June 24, 2014
2014 Jaguar F-Type Convertible V8 S. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony
The Jaguar F-Type V8 is so nice, well, I just had to review it twice.
We spent a whole week with the F-Type convertible, and while fate afforded us a timely opportunity to test it against the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, there is still plenty to left to say about Jaguar’s new sports car.
And don’t let Jaguar’s reputation for luxury fool you, this is a sports car through and through. Although more opulent than the Corvette, as it should be, it has every bit the sporting focus as that most iconic of sports cars.
But let’s focus on the F-type today, starting with that styling. Although the F-type Coupe will steal the show on aesthetics and rigidity, you won’t find any criticism of the F-Type Convertible’s looks here. From the grille and intakes on the front end to the quad tailpipes trumpeting out of the rear diffuser, everything is well-proportioned and layered with rich detail, and even the compact cloth top is well supported to give the F-Type a sultry cab-rearward profile, its arc equivalent to the arc of the rear haunches. But that profile, with the top down, is pure elegance and power, simplicity and sophistication, dripping with sex appeal in its subtle curves and filled arches, tension in the sharp folds of the intakes, trunklid and bumpers. The wheels are modern and complex, the big red brake callipers easily seen through the gaps between the carbon-fibre-trimmed spokes. The fender vent, is artfully integrated with a panel shape on one side and a crease that flows into the door, breaking up that solid mass.
At night, when the body is but a blur of motion, the lighting signature takes over, with front LEDs and powerful projector lamps, door sill plates lit with “JAGUAR” in bold type, but my favourite was the pinstripe LED accent under the chopped round taillights.
I could spend days talking about the design. It’s the kind of car you want to wash by hand, inspecting every nuance, feeling the curves of the lightweight aluminum body work, and falling in love all over again. But it’s not just meant to be looked at and touched, it’s meant to be driven, adding another level of drama and occasion to this vehicle.
The performance is staggering. From the first press of the copper Start button, the F-Type loudly promises abundant power, and it delivers, sometimes in overwhelming fashion. The sounds coming out of the exhaust and under the hood are spectacular theatre, barking, spitting, roaring, purring and cackling depending on settings and your right foot. The supercharged 5.0L V8 is boosted to the tune of 495 hp at 6,500 rpm and 364 lb-ft of torque, taking this 1,665 kg car to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and with sound effects that had the gods of Valhalla and Olympus peeking down from their perches.
2014 Jaguar F-Type Convertible V8 S seating & dashboard. Click image to enlarge
In the spirit of experiencing the undiluted abandon of all that power, our default for the week was the most aggressive track mode, and we were treated to chirping squealing tires at every drop of the brick at the end of my right leg. The eight-speed transmission is impeccably tuned for this weapons-grade engine, offering rifle-quick semi-automatic paddle shifts, a quick-thinking Sport mode, or well controlled smoothness in auto mode. However, it is possible to settle it down by applying winter/snow mode, which greatly limits initial torque, changes shift patterns, and allows you to crawl away from stoplights like any mortal transportation. The exhaust button that releases the full range of F-Type vocals was only turned off for testing purposes, to experiment with stealth mode.
2014 Jaguar F-Type Convertible V8 S wheel detail. Click image to enlarge
But that just won’t do. Your fans would far prefer raging full throttle drops, screaming tires and thunderous blasts of the exhaust. And in this car, you will have fans – twice on the day I returned the F-Type, we had cars either behind or beside expressing their appreciation for the F-Type’s fury, one getting the full force of its personality in a highway underpass, and the other at an intersection. The resulting smiles could be seen from several blocks away. People love this car, and in Firesand Orange, you won’t fade into the automotive landscape as you might in a black or even traditional British Racing green.
It’s not all smoke and paint, though. As mentioned, it’s a sports car. As a sports car, it rides firmly, so you feel the road and its imperfections, but they are controlled in such a manner that you appreciate the car taking the edge off them. If the road is rough enough, it will jar you, but the suspension brings that car back under control immediately, so you get the affirmation that the car could be driven fast even on rougher surfaces – it very much reminded me of the Audi RS5 in that capacity (the coupe, not the convertible, which is high praise in my books). However, if you’re looking for more of a grand tourer to soak up miles, the SL 550 has a silky ride and refinement that can’t be matched, though it starts at over $120K relative to the Jaguar, that can be had from $76,900.
The F-Type is more in line with SLK-Class, Boxster and Z4, but it brings a unique character character to the segment and gobs of power that the Germans don’t match for fear of overstepping the flagship sports cars of their respective brands. No such problem for the F-Type, as the XK will be driving off into the sunset, and the F-Type will be Jaguar’s sole entry in the coupe and convertible segments for now.