To suss out the best of the best in every category, we prowled the earth’s byways, from twisty roads in China to hilly thoroughfares in the south of France to the clogged intersections of Los Angeles and Chicago. Now, we’ll let you know what made the cut. Behold the best car of 2014.
$99,000 | Engine: 5-liter supercharged V8 | Horsepower: 550 | 0-60: 4.0 seconds | MPG: 16 city, 23 highway
The first all-new Jaguar sports car in more than 50 years, this is the direct descendant of the C-, D- and E-Types, icons of the golden age of motoring both on the racetrack and in the driveways of the world’s most glamorous people. Yes, the new F-Type has a lot to live up to.
From the moment we got behind the wheel and felt the engine’s throb as it crackled like an F1 car rolling onto a Grand Prix circuit, we were sold. It’s the Jaguar we’ve waited decades to drive. You have a choice of engine packages: a 340-horsepower supercharged V6 ($65K for the coupe, $69K for the roadster), a 380-horsepower supercharged V6 ($77K coupe, $81K roadster) or a five-liter V8 that gives this monster muscle-car power with sports-car handling ($99K coupe, $92K roadster).
As a daily drive, the car is elegant and refined, its interior impeccable and distinctly British. But throw this Jag into track mode and it’s a different cat. We let it loose on racetracks outside Chicago and Seattle, and the superb hydraulic steering was knife sharp and perfect to the touch. As we snap-shifted the eight-speed transmission, the car danced through corners, its stiff chassis slaloming smoothly through abrupt directional changes.
It achieves what all of today’s high-end sports cars try to, in spades: It’s a wonderful everyday drive and a thriller when you want to put your foot down. After all these years, Jaguar is still the real deal. Welcome back, mate: You’re our choice for Playboy’s 2014 Car of the Year.
F-TYPE V8 S
$92,000 | Engine: 5-liter supercharged V8 | Horsepower: 495 | 0-60: 4.2 seconds | MPG: 16 city, 23 highway