The first — and only — time I drove a 1969 Jaguar E-Type, two things nearly killed me: The excitement of driving the sexiest car ever made, and fear that it would stop running in the middle of the highway and I would promptly be crushed.
That’s the double-edged reputation of the E-Type, gorgeous but horribly unreliable, and not all that pleasant to actually drive.
Now Jaguar is out with the F-Type, its first sports car since E-Type production stopped in 1974, and while Jaguar reps call out the Porsche 911 as the key competitor, it’s the legendary E that weighs more heavily on impressions of the F.
“Sexy” Is The Wrong Word
The F-Type didn’t inherit its father’s stunning looks. In the lowest, widest, and shortest Jag ever; the obviously phallic quality of the C-, D-, and E-Types is lacking.
Over drinks with auto journalists in Seattle to drive the car, there was consensus that you can’t call the F “sexy.”
That’s not to say it’s a bad-looking car. Much of the blame can be placed on modern regulations that make cars safer for drivers and pedestrians, but yield a somewhat homogeneous design field.
“Helluva” Fits Nicely
But whatever its looks, the F-Type is one hell of a car to drive. The stubby quality that detracts from its looks makes it rigid, and it responds beautifully on tight turns. Five hours of driving through the mountains around Seattle was exhilarating.
Both the 6- and 8-liter engines sound glorious — rendering the optional $1,200 sound system totally superfluous — and provide more than enough power to pass semitrailers on tight mountain roads. The interior is well designed and comfortable.
The basic F-Type with a V6 engine starts at $69,000. The 6- and 8- liter models I drove were $99,320 and $104,770, respectively.
Better Car, Lesser Icon
Jaguar has scored solid marks on recent reliability and initial quality tests, though its grades are hardly consistent. But it’s hard to imagine the F-Type being anywhere near as unreliable as its predecessor, so it beats the E-Type there.
It’s also a whole lot easier and much more fun to drive. I was worried the (admittedly 44-year-old) E-Type would kill me driving on slight turns, but all I wanted to do in the F was go faster and harder into corners. On the track, it performed beautifully.
In the end, Jaguar could not have topped the iconic look of the E-Type. The F-Type may not be the best-looking sports car you see on the road, but once you’re inside, that doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of excitement. And no more fear.
Full Disclosure: Jaguar Land Rover paid for our travel and lodging expenses to drive the 2014 F-Type.
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