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Larry Printz: 2018 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Perhaps the guy in your life needs a new dress shirt, or your wife or girlfriend has hounded you into getting a new one. This is why you now find yourself standing in a department store amid a sea of shirts. Thinking that an Arrow, Van Heusen or Izod shirt is a bit too mainstream, you consider more upscale brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfinger, Michael Kors and Sean John.

Which one should you choose? Good question.

Even though one company manufactures them, Phillips Van Heusen, they differ in quality and cut. As anyone who's ever worn a polyester dress shirt can attest, one made from Sea Isle cotton is far more comfortable -- and far more pricey. So choosing a shirt made from, say, pima cotton would be a good compromise in comfort and affordability.

Weighing the advantages of price and quality is the heart of consumerism, and it comes into play when chatting about this week's test vehicle, the 2018 Jaguar F-Type, offered in six trim levels as a coupe or convertible. But why bother to sell six variants? Isn't one enough? Shouldn't a sports car be the very best example of the breed, rather than one of many? In the 1961, there was one E-Type – available as a coupe or convertible. There should be one F-Type, and it should be the best one: the 575-horsepower F-Type SVR. But marketing types would throw hissy fits, and EPA standards must be met.

And so for 2018, there's a new base F-Type, with 48 percent less power and a price that starts at less than half that of the true F-Type, the SVR. The new base model debuts this year with an equally new 296-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. If that's not enough power, you can fit your F-Type with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 340 or 380 horsepower in R-Dynamic trim, or 400 horsepower on the new limited edition 400 Sport. At the top of the range is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that produces 550 horsepower on the R model, or 575 horsepower on the SVR.

An eight-speed automatic is standard whether you opt for rear-wheel or all-wheel drive; a manual transmission is available on rear-wheel drive R-Dynamic models. Both coupe and convertible models are offered with any engine.

And, like trying to choose which shirt best matches your sport coat, it's not easy to pick one F-Type, although if forced, the nod would go to the limited edition F-Type 400 Sport.

Starting at $89,500 with rear-wheel drive and $92,500 with all-wheel drive, the 400 Sport comes with an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. The 400 Sport also gets some unique exterior trim, including, 20-inch dark grey alloy wheels, and black brake calipers with yellow 400 Sport logos. Inside, its cabin is lined with premium leather accented with yellow stitching, performance front seats, black interior trim, aluminum gearshift paddles and configurable driving dynamics.

And while its design touches makes for a special, if somber, kitty, all F-Types get design updates for 2018 with a new front bumper, LED headlights and taillights. Inside, all F-Types have a much-improved infotainment system with a new app called ReRun, jointly developed with GoPro. The app combines the driver's GoPro video with key vehicle performance data including speed, throttle position, gear selection, braking and g force. The video can then be downloaded to the driver's smartphone and shared on social media so everyone can see that you are clearly not Sebastian Vettel. And while the revised infotainment system does seem to be faster and easier to use than earlier Jaguar units, it's not as fast as what happens when you press this kitten's loud pedal.

No, the 400 Sport is not as fast as the spectacular SVR that propels you to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It's a whisker slower at 4.8 seconds. Given the difference in price – nearly enough to buy a base Jaguar XE sedan – the difference in performance seems livable, like a pima cotton dress shirt.

Better yet, the configurable driving dynamics allow you to adjust the throttle response, steering and ride to suit your mood. Just set it to Dynamic and get ready for fun. Tuned to deliver razor-sharp handling, the steering gets weighty, enough to make tossing this cat into corners insanely fun. The ride is firm, with little of the underlying suppleness that once was a Jaguar hallmark. And while you might be tempted to given the audio system a listen –– it is a Bowers and Wilkins after all –– the exhaust note is all that's needed, thundering and crackling as if to announce its sinisterly amusing intent.

If there's any real complaint you could make about the F-Type it's the lack of reasonable storage space, especially on the convertible. Going away for the weekend? There's enough space for a toothbrush and condoms.

But that's not what the F-Type is about. It's a sports car; a fashionable, fast, furiously fun sports car. And that's why having six variants is at least five too many. Picking just one is almost impossible, unless you choose the 400 Sport.

But don't dither. Jaguar says that this blast of perfection will be offered for one model year only, which will make picking a model next year much more difficult.

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2018 Jaguar F-Type

 

Base prices: $89,500-$92,500

Engine: 3.0-liter Supercharged V6

Horsepower: 400

Torque: 339 pound-feet

EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 20/28

Wheelbase: 103.2 inches

Length: 176.5 inches

Cargo capacity: 14.4 cubic feet (coupe), 7.3 cubic feet (convertible)

Curb weight: 3,690 pounds

NHTSA rating: Not available

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Larry Printz is an automotive journalist based in South Florida. Readers may send him email at TheDrivingPrintz@gmail.com.

(c)2017 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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