Fantasy Meets Reality
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Fantasy Meets Reality
While the design is exquisite, somehow quintessentially Jaguar yet also new and modern, how does the package that design's wrapped around stack up?
The answer: Fairly well--though there are a few issues.
Trunk space, for one, is minimal. Even apart from the space stolen by design to stow the Z-fold soft top, the floor of the trunk is quite high, and the suspension towers intrude at the sides. The result is a space that's barely suitable even for smaller bags, and not deep enough to contain much in the way of a real suitcase--a potential issue for those wanting a weekend getaway car.
The cockpit, too, is a bit short on space. In a car with a footprint 6 percent larger than the 911--which offers a backseat and a reasonable front trunk--you'd expect ample leg room. Not so. In fact, the shortage of leg room requires a more vertical seating position (at least for taller drivers) than is truly comfortable, as the seatback runs into the rear bulkhead. For passengers, it's worse, as the floorboard doesn't extend as far forward as it does for the driver's pedals.
Knee room is tight, as well, making for a bit of discomfort for long-legged drivers (like myself) on longer drives. The rest of the cockpit, however, is as spacious as it should be--shoulder, hip, and headroom are good. The seats, in particular the upgraded leather-wrapped sport seats, are fantastic. Adjustable side bolsters and lumbar support make for a highly tunable seating position, from relaxed and cruising to snug and sporty.
But the biggest issue with the F-Type, for some, will be the lack of a manual transmission.
The eight-speed Quickshift transmission in the F-Type is a rather athletic take on the slushbox concept, with quickened shifts and a 100-percent lockup that skips the torque converter once out of first gear. But it's clearly not a manual--and not a dual-clutch either.
The Quickshift's actual gear changes are quick, indeed--on the order of dual-clutch quick--but there's a lag between driver request (via paddle or center console joystick) and transmission action. It's a noticeable lag, even in Dynamic Mode. In some cases, the transmission simply doesn't respond, perhaps thinking better of your ill-informed manual shift point. Whatever it is, it's a touch balky and difficult to use in manual mode.
Fortunately, it's quite good in fully automatic mode. So good, in fact, in Dynamic Mode, that you're unlikely to wring any thing more from the car shifting on your own except frustration. When left to its own devices, the Quickshift in the F-Type downshifts intelligently, upshifts quickly, and avoids interfering in corners thanks to its Corner Recognition software.
The F-Type: Sports Car Or Something Else?
The question I started out with--the question that remained with me through much of the day and a half driving the 2014 F-Type--is whether the car can truly be called a sports car.
The answer, raw and subjective as it is: it can. It's not a minimalist, pure execution of the theme, but it's a sports car. A luxurious, (mostly) comfortable, beautiful, powerful sports car.
And that sound. Oh, the sound.
Jaguar provided airfare, lodging, and meals during the course of this first drive event.
For even more about the 2014 Jaguar F-Type--including another two weeks of coverage--be sure to check out our 30 Days of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type extravaganza.
(c) 1970, High Gear Media.