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Burning Desire

Howard Walker

   “I drive fast, wind in my hair. I push you to the limits, ’cause I just don’t care. I’ve got a burning desire for you, baby.”
   The words are sung hushed, almost whispered, in the sexy, steamy way only sultry American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey can deliver. I have to admit, every time I hear her haunting rendition of Burning Desire, I feel the need to rush off and take a cold shower.
   Yet Ms. Del Rey’s burning desire isn’t channeled at some swarthy, tousle-haired Romeo with a Florida tan and abs of steel. No, it’s a desire for an automobile. And after having just driven it, I wholeheartedly share her burning desire to drive fast and push it to the limits.

Jaguar F-Type V8 S - Automotive review of the newest luxury sports car

   Lana and I are talking about Jaguar’s sensational new F-Type two-seat roadster—especially the flagship V8 S version, which has 495 supercharged horses, the ability to scythe from standstill to 60 in 4.2 seconds and an exhaust note that verges on R-rated.
   How obscene is it? Search on YouTube for Jaguar’s new short film called Desire. It stars Damian Lewis of Homeland fame, with Del Rey’s hit song as its soundtrack. The storyline is pretty dumb and the acting as wooden as Pinocchio. Yet the Chilean scenery is gorgeous and some of the car action is top notch.
   But the F-Type’s hellfire-and-brimstone roar steals the show. The noise from those quad tailpipes is so deep, so throaty, you can only think it’s been dubbed-in during post-production.

Jaguar F-Type V8 S - luxury sports car - automotive review - Howard Walker

   Not so. Drop down a gear, floor the throttle and listen in awe as the aural crescendo builds from 2,000 rpm to the red line. Godzilla with a migraine, the raptor in Jurassic Park and Jack Nicholson screaming, “You can’t handle the truth!” didn’t sound this scary and intense.
   This is Jaguar’s spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type and its first true sports car in 50 years. Much more hard-core and driver-focused than its XK sibling, the F has its crosshairs squarely set on the speedsters from Stuttgart—Porsche’s Boxster S and 911 Carrera Cabriolet.
   It boasts all the right sporting credentials: light yet stiff aluminum architecture, a potent 5-liter V-8, eight-speed Quickshift automatic, brakes that could stop time and arguably the most precise steering this side of a go-kart.

Jaguar F-Type V8 S convertible - luxury sports car review

   Of course, life’s too short to own an ugly sports car, and here the F-Type steals your breath. It’s not drop-dead gorgeous in the way the original E-Type was; it’s too wide and stubby for that (it’s actually 4.5 inches wider than a 911). But there’s a blunt instrument beauty in its gaping, chrome-edged grille; swept-back headlights; and muscular rump.
   Inside, this new F is all business, with its driver-centric cockpit. After all the wood and leather cabins of Jaguars of olde, some may think this a little cold and stark. It’s tight, too, in a way that almost feels like you’re wearing the car when you slide behind the thick-rimmed wheel.
   At the press of a button, the canvas top can drop or levitate in a mere 12 seconds and as fast as 30 mph—perfect for when you’re caught as a red light turns to green.
   But to drive it is to share Ms. Del Rey’s burning desire. The F-Type has a wonderful dual personality: It can be smooth and refined when you want it to be, yet insanely fast, hyper-responsive and rewarding when called upon.

Jaguar F-Type V8 S - interior - luxury sports car with superior power, plush interior and ultra-sleek design

   On a twisty backroad, it is breathtaking beyond belief. The car spears from corner to corner, remaining poised and balanced through every turn. The transmission shifts with speed and intuition. And, of course, that roaring soundtrack never fails to thrill.
   The MSRP for the entry-level 340-horse supercharged V6 F-Type starts at $69,000 and the 380-horse version goes for $81,000, but you’ll definitely want this flagship 495-horsepower V8 S—even at a rather ambitious $92,000.
   But when it comes to delivering a burning desire, this car is simply priceless.

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February 2015