Road Raves: Jaguar F-Type

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Pricing starts at $69,000 for the base F-Type, rises to $81,000 for the F-Type S and reaches $92,000 for the F-Type V8 S. Our thanks to Travis Downs and Zig Gardner of Autobahn Motorcar Group, who let us tool around town in their bright orange F-Type V8 S and didn’t even complain when we smoked the tires — twice. Autobahn Motorcar Group 3000 White Settlement Road Fort Worth 817-390-3151

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On its release in 1961, Enzo Ferrari called the Jaguar E-Type “the most beautiful car ever made.”

Wisely, Jaguar decided that its alphabetic successor, the F-Type, wouldn’t be a replacement for its iconic forebear. Rather, this new low-slung two-seater is a bold statement of what’s modern, cool and sexy. Driving it is to understand the definition of “thrilling.”

Oh, sure, it’s also a luxury sports car: There’s that tastefully refined leather-clad interior and posh, toggle-rich cockpit (using only the finest materials and metals, of course). There are those flush door handles that ease out in welcome as you approach, as if to say, “I know you.” There’s that power top that raises and lowers in 12 seconds while driving at up to 30 mph. There’s that dramatic climate vent that, when you ignite the beast, rises menacingly from the upper dash as if taking a deep breath. There’s that head-turning, muscular, dramatically flowing body with the loooong hood and short tail.

But then there’s that sound. Mash the exhaust muffler’s bypass button on the center console — it’s meant to resemble exhaust tips but looks more like googly-eyes — and the wildcatting starts. Growling, burbling, ripping and spitting, this definitely doesn’t sound like any Jaguar you’ve ever encountered.

It doesn’t drive like any, either. Taut, belligerent and lively, the F-Type’s suspension is so tight that if you roll over a bottle cap, you’ll know whether it was Coke or Mountain Dew. It accelerates, rides, corners and stops more like a Porsche 911, with no roll, acceleration squat or brake dive. The adaptive dampers don’t even offer a normal or comfort setting.

Power comes from your choice of three supercharged engines: two 3-liter V6s with 340 and 380 hp (the base F-type and S model, respectively), and a fearsome 495-hp supercharged 5-liter V8. They all share the same basic technology — DOHC variable-timing valve trains, direct injection, Eaton supercharging and charge-to-liquid intercooling. Purists will decry the lack of a manual shifter, but the ZF eight-gear “Quickshift” automatic is so precise and responsive that track aficionados might even like it.

The F-Type is garnering praise from all corners for its superb handling, monster power and outrageously good looks. Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil liked the F-Type so much that he said, “If I wanted to drop $100,000 on a sports car today, it’d have to be the Jag.”

With the F-Type, Jaguar is declaring that the feline is fine, indeed. Watch out for those paws and claws: This is one brutish British beast.

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