A marine layer of fog and mist cascades over the coastal mountain ridge below, enveloping the emerald brush in a hazy gray blanket. Birds chirp, a gentle breeze rustles leaves, a pair of chipmunks frolic about in the shrubs. This is serenity.
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S is serenity's nemesis, a car so unapologetically loud that you wonder how it can possibly be legal. The 495-horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8 expresses itself with an angry, metallic wail that reverberates throughout the once-bucolic mountainscape. Birds fly away, the leaves wish they could and the chipmunks pause in acknowledgement that the apocalypse is most likely at hand.
The F-Type may be the destructor of serenity, but it's thoroughly intoxicating, and that's with the standard exhaust setting engaged. Press the little button on the center console and it only gets louder and nuttier. Let off the throttle and it grumbles, snorts, crackles and pops like a pyrotechnically inclined bulldog on Guy Fawkes Day. Driving the V8 S is an event like few other cars, and there's far more to it than just its auditory exuberance.
You Will Be the Center of Attention
The performance begins before you climb in, your eyes exploring the sensuous curves and perfect roadster proportions that strike just the right balance between pretty and purposeful. This isn't a retro knock-off of the 1960s motoring icon that alphabetically preceded it, yet there are subtle homages to the E-Type that can be seen in the F. This is especially true in the rear: exaggerated fender haunches, thin taillights with a single circular element and in the V8 S, quad tailpipes that tilt ever so slightly up to the heavens.
This is a car that bystanders walk around slowly, examine and admire, before eventually landing on the badges and quizzically mouthing "Jaguar?" followed by "F-Type?" These are words they won't forget, kept in reserve until the next time a conversation's topic turns to cars.
If only they could climb inside. Though perhaps a tad derivative compared to the XF and XJ (there are similarities to be drawn to the Murcielago and even C7 Corvette), the 2014 Jaguar F-Type's cabin is nevertheless festooned with little details sure to be appreciated by those who view cars as big toys.
The bronzy gold start button pulses red as if a heart beats within. Toggle switches control aspects of the HVAC system, which when activated, send the central air vents rising dramatically out of the dash. The shifter, sitting atop a metallic "space ball" housing and complete with a gear-selecting trigger, feels all the world as if it should control machine guns that pop out of the side gills.
Really, the entire car seems as if it was designed by a guy who wanted to be James Bond when he grew up but ended up being a Jaguar designer instead.
One of the Fastest Convertibles You Can Buy
The engineering department must have had equally juvenile tendencies when it stuffed a supercharged V8 under the nose of an aluminum-bodied roadster. Sure, it still weighs 3,958 pounds (582 more than the svelte Porsche 911 Cabriolet), but an improved power-to-weight ratio is not the sole reason for offering something meatier than the available 340- and 380-hp supercharged V6s. The V6 models are far from slow, so the V8 S is simply indulging those who want glorious overkill that knocks your socks off.
And indeed it does, sprinting from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds (3.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and through the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds at 118.9 mph. That's 0.8 second quicker to 60 than our equally priced long-term Porsche 911 Cabriolet and a half-second quicker than the Mercedes-Benz SL550, which costs a few thousand dollars more.
Shifts from the eight-speed automatic transmission may lack the millisecond responses of a dual-clutch automated manual, but are still plenty fast, especially when you dial in the "Dynamic" mode. The wheel-mounted paddle shifters are rarely necessary, but the rev-matched downshifts they produce are an easy way to get the exhaust crackling and popping.
The outstanding brakes are another positive piece of the puzzle. The F-Type's best stop of 105 feet from 60 mph was accomplished on the eighth stop of nine, demonstrating a strong resistance to fade and a high degree of driver confidence.
Confident is not how we'd describe the 2014 Jaguar F-Type through the cones of our slalom test, however. Though it managed a 70.7-mph speed, it was a tail-happy handful characterized by initial understeer followed by surprise oversteer. Our test-driver found a general lack of communication, with steering that gains weight with speed but adds no additional feedback.
