Test Drive: 2014 Jaguar F-Type

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I’m often asked, what is the best car I’ve ever driven. I’m not sure if the brand-new 2014 Jaguar F-Type is the best, but certainly earns the superlatives “Most Beautiful” and “Most Likely to Earn a Speeding Ticket,” and definitely resides near the top of the list. Few vehicles have garnered as many turned heads and unsolicited thumbs up — and even a few (failed) attempts to out-accelerate at a stoplight or freeway on-ramp.

Muscular, elegant, bold — named the 2013 World Car Design of the Year at the New York Auto Show in March 2013 — the F-Type is a two-seat convertible that captures the essence of Jaguar’s heritage. Lightweight and powerful, it is a true high-performance sports car – a guilty pleasure, that asks, “How fast do you want to go?” with three models producing 340, 380 and 495 horsepower.

Tuned to suggest the purring of the carmaker’s namesake jungle cat, mellifluous exhaust notes from the gleaming twin stainless steel tailpipes signal a heart-pounding launch to a top speed of 186 miles per hour in the V-8 equipped F-Type S. Exceedingly drivable, handling is controlled and precise, and the quickshift transmission imperceptibly thrums through its eight gears automatically or via console-mounted SportShift gear selector or steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The ride is firm, but adaptive suspension makes the F-Type both livable and drivable.

Aside from the purring of the exhaust, the F-Type is impressively quiet for a low, cloth-top convertible. The top drops in just 12 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph, and disappears into a slot between the seatbacks and the trunk, preserving the precious little cargo space in the diminutive trunk, and maintaining the sculpted, smooth shape.

It is sleek and agile, with retracting door handles and spoiler, and sweeping lines that create a sensual design with no extraneous adornments. It has curves in all the right places.

jag_f-type_firesand_281112_9_LowResThe beauty extends to the interior, ensconced in rich leather, matte black satin chrome, dark aluminum, and orange-tinted finish highlighting the start/stop button, paddle-shifters and mode toggle switch. The F-Type comes equipped with all of the desirable technology and comforts you’d expect in a luxury car, including SmartKey keyless entry and start, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 14-way adjustable sport seats and more.

It is comfortable for two, even as an everyday driver, provided that it shares garage space with a Land Rover or other larger vehicle that you can use for golf outings or other excursions that require cargo space.

Poised to give Porsche 911 a run for its money, F-Type is the car to see and to be seen in this fall. Pricing starts at $69,000 for the V-6 and $92,000 for the V-8. Fuel economy is a respectable 16/23/18 mpg (city/highway/combined) on the V-8 equipped S, 20/28/23 on the base V-6.

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