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In five short years, Jaguar has turned its F-type lineup into a complex tangle not dissimilar to a ball of yarn undone by a catnip-addled feline. To wit, the 400 Sport reviewed here is now the third six-cylinder F-type. It joins a coupe and convertible family that launched with 340- and 380-hp six-cylinder variants and a 495-hp V-8 model but has since expanded by way of an entry-level four-cylinder engine, optional all-wheel drive, an available manual transmission for certain V-6 trims, and more-powerful V-8s including a range-topping 575-hp SVR.
Keepin’ It 400
Counting every engine tune, transmission, drive layout, and body style, there are 24 distinct F-type permutations to choose from, with four cylinders and $65,000 separating each end of the family. It sounds crazy until you consider that Porsche’s 911 club has more members and spans an even wider price spectrum. The new-for-2018 400 Sport is actually four variants in one: You can have it with rear- or all-wheel drive and as a coupe or a convertible.
The 400 Sport’s defining feature is a 400-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine. It is the same engine used in the lower-output six-cylinder F-types, only tweaked for a few more ponies. Peak torque holds at the same 339 lb-ft as in the 380-hp version, just 7 lb-ft greater than in the 340-hp variant. Like nearly the entire F-type lineup, the 400 Sport uses a sharp-witted eight-speed automatic transmission. (A six-speed manual is limited to lesser versions of the V-6.) Manual gear selection is possible via the shift lever or a pair of steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles and produces satisfyingly quick responses.
Other 400 Sport–specific items include a deeper splitter and rocker-panel extensions (the former wearing nifty yellow “400” script), a darkened rear diffuser, and 20-inch wheels. Jaguar also tosses in larger-diameter rear brake rotors, black-painted calipers, 12-way power-operated sport seats, and yellow stitching for the all-black interior. Prices start at $90,495 for the rear-drive 400 Sport coupe and rise to $93,595 for the convertible; all-wheel drive adds $3000 to each version.
Our all-wheel-drive coupe test car thus rang in at $93,495 before options. Unlike most F-types, the special-edition 400 Sport doesn’t offer many extras. The model comes standard with a heated steering wheel, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, leather seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and Jaguar’s Configurable Dynamics driving-mode selector.
Buyers can choose from three paint colors—white, silver, or black—and the only stylistic adjustments one can make to the interior are adding leather to more surfaces, replacing the headliner with suedelike cloth, or garnishing the center console with carbon fiber. Our car benefited from that last upgrade ($765) plus the Climate 2 package ($1430) that brings dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated windshield, and heated and cooled seats. An $1175 fixed panoramic sunroof (a carbon-fiber roof also is available), $185 auto-dimming door mirrors, an $870 Meridian surround-sound system, a $410 power-operated liftgate, and a $460 blind-spot monitoring system brought the total to $98,790 and nearly exhausted the options sheet. Here we’ll once again point out that F-types of all stripes remain veritable bargains among sports cars and GTs from blue-chip European automakers; prices for Porsche’s 911 and Mercedes-Benz’s SL are just getting going around where the Jaguar tops out.
This version isn’t the quickest six-cylinder F-type we’ve tested, despite being the most powerful. Then again, it’s the only one saddled with all-wheel drive. A lighter, rear-drive, 380-hp automaticreached 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, 0.1 second quicker than this rather porky 400 Sport. All F-types have a bit of a weight problem, and all-wheel drive adds even more pounds. We expect that in an AWD-to-AWD (or RWD-to-RWD) comparison, the 400 Sport would outaccelerate its lesser six-cylinder counterparts, if only just.
Even if the all-wheel drive dulls a bit of the F-type’s off-the-line gusto, it adds palpable traction when exiting corners under power. We notched 0.98 g of grip on our skidpad, placing this 400 Sport near the top of the pile of six- and eight-cylinder F-types we’ve tested. The system is tuned to favor sending engine torque to the rear axle, meaning throttle-on oversteer is still always available at the aggressive flex of a right ankle. At times that becomes almost necessary, as the relatively nose-heavy Jag tends to understeer at its grip limit. As in other F-types, the body stays flat through corners and wheel control over bumps is excellent. The quick and accurate electrically assisted power steering offers disappointingly little road feel; although a lot of modern cars fail this touch test, it’s an especially important source of information in sports cars such as the F-type.
Less to excuse the matter than to change the subject to rosier topics, not many cars look like this Jaguar. Particularly in coupe guise, the F-type remains a stunner even five years after its initial debut. To date, Jaguar has changed only the headlight internals and the vents at each corner of the front bumper, and yet the design still looks fresh.
Few new cars sound like the Jag, either. The supercharged V-6 spits the same raucous note here as it does in other F-types, and popping the dual-mode exhaust into its louder setting amps up the volume to nearly offensive levels. Blatting around in an F-type, gratuitously downshifting just to trigger the resultant litany of pops and cracks from the exhaust, is about as subtle as leaping around your front lawn in your birthday suit and firing a six-shooter at the heavens.
Is there anything the F-type 400 Sport does that other six-cylinder F-types don’t? Not really, its extra 20 horsepower and special design touches aside. That means the newest F-type also is encumbered by the same limited rearward visibility and a touchscreen that suffers from inconsistent responses. The 400 Sport merely gives F-type buyers yet another delectable option when they walk into their local Jaguar dealership. If this is your cup of 400-hp tea, act now—it’s limited only to the 2018 model year.