2014 Jaguar F-Type First Drive

We drove the 2014 Jaguar F-Type last Thursday and Friday in the Navarra region of northeastern Spain. By Friday evening, we were sitting at a dinner table in Normandy at the home of a couple of friends who split their time between Paris and France's northern coast. They know that media previews of new cars often bring us to Europe but don't have the details of this particular trip.

"So, what were you driving in Spain?"

"The new Jaguar F-Type."

"Hmmm. Haven't heard of it. What is it?"

We scroll through the camera roll on our iPhone and hand it over. In the picture, we're standing next to a salsa red F-Type against a backdrop of a rolling green pasture and a field of bright yellow rapeseed.

"Oh!" they say in unison. "They made a sporty car!"

Any doubts we might have had about the claim that the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is "Jaguar's first sports car in 50 years" are thus dispelled, and the company's expectation that some 90% of F-Type buyers will be new to the Jaguar brand is also confirmed. This particular couple, one of whom is an American, has owned all manner of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and Porsches over the past two decades, although the only British car they've had is a 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. We'd driven their Mercedes CLS diesel up from Paris, and it was sitting in the crunchy French gravel of their drive as we spoke. (They embrace all aspects of French culture except French cars.) In other words, they are exactly the type of customers that Jaguar is hoping to lure away from German brands with the 2014 Jaguar F-Type. As they further examine my iPhone photo, they declare that the new roadster reminds them of the E-Type, which they describe as "the most beautiful car ever made."

Back in the courtyard of the Muga de Beloso Alma Hotel in Pamplona, the city in northeastern Spain that you might recall as the place where Ernest Hemingway fully indulged his passion for bull-fighting, Jaguar had displayed the new F-Type alongside its three single-letter forebears, the C-Type, the D-Type, and the E-Type. A brave move, you might conclude, to put one's 2014 automobile up against three of the most sensuous automotive shapes not just from Jaguar but also of the entire postwar era. We say, if you've got heritage, flaunt it. After all, of the vintage trio, only the E-Type was a true roadgoing car, and there's no denying that the F-Type oozes its own flavor of 21st century sex appeal. We first saw the F-Type's design direction in the C-X16 concept from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Only through design will Jaguar even get Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche buyers to glance at a Jaguar showroom. Porsche, you ask? Indeed, Jaguar has a bit of a carmaker-crush on Porsche and, like every sports car manufacturer in the world, will be highly flattered by any comparisons made to the products from Zuffenhausen. To drive home the point, Jaguar representatives continually remind us that every version of the F-Type will cost about 25% less than comparable Porsche 911 models.

If you're inviting comparisons with Porsche, you'd better have the hardware to back up your claims, and Jaguar has the right kind of numbers on the F-Type spec sheet. The $69,895 F-Type gets a 340-hp version of Jaguar's own supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, while the $81,895 F-Type S bumps the V-6 to 380 hp. The $92,895 F-Type V8 S boasts 495 hp. Jaguar cites 0-to-60-mph times of 5.1 seconds, 4.8 seconds, and 4.2 seconds, respectively, for the three models. There's a similar progression in the electronically limited top speeds: even the base model is good for 161 mph, the S for 171 mph, and the top dog for 186 mph.

All models are mated to ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission, which Jaguar calls Quickshift. You might be tempted to dis Jaguar for the lack of a manual gearbox but, then again, the upcoming Porsche 911 GT3 won't have one, either. And if Jaguar were to offer one, virtually no one would buy it. Still, it's always sad to see a sports car model line with no clutch pedal in sight.

Aside from the obvious powertrain development, the F-Type program "required a fundamental shift in Jaguar DNA," says Ian Hoban, who's been with the automaker for 23 years and now serves as vehicle line director for all its products. The catchphrase he and his team use, "Connected Feel," describes their attempts to imbue the F-Type with "immediate, precise, and proportional response to all driver inputs." To that end, the F-Type has 10% faster steering than any other Jaguar, the lightest and stiffest body structure of any Jaguar, and an aggressively tuned version of Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics damping system. The V6 S is fitted with a mechanical limited-slip differential, while the V8 S gets an electronically controlled version that uses a multi-plate clutch to send torque to the rear wheel with the most grip.

Like the XJ and XK, the F-Type has a bonded-and-riveted aluminum body structure cloaked in aluminum body panels. (The trunk lid is composite.) The structure, which consists of 141 aluminum pressings, 18 high-pressure die castings, and 24 extrusions, is some 77 lb lighter than a comparable steel structure. Jaguar engineers are particularly proud of the single stamping of the clamshell hood because of the crisp folds they were able to create, which made the design team happy.

