The long-awaited two-seat Jaguar F-type has finally been unveiled at the Paris motor show in production form. There are three engine options: a 3-litre supercharged V6 available with two levels of power output, and the familiar supercharged 5-litre V8.
From launch, it’s available in three forms – F-type (335bhp), F-type S (375bhp) and F-type V8 S (488bhp). The power units are mounted as far back in the chassis as possible, in effect front/mid-mounted for maximum balance, and drive is to the rear through a new version of Jaguar’s eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ transmission – an automatic with the option of manual over-ride using paddles – which the company says has been optimised for a sports car installation.
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 V8 S model has a maximum of 186mph (limited) and 0-60mph in a claimed 4.2sec.
The F-type is the first sporting installation for the company’s impressive 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 light and nimble F-type’s dynamic package. 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 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 one of the most beautiful cars of all time. But design director Ian Callum understands the heritage of the marque perfectly – and how important it is to be progressive.
‘A piece of design should tell a story,’ he says. ‘If you approach every line individually and get it as correct as possible, get the dimensions right, it will stand the test of time.’ Certainly, the F-type couldn’t be anything other than a Jaguar, despite a whole raft of new styling cues.
The grille shape is new, but also bridges the XJ and XK, and is flanked by a pair of aggressive twin ‘shark gill’ openings, with swooping headlamps. The one-piece clamshell bonnet neatly incorporates the Jaguar power bulge.
With the coupé due to be unveiled in 2013, the signs are that the F-type is going to be a true great. It’s a proper sports car, and will introduce a new generation of enthusiasts to the marque. There’s no official word on price yet, but expect it to cost between £60,000 and £80,000, with deliveries to start next spring.