By Mark Gauert
To test drive the new Jaguar F-Type V8 S is to tempt disappointment. The moment you push the start button, you know you’re going to be disappointed to stop.
Until then, Jaguar’s first two-seater in 40 years does not disappoint. It’s a blast, really.
Drop the top, paddle into manual, flip on the active exhaust, take aim at the venerable Henry E. Kinney Tunnel in Fort Lauderdale, and the 5.0 liter V8 495 hp engine will snap, crackle and pop tiles off the walls. At least that’s what it sounds like. (Was moving too fast to actually confirm).
You might think you shouldn’t drive this car through some neighborhoods, because it will wake the neighbors. You might think you shouldn’t drive this car through other neighborhoods, because the neighbors will think you’re coming in packing.
Either setting, no problem. Put the top up, switch to dynamic drive, flip off the active exhaust, and you’re a stealth fighter in a blur of Salsa Red, Polaris White, Indigo Blue. A car for every road, a setting on the console for every setting.
This is a reboot for the brand, and definitely not your Austin Powers’ Jag. For a 2014 super car, suitable for secret agents of any stripe, the F-Type is stunningly easy to operate. (Even for, ahem, complete agents in training). You want eight speeds fast, you got ’em right where the stick shift should be. You want to drop the temperature, turn the dial with easy-to-read digital numbers. You want to crank Terry Gross on Fresh Air? (Wait a minute, what kind of secret agent are you?) Adjust the volume control on the steering wheel and 10 speakers provide Terry in crystal-clear sound. (A 12-speaker option would be overkill here).
Some things you don’t even have to operate on your own (unless you really want to). The rear spoiler automatically rises at 60 mph and retracts below 40. The door hinges retract above 5 mph. The air vents fold themselves down when the A/C is off. The Nespresso machine knows whether you want a single or double, and fills your cup accordingly right there in the cup holder. Wait, I may have just made that part up. (Was moving too fast to confirm).
Speaking of speed, Jaguar places the F-Type V8 S .1 second faster than a Porsche 911 Cabriolet S, .3 seconds faster than a Mercedes-Benz SL 550 and .4 seconds faster than a 911 Cabriolet – but, at MSRP $92,000, it’s considerably less money than the competition. More snap, crackle and pop for the buck.
At the valet stand at the Boca Raton Resort & Club – my personal test track for car aesthetics – the valet practically fell off the curb when I nosed the F-Type through the pillared arches of the porte cochere.
“Is this the new Jaguar?’’ he breathed.
“Yes,” I said. “Take good care of it for me?”
I’d been here on other test drives, with cars that made less of an impression with the valet. Not now.
“I’m going to park it right out front,” he said.
I handed him the fob, and watched him park it next to Ferraris, Bentleys and the other super cars of the porte cochere.
Stopping it anywhere else would have been a disappointment.
2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S (5.0 liter, 495 hp), $92,000. (Price as tested, $103,475). F-Type V6, (3.0 liter, 332 hp), $69,000; and F-Type V6 S (3.0 liter, 339 hp), $81,000. From Warren Henry Jaguar, 20800 NW Second Ave., Miami, 305-690-6006. Thanks to co-test pilots Shari Gherman (first Jaguar, 1976 XJS) and Robert McMahon (first Jag, 1963 E Type coupe).