By now, my neighbours have gotten used to the steady parade of new cars – and bikes – filling up my driveway and, sometimes, spilling out onto the street. Everything from behemoth pick-up trucks to mainstream sedans to electric cars has shown up at one time or another. Some elicit interest and conversation….others, not so much.
One of the more attention-getting models to pass through lately was the 2014 Jaguar F-Type, which seemed to have a steady stream of onlookers and lookie-loos pausing to check it out. Sometimes, people would even come up to the house and start talking to me if I happened to be nearby. Most of the comments were favourable….highly favourable.
The colour of my tester – a striking “Firesand Orange Metallic” definitely catches the eye, but so does the styling. Nice compact dimensions, tasteful chrome accents, purposeful front grille and a lovely rear deck treatment, with twinned rear exhaust ports exiting out the middle of the rear fascia…..a small homage to this car’s illustrious predecessor: the E-Type. All in all, a beautiful car, tasty and contemporary without being overdone and, most importantly for this market, presence up the ying-yang.
There are three versions of this one; F-Type, F-Type S, and F-Type V8. My tester was the S, featuring a supercharged, 3.0 litre V6 that develops 380 horsepower. Given the car’s 1614 kilo weight, this makes the F-Type S a lively performer, without being overwhelming or unmanageable. Transmission is an eight-speed automatic only with a manual shift feature and this drivetrain will take you from a standing start to freeway speed in about five seconds, with a top speed pegged at 275 km/h. I suppose there are quicker cars out there, but so what? These days, the consequences of getting caught doing 50 km/h over the speed limit are dire, and cars faster than this one are just begging to get you in trouble.
And you can find it through the turns as well as on the straightaway. Thanks to a limited slip diff and Jag’s version of active suspension, you can absolutely hurl this one into the twisties. It stays flat, stable, and predictable. This is what Jag has to say about its active suspension system: “Adaptive Damping assesses body motion and pitch rates 100 times per second, and adjusts the settings for each damper accordingly….a series of sensors that are placed around the car monitor the body’s vertical movement, pitch and roll rates.”This Jag may finally be in Porsche territory when it comes to high-speed handling.
Being a Jag, comfort definitely does not take a back seat to performance. This version of the F-Type is loaded with all kinds of stuff. Standard equipment includes all the usual modcons – power windows, leather, back-up camera, climate control, etc – plus goodies like an active exhaust system that lets you to “enhance” the exhaust note, firm but not punishing “performance” seats, heated steering wheel, an active power rear spoiler that you can raise or lower, an engine management system that automatically blips the throttle when you downshift, and 20-inch wheels and tires. It is, by anyone’s definition, an upscale sports car.
The F-Type also features an automatic stop/start function that shuts the car off at stoplights. It’s not as refined as it could be, and you can definitely feel it, but it’s bound to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy over the long run. This feature is almost obligatory these days it seems, and BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and all the rest have it.
A word about the top. One touch does it and it goes up/down in just over 10 seconds. It can also be deployed while the car is in motion – up to 50 km/h – which is a nice touch.
One of the things that occurred to me while driving the F-Type S was that this is the kind of car Triumph would probably be building were it still in business. As the owner of a TR6, I felt a kind of connection between my aging runabout and this one. Yes, yes, the F-Type S is much faster with infinitely superior handling, but both of these cars have smooth, well-behaved six cylinder engines that produce an absolutely intoxicating exhaust note and provide a surprisingly relaxing driving experience. The V8 version of this car is a completely different animal, and goes like a bat out of Hades, while the non-supercharged model is arguably a little too relaxed. The S model strikes me as a good compromise and I felt very much at home in it.
A couple of negatives. First, getting in and out is more challenging than I would prefer…..mainly because of the seat side bolsters and steering wheel location, but that’s pretty typical of most two-seater sports cars. Second, backing the car up and parallel parking is a barrel of laughs. Before I drove this car, I had a Range Rover Evoque, which could be the worst car I had ever driven in reverse. The F-Type is a very close second. The back-up camera does help, but only to a point. Third….well, there is no third.
Unless, of course, it’s the price. Expect to shell out well over 100 large by the time the dust settles.
2014 Jaguar F-Type S
Base Price: $88,900; as tested: $103,025
Engine: Supercharged 3.0 litre V6
Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 390 ft. lb. @ 3500 – 5000 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic w. manual shift feature
Fuel economy: (litres/100 km): 10.8 city; 7.3 hwy. (Premium)
Alternatives: BMW M3 Convertible, Audi A5 S-Line Cabrio, Chev Corvette, Mercedes SLK, Ford Shelby GT500 Convert, Dodge Viper, Porsche Carrera Cabriolet , Infiniti G37 Convertible.