2014 Jaguar F-Type S and V-8 S First Drive

What It Is
A laser-guided missile with two seats and a steering wheel.
Best Thing
The exhaust note.
Worst Thing
No manual transmission offered.
Snap Judgment
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type marks the return of a driver-centric vehicle for the British automaker after a four decade absence. What's not to like?


"All Jaguars have to look fast, even when they're standing still." Sir William Lyons, co-founder of Jaguar, once uttered that phrase, and we think he'd agree that the 2014 Jaguar F-Type fits the bill. It's been four decades since Jaguar last released a true driver's car with the launch of the legendary E-Type. Fast-forward to the present day and we have the 2014 Jaguar F-Type. Yet Jaguar isn't wading into the pool gingerly either even though it's been out of the two-seater sports car segment for quite some time. In fact, Jag has made no secret that it plans on stealing sales away from the Porsche 911 Carrera, Audi R8, and Aston Martin V-8 Vantage with some help from its all-new F-Type. The 911 Carrera is the big fish Jaguar wishes to fry though, and has priced the F-Type 25 percent cheaper than its German competition.

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For the 2014 model year, Jaguar is coming out swinging in the luxury sports car segment, offering three different models with the F-Type. The base model F-Type will set you back $69,895, while the F-Type S will take $81,895, and the top-flight F-Type V-8 S goes for $92,895. All prices include an $895 destination and shipping charge. So, how did Jaguar do after being out of the luxury sports car segment for forty years? We recently scored some wheel time with the 2014 Jaguar F-Type and, without spoiling it here, it doesn't disappoint. Check out how the 2014 Jaguar F-Type fared in our first sparring match below.

Walkaround

At first glance, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type screams for your attention, with the massive air-gulping grille that's going to start making its way across Jag's entire lineup, and shark-like gills drawing your eyes in first. When the sun goes down, the F-Type's face looks even more aggressive with the J-blade LED light bars running down the side of the front headlights. Jag has also revealed that the J-blade LED light design will begin spreading across its entire portfolio and will become a signature design cue for the brand. The headlight lenses were inspired by TIE Fighters familiar to any Star Wars fan. That's not the only aircraft inspired design cue found on the 2014 Jaguar F-Type, but we'll get into that more below.

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Defined body lines run from the top of the headlights all the way to the back of the vehicle. These defined lines give the F-Type an elegant shape and, as Jag's design crew stressed, it gives the vehicle "hips. From behind, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type possesses a low-profile, rounded edges, and a spoiler that pops up when you break the 60 mph mark. The taillight design is all-new to Jaguar and, like the J-blade light bars and gaping front grille, it will begin spreading to other models in Jag's lineup. Depending if you decided to go with the V-6 or V-8 engine dictates how many exhaust pipes you get. The base F-Type and F-Type S get dual exhaust pipes centered beneath the middle of the rear bumper. If you go with the F-Type V-8 S, then quad exhaust pipes, two on the left side and two on the right, can be spotted peeking out from underneath the rear bumper. Without looking under the hood, this is the easiest way to distinguish which F-Type model you're looking at. No matter how many exhaust pipes are present though, its design was inspired by those on Ducati racing motorcycles, and the sound that escapes them is awe inspiring.

Sitting Down

Being that the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is a driver's car, everything inside is aimed to make the driver feel comfortable without sacrificing the ability to rip the pavement clean off the ground at a moment's notice. The center stack is within arm's length and the steering wheel spokes contain controls that you often reach for, like audio volume, Bluetooth, and other various menu controls for the screen wedged in the middle of the instrument cluster. One thing we wished the 2014 Jaguar F-Type had was a large read out of your current speed on the center screen in the instrument cluster. That was about the only thing you can't configure on it though. The infotainment system even has a screen that allows you to customize the F-Type's engine throttle mapping, shift points, steering, and suspension.

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As mentioned above, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type's interior took a bunch of styling cues from fighter jets and even the now-defunct Concorde airplane. A dual air vent automatically pops up at the top of the center console upon starting the 2014 F-Type, and its shape was inspired by the Concorde's square engines. Jaguar was searching for an interior accent color that would set the F-Type apart from the competition and settled on a burnt orange color. A design team member's watch caught the eye of other team members and before he knew it, the push-start button, paddle shifters, dynamic mode switch, and toggle switches seen below the center stack were all the same burnt orange color found on his watch. The dynamic switch and other toggle switches were also inspired by famous military jets that utilize various fuel consuming modes.

Driving

Getting behind the wheel of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is similar to strapping a set of rocket boosters to your back. When you stomp on the gas pedal, the instant power from both the F-Type S and F-Type V-8 S's supercharged engines hits you like a 50-megaton H-Bomb. Our drive route took us through deep valleys surrounded by massive cliffs and an occasional snowcapped mountain or two, and while no avalanches were caused by the snarling exhaust note, it must have been close a few times. The eight-speed Quickshift automatic transmission lived up to its name, and handled all the torque either engine could throw at it. Even though this is quite an efficient gearbox, we still would've liked to see a manual transmission option, as Jag is touting this as its first driver-centric car in over 40 years. During our drive, we sampled both the F-Type S's V-6, rated at 380 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque, and the F-Type V-8 S, which produces 495 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The supercharged V-6 engine's output is more than enough to provide a fun ride but the V-8's power teeters on supercar figures.

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With numbers like these, being able to brake quickly and in a controlled fashion is very important, and the F-Type nails it. Braking is rolled on evenly, making the transition from spirited driving to school zone speeds easy. Jaguar also had us lay down a few laps at a track outside of Seattle, Washington, and even as we went from 100+ mph back down to hair-pin corner speeds, the brakes never once faded. No matter if you're on the track our on your way to work, the 2014 F-Type's all-aluminum body structure and suspension provide a sporty ride but you don't feel beat up even after a few hours behind the wheel.

Summary

Jaguar estimates that 90 percent of all 2014 F-Type buyers will be new to the brand, and that's a good thing, as it hopes to steal sales away from the Porsche 911 Carrera, Audi R8, and Aston Martin V-8 Vantage. Jaguar is also bracing for a 50 percent take rate of all 2014 F-Type's to be the V-8 S, and that, too, is a good thing because you can never have enough V-8 power in your life. On top of that, Jaguar is boasting that the 2014 F-Type's cloth top can be put up or down in 12 seconds. However, after doing a few tests of our own, we found Jag's numbers to be on the conservative side, as we were able to put the roof up and down in about 10 seconds. On top of that, you can raise of lower the roof at speeds as high as 30 mph.

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There aren't many other vehicles that offer a V-8 engine with close to 500 horsepower and the ability to switch the roof for open sky in less than 12 seconds. This, among other features, is what makes the 2014 Jaguar F-Type so special. Will it overtake its biggest rival, the Porsche 911 Carrera, and steal sales away? It's too early to say, but one thing is certain: If you're in the market for a low-slung, two seat sports car with near supercar figures, then the 2014 Jaguar F-Type will make your search a short one.

Basic Specs

3.0-liter supercharged V-6, 340-hp, $69,895, 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 23 mpg combined, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, 380-hp, $81,895, 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, 22 mpg combined, 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, 495-hp, $92,895, 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, 18 mpg combined, eight-speed Quickshift automatic transmission, front-engine rear-wheel drive

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