow mode toggle switch adding to that effect.

Above those, there are more toggle switches for heating controls plus rubber-edged dials for temperature adjustment, which Jaguar added deliberately so you could be more hands-on with the controls, rather than it all being through the 7” touchscreen. On that note, it’s a great entertainment system, and the same one you get in the rest of the Jag range. Although the F-Type exhaust system sounds beautiful, I think it’s important to be able to blast out your music, too, for a truly awesome driving experience. The F-Type V8 S obliges with a standard 380 Watt Meridian sound system, which is excellent. If you want something that’ll make the wing mirrors rattle, you can also spec a 770W system if preferred. The gear selector looks like it’s been taken directly out of some military stealth fighter, the Ignis-coloured starter button and dynamic/snow mode toggle switch adding to the effect.

In the driver’s binnacle, there are two huge dials, the rev counter featuring bigger numerals than the speedometer. This is because you quickly get to the limiter in most of the 8 gears, while you may have slightly longer – but not much – to get it up to the 186 miles-per-hour top speed. In between the dials is a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen that displays loads of info, including sat nav directions, fuel level (this goes down quickly) and more. The dials also go red once you go into Dynamic Mode reminding you that, technically, you have unleashed the beast. In the driver’s binnacle there are two huge dials, the rev counter featuring bigger numerals than the speedometer. This is because you quickly get to the limiter in most of the 8 gears, while you may have slightly longer - but not much - to get it up to the 186 miles-per-hour top speed.

Every surface and section within natural reach feels beautiful to the touch. Whether it’s the soft dash-top, the satin-finished metals, the high quality switchgear or the thick leather steering wheel, this is the kind of well-crafted materials that make you feel like you’re driving a car worth the £80,000 asking price. Even just using using the central section of the top of the dash – which opens to reveal air vents, and rises and closes utterly silently – and the convertible top which folds down quickly, and then clunks back into place solidly (12 seconds each way at up to 30 mph), states absolute quality throughout the entire F-Type’s interior.

There’s only one drawback with the Jaguar F-Type Convertible, and that’s the lack of boot space. With just 196 litres, you’ll be lucky if you can squeeze a couple of weekend stayover bags in there. The F-Type Coupé does much better, with 407 litres, so that’s the one to go for if you want to do some cross-continent touring.

Engine & gearbox

There are two engine sizes with different power outputs for the F-Type, but we’re focussing on the V8 S. This is a monstrous 5.0 litre V8 petrol engine with a twin-vortex supercharger, and the while the power extracted from it is superb, it’s the way that it puts it down that is more impressive. 495 PS (488 bhp) is produced at 6,500 rpm, and there's 461 lb ft (625 Nm) of torque on tap from just 2,500 rpm and all the way up to 5,500 rpm. That's a staggering amount of torque from such a low rpm.

495 PS (488 bhp) is produced at 6,500 rpm, and there’s 461 lb ft (625 Nm) of torque on tap from just 2,500 rpm and all the way up to 5,500 rpm. That’s a staggering amount of torque from such a low rpm, and with the V8 engine being rev-happy you’ll hit that twenty-five-hundred mark faster than you can blink.

0 – 62 mph is undertaken in just 4.2 seconds and you’ll hit the max speed at a messy-haired limited 186 miles-per-hour, using the rather lovely 8-speed Quickshift auto gearbox. While you don’t buy the F-Type for its fuel economy, I’ll reel off the UK mpg stats anyway: urban: 17.8, extra-urban: 34.0, combined: 25.5. Whilst these are EU lab test figures (and as a result extremely optimistic), on a motorway run of an hour or so each way, I managed a staggering average of 30 mpg! In eighth gear at 70 mph the big V8’s only doing around 2,000 rpm, it actually makes a good cruiser and you won’t have to plan long journeys in fuel-pump to fuel-pump stages.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

The F-Type V8 S Convertible is an epic car to drive, and it's absolutely dramatic from the start to finish of any journey.

