The 2014 Jaguar F-Type brings enormous expectations. It’s being described by the car company as “The most important Jaguar in the last 50 years.” So, no pressure at all…
To sample the new sports car in the best possible surroundings, free from the vagaries of winter weather, we were sent to the Navarra region of Spain to explore the three F-Type variants in the land of bull-running and Jambón.
The goal with this sultry drop-top is clear: lure buyers away from the German establishment and return Jaguar to its sporting heritage. To be blunt, Jaguar has specifically focused on competitors like the mighty Porsche 911 and Audi R8.
From sex appeal to road presence, technology and track prowess, these aren’t necessarily the cars to beat, but rather to match. The question remains, is the F-Type that car?
On first sight, you salivate in its presence. Your right foot twitches at the thought of mashing the throttle on an open stretch of Spanish tarmac with the top down. It’s this; the emotion the F-Type exudes – even when stationary – that will bring new buyers to a Jaguar showroom. And that’s exactly what they want. Jaguar estimated 90% of buyers won’t be existing customers.
You’ve got three choices: the F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S. The base model gets a 340hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and is priced at $69895. Stepping into the F-Type S gives you a 40hp bump to 380 from the same motor, along with a price jump to $81895. And finally the V8 S sits atop the fleet with a 495hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that will drain your bank account of $92895.
Jag reports 0-60mph acceleration times of 5.1, 4.8 and 4.2sec respectively for the three models, as well as incremental top speeds of 161, 171 and 186mph.
If the appearance and specification doesn’t tempt you, then Jaguar has priced each configuration 25% below the cost of the equivalent 911. Obviously Jaguar has a soft spot for Porsche, and we can’t blame them.
Driving around Pamplona, we weren’t expecting to be blown away on the country roads in the V6. How often does a base model leave you grinning? Yet the supercharged V6 engine has great power, plenty of torque (332 lb-ft to be exact) and an exhaust note that delights you thanks to the Active Exhaust option on our test car.
The steering is 10% quicker than any Jag before it, and it’s noticeable. The body structure is also stiffer and lighter than any previous Jaguar, and the Adaptive Dynamics damping system we sampled in the V6 S was more aggressive than ever.
And although 340hp isn’t much by today’s standards, the F-Type’s eagerness is helped by the excellent eight-speed ZF transmission with what Jaguar calls Quickshift.
Don’t get your briefs in a bunch, there isn’t a manual offering. That doesn’t surprise us any more. And the number of F-Type buyers who’d opt for such a thing is undoubtedly small. However, Quickshift lives up to its name, proving you don’t need a dual-clutch system to shift rapidly or smoothly. In either full auto or manual mode (we preferred the paddles to the stubby gear lever), the transmission was perfectly matched to the F-Type’s spirit.
The V6 S is another sweet ride. The 3.0-liter is sharply responsive thanks to the roots-style blower providing instant boost when you hit the gas. Bigger brakes were another welcome addition on this model.
In fact, the V6 S was an amazing package. On the Circuito de Navarra, flying down the main straight at 140mph was effortless; a dab of the stoppers set you up for a slight right into a tight second-gear hairpin; the F-Type responding precisely to your commands. This car fits you like a Speedo.
The Jaguar engineering team continually emphasized the F-Type’s “Connected Feel.” It’s about “immediate, precise and proportional response to driver inputs.” And throwing the V6 S around the technical Navarra Circuit, their vision was undeniably evident.
The V6 S also gets a mechanical limited-slip diff. So whether power-on or in transition, this is one Cat that’s happy to shake its tail, thanks in part to the 50/50 weight distribution.
This was the F-Type you could compare directly to the 911 Carrera. Without driving them together, the F-Type certainly holds its own, but is perhaps more of a road car by nature.
It’s not light, tipping the scales at 3521 lb for the V6 and 3671 lb for the V8 S, despite its aluminum construction. So while acceleration was awesome in each model, tossing that much weight around will never feel ideal when compared to the 3274 lb Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet PDK.
Yet Jaguar went to great lengths to create a lightweight convertible, while seemingly sacrificing nothing in terms of overall structural rigidity or style. The fabric roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30mph, taking just 12sec in either direction.
Like the XJ and XK, the F-Type has a bonded-and-riveted aluminum structure and body panels, although the trunk is composite.
The car is home to 141 aluminum pressings, 18 high-pressure die-castings and 24 extrusions, saving roughly 77 lb over a comparable steel structure. Jaguar even created a new alloy called AC170 to form the wonderful clamshell hood. It’s pressed multiple times and can withstand more shaping and sharper angles than regular aluminum.
While the F-Type and F-Type S were impressive packages, we yearned for time with the V8 S. And when it happened, the chassis immediately felt up to the task of a 115hp boost from the supercharged V8.
The V8 S represents the ultimate Jaguar performance car, making you wonder how the XKR-S will live alongside it.
Ditching the mechanical LSD for an electronic unit, upgrading to 20" wheels from the 19" found on the V6 S, and an even larger brakes with 15" front rotors and 14.8" rears, this is the top dog.
Quad exhaust tips spit, pop and burble like a Le Mans car, and through the quiet streets of Pamplona we were tempted to hold first gear in the slow sections to scare the birds and wake the residents with what might just be one of the most sensual but violent factory exhaust notes we’ve had the pleasure of hearing.
Through all the models, the interior remains consistently sophisticated yet simple. The seats were taken for the XKR-S and we’d recommend the power controls, but they’re supportive for every type of driving.
The central air vents rise when needed, keeping visibility ahead as clear as possible. Finally, Jaguar abandoned its rotary gear selection knob in favor of a more traditional lever that’s predictably easy to use.
While it’s undoubtedly a small car with a compact interior, the F-Type is a fine place to spend 30 laps or 300 miles.
The wonderful F-Type marks a truly exciting time for the British brand. Jaguar expects a 33% split between the three models but, as you might imagine, the V8 S gets our vote when it goes on sale this summer. There is also a wide range of personalization options when choosing a car, allowing you to alter interior and exterior finishes and colors, etc. However, each model is well equipped as standard and all have a premium feel, with the F-Type V6 not sacrificing anything compared to the V8 S, except in terms of mechanical ability. The company consciously wanted each model to feel special, and achieved that in spades.
2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S
Engine 5.0-liter V8 DOHC 32v supercharged
Drivetrain eight-speed Quickshift automatic
Brakes 15" rotors with six-piston calipers f, 14.8", six-piston r
Suspension four-wheel independent double wishbone
Wheels & Tires 20x9" f, 20x10.5" r, 255/35 R20 f, 295/30 R20 r Pirelli P Zero tires
Power 495hp at 6500rpm
Torque 460 lb-ft at 2500-5500rpm
Top Speed 186mph
Weight 3671 lb
Economy 23/18mpg (city/highway)