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Culture / Cars

A Jaguar Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before

British Icon Gives Ferrari Something to Think About

BY Jim Shi // 09.06.16

It all changed in 2013.

That was the year Jaguar launched the stunning F-Type. As the spiritual successor to the iconic E-Type and replacement for the XK, the aspirational car was both a purposeful return to Jaguar’s racing roots and a premeditated move forward to appeal to the hearts — and wallets — of a new, and younger, generation of car enthusiasts enamored by the German monikers.

In short, the brutal 550-horsepower F-Type coupe has done a admirable job of redefining the British automaker.

The nearly-all-aluminum body design is a gorgeous blend of uninterrupted curves and athletic proportions. The long wheelbase, with its wheels pushed out towards the four corners, and low center means the two-seater is wider than it is tall, and the character line rises dramatically at the rear.

The gorgeous F-Type I drove was one of the few cars in my experience that somehow seemed fast even at standstill, if only because it’s so smooth and reflective. Larger-than-life 20-inch wheels house bold yellow calipers on the carbon ceramic matrix braking system (a healthy $12,000 upgrade).

Up front, a wide grille flanked by double vertical air vents is menacing, while the fascia, with its lower lip splitter that creates downforce, keeps the front end low at high speeds (trust me: it works). Door handles chicly retract into the body once locked and a rear spoiler juts out at high speed. The lines taper stunningly into the muscular haunches of the rear (beware the blind spots), which remains simplistic save for the chrome quad exhaust pipes.

This car takes the classic sports car formula of long-hood, short-deck and modernizes it. More than one passerby thought it was a Ferrari or a Maserati, and more than one person exclaimed, “I’ve never seen a Jaguar like this before.”

My particular tester was an R model. As such, it came with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine, all-wheel drive (AWD) and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The total cost: A little north of $120,000. The bellowing crackle of the F-Type’s exhaust is no accident, either. Jaguar engineered the car to let additional fuel in the cylinders when the driver lifts off the throttle, creating what it calls a “controlled misfire.” The pop-and-crackle effect mimic gunshots every time the foot is released off the gas.

A toggle switch near the gear stick lets you switch to dynamic driving modes, and buttons under the stick let you activate stiffer suspension and open up the baffles to let out more of the lovely brute engine noise. Dual climate control gets solid round knobs and in a totally unnecessary but very cool feature: When you turn on the climate-control system, dual vents emerge from the dash, above the carbon fiber center stack. Turn it off and they slide back down, leaving the sleek dash unbroken.

New for 2016 is an optional manual transmission, though you’d have to sacrifice some power, as it’s exclusive to the rear-wheel drive V6 model. The R comes with an eight-speed quick-shift auto transmission with paddle shifters, something that I didn’t use much because the automatic was faster.

Like the E-Type before it, I’d argue the F-Type is just about the best-looking car on sale today. Somehow the F-Type is both punchy and subtle, masculine and feminine. Be it in coupe or convertible form, the car is so spectacular, function is all but an afterthought. Hands down, this is a car Jaguar could — and probably does — sell on looks alone.

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