Jaguar’s limited-edition F-Type V6 boasts a bump in power and commemorative visual details, but exclusivity has a price…
From our introduction to the F-Type range some four years ago, it was the V6 that we thought was the best engine in the range. As hairy-chested and superb-sounding as the V8 is (we tested the V8 Roadster back in October 2013), it is in equal parts leery and brutish as it is fun to drive. The V6 has proven the more balanced of the two.
The V6 you see here, however, is a little bit different. The 400 Sport is a special edition model that introduces mid-cycle refinements that include new derivatives, mild exterior changes and new technologies to the entire F-Type range. Over and above the standard 280 kW V6, this 400 Sport offers a striking Satin Grey colour accent scheme that adorns the bespoke side skirts and rear bumper, air intakes and window surrounds, as well as some extra standard kit with 400 Sport branding both inside and out, and yellow contrast stitching within the cabin. The rear wing and carbon-fibre roof remain, however, optional extras.
There’s also a 14 kW bump in power … and a rather big bump in price; Jaguar asks a R270 000 premium over the standard V6. Cushioning the blow somewhat are 12-way electric adjustable sports seats, a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped steering wheel, metallic pedals, a configurable driving-dynamics mode and the selectable active exhaust.
In terms of that new technology we mentioned, the 400 Sport comes with a parking-assistance system that employs ultrasonic sensors and self steering, with the driver left to press a button, engage reverse and control the throttle and brakes (it will also guide the car out of a space). There’s also a smartphone app called ReRun that has been developed in conjunction with GoPro; it overlays key performance data (speed, throttle position, gear selection, braking force, G-force and steering wheel angle) over GoPro footage.
While each of these plays its part in making the 400 Sport feel just that bit more special, can those 14 extra kilowatts do the same? Curiously, the 400 Sport’s 4,9-second claimed 0-100 km/h sprint time is exactly the same as that of the standard 280 kW V6 coupé, as is the 275 km/h top speed. Despite being fitted with ZF’s quick-shifting eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, and with the Dynamic Start system’s launch control activated, the 1 712 kg 400 Sport struggled for traction off the line. However, we managed to match the carmaker’s claim.
In Jaguar fashion, a centrifugal supercharger that all but does away with any lag aspirates the engine. As a result, the 400 Sport feels immediate and responsive to the throttle, which makes for a balanced and interactive driving experience. To support this, the in-gear acceleration figures are more impressive than the standing-start times and the 400 Sport sped from 40 km/h to 100 km/h in just 3,60 seconds.
This test vehicle is fitted with the optional carbon-ceramic brake pack, which consists of a larger set of discs (398 mm front and 380 mm rear) and 20-inch forged alloy wheels. This adds about R125 000 to the overall price, but makes a noticeable difference to the 400 Sport’s braking capabilities. It posted a superb average 100-0 km/h stopping time of 2,72 seconds and a stopping distance of 36,28 metres, with our best result being 2,63 seconds. Like many carbon brake setups, the ones on the Jag can prove sharp and tricky to modulate at first, requiring a sensitive right ankle in urban and slow-moving environments. If you’re not spending time on the track, this option is an expensive and somewhat unnecessary one.
Those bigger wheels also have an effect on the 400 Sport’s ride quality. While mostly comfortable, on uneven tarmac the adaptive damping on the front and rear double-wishbone suspension struggles to keep road imperfections from transmitting through the cabin. NVH suppression, on the other hand, is very good and, once up to speed, the 400 Sport takes on the typically Jaguar keyed-in-damping feel.
The F-Type in this 400 Sport guise does look rather special with the Santorini Black colour combining well with the Satin Grey colour trims and extended side skirts, all of which set off the yellow “400” badging and brake callipers. But, while it certainly looks quite unlike the 280 kW V6, the reality is on the road you may battle to notice a discernible difference.
That said, the V6-engined F-Type remains a composed and well-planted GT that provides an entertaining experience, especially when fitted with the rorty active exhaust. At a tad under R1,5-million, in our market the 400 Sport has some stiff competition, with the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera PDK leading the pack.
Ultimately, beyond perhaps the exclusivity this limited-edition 400 Sport offers, the hefty premium over the V6 is significant and we would still opt for that model … but we’d definitely tick that active-exhaust option box.
*From the July 2017 issue of CAR magazine