2014 Jaguar F-TYPE
As The Brits Would Say -Rapid
By Ron Amadon
SEATTLE – What a year for our friends from Great Britain! First, the Royal Baby captured the attention of the world, and now comes the first Jag-u-ar sports car since JFK was our president and Alan Shepard blasted into space.
That earlier Jag, of course, was the XKE, a breathtaking design that even Enzo Ferrari said was the “most beautiful car ever made.” It still turns heads today.
Released in March 1961, the XKE came with a four-speed stick, independent rear suspension, an inline six with up to 265 horsepower and a top speed of 153 mph.
Certainly, it would be difficult for any designer to top the sleek and sexy XKE but the renowned Ian Callum and his small team have come up with the F-TYPE, a striking rendition of a modern day sports car especially in rear three-quarter view and painted black. I thought the front looked better in person than in pictures – your reaction may vary.
There are three models starting with a base model at $69,000 with a 340 horsepower V6. Second in line is the F-Type S with a stronger six at 380 horsepower and a starting price of $81,000. Now tighten up your seatbelt a bit for the $92,000 top of the line 5-liter, supercharged, 495 horsepower V8 that is neatly shoehorned under the sloping hood – a car that will make you forget all about the quiet, plush sedans in this automaker’s lineup.
Jaguar sent a group of journalists off on a journey through the twisting roads of Washington’s Cascade Mountain Range, with a lovely view of 14,000 foot snow covered Mount Rainer, eventually ending up in 4,500 foot high White Pass. It was a coffee break across Route 12 from the ski area where the legendary Phil and Steve Mahre got their starts.
My expedition started in the mid-pack S convertible that carried the $3,400 optional “Performance Pack,” something you do NOT want to overlook. Along with a flat bottom steering wheel, extremely comfortable and gripping Performance Seats the car came equipped with “Selectable Active Exhaust” that emitted sounds that did wonderful things to your red blood cells.
Jaguar claims a 0-60 run of 4.8 seconds for this model, and that felt about right with a top seed of 171, obviously for track days only. Along with 380 hp, the six delivers 339 lb-ft of torque from 3,500 rpm to 5,500 rpm.
This is logging country so there were ample opportunities to safely pass the slow moving semis and enjoy the quick response of the paddle shifted 8-speed automatic that will take you from 50 to 75 mpg in just 3.3 seconds.
For the technically inclined, the six uses a twin vortex supercharger mounted in the engine’s V and a water cooled Intercooler that reduces the temperature of the intake air to optimize power and efficiency.
Do not fret about the lack of a stick shift. Working either on its own, or through the hefty paddle shifts, the “Quick Shift” automatic can change gears much faster than any human, even if the operator is charged up with a gallon or two of Seattle’s best brew. In addition, it can detect the manner in which the car is being driven, and upon detecting a more spirited driving style, will automatically make the shifts more aggressive and move the shift points higher. It will also blip the throttle on downshifts – Wonderful!
Of course, there is the expected wide variety of driver selected braking, steering, throttle, and suspension settings depending on the operator’s whims and driving record.
Handling was excellent with the “Adaptive Dynamic” suspension that controls vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates and can adjust damper rates up to 500 times a second. When it comes to performance and handling one should not think of this as a poseur sports car. It’s as real as the Brit’s love of bangers and mash.
Inside is where the luxury side of Jaguar gets to show its stuff. Fit and finish was spot on, and everything was geared toward the driver. There was one touch of nostalgia from older sports cars, a passenger side panic handle neatly molded into the center console for use when you show what this F-TYPE can do to a white knuckle flyer.
There was ample room for a six foot tall driver and passenger, and of course, that was it. A TFT LCD screen between the normal instruments displayed numerous bits of information including navi. Rotary dials controlled air conditioning and heating, something that was necessary when we set off in 50 degree weather. Hey, the other guys didn’t put their tops up, so neither would we.
A bit different were air vents that rose out of the center of the dash top. Two Meridian sound systems were offered, but the mixture of the crisp mountain air, the thundering sounds of the exhaust and the supercharged six left little reason to try them out.
Various road testers liked the lighter weight, handling and balance in the supercharged six over the eight. Others felt that way until they got behind the wheel of what some in the homeland must be calling the “Hooligan Eight.”
In short, 495 hp @ 6,500 rpm and 460 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,500 to 5,500 rpm is addictive. Jaguar claims a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 186 mpg and a breathtaking 2.5 second thriller from 50 to 75 mph with, I suspect, the typical passenger’s hand in firm control of the above mentioned panic handle.
Push the pedal to the metal and your testosterone level will increase faster than from any of those lotions you see advertised on the evening news. Both on acceleration and when lifting of the go pedal, the sounds the performance exhaust produces is to sports car lovers what the 1812 overture is to music.
All this wonderfulness might be a handful at the limits and on rainy days, (they have a few of them in this country), but here is why I preferred the eight over the six, money no object.
Pull out to pass a semi or two and there was just two hairs breath, (just that), of lag in the six before the power kicked in. Yet do that in the eight and the power was instantaneous, intoxicating and just plain breathtaking. If the six was Jennifer Aniston, the eight was Kate Upton in an SI bikini – Simple as that.
The Queen would “not be amused” with the ruffian behavior of the eight, but added to my fantasy list of fun things to do would be a lap or two around a track with the great Stirling Moss at the controls.
Now arriving at Jag dealers on these shores, the F-TYPE is one hell of a sports car. Even if it is out of your budget range car buffs should applaud any time a manufacturer comes out with a two seat, rear drive sports car.
Right now, the F-TYPE is available only as a convertible. So that raised the question – Is there a coupe in the works as there was with the XKE? No one would comment on that, but no one said no.
LATE UPDATE: The August 2013 issue of “Car” magazine that is just hitting newsstands here has pictures of an F-TYPE coupe with heavy camo.