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2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S Road Test

Not perfect. But close enough.

What It Is
Strong, sexy, and fun even when you're crawling.
Best Thing
Makes us love Jaguar again.
Worst Thing
Well, the infotainment screen use an update.
Snap Judgment
Jaguar's back, and with one of the best cars it has ever built.


I've been eye-humping the 2014 Jaguar F-Type for a couple years now, at least since it was first shown as the Jaguar C-X16 concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. It was like an old Star Trek episode, where Kirk's love interest of the week was accompanied by soft focus and angelic music. Yet, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was setting myself up for disappointment for when I'd finally drive the new Jaguar sports car, simply because no car could drive as good as this one looked. Not possible. I mean, look at it. It's simply gorgeous, with wide fenders, an aggressive nose, sumptuous interior...nope, no way it could be that good.

Except, it is that good. It really is.

From the start-up bark of the Jaguar F-Type's exhaust, to the quick and silent top, to the excellent handling, to the quality interior...there's so much good about the Jaguar F-Type, and so little that's objectionable, that we'll just go ahead and start gushing: If you are shopping for a two-seat sports car, this should be at the top of your must-drive list.

What We Drove

There are three different 2014 Jaguar F-Type models: V6, V6 S, and V8 S. Our test car was the third, with a 495-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, and a $92,895 base price, including the destination charge. A Climate Pack added heated seats and steering wheel for $600, but oddly, there was no corresponding cooling function. A $2,100 Vision Pack added parking sensors, a backup camera, blind spot sensors and adaptive headlights; a $200 Premium Pack threw in a garage door remote, wind deflector and lockable interior storage. The eye-catching Firesand Orange Metallic paint cost an extra $600 (totally worth it), satellite radio was an extra $450, and our favorite option ever, the switchable Active Exhaust, rang in at an extra $220. Skip anything else you want, but do NOT skip this little button.

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Safety wise, there are airbags to the front and side, stability control, and seatbelt pretensioners. Nobody has crash tested one yet, so we can't say how it'll fare. There's no capacity for carrying a baby seat--no LATCH points, obviously--but this isn't much of a baby-hauling car. Driving it could lead to baby-making though.

The Commute

Commuting in two-seat sports cars sucks. They're stiff riding, uncomfortable, noisy, and just don't handle creeping along in traffic.

Not the 2014 Jaguar F-Type.

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There are two reasons for this. First, the Jaguar never forgets that it's a luxury automobile. When in its normal drive mode, with the top up, the exhaust is a distant burble, and the insulated top keeps out unwanted freeway noises. The Meridian audio system sounds excellent, but the touchscreen interface looks dated compared to BMW's, Mercedes-Benz's, and much of the rest of the competition. There are heated seats to warm your buns, but oddly, no seat coolers for hot days in this black leather-upholstered convertible. With 495 horsepower coming from the supercharged V-8 engine, you'll have no problem getting up to speed, and the massive brakes will take it all away even faster. It even has good-sized cupholders and a couple of decently sized storage bins between the seats for your wallet, cell phone, or radar detector. You can put it in Drive, and just putt along with all the Priuses, beat -up Accords, and smoking old Cavaliers on your morning drive. It even has an "Eco" mode that shuts off the engine when you're stopped to save fuel.

But screw that. Put the top down, and press the button on the console that opens up the exhaust baffles. Yes, there's a "loud" button, and oh good lord, you should use it ALL THE TIME. It opens up a part of the exhaust system that keeps things quiet at low revs; press it, and the Jaguar's roar is unleashed, bellowing its presence at anybody who cares to listen, and anybody who'd rather it just shut up, too. Let off the gas, and the engine's programmed to add just a little bit of gas to the overrun for an exciting "pop-pop-pop," the way old Jags weren't supposed to but did anyway. It may be our favorite feature of this car. In fact, it may be our favorite feature of any car.

The Grocery Run

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type is not the most family-friendly vehicle out there. First off, it's limited to two seats, meaning it's just you and one very lucky passenger. Second, it has a tiny sports-car trunk. With the expensive-to-repair aluminum body work, you're also going to be extra paranoid parking it in the grocery store.

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That said, it's easier to live with than you might expect. The trunk, while small, is adequate for a few bags of groceries, and it's the same size whether the top is up or down. Visibility with the top up is pretty terrible, but a backup camera helps things out there, as do parking sensors. Besides, it only takes about 12 seconds to put the top down--you can even do it while driving--and of course visibility improves dramatically once you do.

The Weekend Fun

Sports cars are made for a single purpose: To drive fast. Now, of course, we do not recommend under any circumstance that you explore this car's very high limits on anything other than a racetrack. Seriously. This car came in a solid fourth in Motor Trend's Best Driver's Car competition, beating out a Viper, a couple BMWs, and all manner of high-tech machinery. What beat it? A V-10 powered Audi R8, a V-8 powered Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, and an all-wheel drive Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. That's a pretty spectacular showing for a company that hasn't made a mass market sports car for about 50 years.

What makes it so good?

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Put it in Dynamic Mode and the exhaust defaults to its loud setting, the steering tightens up, the suspension stiffens, the transmission gets even more responsive, and the car basically readies itself for quick driving. The engine's power is ludicrous, delivered in heaping spoonfuls from idle to redline. The eight-speed transmission flicks off shifts so quickly and without fuss that you'd think it was pre-programmed with your route. The steering is alive in your hands in the way sports car enthusiasts love: transmitting how hard the front tires are gripping, and how close they are to their limits. The rear end playfully steps out under power, with the stability control letting you feel the car's motions before stepping in like a middle school dance chaperone to stop the fun. All the while, the exhaust is barking and growling, popping loudly when you lift off the throttle, and roaring its way to redline. Everything about the driving experience in the 2014 Jaguar F-Type thrills with excitement. As a bonus, if you don't like the default settings, you can customize them to your heart's content.

But you don't have to be in full getaway-car mode to have fun with the Jaguar F-Type. Cruise in normal drive mode--with the exhaust loud, of course--and you'll seek out overpasses just to hear the engine. You'll zip through traffic just to feel the car's muscles flex, and be gratified that you're not even breaking the speed limit. Whether you're seeking out your favorite twisting road, or just running to the grocery store for milk, every drive in the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is epic.

Summary

You may have guessed by now that we liked this car.

Of course, it's not for everyone. No car is. Our test car was a V-8 model; some say the supercharged V-6 model is the one to get since its handling is a bit more balanced. The loud exhaust could be annoying when it unexpectedly pops; one editor's wife was wondering who the loud jerk was until she realized it was her husband. The interior is small, the cargo space is limited, and let's face it, not everyone likes driving a convertible. Fuel economy is as terrible as you'd expect in a 495-horsepower car, and the all-aluminum F-Type is unexpectedly porky at 3,700 pounds. And let's not forget the price. So, if the 2014 Jaguar F-Type isn't for you, we have one simple solution: Don't buy one.

As for the rest, we can't imagine anything less than daily driving bliss.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $97,065
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 16 mpg
EPA Highway: 23 mpg
EPA Combined: 18 mpg
Cargo Space: Not many grocery bags Estimated Combined Range: 342 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: N/A

Notebook Quotes

"This is my car of the year." -Jacob Brown, Online Editor

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