Jaguar is looking for a new job. After a century of building beautiful, internal-combustion-engine cars, it's pulling a Blues Brothers handbrake turn and is getting into the battery-electric space. Ask Jaguar where it'll be in three years and its answer, like any good interview candidate's, is intentionally vague. Jaguar promises an EV lineup in 2025 but is saying little more. When we visited the company's North American headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey, though, it wasn't to see an EV. We came to drive an eight-cylinder F-type coupe and hammer it through the Hudson Valley.
For 2022, the F-type lineup goes all V-8. Replacing the previous supercharged V-6 and turbocharged inline-four is a detuned version of Jaguar's greatest hit of the last decade, the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 originally built by Ford. In the F-type P450, which now serves as the entry model, the engine puts out 444 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. With that monster engine, plus the limited-slip differential, larger brakes, and 20-inch wheels pulled from the former P380 R Dynamic, the 2022 F-type justifies its $8300 premium over last year's four-banger base car.
We're keenly aware that a C8 Corvette could dust it, and at way less than our car's $86,850 price as-equipped, but onlookers likely aren't thinking about test data when you pull up in an F-type. As it has been since it launched for the 2014 model year, the F-type echoes the museum-grade sculpture of its esteemed predecessor, the E-type—one of only nine cars in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.
With the manual transmission consigned to history, we'd argue that the P450 is now the driver's choice, since it pairs the V-8 with rear-wheel drive rather than all-wheel drive as in the 575-hp R. Jaguar hasn't offered this combo since the 2015 R. Those earlier models were a tail-wagging handful, but this new one felt so neutral through the corners that we had to hop out and double-check for an AWD badge. (There wasn't one, although it is available on the P450 coupe or convertible for $10,000 as part of the R-Dynamic trim.) This latest rear-wheel-drive F-type has been tuned more for understeer to make owners more comfortable at the moderately high speeds and steering angles they're likely to endeavor on the road. With its linear torque curve and quick steering, this F-type is less twitchy and demanding and more balanced and secure when being driven quickly.
Naturally, this car can still puff more smoke clouds than Lil Wayne on a Wednesday, and Jaguar claims a 4.4-second zero-to-60-mph time for the base P450—versus 3.5 seconds for the R. (We matched Jaguar's claim in our test of the 2021 R coupe.)
The F-type has never really been a precision tool on back roads, though there's more feedback in the steering than with many Audi RS or BMW M cars. The Porsche Cayman remains the gold standard, but it lacks the F-type's hard-rock soundtrack: a low rumble on the highway, a savage roar when downshifted, and delicious pops on the overrun. The F-type has quieted down some—this one's not as vociferous as older Rs and SVRs, which were louder than Harleys—and by default the muffler bypass valves stay closed on startup. But the exhaust pops and bangs are still out in force, and they're not synthetic. When you lift the throttle, sometimes nothing happens, while other times you'll light off fireworks. The sounds never exactly repeat.
Our car's classic British Racing Green sparkled in the sunlight. The leather-lined cabin, which some drivers find cramped, has aged well with its rich materials and the latest digital screens set among toggle switches, rotary climate controls, and the grab handle that divides driver and passenger. At 14 cubic feet, the two-seat coupe's cargo hold is as spacious as a small sedan's; the convertible's storage is half that, making it not so practical.
Granted, the V-8's fuel economy is marginal: 17 mpg city, 24 highway for rear-drive models and 1 mpg worse in the city with all-wheel drive. And you can't see out the back—when the spoiler rises, it blocks a third of the tiny rear glass, and the Jaguar logo reflects the sun directly into your eyes. But then you discover the subtle details, like how the parking sensors blend into the lower tail without showing any obvious dimples. Experience Jaguar's classically styled, gas-burning sports car—V-8-powered, as the gods intended—before the brand jumps from the balcony into the pool of would-be Teslas. We don't know what Jaguar will become, but the F-type is everything it was.
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