The Jaguar F-Type cuts a clean profile through the streets of Philadelphia.
The supercharged 5-liter V8 delivers 502 pound-feet of torque, while spray-guided direct fuel injection makes for more efficient combustion.
The first time—though not the last—that I came up short on a promise to my then-girlfriend and now my wife of 30 years, we were test-driving a gorgeous but brittle Jaguar Vanden Plas sedan, feeling like the Windsors wheeling out of the palace gates. Seeing how happy she was, I said maybe we would buy the car. She smiled and sat up straighter in the passenger seat. “Oh, that would be nice,” she said. Over the next 25 years, Jaguar provided plenty of excuses to not make good on that promise. By the end of its run as an independent company in the late 1980s, Jaguar’s erratic reliability had become a punch line. After being acquired by Ford, a series of bland models followed that created a larger audience at the expense of exclusivity. But with the takeover six years ago by India’s Tata Motors, the brand is making an impressive comeback, now showing its teeth with the super-sexy, performance-bred F-Type two-seater.
The F-Type draws visual inspiration from the Jaguar legacy but is definitely a modern and highly evolved sports car, challenging Porsche for mystique and market share. My test vehicle, an aluminum-body 550-horsepower F-Type R coupe, seemed to part an ocean of gaping onlookers. Runners along Kelly Drive stole a look as the Jag tracked the winding asphalt with aggression and control, as did Walnut Street shoppers when it sauntered like a model through late-day traffic. There is something attractive for everyone: the big muscles; sultry-eyed LED-accented Xenon headlamps; a tail-section from a ’50s space rocket prototype; those bright yellow super-performance ceramic brake calipers peeking through the simple, elegant 20-inch forged-alloy wheels that make the F-Type R look like an NFL linebacker in sexy shoes.
When you slide into the leather-swathed cockpit, the analog cluster and the rest of the layout seem traditional. But once on the road, the F-Type’s frontengine rear-wheel-drive action, high-tech adaptive dynamics suspension, a recklessly ebullient 5-liter supercharged V8, and lightning-fast eight-speed quickshift transmission take you back to the future of internal combustion. The acceleration of the F-Type coupe is breathtaking. The engine explodes with power, doing 0 to 60 in an ecstatic 3.6 seconds. And, at $114,825 before taxes, the F-Type not only competes with the aforementioned sports car paragon, but seems to match the Germans’ every benchmark. Jaguar Main Line, 325 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 877-820-6930; Jaguar Willow Grove, 900 S. York Road, Hatboro, 877-619-4859