The single model-year special. It’s the clarion call to car collectors everywhere, a lightning bolt from above that illuminates the showroom and begs to be driven into a hermetically sealed barn until the auction gods smile down upon it 50 years hence. I seriously doubt that a similar fate awaits the 2018 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport, however, because after spending a week behind the wheel, I fail to understand how anyone would ever willingly hang up the keys and walk away from this ferocious grand tourer.
The delicious crack, burble, and boom of the 400’s standard sport exhaust is so much easier to access with the auto versus the manual, and at significantly lower RPM, that it lets me feel like a glass-shattering hooligan when I’m simply commuting across town.
The 400 Sport is the latest member of the F-Type family, which has been growing steadily since it first hit the scene as a roadster a mere four years ago. There are now 10 different F-Type models available from Jaguar – split evenly between coupes and convertibles – and while that number might still not match the diversity of its Teutonic rival, the Porsche 911, once you throw in the choice between all-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmissions, you’ll bear witness to an embarrassment of choice that has rarely been offered under the banner of the leaping cat.
The $97,500 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport finds itself squarely in the middle of the pack, borrowing the brand’s mid-tier supercharged 3.0-litre V6 as its powerplant but working a little extra magic to squeeze out 400 horses, rather than the 380 available from the next-step-down R-Dynamic model. In addition to a boost in grunt, the 400 Sport also brings with it a host of minor cosmetic updates that pass for a mild refresh of the F-Type. Several of these are shared across the line-up, but there are also with a number of model-specific details that aren’t.
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Specifically, the vehicle benefits from bright yellow 400 Sport call-outs on the front splitter, rear deck, brake calipers, and seats (along with a GoPro app that allows you to overlay vehicle data such as speed, throttle position, and engine RPMs over video footage taken while driving the car). Colours are restricted to silver, white, and black, with the interior gaining unique black and bare aluminum trim, and my tester also featured optional carbon-ceramic brakes that added even more eye-searing yellow to contrast against its Santorini-black paint.
Colour palette isn’t the only restriction associated with the 2018 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport. Regardless of whether you select rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the car is matched exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Before you cry foul, allow me to interject, as I’ve discovered that I actually prefer the ZF-sourced slushbox as compared to the available (with V6 and turbo four engines) six-speed manual, for one very specific reason: sound. The delicious crack, burble, and boom of the 400’s standard sport exhaust is so much easier to access with the auto versus the manual, and at significantly lower RPM, that it lets me feel like a glass-shattering hooligan when I’m simply commuting across town.
For me, that aural pleasure is an key aspect of the F-Type experience, and a big part of what helps the Jaguar define genuine character in a segment of the market too often populated with antiseptic performance appliances. The AWD model I piloted offered a firm, but not chattering interpretation of a sports car suspension (minus some steering feel compared to rear-wheel drive models) that was quite comfortable during 1,000 kilometres of mixed highway and two-lane road-trip action. Still, while the supercharged V6 in the F-Type is a solid performer that rips to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, especially with the vehicle set to sharp-throttle Dynamic mode, this isn’t a car that’s interested in setting lap records or snapping your neck off the line.
Instead, the F-Type 400 Sport – like almost every six-cylinder iteration of the car – counts personality in spades as its primary selling point. Both the coupe and the convertible are gorgeous (with pedestrians regularly walking up to the window of the car to congratulate me on my taste), and the snarling attitude emanating from its twin centre exhaust tips only underscores the image that the F-Type is smiling like a killer at other GTs in its class like the aforementioned 911 and the more staid BMW 6 Series convertible. Perhaps only the Mercedes-AMG GT approaches its pairing of attitude and grace, indicating just how high you have to climb on the personal luxury ladder before encountering the F-Type’s equal.
If part of the Jaguar’s hearty backslap and loud-mouthed style includes a rear spoiler button on the centre console that doesn’t actually seem to do anything, a paucity of active safety features, and no available adaptive cruise control, then so be it. The F-Type 400 Sport isn’t trying to tick off every box on the luxury car laundry list of features, a task better left to deep-pocketed companies who do bigger volume than Jaguar. Rather, it’s looking to connect with that subset of customers no longer willing to accept the cold comfort of lap times and spec sheets in place of the thrill of being behind the wheel of a beast that feels part ruffian, part co-conspirator, and every inch as alive as the driver.
|2018 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport AWD|
|Engine Displacement: 3.0L|
|Engine Cylinders: V6|
|Peak Horsepower: 400 hp|
|Peak Torque: 339 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy: 13.0/9.2/11.3 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space: 206 L|
|2018 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport AWD|
|Base Price $101,000|
|A/C Tax $100|
|Destination Fee $1,995|
|Price as Tested $122,945|
|Optional Equipment $19,850 – Panoramic sunroof $1,230; Auto-dim LED headlights $260; Blind spot monitoring $460; Parking assist front $290; Park assist rear $510; Power folding side mirrors $210; Power tailgate $510; Carbon ceramic brake package with 20-inch forged wheel $14,790; Climate package 2 (heated windshield, heated and cooled seats, heated steering dual, dual automatic climate control) $1,590|