2016 Jaguar F-Type Tech Review: Every Detail Matters
Jaguar's new coupe has it all—except cooled seats and voice recognition.
By now, the Jaguar F-Type’s on-road prowess has been well documented. The two-seater coupe is proof positive that—half a century after Jag’s Swinging '60s heyday—the British automaker still has what it takes to build a capable performance car.
While the F-Type Coupe starts at just under $66,000, the S AWD model I drove stickered for $97,000, and in R guise it easily tops six figures. Yes, the F-Type is fast. But let’s face it: A lot of buyers who plan to drop that kind of coin on a car care just as much about image and luxury. After all, just $25,000 could buy you a brand new Mazda MX-5 Miata or a Scion FR-S, both of which offer plenty of driving excitement.
Lucky for Jaguar, it’s safe to say that the F-Type is one of the most stylish cars you can buy, inside and out. In the week I drove one, I had to get used to thumbs-up, waves, and flashes of headlamps which were, of course, directed at the car and not at me. I even got stopped by a security guard who just wanted a closer look.
I loaned the car to some of Reviewed.com’s photographers for a day, and they had as much fun behind the camera as behind the wheel. In fact, the images they came up with are reason enough to buy the car. If you’ve already sold yourself on an F-Type, just check out the photo gallery we put together, and read no further.
The car can even do parlor tricks that somehow don’t feel tacky. When the door handles fold away to improve aerodynamics, the effect was always sure to wow—even though waiting for the handles to reappear felt like a frustrating split second.
Like all Jaguars, the start/stop button on the center console pulses with light, echoing a beating heart. On the F-Type I drove, it was trimmed in rose gold—as were the paddle shifters. Turn off the air conditioning and vents will sink into the dashboard like a submarine entering stealth mode.
But, unfortunately, all that attention to detail doesn’t extend to some of the car’s more basic functions.
While redesigned Jags like the new XF, XE, and XJ feature updated infotainment systems, the F-Type still relies on the clunky, last-gen system that dragged down older Jaguars and Land Rovers. Remarkably, in an era when the most basic economy cars offer access to Siri and Google Now, and more than a decade after the humble Toyota Prius offered optional hands-free dialing, an F-Type with an invoice of close to $97,000 has no voice recognition whatsoever.
Jaguar’s InControl app at least promises to give your dashboard touchscreen control of your smartphone. However, it’s only compatible with a limited number of third-party apps. For instance, I couldn’t access Spotify,but I could log into the now-defunct Rdio music-streaming service.
Similarly, the optional Performance Seats will fit you better than a Savile Row tailor, but no matter how much money you give the dealership, cooled seats aren’t on the option list. Luxury car owners can be capricious, and that omission alone would be enough to send plenty of would-be Jaguar owners straight to a Porsche dealership.
A host of other tiny problems cropped up, as well: The lengthy doors flexed on their hinges, the front speakers occasionally rattled, and the self-hiding door handles confused every single passenger I picked up.
Some may say that my complaints about the F-Type are champagne problems; that the snarl of the supercharged V6, the faultless handling, and the sensual lines are more than enough to make up for a few missing extras. But I’d argue that in a highly competitive market, a small automaker like Jaguar can’t afford to overlook the demands of its target audience—no matter how ridiculous they may sound to the average car buyer.
The F-Type is such a much-needed breath of fresh air for the brand that it pains me to point out any missteps Jaguar may have made. The company is clearly heading in the right direction, with a host of new cars—like the XE compact luxury sedan and F-Pace crossover—that appeal to buyers in all luxury segments.
Make no mistake: The F-Type is an absolute joy to drive—and exactly what enthusiasts have begged the brand to build for so many years. Still, it would be disingenuous to overlook the flaws of any car, no matter how much of an emotional response it elicits.
Marketers like to say that a great product can “surprise and delight” its owners. In the case of the F-Type, there’s plenty of both to go around—but not all those surprises will delight.
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