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A Fierce F-Type: Jaguar Free to Roam

By Frank A. Aukofer, February 21st, 2015

For a good time, call 2-0-1-5 F-T-Y-P-E C-O-U-P-E. It connects you directly to the cat house where growling Jaguars prowl to entice enthusiasts and luxury lovers alike.

Manufacturer photo: The F-Type S is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in 380 horsepower
Manufacturer photo: The F-Type S is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in 380 horsepower

The United Kingdom car company, now allied with Land Rover, has been coming on with a roar of late, backed by money and the unleashed attitude of its owner, Tata Motors of India, which leaves the talented British designers and engineers to their own pursuits.

A year ago, Jaguar introduced its first all-out sports car since the famous E-Type of the 1960s and early 1970s. It was a two-seat F-Type Convertible and opened to rave reviews.

Jaguar completes the F-Type lineup with the introduction of the 2015 Coupe, which is favored by fans who like closed cars and the better chassis rigidity that comes with a hard top. The only serious drawback to the Coupe is that even with the windows open you miss much of the exciting top-down din of crackling exhaust notes that get the adrenaline flowing even faster.

There now are six models, three convertibles and three coupes with V-6 and V-8 supercharged engines of different horsepower. The base Coupe, with a 340-hp V-6, starts at $65,925. An upgraded S Coupe, at $77,925, has a 380-hp V-6. At the top is the racetrack ready R-Coupe with a monstrous 550-hp V-8, which has a base price of $99,925.

Manufacturer photo: The F-Type S is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in 380 horsepower

The top model among the convertibles is the V-8 S model, with a 495-hp V-8 and a price of $92,925. The two V-6 models are priced at $69,925 for the 340-hp version and $81,925 for the 380-hp S.

Those are base prices and there are plenty of options available, so it's not difficult to push some F-Types well into the six figure range.

The focus of this review is the F-Type S with the 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Options boosted the base price of $77,925 up to $92,125. Included in the base price is an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode controlled by the shift lever or paddles on the steering wheel. A manual gearbox is not available.

That might appear to be a deal-breaker among some potential customers. After all, you can buy a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with a unique seven-speed manual transmission for about $52,000, or about $28,000 less than the F-Type tester.

Although the Stingray is only about an inch longer than an F-Type, the two cars appeal to different customers and the two manufacturers obviously are convinced that the twain shall never meet. Well, maybe.

Manufacturer photo: The F-Type S is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in 380 horsepower

Though the V-8 R model is the killer Jaguar, every F-Type is as comfortable on a racetrack as it is leisurely touring around town or on the freeways. The eight-speed automatic is so capable it could even woo some die-hard manual gearbox aficionados.

Shifts both up and down, in automatic and manual mode, happen instantly and the onboard computer even blips the throttle to match engine revolutions to the speed of the car.

Driving on a racetrack, the well balanced F-Type uses so-called torque vectoring and an active differential to keep the car lined up and the wheels planted in high speed corners. There's also a dynamic launch control to minimize wheel spin for maximum acceleration. The tested V-6 F-Type can hit 60 mph in under 5 seconds.

Contributing to the performance is a lightweight body that is all-aluminum, except for the tailgate, which is made of composite materials. Buyers can choose from an aluminum or glass roof. The latter has a sun shade but does not open.

Inside, the luxurious F-Type delivers well-designed and labeled instruments, controls and appointments, including center air conditioning vents that disappear into the dash when the car is shut down and rise up again when it's started.

Manufacturer photo: The F-Type S is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in 380 horsepower

The cockpit, however, is a bit cramped. Taller drivers are forced to divvy up the seat recliner with the fore and aft adjustment. Fully reclined, the seatback rubs up against the upholstered rear bulkhead, causing squeaks unless it is moved away. For some drivers, getting enough space to the pedals forced them to sit uncomfortably upright. Also the power seat adjusters are up on the doors, Mercedes-Benz-style, where they are awkward to operate.

In the wild of nature, jaguars often beget better jaguars. The F-Type shows that it works with cars as well. Eager enthusiasts hope Jaguar continues to deliver standouts like this one.

Specifications

Base price $77,925 (as tested: $92,125)
Curb weight 3,519 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Engine type 24-valve supercharged V-6 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 19 gal.
Horsepower (net) 380 at 6500 rpm
Overall length 176 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 339 at 3500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 2-passenger compact RWD coupe
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