Dynamic mode did very little to improve things, and in fact, there is such a negligible difference between the two steering and suspension settings there doesn't seem to be much point, whether slicing through cones or driving down a bumpy strip of freeway.
Not the Most Nimble, but Likely the Most Fun
The news didn't get much better on that bucolic mountain road. While those chipmunks pondered their mortality amidst the F-Type's glorious noises, a fellow editor in a base 2014 Porsche Cayman was not only keeping up with the F-Type, but would've easily passed it had we been driving on a similarly tight and technical race circuit. The Jag simply couldn't match the sharper steering, impeccable balance and general bantamweight feel of the smaller Porsche. It was a similar outcome a week later when a 911 Cabriolet left the Jag behind on another mountain road. Score that as Germany 2, England nil.
Despite the lack of pace, in both instances the driver of the F-Type emerged with zero concern that his ride had been outdone through the corners. The car's many histrionics were obviously a big part of that, but this is still a car that not only tickles your eyes and ears, but also those car guy senses housed in the tips of your fingers, balls of your feet and the seat of your pants.
It's a thrill, and not in a reckless, jumping-out-of-a-plane-sans-parachute sort of way. When not weaving through cones, it feels solid, planted and secure, with steering that provides sufficient — if not exceptional — feedback. We always felt in command, even when indulging our inner hooligan with glorious, perfectly controlled powerslides.
In other words, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type isn't scary. Quite the opposite: It's guaranteed to put a big goofy smile on your face as a sports car should.
Is $100,000 Too Much?
Though the Porsche 911 may be the car that's most frequently compared to the F-Type, it is a pair of Mercedes that more closely resemble the F-Type in both driving dynamics and spirit. The two AMG SL models and the SLS Roadster are also rear-drive, tire-smoking rides with an audible flair for the dramatic.
More importantly, their performance is virtually identical to the 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S. Both the SLS Roadster and V12-powered SL65 put down nearly equal 0-60 and quarter-mile times as the F-Type (we've yet to test an SL63). The Jag stopped in a shorter distance than both, but the Mercedes boasts more grip. The slalom was a wash.
Despite such similarities, the SL63 starts at $147,300, while the SLS and SL65 top $210,000. The F-Type V8 S starts off at $92,895, with our loaded test car hitting the register at $105,620 with its Performance, Vision, Premium and Extended Leather packages. Suddenly the criticisms of the F-Type being too expensive are less convincing.
How Does It Compare to the Germans?
Some would say that the bigger, more spacious hardtop Mercedes-Benz SL would be the more practical choice, even if it looks like German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to the F-Type's Duchess of Cambridge. And if we're talking about livability, there's always the similarly priced Porsche 911 Cabriolet that we've discovered time and time again has the everyday supercar thing nailed.
Either of the German drop tops would be the better daily driver. The F-Type's visibility with the roof up is actually quite good, but wind buffeting, noise and hair flouncing with the roof down is more prominent. The difference in trunk space is stark as well, as the Jag's barely useful "boot" is lucky to fit a pair of overnight bags and maybe a pizza box.
Some of those aspects will count considerably more than others. After all, cars like these are often used as weekend cruisers more than commuter cars. Miles are accumulated in bunches during drives up the coast, through the country or en route to the golf course. They are playthings: the ultimate toys to be enjoyed by men and women who want to take a break from adulthood and be boys and girls for a few fleeting moments.
And for that, the Jaguar F-Type V8 S is one hell of a toy. It's uproariously fast, looks like nothing else on the road and most definitely scares the bejeezus out of mountaintop rodentia.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Leave a Comment
Edmunds Insurance Estimator
This is the estimated average annual insurance premium being charged in your state. The premium has been determined based on annual premium data for defined coverages (liability, comprehensive and collision) from a major insurer.
While this information is specific to vehicle make, model, model year and body type, your personal information is not taken into consideration and could greatly alter the actual premium quoted by an insurer. Factors that will affect your rate include your age, marital status, credit history, driving record, and the garaging address of your vehicle.
The Edmunds TCO®
monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE
in VA is: