Jaguar’s beautiful new F-Type V-8 S sports car has an exhaust that pops and crackles with a sound that is part Formula One and part ’48 Mercury with straight pipes when you trigger the active exhaust system with a button on the console. The change in sound serves notice that this is not a Jag like any other.
By TOM STRONGMAN
Don’t be mistaken, the new F-Type with the 495-horsepower, supercharged V-8 is not a boulevard cruiser beefed up for performance; it is a bona fide performance car softened enough to be a boulevard cruiser. It packs plenty of bite to go with its bark. Poke the throttle and the surge pastes you back in the seat as the car slingshots to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. The electronically limited top track speed is 186 mph. As a friend once said, it goes fast quick.
The F-Type is a lightweight, all-aluminum, rear-wheel-drive two-seater built to challenge any car in its segment. It is beautifully styled, carefully crafted and built to have world-class performance. It’s only available as a convertible, but a coupe version is rumored.
There’s a price for this excellence. The well-optioned test car, a V-8 S model, had a base price of $92,000 and a sticker price of $105,245. That’s more than a similarly equipped Porsche Boxster and less than the 911 Carrera S that was one of the performance targets.
Other lower-priced competitors include the 335-horsepower BMW Z4, the Mercedes-Benz SLK with a 415-horsepower V-8 and, to a lesser extent, the 450-horsepower Corvette Stingray.
Two other F-Types are available, and both have a supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6. One with 340 horsepower starts at $69,000, and the S model with 380 horsepower begins at $81,000. All use an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. No manual gearbox is offered as of yet.
Both the V-6 and the V-8 from which it was derived have dual overhead cams, variable camshaft timing, direct fuel injection and an Eaton supercharger. Moving from the base model to the S also includes bigger brakes, an upgraded suspension and 19-inch instead of 18-inch wheels. The V-8 S model has 20-inch wheels, an electronic limited slip differential and even bigger brakes.
It’s hard to explore the V-8’s performance without a racetrack, but my brief drive around town gave hints as to just how capable the car is. The ride was compliant and comfortable despite the 20-inch wheels and ultra-low profile tires. I didn’t notice any undue harshness on the highway. When pushed through turns, the F-Type was composed and confident, at least at street speeds. The V-8 S model just begs for an open track so one can safely explore its performance.
The well-finished cabin was finished with soft-touch leather piano black trim. It was cozy but not crowded. The sport seats fit nicely and instrumentation was simple and clear. The fully automatic power top goes up or down in 12 seconds. The smallish trunk has 7 cubic feet of space so packing light is the order of the day for weekend trips but that is the case for most sports cars of this size.
Convenience and safety items included heated seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield, front parking sensors, rearview camera, blind-spot monitor, vehicle stability control and front and side airbags.
The base price of the V-8 S model was $92,000. Options included heated seats and steering wheel, garage door opener, wind deflector, adaptive front lighting, parking sensors and rearview camera, HD radio and satellite radio, heated windshield, Meridian premium audio system, performance seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel, selectable active exhaust, black interior trim and black metallic paint. The sticker price was $105,245.
Four years or 50,000 miles.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org