Just our type
The residents of Spain’s Navarra region have every right to be displeased with us. After all, who wants to be awakened by a 370-kW sports car racing through their bucolic villages at 8 am?
Yet we couldn’t help ourselves. For two days, our group of journalists tested all three variants of Jaguar’s new 2014 F Type against the backdrop of the Pyrenees Mountains in northern Spain, and despite the peaceful surroundings, it was impossible to drive a car like this without causing some ruckus.
The F-Type is Jaguar’s first new roadster in more than 50 years. The last one was the E-Type – perhaps you’ve heard of it. Although Jag’s new low-slung roadster bears only a distant resemblance to its sultry predecessor, the F-Type is stylish in its own right.
It’s also powerful. Both V6 engines are supercharged, with around 250 kW in the base version and 280 kW in the tuned S version. Then there’s the V8 S model’s supercharged V8, which churns out an aggressive 370. All engines come paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that can be worked through the ratios with a flick of the steering wheel paddles or a nudge of the centre shift lever.
Compared with Jaguar’s other convertible, the four-seat XK, the F-Type rides on a 13 cm shorter wheelbase and is 32 cm shorter in overall length.
On Spain’s tightly kinked Circuito de Navarra racetrack, we unleashed the F-Type V6 S at full throttle and found exact steering and a flat attitude through curves. Maximum traction to propel out of each corner was aided by the car’s limited slip differential (the gutsier V8 S has a predictive electronic limited-slip differential).
Despite a few hesitations, the automatic transmission is diligent, but we still prefer the manual control available through the F-Type’s paddle shifters. Manual shifting also allows the driver to hear the car’s distinctive, sputtering snort of an exhaust note more often. Jaguar says it spent four years developing the sound, and we believe it.
Gear changes are noticeably sharper – almost abrupt – in the F-Type’s Dynamic Mode setting, which holds gears to redline in manual-shift mode, loosens up the stability-control system, and adjusts the steering and throttle calibration. To further increase the F-Type’s sports car chops, both S trims additionally come equipped with an Adaptive Dynamics suspension system.
The F-Type’s interior is luxurious, but not in an over-the-top way. Leather-bound surfaces, glass-fronted climate control knobs, and silver trimmings balance plushness and sportiness – with the scale tipping towards the sporty side. The F Type’s fanciest party trick is its hidden air vent unit in the dash. Intended to improve the cabin’s visual cleanliness, the vents rise only when the automatic climate control decides extra airflow is necessary. It might sound gimmicky, but the effect is impressive.
Within minutes behind the wheel of the V8 S, we understood why Jaguar had us drive this one last. The extra horses makes the V6 models feel positively lethargic. A little raw and absolutely thrilling to drive, the V8 has instant torque and power that provide an irresistible glee when dipping into the gas pedal. Driven alone, either V6 version feels more than adequately fast. But 370 kW (a smidgeon under 500 horsepower, for old-timers) has a way of rearranging your worldview.
The F-Type’s price tag will keep it out of reach for most. If coin weren’t a concern, there’s no doubt we’d pick up the V8 S, but either V6 model won’t disappoint. With all three versions of the new F-Type, Jag delivers a driving experience worthy of its royal roadster heritage.
The F-Type’s bloodline
Jaguar’s roadsters have a rich history – on and off the track.
With its undulating sheet metal and six-cylinder mill, the C-Type won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1951 and 1953.
Sporting a monocoque tub and a variation of the C-Type’s engine, the D-Type won Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957
Jaguar’s most famous creation, the E-Type was once called “the most beautiful car ever made” – by Enzo Ferrari.
“The F-Type’s exhaust note is addictive, urging you to play with the paddle shifters like a little kid with a new toy.” — Andrew Del-Colle, associate editor