First drive: Jaguar’s F-Type R 75 is a swan song to the V8 sports car
The new F-Type 75 models are more than just special editions, as they mark the British marque’s last combustion-engined sports car.
What is it?
On the face of it, the new F-Type ‘75’ models are just special editions with a few extra trinkets to mark out their supposedly special positioning. But there’s a romantic story going on here as Jaguar is yanking on the heartstrings with the F-Type P450 75 and F-Type R 75, for they represent the final iteration of the F-Type sports car before it’s killed off next year in readiness for Jaguar to become a pure-electric carmaker from 2025.
Once the F-Type goes it’ll close a chapter on Jaguar’s illustrious sports car-making business that started with the XK120 75 years ago in 1948, and has included Le Mans-winning C- and D-types, and of course the epochal E-type of 1961. Are the F-Type 75 models a fitting epilogue? We got behind the wheel for one final time.
Special editions need a few extra niceties and the 75 models get just that – just don’t expect anything too flamboyant. 75 models get a handful of little tweaks to mark out their special positioning and of course, a unique colour is available. Giola Green Metallic signals the 75 special editions but it’s an optional extra (on the regular P450 75) costing £765.
Little tweaks then, and proof that Jaguar wishes the F-Type to make its stage exit in a dignified (if also very loud) manner.
What’s under the bonnet?
The 75 models sit in a slimmed-down F-Type range for 2023. You can still choose a regular F-Type R-Dynamic powered by a 296bhp 2.0-litre four-pot engine if you really want to, but the 75 models are the real headline acts here for the F-Type’s final year of production. They make up the rest of the range and come in coupe and convertible forms.
The ‘regular’ P450 75 gets a 444bhp version of Jag’s unashamedly old school 5.0-litre supercharged V8 with drive going to the rear wheels, while the F-Type R 75 gets a 567bhp tune of the engine and adds all-wheel drive. Like in the past, the V8 only comes with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
What’s it like to drive?
Jag’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 probably won’t be regarded as the finest V8 ever made, but boy will it be remembered– mostly for its unruly, hard-edged soundtrack. It almost feels wrong to be driving such a leviathan in these days of pure-electrics and mild hybrids, but fire up the V8 and it utterly dominates proceedings. The 5.0-litre loves to rev, with every subsequent gearshift from the eight-speed automatic emitting a loud ‘crack’ from the four tailpipes and a thump through the drivetrain.
The 2020 updated F-Type R pinched the suspension set-up from the previous F-Type SVR, so it’s harsh and uncompromising when ‘Dynamic’ is selected as the drive mode. But play around with the settings and the dampers can be softened while the rest of the car is turned up to 11. And while the F-Type is getting on a bit, it revels in fast undulating corners with quick, deliciously accurate steering; on twistier stuff, a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS would scamper away and leave the lardier Jag behind, but there’s an appealing sporty GT feeling with the F-Type.
How does it look?
One word: stunning. The F-Type certainly isn’t ageing gracefully as it almost looks as fresh as it did when it appeared in a wave of pomp and noise a decade ago. A styling refresh in 2020, which mostly focused on giving the F a more aggressive-looking nose, certainly helps with the age-defying process.
But, generally speaking, the F-Type in either coupe or convertible forms is as good-looking as it always was, especially with its gorgeous styling references to the E-type. The F-Type was a key model for Jaguar in the 2010s, and arguably helped to redefine the company’s image and regain some of its kudos. It’ll be interesting to see if Jaguar returns to an E-type homage when it goes electric in 2025.
What’s it like inside?
The interior is the area where the F-Type has changed the least since its launch a decade ago. The design is still a highlight with chunky air conditioning knobs, well-placed controls and that sweeping grab handle. But the quality isn’t quite up to standards anymore and the sense of cosiness sometimes makes visibility a tad hard.
The chief bugbear, though, is the infotainment as the F-Type doesn’t use the current operating system but an older version, which is frustrating to use and the screen is illegible in bright sunshine. The seats hug you well though, and as long as that suspension is in a softer setting, it’s a comfortable car to cover vast distances in.
What’s the spec like?
If you want a V8 F-Type, you can only go for either of these special edition 75 models. That means there are a few nice options that would usually have been on the options list thrown in, such as ‘slimline’ sports seats trimmed in Windsor leather, Ebony ‘suedecloth’ headlining and a smattering of badges showing the F-Type’s silhouette. Both P450 75 and R 75 get 20-inch alloys in differing designs, and there’s the unique ‘Giola Green’ option for the paintwork, which Jaguar will charge you £765 for the 75 and is a no-cost option on the R.
Our car seen in the pictures wears special paint developed by Jaguar’s specialist SV division. Ligurian Black satin certainly looks amazing and gives the F-Type a roguish vibe, but selecting it isn’t cheap – it comes in at £9,990.
Cards on the table, the 75 models don’t bring anything new to the party, and if you’re after a comfortable and fast GT a Porsche 911 does the job far better in most departments. But this is a leaving party after all, and the F-Type isn’t departing quietly.
The R struggles to justify its near-£25,000 price premium over the P450 75 and the latter would likely be our choice, but it’s hard to be rational with these last-of-the-line F-Types. The days of characterful V8-powered sports cars are numbered, and the F-Type is a fitting tribute to the genre.