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Peter Glasz
tnlizzy50 would not likely be as set on a manual transmission if he had to drive I-270 from Rockville into DC on a daily basis.  I guess there will always be some who insist on a manual but with age comes a degree of wisdom, if not aches and pains, that negate the joy of shifting.  Technology has advanced and while I can not afford a fine auto that is at the leading edge of auto tehcnology I would not be set against a Porsche without a stick on that one point.
Herman Johnson
Did I miss it, or did they leave out the twin turbo 6 cylinder diesel, which gets 40 miles per gallon.  Which will not be sold in the U.S. because it get too good of mileage.    Or as the article I read said that diesel fuel was to cheap here.  I hope every one will google Moody and Shetley, Oak Hill, Fla.   They turbo charged a Perkins diesel, and put it in a ford capri, and got 80 miles to a gallon.  They also had a gas engine that got 60 miles per gallon.  This was all done in the late 70's or 1980.  The EPA and the government shut them down. 
tinlizzy50
Well, it certainly LOOKS "sporty," but I will never consider a car without a manual transmission to be a real "sports car." Shame on Jaguar and even more on Porsche! It's a beautiful car, but without the manual option, it's not a proper successor to the E- type.
David Snyder
Having owned 5 E-Types of the 20 Jags owned so far, the F-Type for this day and age is a keeper.  I do not believe we shall ever see an automobile as sensuous as the famous E-Type for that was but a period in time.  The days of Sir Lyons and Malcolm Sayer have passed, but with all the constraints placed on automotive designs today, I want to believe they too would be pleased, for the F-Type is a worthy effort.  Do not know when I will acquire one, but it is most definitely on the list.
Celthammer
A little gripe I have is that the base model has an open differential.  It sounds amazing, has athletic responses, but is basically a 1-wheel drive?!  At these prices, I expect even the base model to be an enthusiast's dream and track day weapon.
jmccool6969
Yes-Yes. I want to test drive each version. Even the least expensive looks good.
sbabbittx5
Very nice looking, I'm curious about the weight though, my guess is that it weighs more than a Porsche and I agree with Mr Hoke, I'd put my money on a  2013 Boxster S without considering the Jag but then again that would be true for any sports car in that price range (for me anyway). 
Celthammer
I can't wait for the comparo with the Germans on Friday.  Viscerally, I'm not feeling the comparison with the 911, but that may take time.
Jared Hoke
I currently drive a Jaguar X so am familiar with the marque, and being 65, also with its storied history. My X has a manual transmission; I would not own it if it did not. I don't get the whole "connected feel" thing; Jags have always had that ... the good ones, anyway, as does any good sports-flavored machine. I also fail to see much similarity to the E Type, but it does look pretty. Is that enough? I wonder, as the great Jags of old offered wonderful performance, cachet and VALUE FOR MONEY i.e. a huge price advantage over any serious rivals. I love Jaguars, but would I buy this instead of a Porsche Boxer S or BMW Z (either with a manual)? Probably not. But that's OK; I still have my pristine Austin Healey BJ8 to play with.
Steve Hiss
Nice, but I gots to have a manual tranny in my sports car!
wademiddletonco
Looks like a pretty nice car. Do they need to offer 3 different engines and suspension packages? The more the merrier I suppose!
materialman80
That is a beautiful car!
captlwr
Strikingly beautiful design...........I see more than a little BMW "retro" Alpina from the rear. Really NICE!! I won't be forking up that much $$ to get one, but I congratulate Jaguar on the effort - and it looks just the "right size" .........
TheBigPill
Joe,You know there's a world of difference between the dual clutch transmission going i to the GT3 and the torque converter automatic in this car. There not the same so why make a statement as if they are?
Enthuso
I guess this is what a Honda S2000 would have looked like if Honda had built a newer version. 
AM_DeMatio
@TheBigPill Hey, yeah, I see your point, although my bigger point was simply that it's almost futile to protest the continuing loss of the traditional manual gearbox, and that Porsche's decision not to equip even its GT3 with a manual speaks to that. I didn't mean to imply that the Jaguar ZF gearbox and the Porsche gearbox were comparable. (Speaking of the Jaguar ZF, I accidentally wrote it as the "XF gearbox," which contributor Ronald Ahrens pointed out after we published the piece. Has since been fixed, but it was kinda funny.) Thanks for reading, Joe DeMatio
AM_DeMatio
@Enthuso Ouch!

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