My neighbours have gotten used to the steady parade of new cars – and bikes – filling up my driveway and, sometimes, spilling out on to the street. Everything from behemoth pickup trucks to mainstream sedans to electric cars has shown up at one time or another. Some elicit interest and conversation – others, not so much.
One of the more attention-getting models to pass through lately was the 2014 Jaguar F-Type S, which had a steady stream of onlookers pausing to check it out. Sometimes, people would even come on to the property to talk to me if I happened to be nearby. Most of the comments were favourable.
The colour of my tester – a striking Firesand Orange Metallic – definitely catches the eye, but so does the styling. Nice compact dimensions, tasteful chrome accents, purposeful front grille and a lovely rear deck treatment, with twinned rear exhaust ports exiting out the middle of the rear fascia – a small homage to this car’s illustrious predecessor: the E-Type. All in all, a beautiful car, tasty and contemporary without being overdone and, most importantly for this market, presence up the ying-yang.
There are three versions of this one; F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V-8. My tester was the S, featuring a supercharged, 3.0-litre V-6 that develops 380 horsepower. Given the car’s 1,614-kilogram weight, this makes the F-Type S a lively performer, without being overwhelming or unmanageable.
Transmission is an eight-speed automatic only with a manual shift feature and this drivetrain will take you from a standing start to freeway speed in about five seconds, with a top speed pegged at 275 km/h. There are quicker cars out there, but so what? The consequences of getting caught doing 50 km/h over the speed limit are dire, and cars faster than this one are begging to get you in trouble.
And you can find yourself exceeding the speed limit by a sizeable margin through the turns as well as on the straightaway. Thanks to a limited slip diff and Jag’s version of active suspension – among other things – you can hurl this one into the twisties. It stays flat, stable, and predictable. This is what Jaguar has to say about its active suspension system: “Adaptive Damping assesses body motion and pitch rates 100 times per second, and adjusts the settings for each damper accordingly – a series of sensors that are placed around the car monitor the body’s vertical movement, pitch and roll rates.” This one may finally be in Porsche territory when it comes to high-speed handling.
Being a Jag, comfort does not take a back seat to performance. This version of the F-Type is loaded with all kinds of stuff. Standard equipment includes all the usual modcons – power windows, leather, back-up camera, climate control – plus extra goodies like an active exhaust system that lets you to “enhance” the exhaust note, firm but not punishing “performance” seats, heated steering wheel, an active power rear spoiler that you can raise or lower, an engine management system that automatically blips the throttle when you downshift, and 20-inch wheels and tires. It is, by anyone’s definition, an upscale sports car.
It also features an automatic stop/start function that shuts the car off at stoplights. It’s not as refined as it could be, and you can definitely feel it, but it’s bound to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy over the long run. This feature is almost obligatory these days, and most upscale car makers have it.
A word about the top. One touch does it and it goes up/down in just more than 10 seconds. It can also be deployed while the car is in motion – up to 50 km/h – which is a nice touch.
What occurred to me while driving the F-Type S was that this is a car Triumph would probably be building were it still in business. As the owner of a TR6, I felt a connection between my aging runabout and this one.
Yes, the F-Type S is much faster with infinitely superior handling, but both of these cars have smooth, well-behaved six-cylinder engines that produce an intoxicating exhaust note and provide a surprisingly relaxing driving experience. The V-8 version of this car is a different animal, and goes like a bat out of Hades, while the non-supercharged model is arguably too relaxed. The S model strikes me as a good compromise and I felt at home in it.
A couple of negatives. First, getting in and out is more challenging than I would prefer – mainly because of the seat side bolsters and steering wheel location, but that’s typical of most two-seater sports cars. Second, backing the car up and parallel parking is a barrel of laughs. Before I drove this car, I tested a Range Rover Evoque, which could be the worst car I have ever driven in reverse. The F-Type is a close second. The back-up camera does help, but only to a point. Third – well, there is no third.
Unless, of course, it’s the price. Expect to shell out more than 100 large by the time the dust settles.
2014 Jaguar F-Type S
Base Price: $88,900; as tested: $108,025
Engine: Supercharged 3.0-litre V-6
Horsepower/torque: 380 hp/390 lb-ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift feature
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.8 city/7.3 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: BMW M3 Convertible, Audi A5 S-Line Cabrio, Chevrolet Corvette, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible, Dodge Viper, Porsche Carrera Cabriolet, Infiniti G37 Convertible