Jaguar's Brand New Sports Car Is More Fun To Drive Than Its Legendary Predecessor

The F-Type, the first Jaguar sports car since the legendary E-Type went out of production 40 years ago, is finally hitting the road in the United States.

To see how it lives up to its predecessor — which Enzo Ferrari himself reportedly called the “most beautiful car ever made” — we headed out to Seattle for a day-long drive through the mountains and on the track.

The product of more than three years of work and some 350 engineers, the end result is not as gorgeous as the E-Type, but it’s a lot more fun to drive.

The sports car comes in three versions, the F-Type, F-Type S, and F-Type V8 S, which start at $US69,000, $US81,000, and $US92,000, respectively. That’s right in the range of the less expensive models of the Porsche 911, which Jaguar reps say is the target competitor.

We drove the F-Type S and F-Type V8 S, worth $US99,320 and $US104,770, respectively. And we loved them.

Full Disclosure: Jaguar Land Rover paid for our travel and lodging expenses to drive the 2014 F-Type.

There's no denying the F-Type is a good looking car.

Even though it lacks the raw sex appeal of its predecessor, the E-Type.

It did win the 2013 World Car Design of the Year.

And it drives better than the E-Type, which went out of production 40 years ago.

The F-Type is the lowest, widest, shortest car Jaguar has ever made. It's also the stiffest Jag convertible ever, which makes it better on the road.

Of the dozen or so colours, the orange paint job -- officially 'Firesand Orange Metallic' -- is far and away our favourite. That costs $US600 extra.

It comes in three models: The F-Type and F-Type S each have a V6 engine. Then there's the V8 S. (All three cars pictured here are Sport versions.)

The easiest way to pick out a V8 version on the road is to look for the twin exhaust outlets.

The V6 versions have one centered set, like the E-Type.

Of course, you can look under the hood, too. The clamshell design is another nod to the F-Type's predecessor.

The V6 in the F-Type S provides 380 horsepower.

While both supercharged engines are excellent (and sound glorious), the 5-liter V8 is a monster.

With 495 horsepower, it can send the car from 50 to 75 mph in 2.5 seconds, making it perfect for passing. The V6 does well in the left lane, too.

In most automatic cars, paddle shifters are useless. But they're good on the F-Type: Drop two gears, watch the revs jump, and hit the pedal. You'll be on the left side of the road and back again before an oversize load truck driver knows what's happening.

He will hear you, though. The engine sounds absolutely wonderful, especially on the V8.

Let's take a look at the add-ons. The $US450 illuminated treadplates (the things you step over to get into the car) seemed like a complete waste of money.

A much more reasonable feature is the wind deflector, part of a $US200 'premium pack' that also includes a garage door opener and lockable interior storage.

The $US2,100 'Vision Pack' gets you a blind spot monitor and rear view camera for backing up.

The shape of the car isn't very stable at high speeds, so a rear spoiler automatically pops up when the car hits 60 mph. This can be scary, since from the driver's seat, it looks like the trunk is open.

The deployable door handles, which fold into the body of the car, are more about sleek design than aerodynamics.

They pop out when the car is unlocked with the key fob, or when a touch sensitive area is activated.

Jaguar calls the air intakes 'gills,' which would make more sense if this were a submarine car.

20-inch wheels are standard on the V8 S, and available as an option on the other models.

The V8 S comes with 15-inch brakes, the biggest ever put on a production Jaguar.

To improve the weight ratio of the car, the engineers put the battery and windshield washer liquid in the trunk.

That makes the minuscule trunk even smaller. Don't expect to fit more than a golf club or two in here.

Unusual for a convertible, the F-Type looks great with its top up. It can fold down at speeds up to 30 mph, in 12 seconds.

The car's interior is the same for both S models. It's set up so that as the driver, it's easy to ignore whoever is next to you.

The controls are simple and easy to use, a good mix of buttons and knobs. In a real sports car, there's no need for anything too fancy. The experience should be about driving, not relaxing.

After five hours of driving on mountain roads, we took the F-Type to the track.

There, Dynamic Mode really made a difference. It adjusts the steering, suspension, and throttle response to let the car handle corners at high speed.

But despite speed limits, we had the most fun driving the F-Type on the open road. It may not be the sexiest car ever made, but it's a terrific ride.

Here's another powerful car we liked a lot.

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