If you buy a Jaguar F-Type V8 S and only ever drive sedately then I am declaring that a criminal act (Cruelty to Cars), with a sentence that involves the car being taken away to a better home, and you being handed the keys to a bottom of the range VW Polo. A decent car, but not very quick – which will suit you perfectly.

The F-Type V8 S Convertible is an epic car to drive, and it’s absolutely dramatic from the start to finish of any journey. Slide behind the wheel, place your foot on brake pedal, push the starter button, and suddenly there’s an explosion of noise from behind the F-Type as the engine fires and revs once, before fast-idling for a while until the engine has warmed. It’s a beautiful sound, and you never tire of hearing that big V8 roar into life.

Camera used is the Action-Tek HD From Vision-Tek.co.uk

Our test car had the Switchable Active Sports Exhaust option (£350) fitted. If you buy an F-Type and don’t spec this, you officially have no soul whatsoever. As standard on F-Type S models – and optional on the F-Type – is an Active Sports Exhaust system which has valve that open as the revs rise, exiting gases on a quicker route through the system and producing sweet petrolhead music. However, push the Switchable Active Sports Exhaust button and these valves are permanently open.

For virtually the entire weeks testing, this button remained on – aside from a motorway journey. It is virtually irresistible to blip the throttle pedal whenever you’re at a standstill in the F-Type V8 S, as doing so means the Jaguar produces one of the best sounds you’ll hear from any car and it is LOUD. Really, there should be a warning sticker stating “Do not rev this car when the following people are in the area: old, frail, those with a nervous disposition, or those who’ve had a recent heart operation”. Yes, it really is that noisy and the first time you give the accelerator a hefty push you will startle yourself quite severely. Good! Our test car had the Switchable Active Sports Exhaust option (£350) fitted. If you buy an F-Type and don't spec this, you officially have no soul whatsoever.

How can I describe the sound best? On the up-rev, it’s like having a mixed bag of the world’s big cats roaring and growling, and coming down the revs there appear to be several large bags of firecrackers going off simultaneously. And that’s just at standstill. With the active exhaust switched on, once you’re moving the F-Type is never ever quiet even at low speeds and should you shift down the gears manually, you quickly learn where the sweet spot is for the F-Type to produce the best bangs and crackles. Wonderful stuff. I’ve gone on about the F-Type’s sound a bit, but it really does make up a fundamental part of the driving experience.

The F-Type V8 S' soundtrack is spot-on, matching the drive perfectly. Pull the sprung fighter plane joystick-type gear selector into D, and from the moment the Jag sets off you get the distinct feeling that you are behind the wheel of something decidedly potent .

The F-Type V8 S’ soundtrack is spot-on, matching the drive perfectly. Pull the sprung fighter plane joystick-type gear selector into D, and from the moment the Jag sets off you get the distinct feeling that you are behind the wheel of something decidedly potent – you control the F-Type and feel intrinsically part of the car, rather than simply driving it. The V8 S makes city driving an enjoyable experience, thanks to the smooth transmission and absolutely brilliant Adaptive Damping suspension which “assesses body motion and pitch rates 100 times per second [adjusting] each damper accordingly“. Considering how taut the F-Type’s chassis is and how well the car handles once you’re hard on the power, it’s pretty spectacular that you can ride over the nastier potholes and speed humps more comfortably than some saloons I’ve driven!

For all its potency, the V8 S is remarkably tame to drive in the city, and is as laid-back and easy-going as something like the Jag XF diesel. Changes from its 8-speed Quickshift ‘box are almost unnoticeable and while there’s power-a-plenty it is only aggressive when you want it to be. However, thanks to that massive 625 Nm of torque from 2,500 rpm the V8 S is permanently ready to fly should you need it to. How can I describe the sound best? On the up-rev, it's like having a mixed bag of the world's big cats roaring and growling, and coming down the revs there appear to be several large bags of firecrackers going off simultaneously.

