When folks think of Jaguars, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type probably isn't what comes to mind. Stereotypes die hard, so many of us still associate the Jaguar brand with cosseting luxury cars that have flip-down wooden tray tables in back. But once upon a time, Jaguar was also known for building a beautiful 2-seat sports car: the iconic E-Type of the 1960s and '70s. It's that sporting spirit that the all-new 2014 F-Type roadster is meant to evoke.
And does it ever. From the narrow, slashing taillights in back to the gaping maw up-front, the F-Type's hunger for the open road is apparent before you even get inside. Press the start button, which pulsates red, and one of two magnificent engines roars to life: a supercharged V6 or an astonishingly swift supercharged V8. Toss the baby Jag into a tight corner and it responds with razor-sharp reflexes and control. Oh yeah. It has that sporting spirit, all right.
Quibbles? The prim dashboard layout holds far less visual interest than the car itself, and we see a bit too much Nissan 350Z in the F-Type's headlights. There's also no manual transmission available, whereas rivals such as the Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche's Boxster and 911 continue to offer stick shifts.
But overall, the new F-Type is easily one of the hottest roadsters, and its hand will strengthen further next year with the arrival of the even more seductive F-Type coupe. When folks think of Jaguars 10 or 20 years from now, they just might think of this dashing F-Type first.
What's New for 2014?
The F-Type is an all-new premium roadster. The F-Type coupe has been making the rounds at auto shows, but it won't debut until the 2015 model year.
What We Like
Strong acceleration in any model; optional supercharged V8 is truly epic; highly capable handling; luxurious interior; a real head-turner
What We Don't
No manual or automated-manual transmission; small trunk
The base F-Type is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it returns 20 miles per gallon city/28 mpg hwy.
The F-Type S gets a tweaked version of the V6 that's good for 380 hp and 339 lb-ft. Fuel economy drops a smidge to 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.
The F-Type V8 S upgrades to a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that pumps out 495 hp and 460 lb-ft. Fuel economy checks in at 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.
All F-Type models employ rear-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 F-Type is a soft-top roadster offered in three trim levels: base F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S.
The base F-Type ($69,895) starts with the 340-hp V6, 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, an automatically deploying power rear spoiler, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, a sport exhaust with center-mounted dual tailpipes, leather/suede cloth upholstery, 6-way adjustable seats, an 8-in touchscreen infotainment system, an integrated navigation system and a 10-speaker, 380-watt Meridian audio system.
The F-Type S ($81,895) steps up to the 380-hp V6, 19-in wheels, orange shift paddles, an adaptive sport suspension, an active sport exhaust, a mechanical limited-slip differential, power-folding heated mirrors with LED turn signals and puddle lamps, keyless entry/ignition and configurable ambient interior lighting.
The F-Type V8 S ($92,895) is treated to the exclusive V8 engine, 20-in wheels, a driver-adjustable sport exhaust with quad tailpipes, upgraded brakes, an electronic active limited-slip differential, auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 14-way power seats and rear parking sensors.
Most options are bundled into packages, with availability dependent on trim level. The Performance Pack (not offered on base F-Type) adds adjustable drive settings, sport seats and metallic pedals, as well as the bigger brakes and adjustable sport exhaust (standard with the V8) for F-Type S. The Premium Pack adds many of the F-Type V8 S model's standard luxuries along with a universal garage door opener, additional lockable storage between the seats and a wind deflector. The Climate Pack (included with the Premium Pack) contributes heated seats and a heated steering wheel. The Vision Pack throws in adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, rear cross-path detection and a blind spot monitoring system.
Other add-ons include extended leather upholstery, carbon fiber trim, various exterior aerodynamic enhancements and a 12-speaker, 770-watt Meridian audio system.
The F-Type's power-folding soft-top takes 12 seconds to go up or down, and it can be operated at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Trunk space is at a premium, measuring just 7 cu ft.
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, rollover hoops behind the headrests and four airbags (front and side). Numerous advanced safety technologies are available via the Vision Pack discussed above.
Crash-test data on the F-Type is not available.
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we were struck by the relative plainness of the F-Type's dashboard and controls. Materials quality is very good, and everything seems to be screwed together reasonably well, but there's nothing particularly memorable about the way this cabin looks. If it was our F-Type, we'd opt for the cool-looking sport seats, which help dress up the place -- such as (obscure historical reference alert!) the E36 M3's "Vader" seats did back in the day. The available extended leather trim also adds character, especially when an adventurous color is chosen.
Acceleration is strong in any F-Type, as befits a premium sports car. Speed is in this car's DNA. That said, we can't imagine foregoing the supercharged V8 for any reason other than an inability to pay. This is quite simply one of the best engines in any car, delivering awe-inspiring power with a crackling soundtrack to match. Flooring the throttle at about 60 mph in the F-Type V8 S is an experience you'll not soon forget. The V6-powered versions are authoritative in their own right, but the F-Type feels incomplete without that V8 under the hood.
On winding roads, the F-Type is less involving than Porsche's best, but it's unquestionably a world-class sports car with formidable capabilities. A proper manual transmission, or even a dual-clutch automated manual, would likely close the gap, though Jaguar seems likely to stick with the smooth 8-speed automatic. Structural rigidity is superb -- but for the sun streaming in from above, you might forget it's a convertible -- and high-speed stability is stupendous. A phrase that comes to mind is "the gentleperson's sports car," and we suspect that's more or less what Jaguar had in mind.
Other Cars to Consider
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible -- The drop-top Corvette is comparable in many respects to the F-Type V8 S, and it costs much less.
Porsche Boxster -- For pure driving enjoyment, it doesn't get any better than the Boxster. However, there's no engine in the Boxster's portfolio that can match the Jag's V8.
Porsche 911 Cabriolet -- The larger 911 Cab competes closely with the F-Type V8 S in both price and performance.
Once you drive the V8, there's no going back, so just keep that in mind when you're at the dealership.