Jaguar F-Type — A recipe for fun

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The first thing we did was press the "dynamic mode" button on the center console turning the gorgeous 2014 Jaguar F-Type into a snarling, crackling, growling beast designed to send shivers up your spine. What an intoxicating experience every time we cranked up the little convertible's 495-horsepower supercharged V-8.

The F-Type's auditory exuberance is in abundance even without the special exhaust setting, but this roadster is about so much more than motorized music. It's about speed and acceleration measuring 0-to-60 in 3.9 seconds and a quarter mile in 12 seconds at 188.5 mph. It's about road carving at its best. It's about a neck-snapping braking measuring a scant 105 feet from 60-to-0 mph. And it's about gorgeous head-turning styling that puts the roadster at the forefront of Jaguar designs.

Then there's the convertible aspect of the F-Type, which sports a fabric top that takes just a 10 seconds to fold down or bring back up — and it can be activated at speeds up the 30 mph. For cool weather open-air driving, big vents atop the dashboard give occupants a dose of extra warmth.

This Jaguar's styling is a marvel. Its beauty draws stares. It features an athletic stance sitting low with muscular front fenders and rear haunches, an oversized front grille, and aggressive air intakes. A rear deck spoiler automatically rises at 60 mph to improve high-speed stability.

There's a V-6 option that will make the Jaguar more assessable starting at $69,895. It's no slouch with a 3.0-liter supercharged engine making 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Zero-60 performance checks in around 5 seconds. The V-6 brings decent gas mileage rated at 20 mpg city and 28 on the highway. A second V-6 choice is the F-Type S that cranks out 40 more horses and improves performance by a couple ticks. It starts at $81,895. Standard equipment on both models is generous, but options are plentiful. And they both come with evocative exhaust notes.

An impressive eight-speed automatic transmission with manual paddle-shifter controls is part of equation. A manual is not on the menu but that didn't bother us because the auto shifter is so superb. F-Type’s incredible quickness is aided by a curb weight of just 3,671 pounds. If gas mileage is a concern, the V-8 is rated at 16 mpg city and 23 highway; 18 overall. But to get those numbers you will have to use almost super-human restraint and severely dampen the fun factor built into this brutish beauty.

Inside the F-Type you will find the usual Jaguar attention to detail with top-quality materials and high-tech features. You will also find plenty of reminders that this is a take-no-prisoners sports car with well-bolstered seating, a gearshift level that falls right to hand, and a digital speedometer feature for quick reading.

While the center display might be a bit convoluted, we like the six pre-set radio buttons on the large screen, which are easy to program and make changing a station on the fly a snap. We also like the large knobs provided for the climate control system. While two people can enjoy the attributes of the F-Type, they can't take much stuff. As with most roadsters, trunk space — reduced in size for top storage — is a rather skimpy 8 cubic feet.

The V-8 starts with a rather hefty price tag of $92,895 including destination charge. Standard equipment is generous for that price, but options are plentiful and can easily run the cost up 10 grand.

At the least, we recommend the performance pack at $2,950, which brings the configurable dynamic mode, switchable active exhaust, flat-bottomed steering wheel and red brake calipers among other features. What we wish for but cannot get at any price is adaptive cruise control. And Jaguar should be scolded for making a rear backup camera and blind spot monitoring system part of a $2,100 package. Those features should be standard on a car in this price range.

Our test car included the performance option as well as several others bringing the bottom line to $103,495.

The F-Type is the first all-new Jaguar sports car since the legendary E-Type made its mark from 1961 through 1974. The E-Type is one of the most iconic roadsters of all time, but the new technology loaded F-Type is set to make perhaps an even bigger mark in the sports car world.

If open-air motoring is not to your taste, a coupe version of the F-Type will become available this spring. It debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Base price: $69,895; as driven, $103,495
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 495 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 460 foot-pounds @ 2,500 rpm
Drive: rear wheel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Seating: 2
Wheelbase: 103.2
Length: 176 inches
Curb weight: 3,671 pounds
Turning circle: 35.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons (premium recommended)
EPA rating: 23 highway, 16 city
0-60: 3.9 seconds (Edmunds)
Also consider: Porsche 911 Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz SL550,

The Good
• Superb performance and handling
• Gorgeous styling
• Luxurious sports car cabin

The Bad
• Small trunk

The Ugly
• Options are many and expensive