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2014 Jaguar F-Type
Engine: 3.0L V6 Supercharged / 5.0L V8 Supercharged
Power: 380hp / 495hp
Torque: 339 ft-lbs. / 460 ft-lbs.
Wheelbase: 103.2 in.
Starting MSRP: $81,000
In the spring of 1963, LIFE employed photographer John Dominis to document three weeks in California with the coolest man in America, 33-year-old actor Steve McQueen. Dominis shot more than 40 rolls of film. Among the images, which include McQueen poolside in Palm Springs and racing motorcycles, is one of the most iconic automobile photographs of all time: a snap of McQueen seated in a 1956 XKSS Le Mans racer. He's looking back over his right shoulder, eyes veiled by sunglasses, and framed by the car's gorgeous wheel haunches. The seductive XKSS oozes glamor. It looks fast, even as it stands still. Most important, it simply matches the undeniable style of the driver.
Fifty years after that photo, Jaguar's got a new halo car built on its sporting heritage. In a neat twist of fate, it's also the brand's first sports car in roughly half a century.
The 2014 F-Type follows the legendary E-Type, which we listed as one of the five sexiest cars ever built. It has the long bonnet and short rear associated with great Jaguar sports cars. The assertive design—characterized by a muscular elegance—is defined by two "heartlines." The first forms the fender line, rising up from the gills on either side of the grille. The second swells from the rear haunch and extends to the rear of the car. Both offer, for the driver, distinct sight lines.
"A piece of design should tell a story and this is why every line in the F-Type has a start, a direction and a conclusion," said Jaguar's design director, Ian Callum. "If you approach every line individually and get it as aesthetically correct as possible, get the dimensions right, it will stand the test of time."
Make no mistake, the F-Type is as much about making a new sports car as it is about creating a new icon. It melds its seductive design with innovative technology. New manufacturing techniques were required to produce the clamshell hood—the largest one-piece pressing of aluminum used in a current car build. In total, the F-Type uses more composite materials than an previous Jaguar, making a statement on the potential of performance-focused sustainable design.
"We are creating a new generation of Jaguar sports car," said Mark White, Chief Engineer, Body Complete, "so it has to be credible from both a performance and design point of view."
Under the hood, the F-Type offers three new supercharged Jaguar engines. There are two different states of tune for the 3.0L V6—340hp and 380hp—to go along with a 5.0L supercharged V8 available in the F-Type V8 S that produces 480hp and 460 ft-lbs of torque. We drove both the V6 S and V8 S, which offer distinctly different experiences—think sound and 0-60 time—but the same ultimate end result: TONS OF FUN.
Behind the wheel, the F-Type gushes excitement. Driver vantage is unobstructed. Key switches are highlighted by an orange finish. The dynamism adds to the distinct environment. This is a cockpit, and the switches are tools for proper domination of the road.
The transmission, an eight-speed "Quickshift" automatic (with manual overrides), is super responsive. It holds gear on corners, and it recognizes desire to accelerate and overtake old ladies. It inspires the same confidence on curvy roads, highways, and tracks. We know. We tried it all.
During a day's drive around Mt. Rainier, and from Seattle to The Ridge Motorsports Park, the F-Type proved remarkably adaptable. Have you got weekend warrior track dreams? The F-Type reacts like an unleashed Jack Terrier on a fox hunt. Are you partial to a spirited Sunday drive? Washington's mountain roads allowed the vehicles agility and handling to shine. Do you simply want to ogle a tremendous example of contemporary design? The F-Type is perfect car porn.
The best thing about the F-Type, almost impossible to believe considering it is so damn gorgeous, is how quickly you can forget about it. As a driver, you want to be at one with the machine. With the F-Type you get the aesthetic and the design as you approach, but once you sink into the seat and click the belt there's a certain clarity. This is a car for driving. This is a car that, despite its technology, is about escape. This is a car that gives voice to the timeless character of a sports car.
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type is a car that celebrates legacy and creates its own history.
Bottom line: You'll never look as cool as Steve McQueen, but the F-Type has potential to become one of our generations most legendary rides.