2013 was a tremendous year in the automotive industry, especially for fans of sports cars. Jaguar brought us the slinky F-Type roadster, a stunning car which represents the brand's first true sports model since the loss of the E-Type two seater four decades ago.
Not just a pretty face, the F-Type has been engineered to take one the current powerhouse in this category, the Porsche Boxster S.
Performance cars are meant to be driven in a spirited manner. As a result, the Jaguar F-Type comes equipped with a host of electronic performance aides which allow the driver to tweak the car's suspension, throttle, engine mapping and controls to perform at maximum potential, and advanced stability and traction systems will do their best to keep the wheels and tires in contact with the ground. The car also features high-performance brakes that will hold up to repeated abuse, remain fade free, and hopefully, react quickly and confidently when called into action.
The Jaguar F-Type was designed with perfect 50/50 weight distribution which makes it one of the best handling cars on the planet. The car tracks with a level of precision usually reserved for much more expensive dedicated track machines, and the balance through corners is incredible.
At the touch of a button the driver can initiate the car's Dynamic mode which provides the driver with an even sharper tool to work with. I found that the F-Type really comes alive while cornering at higher speeds. For the most part it tracks straight and true, with the long nose pointing in the intended direction of travel with just a hint of under steer. A little more pressure on the gas pedal and an extra dose of courage and bravado will reveal that if you push the car a little harder, it will exhibit just enough body roll to alert your senses that this is not a timid automobile, and that you better behave or it might bite.
There are three models in the F-Type lineup. The entry model features a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 producing 340-horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The sales leader will likely prove to be the S model, which also features a 3.0-litre, supercharged V6 engine, but in this form producing 380-horsepower and 339 lb-ft. of torque. If that isn't enough power to satisfy your need for speed, then the F-Type V8 S with its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine (495-horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque) will probably do the trick.
All three models come equipped with a well-sorted ZF 8-speed automatic transmission that the driver can operate using paddle levers fitted to the flat-bottomed steering-wheel. During my test period with the F-Type S I found the transmission to be very robust. It would react quickly to my inputs and would allow me to gently kiss the engine's redline before each shift. ZF transmissions are renowned for their durability and reliability, and the one selected fitted to the F-Type was a smooth operator and never missed a beat.
Jaguar's press materials suggest that the various guises of the F-Type will hustle from 0-100 kilometres per hour in 5.3 seconds for the F-Type, 4.9 for the S model, and 4.3 for the V8 S. I believe these numbers to be true, as I was able to rocket from 0-100 kilometres per hour in 5.1-seconds without any effort. With a little extra attention to detail I am certain that I would have been able to hit the 4.9 second mark.
Under hard acceleration the subtle whine of the supercharger kicks in and helps the driver extract the healthy torque available from the 3.0-litre V6. This power train has a wide torque band which means that there is always plenty of power on tap.
The F-Type S comes equipped with an active sport exhaust system that delivers a sonic blow to the neighbourhood as you prowl the streets. The exhaust note is somewhat raspy, but the bark from the twin tail pipes is sporty enough to make you forgo using the sound system.
Sliding into the driver's seat it is immediately obvious that this is a true sports car. The cockpit design situates the driver so that all the gauges, switchgear and controls are within easy reach of both hand and eye, and the operating pedals are well placed for dynamic foot play. The sleek sport bucket seats are supportive enough for aggressive driving, but comfortable enough to permit long distance cruising.
The Jaguar F-Type features the company's classic long hood, short tailed design strategy. Hints of both the legendary E-Type and the popular XKR can be seen in the F-Type's design. The retro cues will appeal to the senses, while the very modern elements like advanced lighting systems front and rear, and bold aerodynamic tweaks, will appeal to the younger audience that Jaguar hopes will discover their brand.
The F-Type's passenger compartment is roomy enough for larger individuals, but some acrobatics may be required for ingress and egress when the top is in place. Unfortunately, the trunk is short of room and very shallow, but there is sufficient space for soft luggage, gym bags and briefcases.
The arrival of the F-Type should provide Jaguar with a real surge in both sales and popularity, as these sexy roadsters offer distinctive styling and world class performance. In an effort to further expand its market share and broaden its appeal the F-Type Coupe will soon join the stable and put the spotlight back on a resurgent Jaguar.
Technical Specifications: 2014 Jaguar F-Type S
Base price (MSRP): $88,900
Price as tested: $108,025 (Includes: Climate Package ($650), Extended Leather Package ($2,000), Premium Package ($2,800), Performance Package ($3,750), Vision Package ($2,500), Premium Paint ($600), 20-inch Turbine Wheel ($1,600), Heated windshield ($350), Meridian sound system with 14 speakers ($1,500, XM Satellite Radio ($450), Dealer documentation fee ($395), rubber mats ($455), Advanced Disposal Fee ($25), Federal A/C Excise Tax ($100).
Type: Rear-wheel-drive, front-engine, roadster
Engine: 3.0-litre superchargedV-6
Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 339 lb.-ft. @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS
Fuel economy (L/100km): City 10.8 L (26 mpg); Hwy 7.3 L (38.7 mpg)