Stick Shift: Jaguar F-Type

By: BRANDON RANDALL

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRANDON RANDALL

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRANDON RANDALL

The Jaguar F-Type is a bipolar mix of machine; politely mannered English styling a la 1960’s roadster cored with a supercharged temperamental-beast that sharpens all of your senses the harder you drive it. Even with both of these driving-elements, the F-type does not suffer from an identity crisis— its everything classic car-enthusiasts crave as this is the first 2-seater Jaguar has produced in 50 years; a proper front engine, rear wheel drive sports car.

The new F-type comes in three models. The first two are equipped with a supercharged V6, making 340 and 380 horsepower respectively, the output difference coming from software adjustments. The V8 model makes an astonishing 495 horsepower at 6500 rpm’s and 460 lb ft. of torque with a claimed top speed of 186 mph. Prices range from $69,000, for the base model to $92,000 for the V8 S. model.

From the outside, this car looks incredible. It’s well-muscled, sits low and conjures up images of a big jungle cat about to pounce on unsuspecting prey. It has large functional vents in the front bumper and hood, flared fenders and beautiful curves that give it a tremendous visual impact on the road. A standout-feature is the soft-top roof, which can be raised and lowered in an astonishing 12 seconds, and operates at speeds under 30 mph.

On the road, this car is planted. You feel confident and capable behind the wheel thanks to the dynamic stability control and electronic active differential. Turn in is sharp and precise. Even as I pushed the car harder and harder through the corners, I never felt like I was approaching the F-types limits. Power builds steadily thanks to the roots type twin-vortex supercharger and braking performance is predictable and consistent.

At speeds in excess of 60 mph, an automatic rear spoiler raises to generate up to 264 pounds of downforce, keeping the tail of the car in line. The F-Types body is constructed with light weight but strong aluminum, giving the car an exceptional power to weight ratio. Weight distribution is a perfect 50/50 with a low center of gravity to ensure excellent balance and handling. Jaguar used little tricks to achieve this, like placing the battery and windshield washer reservoir at the rear of the car.

On the inside the F-Type is all business–it isn’t cluttered– there are minimal distractions. The toggle style switches are attractive and have a nice weight and feel to them. Beautifully stitched leather abounds. Other dials are simple, clear and analog. A touch screen in the center is flanked by eight buttons to navigate through setup, entertainment and communication options.

Ambient lighting can be adjusted across a range of colors. Once I set mine to red I never looked back. There is a 380 watt Meridian sound system that produced clear, clean sound even with the top down at higher speeds. An intelligent venting system hides the twin central air vents in the dash until they’re needed. This increases forward visibility, and watching them silently rise up and lower back down never got old.

The Jaguar F-Type comes equipped with three driving modes; the Eco mode helps the thirsty feline’s supercharged V8 manage 18 combined mpg— this mode will cut the engine during prolong stops to conserve fuel, and then effortlessly restart it when your foot is lifted from the brake. A winter driving mode is for low traction conditions, and then of course, there is the sport mode. Traction control can be switched off with a single button, just be prepared for how tail happy the F-Type is without the traction aide.

Again, this is a car built for people passionate about driving. Too often I found myself laughing out loud as I sped along the highway, top down, the Arizona sun on my face. The V8 producing a symphony of sounds as my foot mashed the gas pedal. This engine really must be heard to be believed. It’s the best feature of the car. Under heavy acceleration it snarls and roars, bellowing out an acoustic track that makes listening to anything else, like the stereo, completely unnecessary. The F-Type is a surprising and welcome addition to Jaguars line-up. It’s pure, raw and unapologetic. From the moment that glorious engine bursts to life, you know exactly what kind of a car this is. It may not get you from point A to point B in perfect comfort, but you’ll never remember a more fun commute.

Price as tested: $92,000

(Editor’s Note: Check-back often for Brandon Randall’s auto column ‘Stick Shift’)

 

 

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