When the opportunity arises and you floor the accelerator, it is akin to prodding a freshly-caught wild tiger through its cage before popping open the door. The release of energy from the supercharged V8 is instant, and extremely aggressive. There’s absolutely no pause before the power flows – just push the go pedal hard and the F-Type surges forward rapidly and so hard that it’ll pin your head back against the seat. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and traction control systems work well to keep the Jaguar in a straight line but it’s beautifully set up as well, allowing the rear end to break free for a decent amount of distance before reigning it in, giving confidence and it’s apt to make one feel a better driver than one may actually be. Turn the traction and stability systems off, and you’ll quickly realise just how much work they’re really doing to keep you from spinning off the road.

The incredible and relentless way the speed rises when you’re hard on the gas in the V8 S makes it very much a license-loser. Yes you can break speed limits in almost any car, but the V8 S F-Type is so fast – and will do it with such absurd ease – that actually it almost doesn’t make much sense to own the that version in the UK with its eight trillion speed cameras. Let me explain just how fast it is: as already mentioned it’ll hit sixty miles per hour in a shade over 4 seconds, but what makes the mind boggle is that it will go from 50 – 75 mph in just 2.5 seconds! From there you will go well into triple figures, apparently without the F-Type even breaking a sweat. The V8 S is limited to 186 mph too, and I’m intrigued to know what it can do with the limiter removed – I’d estimate it’ll nearly do the double-ton.

Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible Review-5659

Should you be on a familiar section of twisty tarmac, the F-Type handles beautifully. The steering and brakes feels sharp and super-precise, and the F-Type is superbly well balanced with a tight chassis alongside the trick Adaptive Damping suspension, making for a car that handles and drives so well you’d think it was coupé rather than a rag-top. On a hard, fast drive down a narrow, tightly-winding and heavily undulating country road – and with Dynamic mode selected to sharpen the handling and quicken gear changes – the F-Type convertible brought something back to me that I thought was long gone forever – proof that ‘motoring’ can still be fun!

If you do decide to blast cross-continent or undertake a long tedious motorway journey, the F-Type actually makes for a good cruising car. As I’ve said, it returns surprisingly good fuel economy and it’s also comfortable too. While it’s not overly noisy in the cabin with the roof up, road and wind noise at higher speeds are obviously notably higher than the coupé versions will be, but it’s not irritatingly or uncomfortably loud by any standard. With the roof down there’s far less air buffeting than I expected (possibly down to the optional wind deflector) and it’s a very enjoyable place to be with the sun shining and that amazing soundtrack from the quad exhausts playing behind you. With the roof down there's far less air buffeting than I expected (possibly down to the optional wind deflector) and it's a very enjoyable place to be with the sun shining and that amazing soundtrack from the quad exhausts playing behind you.

All said, the F-Type V8 S yearns and begs to be driven fast and with gusto each time you start that sweet engine. It’s an incredibly quick machine, but there are very few areas on our over-policed, speed-camera-saturated UK roads that you can fully use anywhere near the potential of this monster. While it’s truly excellent to know you’ve got that much power on tap, I’ll say the V8S is the car you can drive to the full more often without the fear of losing your license.

Price

The Jaguar F-Type Convertible ranges from (prices: May 2014) 58,500 to £80,000 minus any options. Start ticking those boxes however and the price quickly builds. For example; 20″ Blade wheels: £1,500, special paint hue: £1,250, Suedecloth performance seats and interior pack: £3,500, 770W Meridian sound system: £1,700, seat memory pack: £1,150, carbon fibre rear diffuser: £2,196. You get the idea, and with most of the options added I managed to get the cost up to an eye-watering £112,000 on Jag’s website configurator! At £85,000 though, all who asked and were told of the V8 S convertible’s price tag agreed it was worth the money. Should you part with your hard-earned cash for whichever F-Type you choose, I’d be highly surprised if you were disappointed. Rivals for similar cash? There’s the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet starting at £92,000, or the less expensive  option of the Boxster GTS for around £53k. There’s also the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster from £94k, or the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 for £80 thousand.

