2021 Jaguar F-Type P380 First Edition review

Can Jaguar's V6 coupe step out of the shadow of its savage V8 sibling?

2021 Jaguar F-Type P380 First Edition review
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What is the Jaguar F-Type P380 First Edition?

The Jaguar F-Type R casts a long shadow. Despite its sleek looks, the awe and wonder of the supercharged V8 coupe threatens to eclipse a worthy sports car offering from Jaguar’s own stable. We’re talking about the F-Type P380 First Edition, which has landed on Australian shores fighting to break free of its sibling’s wake with a character of its own.

Powered by a 3.0-litre supercharged V6, the P380 First Edition sends its 280kW/460Nm to the rear wheels exclusively, unlike the R variant, though uses the same eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Impressive and grippy Pirelli P Zero tyres wrap 20-inch wheels, of 255/35 under the front quarters, and 295/30 at the rear, while the claimed 0-100km/h time is 4.9 seconds. Quick then, but not concussively so.

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How does the Jaguar F-Type P380 First Edition drive?

Much like its more lauded sibling, it’s all about the engine with the P380. However, the main attraction isn’t grunt, it’s the noise.

While power delivery is linear all the way through the rev range, it never fully pins you back in the seat. What it does do is make you grin and laugh like an absolute idiot with its raucous soundtrack.

The supercharged V6 delivers a complex accompaniment all the way through the rev range, and the switchable active exhaust helps elevate the auditory offering with the off-throttle overrun combining staccato machine-gun crackles with grenade-like bassy pops and bangs.

AMG notwithstanding, the F-Type P380 has to be one of the most dramatic-sounding cars in this price range.

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Despite the auditory delights, the six-cylinder F-Type doesn’t become tiring, and you don’t have to go full hooligan all the time. It’s an accomplished grand tourer with a well-judged ride and impressive noise suppression within the cabin when cruising at highway speeds.

However, there isn’t much breadth of talent to the standard adaptive dampers, with the suspension lacking the same twin personality as the engine. A downside to losing the front driveshafts is that corner turn-in lacks bite, and the steering is plagued with a level of numbness that prevents it from being truly involving.

This goes to exemplifying a quirk to the P380 First Edition’s character. It is supremely pleasant around town and on the highway and makes all the right moves on a winding road… right up until the point that you start pushing harder than six tenths. Then the automatic gearbox calibration gets overwhelmed and shifts unpredictably, the steering lacks bite, and the throttle calibration is too jarring.

However, above eight tenths when pushing yourself toward the limit things coalesce again. Manually controlled gearshifts are crisp (if slightly delayed). Push through the vague turn-in and the Pirelli rubber provides impressive grip. The whole car comes alive once again.

Don’t push on for too long though, as the brakes can be overwhelmed quickly. We tested the vehicle during a warm summer day, and after ascending 20km of Victoria’s Reefton Spur the brakes were beginning to feel the pace with a noticeably soft pedal. If you intend on doing regular enthusiastic back-road blasts, the P380’s brakes (with 380mm discs at the front, 325mm out back) will certainly feel the strain.

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Price and value

While the P380’s dynamic missteps can be overlooked depending on personal taste, it faces an unavoidable issue when it comes to cost.

Starting at a $204,936 RRP, our test car wears a price-as-tested tag of $225,996 – that’s not including on-road costs such as Luxury Car Tax.

The extra twenty grand is thanks to the Meridian Sound System ($7260), configurable dynamics ($3980), the striking Eiger Grey metallic paint ($2950), a fixed panoramic roof ($2110), powered tailgate ($1160), two-zone climate control ($1040), blind spot assist and rear traffic monitor ($900), and privacy glass ($650).

And despite all of that option ticking, the P380 First Edition still has odd equipment omissions, such as no head-up display, active cruise control, or heated seats. For near-enough a quarter-million dollars, is that enough for you?

That price tag also brings into play a sports car product planner’s worst nightmare – the Porsche 911. While there is roughly $30,000 between a P380 First Edition and a base Carerra, it’s not a big enough difference to prevent cross-shopping. The record clearly shows that few have ever set out to be a Porsche 911 rival and been notably successful.

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Verdict

That encroachment on Porsche’s territory, plus the existence of Jaguar's in-house bent-eight sibling, obscures the P380 First Edition’s merits somewhat. But take one for a drive, put the windows down, and it’ll make a full-throated statement of its own just fine.

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Rating: 3.5/5

Like: Supercharged V6 sounds like a riot; surprising grand tourer; it’s not a 911

Dislike: Front-end lacks bite; some options should be standard; it’s not a 911

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Jaguar F-Type P380 First Edition specs

Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, supercharged

Power: 280kW @ 6250rpm

Torque: 460Nm @ 4500-5000rpm

0-100km/h: 4.9sec (claimed)

Weight: 1647kg

Price: $204,936

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