LA Auto Show 2014: Jaguar & Interview with #JustinBell

Photography by: ©2014 Toni Avery

The Jaguar F-Type has been to many the re-birth of the sports car for the British automaker. Not since the E-Type has Jaguar really produced a true sports car, until now. The F-Type is known for it’s stunning good looks, ample power and incredible exhaust note. But one thing seemed to always be missing; a proper manual gearbox. Some say a sports car isn’t a sports car without one and others lean more towards the latest technology, more recently dual-clutch transmissions. But one thing is for sure, being in one of the largest sports car markets in the world, Los Angeles will be an important market for the new F-Type 6-speed manual.

The new 6-speed manual transmission (available in the V6 and V6 S models only) isn’t the only new addition to the F-Type lineup; rather AWD F-Types will also be hitting the streets in 2016 in addition to the R Convertible. The AWD system will be offered as an option in the V6 S Coupe and Convertible and will be standard on the R Coupe and Convertible all accompanied by the quick eight-speed automatic transmission.

You might be thinking that with the addition of AWD that the F-Type will lose it’s RWD characteristics. Well, that’s where the developers at Jaguar stepped in. In order to keep the RWD characteristics of the F-Type, the AWD system operates on torque-on-demand principle where the system sends 100 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions. If the system senses the rear wheels are approaching the limit of available grip, the electronically controlled center coupling transfers up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the front axle.

If you’re current on all things Jaguar you’ve probably heard of the Project 7 car. Its name is in honor of the seven Jaguar wins at Le Mans. The car is a street-legal two-seater inspired by the Jaguar D-Type, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

Project 7 features a 5.0 L supercharged V8 engine pushing out 575 HP and sprints from 0-60 MPH in just 3.8 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 186 MPH. While most of us can’t afford this $165,000 US starting price, here’s a short walk-around video to drool over:

To help make the Jaguar F-Type manual even cooler, Justin Bell, son of racecar driver Derek Bell, drove the less than 5 MPH speeds in front of the Convention Center to show off the new F-Type and say a few words about it. I also wanted to learn a little more about his relationship with Jaguar:

TA: What is your relationship with Jaguar?

JB: You meet people in the auto industry and you build a relationship with some because they are just nice people, and that’s how I feel about the Jaguar Land Rover guys, they are just really honest cool people that really love their cars.

I was really lucky….it was two years ago, I got to go to England. They asked me to host this sort of global launch video for the F-Type. No one had really seen it. It was me and Martin Brundle and Christian Danner, and I was representing the States. It was amazing, basically we were the first people, outside of the factory, to drive the car, it was a great insight.

I did the official launch for them and then, of course, it just evolves. I’ve never raced a Jaguar, my dad did, but then I was invited to drive the F-Type manual, it was really cool.

TA: Did you like it?

JB: It’s always a little frustrating when you can’t drive fast. But I drove it at a wonderful 1-2 MPH and it made nice noises and that was it. It’s just a really nice relationship.

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