The Jaguar F-Type V8 S is the top model of a launch range that includes the Jaguar F-Type V6 and Jaguar F-Type V6 S. We’ve explored the other two models in depth already. Our final day with the F-Type focused on the V8 S. It promises more of the excellent dynamics coupled with unrivaled atmosphere. It is the first true sports car to leave the Jaguar factory in almost 40 years.
You’ll immediately notice the V8 by its quad tailpipes as against the V6 model and its twin central pipes. Our example also had the optional 20 inch wheels with carbon fibre inserts and a truly awesome Firesand Metallic paintjob. From the rear the tailpipes make it look more muscular, yet the body panels are exactly the same as any other F-Type model.
The V8 S is the daddy of the F-Type range. It gets the same familiar 5.0 litre Jaguar unit as we have seen in cars like the Jaguar XKR, XFR and XJ Super Sport. It is slightly detuned for the F-Type, producing 495hp rather than the 510hp we have become accustomed to. Yet the F-Type is a lighter, smaller package and can in fact feel every bit as fast on the road. The F-Type V8 S reaches a limited top speed of 186mph with 100km/h in 4.3 seconds and 60mph in just 4.2 seconds.
The V8 features a supercharger mounted in the centre of the cylinder banks. Superchargers are a rare commodity nowadays. It works perfectly in the F-Type V8 as well as giving an edge over the competition. Throttle response is instant and power is available across the rev range. The throttle does need a progressive and steady foot to get the most out of the power.
The Jaguar F-Type has a riveted aluminium monocoque. The stripped version we saw on display during the track portion of our visit is a thing of beauty, yet it also allows the F-Type to retain high levels of strength with lower levels of weight. In fact, the entire body is constructed from aluminium too, with the exception of the rear spoiler, finished in plastic. Despite the larger engine, the Jaguar F-Type V8 S only weighs 1,665kg, 67kg’s more than the V6.
The V8 chassis benefits from the full range of Jaguar refinements. The dynamic mode is present as is sport mode. Riding through the Spanish foot hills, one particular setup stands head and shoulders above the rest. Sports mode with full Dynamic Mode setup is how most will drive the V8. Dynamic Mode prevents automatic upshifts, it also sharpens the throttle response, adds more weight to the steering, relaxes the traction control and sharpens the gearbox. These can all be configured through the TFT screen in the centre console to eliminate any one of the enhanced characteristics.
For anything other than motorway cruising, manual shifting with the steering wheel mounted paddles feels very natural. In automatic mode, the eight speed gearbox constantly shifts and occasionally you get left without optimal gearing. However, manual mode allows you to control this. Each gear is stacked close together, meaning you get a wide range of usable power in each ratio. For travelling along canyon roads you’ll want to stay in third to take advantage of the optimal power range. Travelling through the villages, second offers a quiet refined ride. Yet the moment you back off the throttle, the exhaust lets out pops and burbles, ever eager to exite. It is a genuinely brilliant gearbox that allows you to make the most out of the F-Type’s V8.
Despite having a heavier engine up front, the weight still feels very balanced. On wide open roads, the pace of the supercharged engine is electric. The power delivery is continuous, coupled with the soundtrack, the experience is addictive. Being a roadster, the extreme rigidity of more hardcore performance cars isn’t quite there. Yet it doesn’t need to be. The F-Type is focused largely on the thrill of driving and it certainly delivers.
As we’ve mentioned in our other F-Type reviews, one of the greatest features is the active exhaust system. As the power increases, so does the noise. The V8 S has twice the atmosphere as the V6 models. With the exhaust valves fully opened, the noise is simply incredible. The harder you drive it the better it gets too. Once the heat has built up, the pops and bangs only increase. Without a doubt, it is one of the greatest exhaust notes you will ever hear.
Braking is sorted through the use of high performance brakes. These measure 380mm at the front and 376mm at the rear. Jaguar haven’t yet rolled out a ceramics program for their mainstream models (the exception being the Jaguar XKR-S GT recently revealed at the New York Motor Show 2013). Ceramics are not particularly needed here though. The high performance braking system feels very secure with enough of a bite to stop the car from any speed. Despite some very spirited driving, we never felt any fade.
Inside, the interior of the F-Type V8 S features plenty of plush leather. Jaguar refrains from using much alcantara, although it is an option, and relies on soft-grain leathers. The gear selector is probably the biggest change over other modern performance Jaguars. The traditional circular selector is replaced by a joystick-shaped SportShift selector. It looks the part and allows owners the option of a sequential shift on top of the traditional automatic and paddle shift options.
Perhaps the most telling feature of the Jaguar F-Type V8 S is the grab handle incorporated into the centre console. Jaguar describes this feature as ‘one plus one’ layout. It is designed to place the emphasis on the driver. With technical trim materials on the drivers side, and a plain, minimalist look on the passenger side, the F-Type is definitely a car designed with the driver at its heart.
So, we need to share our final verdict. We absolutely love the V8 S, in the same way that we love all the Jaguar F-Fype. For us, the V8 S is the pick of the bunch if you want something special for the weekend. The soundtrack is glorious and the sense of occasion is unlike anything else. The fact that 40% of all UK F-Type orders have opted for the V8 demonstrates how good this car looks on paper. As a true two-seater sports car, we can’t think of anything that comes near the levels of refinement and enjoyment of the F-Type. Hopefully we’ll see plenty on our roads in the near future.