2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible verdict & score

Without fail, each and every trip in the V8 S Convertible came standard with its own rush of adrenaline, regardless of how fast or slow it was driven thanks to the exhausts producing one of the best soundtracks you'll hear from any car.

The F-Type V8 S Convertible is a truly outstanding sports car. This Jaguar managed to make me once again believe that it’s possible for even a short blast down the road to be fun, and for every waking minute I that I wasn’t in the F-Type while it was on test, I yearned to drive it. Without fail, each and every trip in the V8 S Convertible came standard with its own rush of adrenaline, regardless of how fast or slow it was driven, thanks to the exhausts producing one of the best soundtracks you’ll hear from any car.

The supercharged V8 is so tremendously quick from both a standing start and in-gear that it’s almost in the realm of supercar speed, and I never tired of the way it hurled itself towards the horizon with even a slight press of the accelerator. It’s magnificent handling prowess matched with the way it takes in the everyday bumps ‘n humps of city roads is hugely impressive, and with such a well-finished interior I’m finding it rather difficult to come up with any negatives about the Jaguar F-Type Convertible. The small boot space? I think I could live with that. The huge power? Great, but I still maintain you’ll get more satisfaction from pushing hard in the less powerful (read; less scary) F-Type V8 S on our small UK roads. On the continent or in the U.S., the V8 S will certainly suit better.

Do you own a Jaguar F-Type What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  9.5
Interior  9
Engine  9
Gearbox  9
Price  8.5
Handling  8.5
Drive  9
Overall Score  9 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible
Spec includes 20″ Turbine wheels, electronic active diff, Adaptive dynamics sports suspension, Jaguar super performance braking system, EBA, EBD, TCS, DSC, intelligent stop/start, 8″ touch-screen with bluetooth, sat nav & DAB. See website for more info
Options you should spec  Switchable Active Sports Exhaust: £350, Configurable Dynamic Mode: £400, Wind deflector: £250
The Competition  Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet or Boxster GTS, Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, Mercedes-Benz SL 500
Price  (May 2014) F-Type V8 S Convertible: £79,995
Engine  5.0 litre V8 petrol engine with Roots-type twin-vortex Supercharger
Power, Torque, CO2  Power: 495 PS (488 bhp) @ 6,500 rpm | Torque: 461 lb ft (625 Nm) @ 2,500 – 5,500rpm | CO2: 259 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Rear-wheel drive | 8-speed ‘Quickshift’ automatic
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity  Clearance: Minimum 217mm (8.5″) | Wading: 700mm (27.5″) | Braked towing: 2,800 kg’s (6,170 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 62 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed (limited): 186 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 4.2 seconds | 50 – 75 mph: 2.5 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested
Fuel economy (UK mpg)  Urban: 17.8, Extra-urban: 34.0, Combined: 25.5
Weight (kerb)  1,665 kg’s (3,638 lbs)
Websites  Jaguar UK, Jaguar USA, Jaguar global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

4 responses to “Jaguar F-Type V8 S Convertible Review – Dynamic Drop-Top Jag Scarily Fast Yet Utterly Sublime”

  1. Terry_M

    I would certainly dub the Jaguar as the emperor among supercars! But no matter what type of roadster one owns, it’s got to be mounted with a good wind deflector, cos at one point or the other the wind buffeting is going to be a vice on a roadster that can spoil a delightful alfresco cruise. I’ve mounted a Backblade windblocker on my Cabrio, and I must admit that it is keeping my cabin tranquil and serene even at motorway speeds!

  2. Jacobi S.

    Yes, a wind guard is a vital stuff on roadsters. I’ve something called Windblox wind restrictor on my ride and since then I never had one bit of wind swirl while driving topless!

  3. Janice R.

    Now my not-so-premium roadster is also devoid of any wind buffeting at speeds thanks to the TopDown wind deflector that’s affixed on it. Noise-free cockpit and cozy and warm even while driving al fresco during cold winter days. What more can a roadster driver ask for?

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