By Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director, KBB.com
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
For 40 years Jaguar has been capitalizing on the heritage and prestige derived from its legendary sports cars, while not actually having a credible 2-seat sports car in its model line, but the new-for-2014 Jaguar F-Type convertible is meant to change all that. Designed from the ground up to compete with the Porsche 911, the F-Type's aluminum-alloy chassis is covered by sleek, contemporary bodywork that is subtly referential to the legendary E-Type. Under the classically long hood resides one of three different powertrain choices, all supercharged and all featuring an ultra-sophisticated ZF automatic transmission that can be manually shifted via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The comfortably tight cockpit channels the past and accentuates the future with a dash that houses a large Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) touch-screen.
While Jaguar is playing the heritage card with its F-Type, the car stands on its own as a performance machine, a worthy competitor to the Porsche 911 while at the same time quite different.
If you are looking for a Jaguar convertible to provide a comfy conveyance to the hair stylist to get another blue tint, you are seriously underestimating what the Jaguar F-Type offers in terms of sheer go-power.
KBB Expert Ratings
The Jaguar F-Type is all-new for 2014, returning the brand to the 2-seat sports car market for the first time in decades.
Driving Impressions So do you want to go fast, faster or fastest? That's the choice Jaguar gives you. The base F-Type convertible equipped with its high-tech 340-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 is a...... serious performance machine, as its 5.1-second 0-to-60 mph time and electronically limited 161-mph top speed attest. And things just get hotter from there. The more highly strung V6 F-Type S benefits from an increase of 40 horsepower enabling it to bolt to 60 in 4.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 171 mph. Those are compelling numbers, but the real mind-blower is the 5.0-liter V8 S model that can induce vertigo by vaulting from zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds. Its top speed is 186 mph. All this straight-line performance is matched by a well-controlled suspension, quick steering and huge brakes, and while the F-Type can be a handful if you floor the accelerator at rest, the car is filled with electronic driver aids that can tame the beast a bit if you want them to.
5.0-LITER SUPERCHARGED V8 ENGINE
The F-Type is filled with innovative features, but its ultra-performance credentials are assured by its 495-horsepower supercharged alloy-block V8. Combining high-tech niceties like direct injection, variable cam timing and a water-cooled intercooler, the engine pours out streams of velvety torque.
8-SPEED QUICKSHIFT AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
You'd be hard-pressed to find an automatic transmission more intelligent than the ZF 8-speed in the F-Type. It actually detects your driving style and provides shift-mapping that matches your whims, kind of like eHarmony in a gearbox.
The F-Type's interior puts a strong focus on the driver with a grab handle dividing the driver's space from the passenger area, along with subtle differentiation in the grain on the instrument panel and center console on the driver's side versus the passenger's side. Further differentiation is found on the S and V8 S models, which have engine start button, shift paddles and the Dynamic Mode toggle all finished in "Ignis" orange – typically used in divers' watches. While all that might seem a bit studied, the big items are handled wonderfully well. The instrument panel features substantial tachometer and speedometer dials, flanking an info screen. A large TFT touch screen above the center console offers a variety of functions including navigation, and immediately below three rotary knobs and an array of toggles control heating and air conditioning. The standard sport seats offer manual fore-and-aft control, though there is a full-power option. A "performance" seat option provides more bolstering.Exterior
Trying to design a follow-on for a legendary design is a very difficult assignment, so it seems Jaguar Chief Designer Ian Callum's team intentionally avoided emulating the 50-year-old lines of the E-Type. For instance, the car has a large trapezoidal grille instead of the E-Type's elegant oval. The biggest similarity between the E-Type and F-Type is the fact that both have folding fabric tops, though some might have expected the F-Type to have a disappearing hardtop instead. Quibbling aside, the F-Type is a very attractive contemporary sports car, and all three variants are similar visually. We especially like the slim rear section of the car, though the sleek look does mean the F-Type has limited trunk space.
If Jaguar had just introduced the base F-Type as its single offering in the sports car segment it would have won a great deal of praise, because a base F-Type offers the sinuous styling, driver-oriented interior, deployable rear spoiler and power-operated soft top of the higher-level versions. The 340-horsepower supercharged V6 is a formidable engine, and it is backed by the praiseworthy 8-speed QuickShift transmission. Also standard is the intelligent stop/start system that stops the engine when you pull up to a red light or stop sign, then re-starts it as quickly as the driver can move his or her foot from brake pedal to accelerator.
The F-Type is chock-full of driving aids designed to enable the driver to get the very most out of the steering, suspension, brakes and tires. Dynamic Mode enables you to tune the throttle response, steering, gear changes and stability-control threshold to match your preferences, which seems like adjustment enough, but the Configurable Dynamics option allows you to select the elements of Dynamic Mode that you want to change. So you can tailor the shock damping, steering rate and throttle response to your liking, while leaving other settings at factory spec. It also allows you to record data like lap and split times, brake-and-throttle inputs and G-forces. While all that makes driving more entertaining, Jaguar also paid attention to more traditional entertainment. The 10-speaker Meridian audio system has a 380-watt output, while the 12-speaker Meridian system offers 770 watts plus the Trifield System, which places both driver and passenger in the center of their own surround-sound fields.
The 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 offered in the various F-Type models share both architecture and the intelligent stop/start system. Aluminum-alloy construction is used in both engines as is a twin-vortex supercharger and water-cooled intercooler. Another commonality is the use of aluminum cylinder heads that house the independent variable-cam-timing system. The V-6 uses counter-rotating front and rear balancer weights to compensate for the lack of two cylinders, helping to give the engine refinement similar to the V8. The power for all Jaguar F-Types is transmitted to the rear wheel via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
3.0-liter supercharged V6
340 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
3.0-liter supercharged V6
380 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
339 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg
5.0-liter supercharged V8
495 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg
Jaguar executives have pointed the 2014 F-Type directly at the Porsche 911, and they have priced it to offer significant extra value versus the equivalent 911 Cabriolet models. At the same time, the 911 is significantly different from the F-Type in overall configuration. In fact, one could make the case that the F-Type bears more similarities to the Chevrolet Corvette than the 911. All that said, the F-Type has a price advantage versus the 911, but is at a significant disadvantage in terms of resale value. In comparison to the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the F-Type is at both a cost and resale-value disadvantage. We believe none of this should make much difference to Jaguar fans, who now find their marque squarely back in the sports car race.