One of my earliest automotive memories is that of being five years old with my nose pressed up against the showroom window of Hornburg Jaguar at the corner of Sunset and Doheny in Hollywood, peering at the then-new 1961 Jaguar XK-E roadster.
Even at five, I could tell that this was something special---I had never seen such sleek lines on any automobile. Sixty-one years on, that may still be true. We didn't know it then, but regulations were on the way over the next six decades that would force designers to sacrifice barely-there bumpers and other aesthetic considerations to accommodate safety equipment.
But man, the 2023 Jaguar F-Type gets close. By contemporary vehicle standards, it is arguably as much of a standout today as the XK-E was then. Put the top down and go for a walk around it. It's just gorgeous.
Then go for a drive. This is the 2023 Jaguar F-Type P450 R-Dynamic AWD Convertible. Under the hood, which opens at the windshield in the same way the XK-E's did (though, in the case of the XK-E, it was the entire front clip that swung up) is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8. Yes, there are more modern and sophisticated ways of making 444 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque, but none smoother---and silken smoothness is a major part of this Jag's appeal (there is also an F-Type R with 575 horsepower available if you like things a bit wilder). Don't confuse silken smoothness with slow---the 0-60 time for our test vehicle is 4.4 seconds. The EPA fuel economy estimate is actually a bit higher than you might guess for this level of power---16 city/24 highway. Some credit goes to the eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive, upgraded brakes, adaptive dynamics, an electronic active differential and torque vectoring by braking all make the F-Type a superb handler.
The base price of the 2023 Jaguar F-Type P450 R-Dynamic AWD Convertible is $87,200. It comes comprehensively equipped with everything we've already discussed as well as 20-inch wheels, premium LED headlights, an R-Dynamic body kit, deployable trunk lid spoiler, fully electric convertible roof, rain-sensing wipers, grained leather and suedecloth seats, navigation, a Meridian sound system, lane keep assist, driver condition monitor and traffic sign recognition.
Our tester also had extra-cost options, including a blind spot assist and rear traffic monitor package ($550), a heated windshield, heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control package ($1,150), heated front seats ($500), keyless entry ($500), a garage door opener ($300), a wind deflector ($200) an Emergency Pack---basic first aid and roadside emergency supplies ($70) and a Handover Pack---a lined box with cutouts for the key fobs ($25). With $1,275 destination and delivery, the as-tested price of the 2023 Jaguar F-Type P450 R-Dynamic AWD Convertible is $91,770.
Yes, some of the option pricing seems like nickel-and-diming and could just be made standard with a $2,000 higher base price. The Jaguar faithful would hardly notice. But after a week at the wheel (and a significant amount of longing backward glances after driving the car), making too much of that feels equally petty. This is a stunning, gorgeous automobile that's also a pleasure to drive. There's not another car like it. And that counts for a lot.