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2014 Jaguar F-Type: Best Car To Buy 2014 Nominee

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When it comes to beautiful cars, Jaguar deserves credit for creating some of the best--though it has had its doldrums. Lately, however, the brand has been back on its game, from the XF to the XJ, and, now, the F-Type.

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type is easily the most stunning roadster to hit the market this year. But it's also an impressive sports car--and it needs to be, since it's Jaguar's first true entry into the segment since the demise of the E-Type in the mid-1970s.

Under the hood of the F-Type you'll find one of three engines: a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 340 horsepower; an upgraded version of the same engine good for 380 horsepower (the F-Type S); or a beastly and beautiful supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine rated at 495 horsepower (the F-Type V8 S). All three share the same eight-speed automatic transmission. Curb weights range from 3,521 pounds to 3,671 pounds, scaling by about 75 pounds with each engine upgrade.

Whichever model you choose, it'll be quick. The base F-Type snicks off 5.1-second 0-60 mph runs, while the F-Type S does the deed in 4.8 seconds, and the top-line V8 S gets there in just 4.2. Matching the descending 0-60 mph times, top speeds rise proportionally, too: from 161 mph to 171 mph to 186 mph, respectively.

But trying to boil the 2014 F-Type down to stats on a sheet fails to capture the whole picture. This car is about the experience more than the statistics.

The experience is wonderful.

2014 Jaguar F-Type

2014 Jaguar F-Type

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Drop the top, fire the engine, toggle into Dynamic Mode, and hit the sport exhaust button, and the car transforms, emitting burbles and crackles and a menagerie of other fearsome, predatory sounds--particularly in the V8 S.

The sound of the F-Type contrasts starkly with the refined, modern interior and shapely exterior; it's a thing more of '60s muscle cars than 21st-Century luxo-roadsters. And it's simply brilliant. It's easy to build an emotional connection with the F-Type just looking at it. Listening to it, you're swept away.

Then you take off for the nearest stretch of winding, undulating tarmac and you're rewarded further. The F-Type, especially the V8 S, is so unhurriedly quick you can get into license-losing territory without even realizing it. You'll think you're just taking a relaxing, if rapid drive through the countryside; in reality you'll be whipping along at 100-plus-mph. But even a healthy ticket won't wipe the grin from your face.

Your passenger is likely to be oblivious to the speed as well. Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics suspension soaks up bumps, while maintaining almost perfect body control, scanning the road and making adjustments up to 500 times per second. It's a seamless, inimitably smooth system.

Given the F-Type's sports car intentions, it might be surprising that it feels quite a bit more like a well-tuned grand tourer. In fact, it's not all that much smaller than the XK, nor is it less well-suited to long-haul trips. But it is nimbler, more engaging, and more accessible, particularly in base form--it starts at just $69,000.

For a much more detailed examination of the F-Type's driving characteristics, design, and feature-packed interior, be sure to read our first drive review and watch the included video.

World-class design, and inspired driving experience, and Jaguar's fabled heritage make the 2014 F-Type a fantastically impressive, immersive sports roadster--but do they give it the needed qualities to beat the best of 2014's performance and luxury cars to take Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2014 title? Find out November 12.

2014 Jaguar F-Type with Firesand paint and Design and Black exterior and interior upgrades

2014 Jaguar F-Type with Firesand paint and Design and Black exterior and interior upgrades

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© 2014 MotorAuthority. All Rights Reserved. MotorAuthority is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.