Jaguar’s been one of the few companies in the past couple of years that hasn’t made a huge mistake with the models they sell. Yes, their product line isn’t as diverse as the competition, but what they have invested in is paying dividends, and the new F-Type is proof that their current focus is one I’m going to keep a close eye on in the near future. From the styling to the engine options revealed recently, I’m unashamed to say that I love this car even before I’ve seen it in the flesh.
Jaguar’s styling department, even when it was owned by Ford, is its crown jewel. Since the late Nineties, the XK and the S-type, while vastly different cars, proved that the designers could polarize the public. Subsequently, the new-age look of their post-2008 designs is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Many car companies have gone retro with vary degrees of success, while Jaguar has been looking forward to the future with cars like the XJ and current XF. The F-Type is retro but not a complete throwback, taking the best of the old with the trendiest of the new. It evokes the memory of the timeless XK-E, yet it’s futuristic without looking over-the-top.
The F-Type’s been one of Jaguar’s most anticipated models. It brings back a certain swagger Jaguar hasn’t had in a while, possibly not since the Sixties. Superimposing the E next to the F brings out all the curves, but take a closer look, and the new model is a better definition of the stereotypical ‘Jaaag’ than even the current XJ sedan. The power situation is certainly solved. This is the first six cylinder Jag sports car in more than 15 years, and the first one with a V6. Everything has forced-induction, from 340hp to 495 (probably 510) in the top dog model (packing a 5.0L supercharged V8 punch). This is a modern sports car, with everything done just to the point and nothing more. It doesn’t offer a manual transmission, but I’ve driven two different Jaguars (an older XJ and a brand-new XKR-S) in the past 18 months, and Jaguar has little problem with automatic transmission performance (although yes, a manual would be quite fun in a car like this). The interior looks great in the pictures as well–and if the XKR-S I drove last summer is any indication, then looks are not decieving, and the F-Type should be a comfortable cat with claws meant to maim other roadsters.
The one gripe I have with the car’s design is actually, believe it or not, part of the car’s styling. Jaguar is only offering the F-Type as a roadster, which I have no issue with. But, that’s it. Jaguar should offer this car as a fixed-head coupe in the same style as the E-type, it’s spiritual father. I’ve seen both Series 1 coupes and roadsters and neither is the more beautiful, they are both meritorious in their own regard.
The other criticism I have is that the car is starting at a rather high price tag–Jaguar has the F-type starting at about $69,000 which is in my opinion too high and too close to the XK (which starts at 79K), a car that’s definitely for higher-income buyers. If Jaguar intends to get more people into the brand, they are doing a few things right (such as offering AWD on the XF and XJ series, which will bring in more customers from New England, the Northeast, and some parts of the Midwest). The F-type, being a car with less power (and an image goal closer to a Porsche Boxster than a Mercedes SL) and a lower pricetag, should really be priced closer to the XF than the XJ–in fact, I’d have it priced more to about $55,000, with the top-dog supercharged V8 going for 80K tops.
All this said, I can’t wait for this new model from Jaguar, it can’t come soon enough. If this car is as good as the previews are for it, then I will say honestly that Jaguar has its mojo back. I’ll be a happy man to see less Porsche Boxsters and Corvettes, replaced by these works of art.
-Albert S. Davis