We can’t think of any auto company that has made as massive a turnaround as Jaguar. The classic British marque has gone from barely surviving through ownership changes to a pinnacle where now, the company has impressive ratings and a growing stable of outstanding products. The latest addition luxury lineup is the 2014 Jaguar F-Type, which we consider to be one of the best two seat roadsters on the market.
Bill had a chance to experience the new F-Type at the introduction in Seattle a few months ago and now it was our turn to park one in our garage and use it for a week, like owners, and we’re more impressed than ever.
From its Jaguar family grill and classic long nose to smooth muscular sides and the wide, sophisticated rear end treatment, we think the F-Type is a modern interpretation of what a sports car should look like. Door handles are smooth to the surface and automatically deploy when the car unlocks or by touching the handle provided you have the key in your pocket or purse.
The interior is like a finely tailored suit, elegant because of its simplicity, fit and luxurious materials. The driver’s tools are precisely placed and fit a broad range of drivers. Driver tools include a simple business-like steering wheel with copper colored shift paddles peeking from behind, an easily accessible center console and center stack controls topped by an easy-to-use touch screen. One fun little feature is the center HVAC vent which rises out of the top of the center stack when in use. When the ‘in your face’ air stops, the vents silently disappear into the top of the dash.
Rather than the knob used on the other Jaguar cars, the F-Type shifter is a conventional-style stick with manual shift gate in addition to the shift paddles. The right seat passenger is equipped with much needed handgrips on the center console and door.
When the top is up, the traditional roadster cockpit is covered by a lightweight multilayer cloth top, which includes a layer of Thinsulate® lining for optimal temperature and sound control. The top can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 30 mph in just 12 seconds, and when lowered it creates an attractive tonneau cover.
The driving excitement starts when you put your foot on the brake pedal, push the round copper colored “start” button on the left side of the center console and the sounds of the engine and exhaust system start to sing.
The engines mounted under the clamshell hood define the three models. A 340-hp supercharged V-6 starts the F-Type lineup and produces a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. The F-Type S has a 380-hp version of the same engine producing a 4.8-second 0 to 60 mph time. At 495-hp, the supercharged V8 S makes the 60 mph run in just 4.2 seconds. Top speeds are electronically governed at 161-, 171- and 186-mph and fuel economies are 20/28-, 19/27- and 16/23-mpg city/highway respectively.
Pricing starts at $69,895 for the F-Type. The F-Type S, which is our favorite, has a base price of $81,895 – fully equipped it can run into the mid $90,000s. And the awesome V8 S starts at $92,895. Our test car was the F-Type S, and it had more than enough power for this family and sounds that are nearly as impressive from the engine.
The most celebrated feature of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is the exhaust sound. Two center mounted exhaust outlets spewing crisp melodic tones mean it’s a supercharged V-6. A deep, rich philharmonic-quality sound from four large exhaust outlets (two on either side) means supercharged V-8.
An active exhaust system, standard on both S models and optional on the V-6, orchestrates the great sound. The electronically controlled bypass valves open under hard acceleration to provide a free-flowing straight-through arrangement. At cruising speeds, the valves close to a more comfortable, but still powerful sounding level. Open or closed, the exhaust note is exceptional.
The engine employs fuel saving technologies like an engine Stop/Start system that activates when the car stops for traffic controls. The system is unique, however, in that it will re-fire the engine instantly, even in the middle of a shut down. Should the driver order, “go.” The process reverses itself and the engine starts. The entire process is smooth and unobtrusive, but can be shut off, too.
All three rear-wheel drive two-seaters are equipped with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. This transmission is one of the best in the business, and can be tuned by the manufacturer to match the needs of the car. The F-Type transmission tuning is worthy of a Nobel Prize for quick intuitive shifts. On down-shifts, the transmission automatically blips the engine speed to match the cars speed for more precise smooth shifts. The transmission also has a Corner Recognition system that senses when the F-Type is cornering and it holds the correct gear for maximum acceleration out of the corner.
About a foot shorter and 250 pounds lighter than the Jaguar XK convertible, the F-Type uses an innovative aluminum body structure on lightweight aluminum architecture. The key components of the suspension are aluminum as are the engine block and cylinder heads. Many other F-Type parts are made from composite materials like high-strength polymers to save additional weight.
At about 3,600 pounds, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is no skin and bones model. The frame and body are rock solid with no hint of twist or shake. This translates into the spot on handling which Bill experienced on rough mountain roads, on a technically challenging high-speed racetrack and through autocross maneuvers while at the introduction earlier this year.
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type made a beautiful addition to our garage…perhaps they’ll forget where they left it.
Jaguar has also rolled out a coupe version of the F-Type. We’ll have more on that in 2014.