The 2014 Jaguar F-Type is the manufacturer's first two-seat sports car in more than fifty years, and its iconic predecessors -- the C-Type, D-Type, and E-Type -- set the styling bar incredibly high for this modern convertible. While new car buyers will certainly be intrigued by the F-Type's sharp looks, what does Jag's later offering deliver beyond glamorous ancestors and attractive sheetmetal?

What (and How Much) of the Jaguar F-Type is New?

The long-awaited F-Type builds upon Jaguar's larger and more touring-focused XK series four-seater (which is really more of a 2+2, thanks to its diminutive rear seats), while packaging the new car with more technologically advanced underpinnings. While the XK offers a sporty take on grand touring, the F-Type focuses on more engaging driving dynamics and track-ready performance.

The F-Type features 70 percent all-new parts, while 25 percent of its components have been re-worked from the XK and adapted for this application. The remaining 5 percent of parts have been carried over from the XK series. But more significant than the sum of its components is the spirit of the F-Type's intent: this relatively compact, aluminum-bodied two-seater is tuned for tight handling and hard acceleration that's fierce enough to be comfortable on a racetrack.

Three Varieties of F-Type... and More to Come

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type will be available in three varieties when it hits showrooms in late April, 2013. The entry level model starts at $69,000, and is powered by a supercharged V6 that produces 340 horsepower and can launch the F-Type to 60 mph in a claimed 5.1 seconds. The middle model is the $81,000 F-Type S, which packs a 380 hp version of the standard model's engine and can propel the car to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The top dog (for the moment, at least) is the F-Type V8 S, which features a 495 hp supercharged V8 capable of throttling to 60 mph in only 4.2 seconds, and hitting a terminal velocity of 186 mph. All versions incorporate an 8-speed transmission which drives the rear wheels, and an aluminum chassis for weight savings.

At first glance, the different F-Type models are difficult to tell apart externally: apart from badging and varying wheel and brake sizes, the only other distinguishing feature between the three is the exhaust system. The base and S models feature two large, centrally positioned outlets just below the rear license plate, while the V8 S offers a more conventional setup, with two pairs of two chrome-ringed pipes arranged on either end of the car's tail.

All F-Types are equipped with fixed roll hoops just behind the two form-fitting seats, which are designed to be simpler and more lightweight than the pop-up systems which automatically deploy when a rollover accident is imminent. Highlights from the luxurious interior include available sound systems from Meridian and a nav screen selectable menu, which controls up to six dynamic variables including suspension, engine and transmission settings.

So, why does the V8 S model only top out at 495 hp when the supercharged XKR's engine produces 510 hp? Well, the answer is that there's room to grow in the F-Type lineup. According to Jaguar brass, the new sports car is due to receive an even stronger performing stablemate in the near future.

Who's the Competition?

Jaguar hopes to expand their clientele by making the F-Type appeal to a whole new set of car buyers. And while Jaguar's marketing officials say they foresee their new two-seater as an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertible ($131,170), Audi R8 ($114,200) and Porsche 911 ($84,300) contender, we think this low-slung roadster will snag customers who might otherwise be attracted to less exotic offerings, like the BMW 6-series convertible ($93,700) and Mercedes-Benz SL-Class ($105,500).

author photo

Basem Wasef is an automotive journalist, author, and photographer with two coffee table books under his belt, and is a regular contributor to Popular Mechanics, Robb Report, and Maxim among others. When Basem isn't traveling the globe testing vehicles, he enjoys calling Los Angeles home.

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