Test Drive: 2014 Jaguar F-Type
by marc goodman
When Enzo Ferrari has called your last roadster “the most beautiful car ever made,” you have a follow-up problem. That was the iconic Jaguar E-Type, which first appeared in 1961. The Collection’s owner, Ken Gorin, is one of its innumerable devotees. “I drive a Ferrari 458 Spyder, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, and an Audi A8—I change my cars often. But an E-Type is the only car I personally own: a 1974—the last year they made it. My dad and I restored it together.”
So when Jaguar announced the new 2014 F-Type as its first new two-seat sports car since wide ties and Watergate (The Collection fortuitously acquired a preproduction version), the next step was obvious: let Ocean Drive take the top-of-the-line V8 S model, capable of speeds up to 180 mph, on a ride down to the Keys and spend the night at the idyllic Moorings Village & Spa.
Upon picking up the car at The Collection, the curvy references to the Jaguars of old were immediately apparent, but here those curves are combined with angular design details that faintly conjure up Fiskers and Lamborghinis. (What it really took its cues from was Jaguar’s concept C-X16.) Within seconds of embarking, the “fire-sand orange” two-seater elicited a whoop from a passerby, the first of endless stares and phone photos and questions.
The car is unabashedly masculine, a monster on the street (adds Gorin, “It gets your heart pumping. It’s the car that 10-year-old kids are going to put pictures of on their wall”). The roadster is an all-aluminum-bodied construction, weighing just 3,671 pounds, but with 495 horsepower and a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution in front and back of the car, thanks to clever placement of some functions along the trunk line. All this may add up to a game-changing move by the company—now owned by Indian conglomerate Tata—to dominate the price point between Porsche’s Boxster and 911. It starts at $69,000; the V8 S model we drove starts at $92,000, topping out at just $115,000 with all the fixings.
Once on the road, the series of roundabouts along Hardee Road in Coral Gables would be our perfect first test of the cat’s handling. At speeds that would give any local residents apoplexy, the F-Type stuck to the ground like horse glue around each half-circle. This car is fierce, and not in the fashion industry- parlance way (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds is proof.
An auto this devoted to raw performance is a huge, eagerly awaited milestone from the Castle Bromwich Assembly factory, with its heritage of sports cars, from the XK120 to the C-, D-, and E-Types, which made them the apotheosis of a certain kind of mid-century swinging bachelor masculinity.
Along with muscle come some awfully nice niceties, such as a G-force meter, interior lights that respond to touch, beautifully trimmed seat stitching, a climate system that rises out of the dashboard like the Red October, a soft top that opens and closes in 12 seconds at up to 30 mph, and a toggle that allows you to vary the sound of the exhaust. The F-Type’s boot is meant to be able to fit a bag of golf clubs; just don’t bring your Vuitton steamer trunk. Needless to say, there’s no spare tire, just an air-compressor-and-sealant repair device.
After a stop at Homestead’s famed farmstand, Robert Is Here (try the mango shakes, trust me), we were off to the straight-aways of Card Sound Road before making our way, top down, to Islamorada. Adele’s lush theme to the latest Bond film, Skyfall, was the only song that properly conveyed the sense of luxury, sex, and danger behind the power of this car. I can’t say that someone driving would effortlessly reach 120 mph, because that would be almost twice the speed limit on that thoroughfare, but if they did, it would be with growling grace. At that speed, I’m even quite sure that the vehicle would feel as solid and weighted-down as a John Deere combine, and that any hesitation would come only from the fear of a driver, not the limits of the car.
Sometimes contrast is the best way to appreciate different forms of beauty. Thus a dose of tranquility at The Moorings Village & Spa was in order. Twilight gathered around colonial-style houses as palm fronds gently rattled in the sea breeze, our iced beverages dripping with condensation. And on a grassy lawn under a stand of coconut trees, the burnt-orange auto sat low like a just-fired gun. It would be nice not to have to leave this charmed scene, but shouldn’t we be taking the car out again tomorrow, say, to Jacksonville? The Collection, 200 Bird Road, Coral Gables, 305-444- 5555
photography by gary james (goodman, the moorings, farmstand); pierre verdy/afp/getty images (e-type)