Jaguar adds something special into F-Type with 400 Sport package
Fashion's a fickle thing, right? Niche models are a must-have for premium carmakers, but one of the big challenges when so much has been invested in a small-volume machine is keeping it fresh over a relatively long model cycle.
The solution is a little something called the "special edition": a package of small enhancements offered for a short time/limited-run designed to make a familiar model that much more desirable.
So after three years on the market, here's Jaguar's plan to raise the profile of the F-Type. It's called the 400 Sport, and while it's special it's not that limited: this model will be on sale for a "full model year" and there will be as many available as demand dictates.
That makes the 400 Sport more exclusive than your standard F-Type without stopping it doing the job it's here to do: boost interest in a small-volume, no-longer-the-latest-thing model.
The 400 Sport is based on the supercharged V6 model, but gets an extra 14kW, configurable dynamics mode, limited-slip differential with torque vectoring and so-called Super Performance 380/376mm brakes behind some substantial 20-inch alloys.
You also get some very serious-looking central exhaust pipes.
The 400 Sport is also our first look at this year's range-wide F-Type facelift: new bumpers, slimmer lights (now LED) and slimmer/lighter seats as well.
But yellow's the colour for the 400 so you get some very bright exterior badging that looks like little bits of Lego, yellow script on the brake calipers and Windsor leather upholstery inside with yellow stitching.
There's a D-shaped steering wheel and guess what? It has some yellow detailing as well.
The price of all this is an extra $10,000 over a standard F-Type V6 RWD coupe, although you can also apply the 400 package to both the AWD powertrain and convertible body shape. So that makes four potential 400 Sport models. See what we mean about keeping this special-edition's sales potential open?
So be it, because it's a good one. The 400 Sport adds some serious driver appeal to the F-Type V6 package without going into the feral territory of the supercharged V8 model.
The engine upgrade is arguably the least important aspect and probably only there for bragging rights. Or as an excuse for a badge with a nice round number (it's 400 metric horsepower, or 294kW).
The extra power's all up top and the torque has remained the same at 460Nm. What it does offer is a most excellent soundtrack through those central pipes: more urgent and emotional than the regular V6, but not totally disruptive like the window-shattering V8 version.
Still, the configurable chassis and big-boy brakes are really the key to this car's driver appeal.
The gurgle-and-go blown V6 and tremendously slick eight-speed automatic now have a more nimble chassis to work with on winding roads. The layout of the F-Type is still pretty old-school: the bonnet is long, the driver sits very low and as far back in the wheelbase as possible. It's quick, nimble and very satisfying.
No lightweight, though: the F-Type is still a hefty 1700kg. But those kilograms don't seem to dull the driving experience, which is agile and involving. There might be a lot of weight, but it's distributed just so.
The cabin is nicely finished and offers an appropriately intimate ambience, with plenty of tactile stuff to feed the sports-car-fan's imagination.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is continuing apace with its own multimedia operating system and the 400 Sport gets the latest Touch Pro setup, which looks gorgeous but still seems to lack a little processing power: the screen is responsive some tasks do see to drag on. Mobile phone connectivity isn't nearly as slick as rival systems that have Android/Apple phone projection (that's nearly all of them, by the way).
As is often the case with Jaguar, it's the options that irk: stuff that comes standard on many mainstream models is extra-cost on the 400 Sport. If you want blind-spot monitoring and reverse sensing, that's $1450. Power tailgate: $1000. Tyre pressure monitoring is another $1000. Seriously.
But these are Jaguar complaints rather than 400 Sport-specific ones. As F-Types go, this is a great package of enhancements at a logical price premium.
Sure, it's nothing you couldn't cook up yourself after a bit of time with the options list, but it'd cost a lot more and get a bit of extra street-and-track cred with those chunky yellow badges. A bit of an advantage at resale time as well, because a factory-produced special-edition will carry a lot more value than a bunch of buyer-chosen options.
If your F-Type is part of a stable, it'd be totally natural to go for the V8. It's hard to resist all that aural drama and extreme straight-line performance… in short doses.
But if your F-Type is a daily driver, or you prefer your Jaguar to be more sports car than tarmac-shredder, this 400 Sport could well be the pick of the bunch. You should certainly try before you buy anything else in the range.