Test Drive: 2014 Jaguar F-Type
Our thoughts on the British brand's heritage revival after a behind-the-wheel experience
Design matters at Jaguar, but the British car-makers have only recently evolved their overall aesthetic. A few years back, when they unveiled the Jaguar C-X75, we got a glimpse of where the creative direction was heading for the sportscar facet of their business and now we see the first fruits of that labor—the all new F-Type. While their current line-up is high-class, it's somewhat understated. The F-Type however, still turns heads. And as the first F-Types begin to hit the road this summer, expect to hear a lot more buzz around the rather modest British brand.
Following in the large footsteps of its iconic predecessors—C-Type, D-Type, E-Type—the entirely new F-Type does well to evolve, while managing to maintain the series' design language. The two-seater convertible sportscar is Jaguar heritage. As Director of Advanced Design Julian Thomson—who joined Jaguar in 2000 alongside celebrated Director of Design Ian Callum—told us, "Jaguar has always been about proportions." And by following a few basic, yet defining, design cues—a tubular fuselage, long bonnet and short rear overhang—Thomson makes the necessary historical references to achieve the "Jaguar atmosphere." While history dictates certain design points, recent advancements in aerodynamics and technology have allowed for a more pronounced rising light catcher, cleaner side lines and a deployable rear spoiler, among others. Attention to how every little detail impacts the overall form, like flush door handles that only pop out when needed, indicates the level of respect given to the F-Type by its designers.
We were recently invited to drive the all-new F-Type on the Italian highways and country roads north of Rome. Of the three available eight-speed configurations, bookended by the supercharged F-Type V6 and F-Type V8 S, we landed in the middle with a V6 Sport. Capable of hitting 60mph in just 4.8 seconds with a top of speed of 171mph, the V6 Sport provided plenty of power and was super-fun to drive, with incredibly balanced handling. Paddle shifters and sport mode, coupled with a button to raise the volume of the throaty exhaust notes, provided multi-sensory exhilaration. While I pushed the car pretty hard, my driving companion—a seasoned racer—showed just how well this two-seater Jaguar can stick to the curves. Although, we will admit we're still curious how it'd compare to the V8. Recalling past experience at the Jaguar R Academy, we know Jag can build a performance car.
There's something poetic about driving a British sportscar in the Italian countryside. Any moments of tranquil reflection were washed away by the Meridien sound system, which even impressed with the top down. When we did hit a patch of rain, the F-Type only required us to slow to 30mph to put the cloth-top up—which happened in under 12 seconds. Only downside of the rag-top is that when it's up, there is quite a bit of wind noise.
As with the outside, Callum's design philosophy reached the interior as well; showing a strong consideration for fast, fluid lines and creating an overtly driver-focused design. Engineered to limit distractions, the divided cockpit-like console isolates the driver and air-vents even descend into the dash when not in use. The controls are simplified though familiar to any Jaguar or Rover owner, given the shared technology between the sister companies. Further consideration was made for drivers in bright light by increasing visibility of the digital displays within the multi-function dials.
Images by Josh Rubin