Hot rods shred the night with high-octane outbursts that sound like a civil war erupting in the front yard.

The great ones thunder and pop with back-alley malice, occasionally singeing streets with an errant flame or two from their open, oversized exhausts.

They make most people reach for a Bible or a gun, convinced that infidels must be on the march — and they might be half-right.

But I absolutely love those snarling, fenderless brawlers — the dark, dangerous counterparts to today's whirring, computer-controlled boremobiles.

So how in blazes did a bunch of guys in England of all places manage to stuff a ragged, raging '32 highboy into the svelte 2015 Jaguar F-Type S?

Beats me. But put the top down on the F-Type, push a button on the console to open its angry exhaust and you'll swear you're headed down Highway 1 in Doane Spencer's seminal highboy hot rod.

One good blast loudly underscores this roadster's standing as a modern-day streetfighter in pinstripes.

Initially, the F-Type I had seemed too pretty to be bare-knuckle bad, especially in "firesand orange."

The F-Type is Jag's first attempt at a real two-seat, high-end sports car since the stunningly beautiful XKEs of the early 1960s.

Based on a modified XF-sedan platform, the F-Type seems all long hood, short trunk and sensuously curved sides squeezed into a relatively small package.

Though not as long and languid as the XK-E, the sleekly muscular F-Type has become a serious head-turner.

And with good reason. The proportions and stance of F-Type I had recently looked pretty close to perfect to my hick eyes. Although the front end is a bit blunt, long, flat headlamps cut deeply into the front fenders.

Likewise, the hood stretched out gracefully, juiced up with a slight power dome in the center that hinted at Pretty Boy's savage 495-horse engine.

As the smooth body flowed past a raked-back windshield and sleek doors, it flattened out slightly above the powerful rear fenders, adding a strong-looking shoulder.

Even with the black convertible top up, the F-Type looks elegantly mean — like a character in "Penny Dreadful."

Meaty tires sent a pretty stout message as well, with 255/30 versions up front and 295/30s in back wrapped tightly around 20-inch alloy wheels.

But believe me: Beneath all those fine curves and tasty surfaces beat the raw, high-compression heart of a hot rod.


Order the S model of the F-Type and you get a supercharged, all-aluminum five-liter V-8 that belts out its 495 horsepower with the punch of an 18-year-old boxer.

Generally, engines heavily squeezed by superchargers or turbochargers require so much electronic intervention that they end up with flat spots.

Nail the F-Type, however, and it delivers a huge, steady surge of power. In fact, if you switch off the traction control like some fools do, you will be busy keeping it pointed straight.

The engine never loafs. Step down on the car's accelerator at any rpm and it responds instantly, churning out buckets of power through a sophisticated, quick-shifting eight-speed automatic.

If you let the engine wind to its 6,500 rpm red line, 60 flashes by in a scant 3.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

With the sport exhaust button on, every cop in the four-county region will know you're playing Thunder Road from the sweet cacophony of pops, snorts and jungle roar.

Just keep what's left of your license handy.

The only weakness I found in the engine was its old-school thirst, which might have been exacerbated by the bozo behind the wheel.

Though rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway, the car often registered 12 mpg during my time with it.

But let's be honest. Does anyone who can afford a $103,000 F-Type really give three hoots about its economy?

Probably not. Besides, while the roadster appears to be fairly compact, it weighed 3,974 pounds, or 500 pounds more than the new Corvette Stingray.

Luxury content — like a luxury lifestyle — can be hard on the waistline.

But that weight mostly dissipates in corners and curves. The rear-wheel-drive Jag charged into them with the aggression of a much lighter car — and got away with it.

The steering felt quick and fairly light, sending pretty clear messages about what the front wheels were doing.

With no lean and exceptional balance and grip, the F-Type kind of encourages bad behavior — or at least that's my excuse.

"The independent suspension and adaptive dampers made me do it, officer."

Be advised, though: In sport mode, the F-Type prefers brand-new concrete. It felt anxious and pretty stiff on most of Dallas' compromised roadways, crashing hard over potholes from our recent ice age.

Just keep it in the touring mode if you need something approximating a high-end ride.


Actually, though, the F-Type didn't feel especially luxurious inside or out.

Don't get me wrong. I liked the black interior in the F-Type I had and thought it fit the car's richly volatile personality pretty well.

But if you need a lot of plush for the old tush, you might want to look elsewhere.

Smooth leather, for example, covered the roadster's dramatic sloping dashboard — sliced in the middle by a big center stack that appeared to be sliding off the dash.

But it was simple and straightforward.

The center stack and broad console gave the interior a cockpit feel, which made it seem pretty snug. Your girlfriend will like it, I predict. I'm not so sure about your wife.

A smallish, flat-bottom steering wheel looked and felt good, and the door panels were covered in the same smooth black leather as the dash. Subtle, smooth leather also cloaked the seats, which were stitched in contrasting firesand orange.

I never tired of climbing behind the wheel — a comment I would make about most Jags.

But the F-Type emits a really different vibe. It wants to pick a fight with a Porsche, and then do a couple of smoky burnouts.

2015 Jaguar F-Type S Convertible

Type of vehicle: Two-passenger, rear-wheel-drive, luxury sports car

Price as tested: $103,488

Fuel economy: 16 miles per gallon city, 23 highway

Weight: 3,974 pounds

Engine: Supercharged 5-liter V-8 with 495 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds

Sources: Jaguar Land Rover North America; Car and Driver

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