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Rediscovering Jaguars Roots


The company that wowed the world with its XK sports cars launches another hit


For luxury brands, two-passenger sports cars can be challenging. In the big GT category, Mercedes-Benz SL models have rebuffed challenges from serious rivals while volume in the luxury sports class has been Porsche’s province. In the high-luxe category, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and a host of exotic brands offer mind-numbing performance, and the new Corvette can now play in this league with a straight face.

Pent Up Demand
While no one can accurately forecast the success of a new entrant in a hard fought arena, more than a decade ago I witnessed the unfulfilled lust for a new Jaguar sports car. At a lunch hosted by Jaguar in Carmel, a stunning XK180 concept car was parked at the curb. Reaction from affluent sidewalk gawkers was overwhelming, with a number of people offering sincere deposit money for the two-passenger roadster. That made perfect sense to me since Jaguar’s heritage is founded in sports cars from the XK120 through the E-Type.

Simply based on its curvaceous styling, the new F-Type is a hit with prospective buyers. From the athletic, poised aluminum body to the appealing two-tone interior with supportive sports seats, this looks like a serious contender for corner carving amusement.

Light the Fuse
When you pop the flush door handles out and take a seat in the command position, the start/stop pushbutton pulses red, asking to be engaged. When prodded, the supercharged V8 awakes with a roar that’s right out of the Italian supercar playbook. It’s rambunctious enough that if you have an early commute in a quiet neighborhood, you may hear from the folks next door.
The crackling exhaust is intentional, according to Jaguar, and its retailers assert that prospects love it, a novel departure from the brand’s staid image. Unlike Jaguar’s sedan offerings, a round gearshift lever doesn’t arise from the console. Instead, a conventional shift lever occupies the standard position between the seats. But Jaguar had to add mechanical amusement, so the center vents rise up out of a flush dashboard when beckoned.

Rapid Transit
The balance between a pure sports car like a Porsche 911 and the luxury sports cruising that Mercedes SL provides is not easy to attain, but Jaguar has managed it, albeit with a nod toward Porsche. On the road, this cat feels light, quick, and stable. Steering is precise and on-center, turn-in is brisk, and you’re compelled to have sporting fun.

Our V8 S test car provided plenty of launch with nearly 500 horses propelling the roadster to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. The class-leading horsepower is delivered through an eight-speed Quickshift transmission controlled with the shift lever or paddles behind the steering wheel with its race-style flat bottom.

If your sporting desires do not necessarily include challenging supercars, the base model is available starting at $69,000 with 340 supercharged horses and 28 highway fuel economy. And there’s an in-between 3.0-liter S version that ups the power to 380 and a bit more content for $81,995. Frankly, I don’t think there’s a bad choice in this smart lineup.   BRIAN DOUGLAS


Photography by Brian Douglas


2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S

ENGINE:  5.0-liter Supercharged V8

HORSEPOWER:  495 @ 6,500rpm

TORQUE:  460 lb.-ft. @ 2,500rpm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 16-city/23 highway

BASE PRICE: $92,000

AS TESTED:  $104,620


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