Design first, then, because you can’t mention the Jaguar F-Type without mentioning its design, or its design director, Ian Callum, whose CV makes a handy checksheet of cars that still look good today: Volvo C70, Ford Puma, Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, and every Jaguar conceived during the past decade. 

The F-Type follows Jaguar’s familiar recent themes: an economy of lines and taut surfaces, the latter an area in which Jaguar has worked hard to get the best from its aluminium skin. Radiuses of some crease lines are down to 8mm – much sharper than you’ll typically see from this lightweight but hard-to-press metal.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The F-Type’s roof mechanism is impressive. It doesn’t have a panel to cover it when stowed; instead, the top section of the roof itself keeps everything looking neat and tidy

The resulting shape meets, in our eyes, unanimous approval. Seemingly, the question isn’t “Do you like it?” but “How much do you like it?” A typical answer is “Quite a lot”. 

That aluminium skin clothes an all-aluminium alloy monocoque, with all of that material’s relative advantages and disadvantages. Evidently, one of the important ones is that it sends a message: aluminium is an alluring metal. They make planes and space rockets out of it, after all.

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But while some car makers use it widely in some chassis areas and in other areas not at all as part of a multi-metal structure, Jaguar’s monogamous relationship with the material, which has a high specific strength but a relatively low density, does it few favours when it comes to packaging. It also does not necessarily bring with it the weight advantages Jaguar would have you believe.

Jaguar claims the F-Type weighs a respectable 1597kg, 1614 and 1665kg for the V6, V6 S and R respectively, but when we weighed an R at MIRA, it tipped the scales at some 1810kg. Why is it that heavy? Because its mechanical spec makes it so.

Consider that the car we weighed is a 4.4m-long, 1.9m-wide convertible with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine under its bonnet, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and an active differential at the rear, with all-round double wishbones and the V8’s uprated brakes, and 1810kg doesn’t sound so terrible – as long as you put the ‘lightweight aluminium’ claims to one side.

Our numbers means that the R is 5kg lighter than a Mercedes-Benz SL 500, but 35kg heavier than a Nissan GT-R and 100kg more than a Mercedes-AMG SLS coupé.

The F-Type will inevitably work out heavier still than a Porsche 911, which is narrower and has a smaller drivetrain than the Jaguar. But while it’s not a like-for-like comparison on paper, the fact is that a 911 is the F-Type’s nearest showroom rival. A current 911 Carrera (non-S and a coupé) weighs just 1380kg on MIRA’s scales. Given the all-up weight, it’s clear the Jaguar will need some underbonnet fireworks if it’s to perform with a 911 in a straight line. And as luck would have it...

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