Hear That Loud Exhaust?
F-Type S and V8 S models come standard with an active sport exhaust system that alters the noise characteristics of the exhaust with the press of a button. The active sport exhaust controls bypass valves to restrict or open up the exhaust. By default the active sport exhaust system functions more like a silencer and tones down the exhaust note to not draw attention. But pressing the active sport exhaust button opens it up and livens up the sound. It’s like a musical eargasm every time you floor it and especially so with the V8 S. We drove the F-Type S and V8 S with and without the active sport exhaust enabled and found the restricted exhaust to be too quiet while it sounds glorious when opened up. The V8 S creates such a harmonious sound, which we enjoyed thoroughly when driving through a couple tunnels with our foot on the gas pedal.
If you can't figure out whether the F-Type you're looking at has a V8 or V6 engine, just start at its sexy backside. The V8 S sports four exhaust pipes, while the V6 models have two center-mounted pipes. Although the V8 S is more acoustically pleasing, the V6 still sounds fantastic.
An Eight-Speed Automatic
An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. Yes, that's right. The first sports car from Jaguar in nearly 40 years is only available with an automatic. At first, we bemoaned the decision. But Jaguar's engineers showed us that the eight-speed is very capable. Its shifts are fast, and it'll even hold a gear for the right acceleration out of corners. The driving dynamics are so fantastic that we almost forgot we were driving an auto. Jag claims its secret is locking up the torque converter at speeds above 5 MPH, and the eighth gear is only used as an overdrive for fuel economy.
As a mental check, I asked my driving instructor at The Ridge Motorsports Park for his opinion on the transmission, since he had already spent a few days with the F-Type. He similarly didn't mind that car was an automatic with paddle shifters.
Automatic Door Handles? Um, Yes Please!
Aerodynamics were a big focus for Jaguar's engineers as they designed the F-Type. As with Nissan's GT-R, which we reviewed in 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition: The Gran Turismo Car, the F-Type features door handles that sit flush with the doors.
Nissan's handles deploy manually when you push on them. Jaguar takes a more luxurious approach. The door handles automatically pop out when you approach the car, providing you purchase the push-button start option. It's another cool novelty that reminds friends, family, and potential dates that this is a sports car, no corners were cut, and you're as alpha (or as superficial) as they come.
The F-Type comes with an active rear spoiler that deploys automatically above 60 MPH or manually at the press of a button. Jaguar claims the spoiler reduces lift by 260 pounds and improves stability at high speeds. We probably shouldn't say how fast we drove through the roads around Mt. Rainier, but we certainly didn't not have stability issues at those "high speeds."
A Fast Convertible Top
Jaguar engineered its powered convertible top to fold very quickly. It only takes 12 seconds to open or close, and you can operate it at speeds of up to 30 MPH. That means you don't need to pull over; there's enough time between green lights to let the top drop on the drop-top.
2014 F-Type: Beautiful, Fun, And Fast
In both V6 and V8 trim, the 2014 F-Type is a brilliant car. It's equally fun to cruise in and drive aggressively. Despite a curb weight of roughly 3500 pounds, the F-Type still feels nimble. We were naturally drawn to the V8 S trim for its brutal horsepower, but ended up enjoying the V6 more around the autocross course for its predictably under heavy load. The V8 S just gets a little squirrely when you're leaning into it around corners.
The F-Type's driver's seat is both comfortable and supportive, while the cockpit puts all of the important controls within a quick glance and reach. Jaguar's data infotainment system does come up a little short in terms of aesthetics. Moreover, features controlled by touch are more difficult to access, since the recessed display obscures the lower part of the screen somewhat. Fortunately, the most common functions have physical buttons that correspond to them.
Jaguar's active center vents are a slick novelty, as are the rear spoiler and door handles, all of which deploy automatically when they're needed. As far as looks go, the F-Type is a head-turner for sure (and for anyone who isn't looking, that exhaust should grab their attention). Personally, I'm a fan of that backside, with its E-Type tail light styling cues and flared fenders.
If you’re looking for a beautiful roadster to drive aggressively, but want something with more panache than a Porsche Boxster, Mercedes-Benz SLK, or BMW Z4, all the while staying under $100,000, Jaguar's F-Type is a marvelous choice. We couldn't imagine leaving the garage in this thing with anything other than a smile on our faces.