2014 Jaguar F-Type Road Test Review
By Bob Plunkett
With 15 turns wrapping over 3.9 miles of grade-changing asphalt convolutions, the F1-class Circuito de Navarra race track in northern Spain fills the raked windshield of a sensuous 2-seat Jaguar roadster convertible as we cinch a seatbelt even tighter while awaiting a signal to unleash the boost of a twin-vortex Eaton supercharger and allow this rear-wheel-drive sportster to zip around the circuit at triple-digit speeds.
Our performance-tuned roadster on the track in Spain is the 2014 F-Type S by Jaguar of Great Britain in a new aluminum chassis iteration marking the first bona fide sports car for Jaguar in half a century following the automaker's iconic E-Type -- a.k.a. XK-E -- of 1961.
Jaguar's new F-Type lands in North America with three trim variations drawing from a supercharged V6 or V8 engine tied to an 8-speed ZF pistol-grip e-shifter and packaged in an abbreviated version of Jaguar's XK aluminum platform with a slug but luxurious cockpit containing two low-slung bolstered sport bucket seats, a tail-deck spoiler wing that deploys at 60 mph to reduce aerodynamic lift and a Z-fold soft-top lid that lowers by electro-mechanical means in only 12 seconds to forge its own tonneau cover.
One more point: Body styling of the F-Type, developed by Jaguar's design guru Ian Callum and team, stems from the less-is-more school of automotive styling with subtle yet evocative hints of the long-snouted XK-E.
It's simply gorgeous.
The elongated and low-profile body presents a fresh take on familiar Jaguar cues including the trapezoidal grille, compact xenon headlamps and J-blade LED running lights, a single-stamped aluminum multi-contoured clamshell hood, carbon-fiber front splitter and side sills, smooth and clean fender bulges rippling around huge low-profile tires.
F-Type's wheelbase runs to 103.2 inches with the wheel track width drawing 62.4 inches front and 64.0 inches rear to fashion a stable long-and-broad platform with room for a 2-seat cockpit and the modest truck of 7.0 cubic feet.
The asymmetric cabin layout orients toward a driver with simplicity of design and all controls and tabs and rotary dials ergonomically clustered by function and logically grouped at hand.
Instruments include large analog tach and speedo gauges separated by a reconfigurable LCD screen, dual-purpose rotary dials with built-in LCDs to control heating/air conditioning flow mounted above the center console and -- the car's cleverest feature -- air vents concealed on the dash-top that deploy by rising when prompted by either driver or the automatic climate system.
Jaguar F-Type skews to the three versions labeled F-type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S.
F-Type and F-Type S employ a dual-cam 3.0-liter V6 engine fitted with the Eaton twin-vortex supercharger. The V6 base version delivers 340 hp at 6500 rpm with 332 lb-ft of torque at 3500-5000 rpm, but the F-Type S plant develops higher boost and rises to 380 hp at 6500 rpm with torque pushing to 339 lb-ft at 3500-5000 rpm.
F-Type V8 S scores Jaguar's new dual-cam 5.0-liter V8 engine also with Eaton supercharger. The V8 soars with 495 hp at 6500 rpm plus torque of 460 lb-ft running between 2500 and 5500 rpm.
A mechanical limited-slip differential to refine tire grip comes with F-Type S while F-Type V8 S scores an active electronic controlled differential.
F-Type S and V8 S models carry Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics suspension damping system to control vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates. The system continuously monitors driver inputs and the car's attitude, adjusting damper rates up to 500 times a second to optimize stability and agility.
Also stock for F-Type V8 S (or optional for F-Type S) is an active exhaust system with electronically controlled bypass valves in the rear sector of the exhaust bay. The valves open wide with pedal-to-the-floor accelerations to deliver free-flowing blap-a-de-blap exhaust notes.
Brakes increase incrementally with engine output:
* The 340 hp F-Type uses 13.9-inch front and 12.8-inch rear brake discs with silver painted calipers.
* The 380 hp F-Type S gains the Jaguar High Performance system with 15-inch front discs.
* The 495 hp F-Type V8 S gets a Super High Performance system with 15-inch front and 14.8-inch rear discs.
All three versions of F-Type cars also stock an anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA).
Jaguar offers two new performance options.
* Configurable Dynamics: The driver selects various components of Dynamic Mode such as the steering weight and throttle response. On a dashboard LCD touchscreen the device also records track lap and split times, throttle and brake data plus G-forces.
* Dynamic Launch Mode: Available on F-Type S for track workouts, this electronic control enables the driver to depress the brake pedal while also building engine speed with the accelerator, automatically setting the traction control system to help maximize acceleration once the brake is released.
Jaguar sets the MSRP slate for a 2014 F-Type roadster at $69,000. The F-Type S model tallies to $81,500, while F-Type V8 S caps the series at $92,000.
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