Jaguar rediscovers its groove
Performance-oriented F-Type, XFR-S dazzle at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
2014 Jaguar F-Type
Years of concept cars and incremental development are bearing fruit at Jaguar — fruit that is on display at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The all-new F-Type convertible has been turning heads worldwide and is finally ready to start running on real-world roads, and now there's a new addition to the top-of-the-line Jaguar R-S series in the XFR-S performance sedan. Both the F-Type and XFR-S made their North American debuts this year in LA. With offerings such as these, it looks like Jaguar is once again becoming the swinging gentleman's performance marque that it should rightly be.
2014 Jaguar F-Type
What is it? Developed from the gorgeous C-X16 concept, which had fans drooling at auto shows the past few years, the new F-Type is a modern take on the drop-top sports car for the man about town. Three trim levels offer a range of F-Types, spanning the spectrum from "fun but not dangerous" to a nearly 500-horsepower screaming demon of a convertible in the F-Type V8 S.
What's hot? We repeat: The 2014 F-Type V8 S rates at 495 horsepower. Even in the 340-horsepower base version, you get a convertible that borrows from the legendary E-Type while remaining modern, even a bit futuristic. The cockpit is a tight, extremely well-designed space with excellent fit and finish commensurate with what prospective owners will spend.
What's not? The jury is out on Jaguar's QuickShift 8-speed automatic transmission. It's one thing to tweak manual-transmission purists, but it's quite another to burn dual-clutch transmission fans. When you have both looking askance at your setup? You've either done something remarkable or made a horrible mistake.
How much and when? The 2014 Jaguar F-Type will start at $69,000, the F-Type V8 starts at $81,000, and the F-Type V8 S starts at $92,000. All three will be available at Jaguar dealers starting next summer.
MSN Autos' verdict: As hot as the 2013 Jaguar F-Type is, and for all of the amazing work put into its design inside and out, something is missing. Perhaps we're a little too sentimental when it comes to any car that dares attempt to fill the sainted E-Type's shoes. Perhaps a more stripped-down approach — both mechanically and pricewise — would cause more of a stir.
2014 Jaguar XFR-S
What is it? The second addition to Jaguar's R-S series, the XFR-S sedan follows in the bloody paw prints left on tracks worldwide by the XKR-S coupe.
What's hot? With 550 horsepower, 502 lb-ft of torque, a 4.4-second zero-to-60 mph time and only 100 offered in the U.S. for the 2014 model year, everything about the XFR-S is expressly designed to be hot. The fastest sedan in Jaguar's history is built to take the lunch money of every performance sedan on the market, and with its upgraded suspension and a spoiler that reduces lift by 68 percent compared with the XF — along with other bodywork changes — it aims to bully most sports cars as well.
What's not? The insane blue finish that Jaguar insists upon for its R-S cars is highly questionable. The jury is out, but not yet back, on Jag's QuickShift automatic transmission. And there will be some grousing over the high cost and exclusivity of the XFR-S, but not from anyone who can afford it.
How much and when? The 2014 XFR-S starts at $99,000 and will go on sale in early summer.
MSN Autos' verdict: The 2014 XFR-S is an expensive toy for drivers with more money than cares in this world. On the face of it, the XFR-S is extravagant, but it looks great and is seriously built to go like stink. The XKR-S has been winning fans back to Jaguar as a performance marque, and we suspect the XFR-S will bring even more.
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.