2014 Jaguar F-Type First Drive

Climb behind the wheel of the F-Type, and there's definitely an immediate sense that you're in a different sort of Jaguar. You sit nearly an inch lower than in Jaguar's previous sportiest car, the XKR-S coupe. The cabin is modern and luxurious but not affected, with a row of substantial rocker switches and big twist dials for climate control, a nicely stitched grab handle that delineates the driver's space from the passenger's, a chunky gearshift lever that is the antithesis of the fussy old Jaguar J-gate shifter, and a small and simple steering wheel (three versions of the steering wheel are available, including a flat-bottomed one and one with Alcantara). In S models, the Dynamic Mode button, the shift paddles, and the start button are accented in orange. Fit and finish are very good. A set of vents at the top of the center stack rises when the climate control system dictates they are needed and otherwise disappear into the dash. Jaguar always concocts at least one parlor trick for its cabins these days, it seems.

Our test cars were fitted with optional fully power-adjustable seats, but base seats have manual fore-and-aft movement to save weight. Jaguar considered something akin to Mercedes-Benz's Airscarf to blow warm air on your neck but rejected it due to packaging concerns. This is not a particularly big cabin. People over 6'2" or 6'3" might find legroom lacking. You're on intimate terms with your passenger, but there's still a substantial amount of instrument panel between you and the windshield. The F-Type feels good from the passenger's seat. You feel like you're part of the car even though you don't have the steering wheel in your hands, and the door handle and grab bar are ideal for bracing yourself for g-forces.

The fabric top goes down in only 12 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph and folds neatly behind the seats. The trunk is shallow, oddly shaped, and small, with only 7.0 cubic feet of space. It's not for golf clubs, but if you're a golfer, Jaguar will point you to the XK.

Within the first few miles, you'll notice the F-Type's stiff body structure, for sure, as there's virtually no cowl shake or undue bending or flexing. You'll also realize that this is still a relatively heavy car. Curb weights range from 3521 lb for the V6 to 3671 lb for the V8 S, so you understand why Jaguar engineers were obliged to provide a lot of power under the hood.

Even the base V6 is more than sufficient thanks in part to the Quickshift transmission, which disconnects the torque converter once you're in second gear to create a direct mechanical connection between the engine and the rear wheels. To shift manually, either nudge the gearshift lever into its left gate and pull it back for upshifts and shove it forward for downshifts. Or, our preference, use the shift paddles. Hit the Dynamic Mode switch on the center console, confirmed by a checkered flag in the driver's display cluster, and the transmission will hold on to gears at redline and automatically blip the throttle during downshifts.

You'll want to blip the throttle yourself nonstop to take full advantage of the Active Exhaust system (optional on V6, standard on V6 S and V8 S), which opens bypass valves in the exhaust under hard acceleration. The sweet mechanical music that follows, especially the crackle and pop when you lift off the gas, are worthy of an Italian supercar. V6 models have twin center exhaust outlets, in a nod to the E-Type, while the V8 has quad outlets, two at each corner.

The F-Type's steering is relatively light yet very precise, with good feel, even if it's not as hyper-communicative as, say, the Porsche Boxster's. At the Circuito de Navarra, a racetrack set into stunning landscape in the foothills south of Pamplona, it was easy to direct an F-Type S into tight corners, and the brakes, with excellent pedal modulation and pressure, were ready for track duty. The gearbox responded quickly to slaps of the shift paddles, especially when multiple downshifts were required. Stability control wasn't overly intrusive during a few brief laps of the circuit with a British driving instructor named Chris riding shotgun. Chris did not offer to let us drive with stability turned off, but the F-Type feels like it would willingly rotate if he had.

The diameters of both the wheels and the brake rotors ascend as you move up through the F-Type model hierarchy. The F-Type gets 18-inch wheels and 14-inch front rotors; the F-Type S gets 19-inch wheels and 15-inch front rotors; and the F-Type V8 S has 20-inch wheels and 15-inch front, 14.8-inch rear rotors, the largest set of brakes Jaguar has ever fitted as standard to a production car. Both of the V6 models can be spec'd up with bigger footwear with the usual portfolio of attractive Jaguar wheels.

As composed and fun as the two V6 models are, it's the V8 S that has the visceral nature that gives real credence to Jaguar's "sports car" claim. It's a different beast altogether, with far more character and personality and verve, and Jaguar expects it to comprise half of all U.S. sales. On the second day of the media program, we drove it on a loop northeast of Pamplona through fantastically scenic mountain roads snaking along a series of rivers bursting with spring snow melt, top down despite the 38-degree morning chill, and the F-Type had all the right moves and made all the right sounds. Grip, even in tight corners on wet roads, was excellent, and the car was flat and composed without ride harshness. It was pretty great.

Our initial drives of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type make us think that the storied British marque has entered a new era and that this is the Jaguar that will finally pry some people out of their German cars. CLICK HERE to see how the F-Type V8 S fares against two of its most accomplished German rivals.

2014 Jaguar F-Type

Price: $69,895-$92,895
Engine: Supercharged 3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6; supercharged 5.0-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8
Horsepower: 340/380 hp @ 6500 rpm; 495 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 332/339 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm; 460 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
Wheelbase: 103.2 in
Front/rear track: 62.4/64.1 in
L x W x H: 176.0 x 75.7 x 51.0 in
Headroom: 40.0/37.8 in
Legroom: 45.5/36.8 in
Fuel tank capacity: 19.0 gal
Cargo Capacity: 15.9 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3521-3671 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): F-Type: 20/28 mpg, F-Type S: 19/27 mpg, F-Type V8 S: 16/23 mpg
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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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