The embargo on reviews of the all-new 2014 Jaguar F-Type lifted last night and so the web is teeming with takes on Jaguar's first proper two-seat sports car in decades. And guess what? It turns out it's pretty great.
Praise was heaped on its power, looks and exhaust note, but the car was also dinged for its overly-light and vague steering — an all-too-common problem with cars these days — and the fact that at least for now, it only comes with a ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox. In addition, one of the pre-production models died during the drive. Because Jaguar.
Jalopnik was not among those invited to test the car in Spain recently (Which we're totally not bitter about because we SO didn't want to go anyway, whatever) but what we can do is bring you a roundup of what other autojournos have to say about the new cat in town. The F-Type starts at $69,000 and carries either a 340- or 380-horsepower supercharged V6 or a 495-horsepower supercharged V8. Also, it looks like sex on wheels.
But enough of my yakkin'. Here's what the people who drove it had to say:
The 0-62s go like this: V6 is 5.3 seconds, V6S in 4.9. They both have similar mid-range torque, but the S keeps pulling to the red-line with more vim, though the difference isn't subjectively very big because the V6S has longer gearing. They both have strength and character, and they both answer your throttle requests smartly. They're sharper and more reactive than turbo motors, if not quite as exactly precise to the throttle the best competing NA engines. You know who I mean.
The V8 F-Type is up there in supercar territory. It's limited by traction, but even so gets to 62mph in 4.3 seconds. On the road, it comes up with instant and savage kick right around the rev dial. You need a very long straight and a lot of confidence in your rear-tyre traction before you give it the full beans. But when you do, the crazy-ass acceleration and barking exhaust will carve deep chunks out of your consciousness. Its power is a buzz, its exhaust is V8th deadly sin.
So now there can be no doubt that the F-Type is squaring up to the eternal class leader, Porsche's 911. The immediate tautness to the F-Type - currently a convertible only - vanquishes concerns that the new model is simply a shrunken XK, or that it's Jaguar's idiosyncratic interpretation of a 911-baiting sports car. On first impressions, there's very little of Jaguar's recent dynamic heritage on display.
The F-Type has been pitched so as to appeal to a new audience rather than existing XK customers (90 per cent of buyers will be new to the marque, apparently), so Jaguar was able to free itself of brand constraints. Only the lightness of the steering is common with the rest of the range, but the speed of the rack and the way the front end responds to inputs is all new. Lean on the outside-front tyre a little harder and the steering wheel begins to chatter; through the familiar steering lightness there is genuine connectivity.
Jaguar committed one serious tactical error with the F-type—saving a clutch pedal and stick shift for some unspecified future release. In compensation, extra effort was invested in making the eight-speed ZF automatic a truly willing friend in speed.
Interestingly, for the new F-type, Jaguar has ditched the rotating-knob gear selector used in the latest XJ and XK models in favor of a BMW-style electronic PRND shift lever with fore-and-aft, toggle-switch-like moves. It’s the centerpiece of a cockpit designed with simplicity and functionality as the only priorities. During hard driving, the gear in use is prominently displayed between the tach and speedometer and a ratio change can be ordered through the steering-wheel paddles or by sliding the shifter to the left into the manual gate for tap-up/tap-down gear control.
A detent switch below the accelerator can be mashed to command a multiple-gear downshift for passing spurts. To avoid an upshift with the revs crowding the redline, you press the pedal to, but not through, that detent. Snappy upshifts are glazed over by brief reductions in engine torque. Bottom line: while a stick is always our preference, enthusiasts should find the F’s perfectly executed gearchanges entirely satisfying.
And Jaguar’s new F-Type is indeed aurally pleasing (what, you thought I was talking about something else?). Sometimes it moans, sometimes it purrs and, foot to the floor, it will roar just the like the leaping feline stenciled into its steering wheel. Peg it and it will bark an angry ignition cut-out every time you upshift. Back off and it cackles like the mad man/woman you swore you wouldn’t take home last night. This is a bad car with bad intentions. Let it move in and you’ll be writing bad cheques long after the lease payments are over. Just starting the damned thing sounds like an invitation to delinquency.
