Review: 2014 Jaguar F-Type
I gotta win the lottery. I gotta win the lottery. I gotta win the lottery.
No, really, I gotta win the lottery.
Because when I do, even before I pay off the Visa bill and buy houses for deserving family members, I’m getting me a Jaguar F-Type.
I’ve driven many cars in this snack bracket before. I’ve piloted Porsches, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and even the magnificent electric Tesla, and appreciated them all. But none have ignited such a burning desire to put one in my garage.
The two-seater F-Type — described as the spiritual successor to the iconic Jaguar E-Type of 1961 — is what you get when a company delivers at the very top of its game.
Two versions of the supercharged 3.0-L V6 are available, one turning out 340 horsepower and starting at $76,900, and the other making 380 horsepower and kicking off at $88,900.
But I’ll order my car equipped as my tester was: with a 5.0-L supercharged V8, cranking out 495 horsepower and 461 lb.-ft. of torque, and starting at $100,900. Go big or go home!
That’s a mad amount of power, but the F-Type’s major strength is that it combines that strength with signature Jaguar refinement.
Drive it gently, and it’s a pussycat that winds its way gracefully through urban traffic. There’s even an “eco” button, which shuts off the engine at idle as a hybrid does, so you’re not burning fuel or spewing emissions when stopped at a red light.
But turn on the Dynamic mode and hit the throttle, and the F-Type responds with lightning-quick steering, fabulous linear acceleration, instant torque vectoring through its electronically-controlled differential, and a throaty roar that I preferred to listen to all week instead of the stereo.
Press the Active Exhaust button, which opens valves to improve the sound, and it pops and crackles on downshifts like a ’50s-style hot rod with glass-pack mufflers. The F-Type probably has more computer circuits than the space shuttle, but it sounds gloriously mechanical.
There’s no clutch pedal. Get over it. This eight-speed automatic is superb, swapping cogs faster than you ever could. The transmission reads an interwoven web of information and responds accordingly to your steering and braking, so it holds gears during tight cornering, or downshifts immediately on hard braking.
If you want more control, use the paddle shifters. When the shifter’s in manual mode and the car in its Dynamic setting, it won’t try to override you. It’ll cut back the throttle if you lift the needle into redline, but it won’t take over and shift into whatever gear it thinks you should use.
The bad news, of course, is that unless you take it to the track, there’s no place you can really stretch this cat’s legs. Any blast on the throttle takes only a few blinks before you’re in that territory where the cop tells you to step out because he’s calling for the tow truck to confiscate it.
So console yourself with the fact that everyone is staring, because this car’s so damn gorgeous. And when you get back to the parking lot and there are people standing around it and drooling, you’re the one with the key in your pocket.
Shallow? Oh, yeah. But some people wear designer clothes, or build exquisite houses, or collect lovely art, because they like to do so, and they can. Consider this the automotive equivalent.
Not everything is capital-A awesome, of course. This is an overnight-trip-only car, because storage space consists of a shallow trunk and some laughably tiny interior compartments. I couldn’t take the Designated Passenger with me to go grocery shopping, because I needed his seat to hold the stuff I bought (although, considering he got out of going to the store, he may put that one in the car’s “plus” column).
And unlike most of its ragtop rivals, my F-Type leaked like a sieve in the car wash. I could have cleaned the car and had my morning shower in a single step.
Jaguar’s once-dismal record for reliability is improving, but some items make me wonder how they’ll handle the long term. The flush outside door handles pop out when you unlock the car, and while this isn’t an ice-and-snow machine (although it does have a “snow” setting for better control on slippery roads), I wonder about slush and dirt getting into them.
The smooth upper dash hides the centre vents, which slowly rise when you turn on the climate control. Way-cool, but will it have the longevity? Jaguar’s gloveboxes used to magically open when you waved your hand near them, but that was soon swapped out for a button.
But that will be then, and this is now. While it might sound flippant to throw around such numbers, if you have $100,000 to spend on a car, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything currently on the market to buy instead.
For your cash, you get a car that you can set to ride and handle like a big, luxury sedan when you want passive comfort, or that you can flip over with a couple of switches into a canyon-carving creature that runs with the best that Porsche, Audi and others can throw at it.
In short, the F-Type is possibly the single best reason out there to keep buying those 649 tickets.
The vehicle tested by freelance writer Jil McIntosh was provided by the manufacturer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S
Price: $100,900 base, $112,350 as tested
Engine: 5.0-L V8 Supercharged
Power/torque: 495 hp/461 lb.-ft.
Fuel consumption L/100 km: 13.4 city, 8.6 hwy., 14.1 as tested (91 octane)
Competition: Audi R8, BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, Viper SRT
What’s best: Good looks, great performance, luscious interior.
What’s worst: I didn’t win the lottery.
What’s interesting: The composite trunk lid lets radio signals pass through to hidden aerials.