Orange is definitely not the Jaguar F-Type's color. This is a refined British sports car, not a big-block Dodge Charger. But there's a little bit of orange in almost every one thanks to designer Ian Callum.
It's actually called Ignis Metallic Orange to be exact and it's the color of the starter button on every "S" version of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type. It's also the standard color for the shift paddles on the steering wheel and the switch on the console that puts the car into its more aggressive "Dynamic" mode. According to Callum, he wanted to highlight the controls that really bring this car to life.
This is a pretty good indicator of how Jaguar sees the new F-Type roadster. It is not just a shrunken-down XK with the seats removed. This is a pure-bred sports car with competitors like the Porsche Boxster in its sights. That kind of performance requires a complete package of power, handling and refinement, something Jaguar thinks it has put together in exactly the right amounts with the new F-Type.
It Has the Muscle
If you have any doubt that the 2014 Jaguar F-Type will be sufficiently fast, consider the fact that the weakest of its three available engines is rated at 340 horsepower. That would be the standard supercharged 3.0-liter V6, which made its debut in the XF and XJ sedans earlier this year.
It's essentially one of Jaguar's latest 5.0-liter V8s with two cylinders cut off and a supercharger perched on top. The block and heads are made of aluminum, while the intake and exhaust valves are actuated by variable cams. Direct injection and a 10.5:1 compression ratio help it to deliver 332 pound-feet of torque beginning at 3,500 rpm.
For extra punch, there's the F-Type S model, which is upgraded with a 380-hp version of the same engine. And if that's still not enough, there's the F-Type V8 S, which squeezes Jaguar's supercharged 5.0-liter V8 into the engine bay. It's rated at 495 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
All three engines send their power to the rear wheels as they should, but there's sure to be some groaning about the fact that they'll do it only through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rest assured there's likely an "R" version coming down the line sometime later with a proper manual gearbox, but until then you'll have to live with perfectly matched downshifts from the eight-speed autobox.
A Trim but Not Light Package
It's a good thing that the 2014 Jaguar F-Type has such strong engines given that it's not all that light compared to its Porsche rivals. Despite a body made almost entirely of aluminum, the F-Type weighs in at 3,521 pounds with the base engine. The last 911 coupe we tested tipped the scales at 3,277 pounds, while the latest Boxster is another 200 pounds or so lighter than that.
At 176 inches long, the F-Type is actually a hair shorter than a Porsche 911, yet it rides on a considerably longer 103.2-inch wheelbase. The Jaguar is also wider, at 75.7 inches versus just 71 inches for the 911.
The larger size certainly doesn't hurt the F-Type's performance, as Jaguar says the base model will go from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, while the upgraded V6 will shave another 0.3 second off that. Such quickness puts the F-Type S right in line with the Boxster S in terms of acceleration. With a promised 0-60-mph sprint of just 4.2 seconds, the F-Type V8 S will be Corvette fast, although we're guessing that's not the customer Jaguar expects to draw.
Tight handling should be part of the equation as well, since the F-Type features an all-aluminum double-wishbone suspension at each corner along with the quickest steering rack Jaguar has ever used in a production car. The "S" models also get adaptive dampers that can be dialed in by the driver if the automatic setting isn't to his or her liking. Throttle response, shift speed and steering weight can also be adjusted on the fly.
Base F-Types get 18-inch wheels, while the V6 S and V8 S move up to 19-inch and 20-inch wheels, respectively. There are three different brake systems, starting with the base model, which uses 13.9-inch rotors up front and 12.8-inch rotors in back. The V6 S adds even larger 15-inch rotors up front, while the V8 S gets the same 15-inchers up front and 14.8-inch rotors in back. We have no doubt that any one of the systems will be sufficient to stop the F-Type in a satisfactory distance.
A Driver's Cockpit
As you would expect, the cockpit of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is focused on the driving experience above all else. Jaguar officials even went so far as to call it a "1+1" when describing the layout.
It doesn't quite feel that focused when sitting in the driver seat, though. The center stack isn't canted at an extreme angle and there's plenty of room for both the driver and passenger. Optional sport seats with electric adjustment will be available, but the standard chairs use manual adjusters to keep the car's weight down. A flat-bottom steering wheel will also be an option, even though Chief Engineer Mike Cross doesn't really like them — that's what Ian Callum told us, at least. (We're with Mike on that one.)
There's a proper set of analog gauges straight ahead, along with a driver information screen tucked between them. The dash has a minimum of knobs and switches, as most of the controls have been integrated into the touchscreen interface. Even the center air vents retract into the dash when not in use to give the cockpit a cleaner look.
There's nothing particularly unique about the convertible roof. It's a classic cloth top that tucks away neatly behind the seats in about 12 seconds. Jaguar engineers said a hardtop configuration was considered but never got very far, as it would have added too much weight and complexity. It probably would have swallowed all the room in the trunk, too, which stands at just 7 cubic feet as it is.
Filling the Dead Space
Jaguar is aware that the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is not particularly groundbreaking in terms of technology, performance or intent. Adrian Hallmark, the global brand director for Jaguar, told us that the company is more intent on filling holes in the lineup at this point, not creating all-new segments.
He also said that the F-Type would be priced between the Porsche Boxster and the Porsche 911. That puts the base V6 around $65,000. The V6 S will probably push $70K while the V8 S will get well into the $70s. That should keep the F-Type a comfortable distance from the XK and put it right in line with the majority of its competitors when it goes on sale next summer.