The first day of driving the Eaton-supercharged V-6s around the Navarra mountains revealed them willing to hustle. Unlike nearly all new cars, Jaguar stuck with hydraulic steering rather than the electronic units that are often to driving what Casio is to symphony orchestras, letting the driver feel more of the road as it happens. The 8-speed ZF automatic handles manual shifting via paddles without complaint, although it did keep the base V-6 stirred several hundred revs higher than expected. (One pre-production V-6 on our drive performed its own historical homage to the E-Type and self-destructed.)
The F-Type has no racing heritage, yet the 380-hp S version — with its larger 19-inch wheels, bigger brakes and a limited-slip differential among other upgrades — hustled the F1-level track with sufficient verve to suggest a second career in weekend motorsports.
The V6 isn’t the smoothest motor on the block – it revs to around 7000 and makes its peak output at 6500rpm – but I haven’t run into the limiter by mistake, nor am I likely to. Because it’s supercharged the response is true and immediate, but if you’re looking for a sonourous, high-revving unit, a Porsche is the place. There’s character enough at lower revs, though. With the S’s active exhaust bypass valves in their angry position, there are some real fireworks on the overrun. So far, then, so impressive. So why my hesitancy about this car?
One: it’s no more practical than a Boxster but looks, at its base price, quite a lot lumpier.
Two: it rides, it glides. It’s an excellent motorway companion, in fact, running beautifully straight and secure at speed. But sometimes, on twistier roads, I think I fear the body control is a little loose. This is a heavier car than some of those around it and there’s a touch of slack in the body movements over crests, but it’s not unacceptable. It’s predictable, slight, manageable.
Top-spec Mercedes SLKs and BMW Z4s? Forget ‘em. They don’t have anything like the capacity in their ride of this car.
Now, I am pleased to say, we have at last had the chance to drive the F-Type and can finally say that it really is as good as it looks. In particular, it sounds as good as it looks; as soon as you press the starter button, you are rewarded with one of the most appealingly fruity and characterful engine notes to be found on any modern car. Subjectively, it’s pretty loud, an impression that’s apparently created partly by making other noises the car produces quieter. Strictly speaking, the F-Type offers a choice of soundtracks, rather than one, because each of the three engines on offer – two 3.0-litre V6s and a 5.0-litre V8, all supercharged – has its own distinctive aural character, but they all sound great.
As we’ve mentioned in our other F-Type reviews, one of the greatest features is the active exhaust system. As the power increases, so does the noise. The V8 S has twice the atmosphere as the V6 models. With the exhaust valves fully opened, the noise is simply incredible. The harder you drive it the better it gets too. Once the heat has built up, the pops and bangs only increase. Without a doubt, it is one of the greatest exhaust notes you will ever hear...
So, we need to share our final verdict. We absolutely love the V8 S, in the same way that we love all the Jaguar F-Fype. For us, the V8 S is the pick of the bunch if you want something special for the weekend. The soundtrack is glorious and the sense of occasion is unlike anything else. The fact that 40% of all UK F-Type orders have opted for the V8 demonstrates how good this car looks on paper. As a true two-seater sports car, we can’t think of anything that comes near the levels of refinement and enjoyment of the F-Type. Hopefully we’ll see plenty on our roads in the near future.
It's a beautiful car. In the flesh it reminded us of a BMW Z8, especially from the rear 3/4 view. It looks relatively small for a Jag, which it is. With a starting price of $69,895 it's a nice entry to this level of European sporting luxury. The mighty V8 starts at $92,895. The V6S is $81,895.
Is it sporty enough? That depends on your perspective. If your idea of a sports car is a Cayman R, then you may find that the F-Type is more comfortable and luxurious than that, perhaps at the expense of lightweight tossability and quick-flicking turn-in. However, by the standards of Jaguars which, admittedly, have wandered over to the softer side of performance in the last half-century, then this will, indeed, be sporty. You decide. It certainly looks lovely.