The much-previewed Jaguar F-type has finally been unveiled, and it’s hoped it will bring a new and younger customer into the fold. The gorgeous styling was previewed by last year’s C-X16 concept are carried over almost unchanged, and there are three engine options: a 3-litre supercharged V6 (with two power outputs), and the supercharged 5-litre V8.
The F-type, which has been in development since – at least – 2006 under the codename X152, is a car that Jaguar engineers and marketeers would like to have launched years ago. Arguably, customers have been clamouring for it since the death of the E-type back in 1975, and it’s one of the first new projects that Ratan Tata signed-off when he took over Jaguar Land Rover in 2008.
The F-type comes at a perfect time: sales of Jaguars increased by 5% (to 54,227) from 2011 to 2012, while Land Rover vaulted from 189,087 to 251,632 in the same period (a rise of 33%). In a new-car market generally acknowledged to be depressed (in Europe and the USA especially), that’s a briliant achievement.
Yet Jaguar’s growth has been at the expense of the sports cars, with the XK falling back while the XF and XJ surged forwards. That’s why the F-type is so important. It’s hoped that the F-type will improve Jaguar’s fortunes in the way the Evoque did Land Rover’s.
It’s available in three forms – F-type (335bhp), F-type S (375bhp) and F-type V8 S (488bhp). It’s a front/mid-mounted powertrain, and drive is to the rear through Jaguar’s eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ transmission – an automatic with the option of manual over-ride using paddles.
They’re all quick; even the V6s aren’t far behind the V8 S, with 0-60mph in 4.8sec and a top speed of 171mph for the V6 S, and 5.1sec and 161mph for the entry-level car. The latter gives the V8 S a maximum of 186mph and 0-60mph in a claimed 4.2sec.
The F-type is the first sporting installation for the company’s new 3.0-litre V6. The all-alloy engine, which packs a Roots-type supercharger and spray-guided direct injection, debuted recently in the XJ, but its sporty power delivery is said to match the F-type perfectly. The S models benefit from a newly developed active exhaust system, which combines with the Jaguar Drive Controller’s Dynamic Mode programme to open a number of bypass valves to enhance sound at the tailpipe. It sounds epic, especially on the V8. CO2 emissions range from 209g/km to 213g/km for the V6s and 259g/km for the V8.
Like the XK and XJ, the F-type makes extensive use of aluminium in its construction – technology that’s now in its fourth generation. Jaguar says the F-type’s body is its most rigid so far (it’s 30% stiffer than any other Jaguar). Aluminium is also used for the front subframe and major suspension castings. Kerb weight for the entry-level 3.0-litre car is a disappointingly heavy 1597kg, but of that a mere 261kg is attributed to the body-in-white.
Sports cars live or die by their styling, and that’s especially true of Jaguars. Naming its new car the F-type is a brave move, inviting comparisons with the immortal E. But design director Ian Callum understands the heritage of the marque perfectly. He says, ‘This is the car that, as a team, we have always wanted to do. I think as designers we have an obligation to please people and make them smile.’
With the coupé due to be unveiled in 2013, the signs are that the F-type is going to sell in great numbers. It’s a proper sports car, and prices will start at £58,500 when deliveries start in early 2013.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.