2014 Jaguar F-Type
The last time Coventry, England, produced anything that could be considered swinging was in 1974 at the end of the Jaguar E-Type era. Recent years have seen stirrings – think XKR-S - but not a full-scale effort and producing a genuine sports car once again.
Built with the intention of being a spiritual (and alphabetical) successor to the legendary E-Type, the new F-Type is available in three flavors (F-Type, F-Type S, and F-Type V8 S) that offer differences in supercharged powerplants and interior fitments.
As penned, the F-Type is lower, wider and shorter than any previous model and features heartlines. A pair of them, actually. What’s a heartline, you ask? Jaguar calls them lines that grab you and evoke emotion at first glance. Consider the loins positively stirred, not shaken.
Pulling from several iconic looks first seen on the E-Type, this latest Jag moves things along with updates that include a new trapezoidal grille and vertically-oriented headlamp housings. Avoiding the cat’s-eye shape as seen on the brand’s XJ and XF models, they instead utilize projector beams and LED daylight running lights, to mimic, in an updated fashion, the headlamps last seen on the E-type.
The typical long clamshell style bonnet, as they say, yields to the two-place cockpit and ends with the short overhang, which thanks to the Z-folding convertible roof gives way to a surprisingly very usable boot, er, trunk. An automatically deploying rear spoiler rises at 60 mph and returns at 40 mph, producing 265 lbs. of downforce. That roof, by the way, stows in 12 seconds and can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 30 mph.
We photographed the V6-powered S, which is quickly identifiable by its center mounted exhaust tips, while the V8 S version of this new British hot-rod can be identified by carbon fiber side sills and twin pairs of outboard-mounted exhaust finishers. We have not driven the standard V6 model.
Use of lightweight aluminum, aerospace type rivets and bondings and 18-specific new die-castings, makes the 3,521 lbs. F-Type the stiffest, most rigid Jaguar ever.
The F-Type is available in three strength levels beginning with the anything-but-base 3.0-liter 340 horsepower V6 and progressing to a mid-level 3.0-liter 380-horsepower V6 in the F-Type S.
The range finishes off with F-Type V8 S' 5.0-liter 495-horsepower supercharged V8. That would be, of course, until the inevitable F-Type R S arrives.
All engine choices are direct injection types with Eaton twin vortex superchargers and dual intercoolers to help cool the air charges for a more efficient and powerful burn.
Mechanically, all three packages are mated exclusively to ZF’s terrific eight-speed automatic transmission, which offered rapid gear changes in automatic, manumatic and a fully manual mode that actually holds the cogs until you click off a gear change from the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers or the more traditional console stick shift lever.
The joy of shifting (sans clutch) is here, but in automatic mode the unit always seemed to find the tip of the torque band for each cog. It is also equipped with a torque converter-based launch control system for NHRA-style getaways. On the triple digit to zero range, three levels of braking systems are standard issue, depending on engine choice. But based on experience with the more powerful V6S and V8S models, they are well suited to the job at hand.
The softer side
F-Type's driver-centric cockpit is a well-designed area that does a good job of keeping pilots focused and the passenger away from all the controls. To drivers who appreciate that type of cockpit layout: You know who you are.
The interior is nicely executed with upmarket material all around and includes padded windowsills and a stitched leather dashboard. While it does not have the rising drive control knob seen in the XF, XK and XJ models, there is still an element of “surprise and delight” in the rising climate control registers that appear when the F-Type roars to life.
If that roar is not for you (but then, why would you buy this particular car?) there is always the Meridian-branded audio system for additional in-car-entertainment.
The seats, appropriated directly from Jaguar’s sporty RS model parts bins, featured adjustable lumbar and bolstering, which can be made to accommodate most sizes of drivers.
We first experienced the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 S model, which would be sufficient for about 90-percent of the prospective F-Type buyers in-market. It offered smooth acceleration that was of the “think it, and thy will be done,” school of thought. Meaning if you saw an opening on an interstate highway ahead, you would be there almost without thinking. Naught to 60 mph in the V6 S comes on in 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 171 mph.
The supercharged 5.0-liter V8 S, with its 495-horsepower and 364 lb-ft of torque, offered the delicious experience of excessive living, with just too much of everything. Acceleration was ridiculously plentiful, to the tune of zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and capped off with a top speed of 186 mph.
Both engines offered a full-sweep of the gauges at startup, which was so visceral in nature that we were told to be very gentle on the throttle at our starting location so as to not wake the neighbors.
Steering is go-kart taut with no dead spot anywhere in its range, and the electrically adjustable dampers made sure that the correct amount of firmness was in play at anytime, depending on driver-dialed settings. With perfect 50:50 weight bias and flat handling, gentle adjustments are all that’s needed to move around a sweeping curve or a tight hairpin. Drivers will find no need to manhandle this car, and as a result, the F-Type rewards smooth driving technique.
The exhaust is demonic in its own right but pushing the Eurofighter-inspired console-mounted Adaptive Dynamics Sport switch, makes it positively apocalyptic. This switch, or the vehicle dynamics setting on the centerstack display, also controls fine-tuning of the throttle, shift and suspension settings, as desired by the driver.