Jaguar F-TYPE ready to take on all contenders.

The roads surrounding Mt. Rainer, WA. were perfect for testing the F-TYPE's performance and handling attributes.

The roads surrounding Mt. Rainier, WA. were perfect for testing the F-TYPE’s performance and handling attributes.

Jaguar may not have actually said “look out Porsche, Mercedes, Cadillac there’s a new sheriff in town” but they certainly have thrown down the gauntlet to the high-end performance sports car market with the introduction of the all new F-TYPE. Jaguar believes the majority of F-TYPE buyers will be new to the Jaguar brand. These buyers have owned or coveted cars like the 911 and are looking for something unique and a little different but with the same high performance intensity.

This two-seat, soft-top will no doubt change the complexion of this category, one that has been dominated by the Porsche 911 for years. Jaguar is going after the 911 head-on. Will it be enough to achieve a major upset? That remains to be seen.

We put hundreds of miles on various versions of the F-TYPE over some of the most demanding mountain roads around Mount Rainier, Washington and many laps at Ridge Motorsports Raceway. Driving both the V-6 and the V-8 has made us think Jaguar has done their homework and fulfilled due diligence in the designing, engineering and outfitting the F-TYPE. This is an automobile that impressed in so many areas it is sure to shine a spotlight on the Jaguar brand,

Jaguar's F-TYPE was made to sample the mountain roads surrounding Mt. Rainer.

Jaguar’s F-TYPE was made to sample the mountain roads surrounding Mt. Rainier.

Available in three different models, the F-TYPE will attract a wide range of enthusiasts. The base model proves to be no light-weight entry-level sports cars, and certainly makes that statement carrying an MSRP of $69,000. The base F-TYPE is powered by a potent supercharged V-6 producing 340 horsepower.

That same V-6 gets a boost in on-road abilities as you move up to a performance package, the V-6 S that includes a power boost to 380 horsepower. The V-6 S model begins at $81,000. Top of the heap is the F-TYPE V8 S which is powered by a 495 horsepower supercharged V-8 and begins with an MSRP of $92,000.

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Large center grille, dual shark gill vents and vertical light pods give the F-TYPE an aggressive look.

All engine configurations are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission that offers some of the smoothest shifts we have experienced. Though manual shifting can be achieved via the console mounted shifter, we preferred the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Negotiating Washington’s mountain roads was even more pleasurable with the precision of each shift, which brought to light the performance of the F-TYPE. And, oh that exhaust, what a wonderful sound track to our adventure.

Powerful engines are not the only highlights that make this Jaguar a star. Wayne Burgess, Production Studio Director gave us a deep introduction into the key design elements that brought the innovative aluminum body structure of the F-TYPE to fruition.

It is difficult to make a convertible look good top up or down, Jaguar makes it look easy.

It is difficult to make a convertible look good top up or down, Jaguar makes it look easy.

In true sports car design designers gave the F-TYPE a long bonnet (ah, hood) line, a passenger cabin set rearward for balance and a short rear overhang. These design elements are essential for a true European sports car. Character lines or highlights are imperative to bring the observers eyes to the sharp design elements. This crisp line flows over the front fenders drawing the eye in, curving rearward through the door ending just short of the rear wheel. Creating a “Z” like image the rear fender highlight begins above and forward of that end and flows over the rear fender as it curves gently to the rear deck.

Even with these highlights and design cues the eye really begins to send excitement to the brain as it observes the all-Jaguar front nose. Though a change from the traditional grille work this new design retains an authentic Jaguar look. The vertical shark gill vents anchor the front-end and lead into the highlights. It all works and culminates in a fine image of a sports car.

The F-TYPE is constructed around Jaguar’s most advanced rigid and lightweight aluminum architecture to date, achieving two major goals, low mass and an extremely rigid body. Not only are the aluminum alloys specifically selected, the F-TYPE structure is constructed using the highest technological process of riveting and bonding each section together.