The new F-Type is as essential to the firm as the 911 is to Porsche, according to Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar global brand director, who also revealed that it will go on sale in the middle of next year as a roadster.
Video: Watch official footage of a prototype F-Type in action
Recalling the famous E-Type of the sixties in its philosophy, the new car marks a change in naming strategy from Jaguar, with the F-Type badge finally used on a production sports car over 50 years after the E-Type first went on sale.
We’ve produced exclusive illustrations of the new drop-top, and also got the lowdown from the company’s bosses, including design director Ian Callum. One thing is for sure – the F-Type is set to be a genuine driver’s car.
It was previewed by the fixed-roof C-X16 coupe concept at last September’s Frankfurt Motor Show and the positive response from the media and public led Jaguar to accelerate the development programme.
“This will be the first true Jaguar sports car for more than 50 years,” Hallmark told Auto Express. “Why did we choose F-Type? Because if you look at the C, D and E-Type, these names have always stood for Jaguar’s most seductive models. The F-Type is the next step in our long sports car heritage.”
Jaguar released the first images of the new roadster at New York, in a disguise – the camouflage is made up of F-Type lettering. We’ve based our images on these pictures to give you an idea of what to expect.
Callum said: “Sometimes a production car can be a big disappointment after you’ve seen the concept, but the F-Type will include 95 per cent of the C-X16. I can promise that you won’t be disappointed.”
As you can see, the dramatic double intakes either side of the front grille will be carried over, as will the sculpted bonnet, side gills embossed with the Jaguar name and narrow LED tail-lights. But the quad exhausts have now been swapped for twin pipes in the centre of the diffuser.
The new two-seater is likely to cost from around £55,000, rising to £70,000, and will be positioned below the XK in the line-up. Jaguar says it’s been deliberately priced to sit between Porsche’s Boxster and Cayman and the 911. “There is no direct rival to the F-Type – we have done our research and believe we’ve found a sweet spot in the market,” said Hallmark.
Jaguar anticipates that many F-Type customers will be new to the brand – people who might otherwise buy a 911, a Mercedes SL, a Lotus Evora or a BMW M3.
“The F-Type won’t sell in huge volumes, but it’ll be enormously important to Jaguar and the way it’s perceived,” Hallmark told us. “Jaguar without a proper sports car is like Porsche without a 911.
“We have done research that tells us this car has the power to change people’s expectations of Jaguar. It will centre our range.”
The rear-wheel-drive F-Type will be all-aluminium, using a cut-down version of the XK’s chassis, so it will be lightweight. As you can see from the pictures, it will also have a fabric roof, although a coupé version like the C-X16 concept is on the way, too.
“A convertible is much harder to engineer than a coupé, so we chose to develop the roadster version first,” said Callum.
Hallmark added: “A coupe version will appear. Buyers in this market tend to keep their cars for 12 to 18 months, then they want something new. We’ll leverage that by offering a coupe. That’s going to be vital to keeping the car’s lifecycle going.”
Jaguar hasn’t revealed details of the F-Type’s engine range, but it’s likely to get a new 3.0-litre V6 – essentially the XK’s 5.0-litre V8 with two cylinders removed. This new engine will be offered in normally aspirated form with around 250bhp and also as a supercharged R, producing around 375bhp.
The latter should propel the car from 0-60mph in under five seconds and on to a top speed of more than 180mph. Both models will get a six-speed auto gearbox.
While the C-X16 had a hybrid V6, Hallmark told us that such a powertrain is still a long way from production. “We’re committed
to the idea of a performance hybrid, but it needs a lot of development,” he told us.
However, the F-Type is still set to take the idea of a Jaguar performance car to new heights. “If you take the XK, for example, the standard car is a very good GT, while the XKR-S is a different vehicle entirely,” said Hallmark.
“The F-Type will be more like having the XKR-S as the base model. That’s how much of a sports car it will be. And there’s room to take the performance beyond that of the XKR-S, at least in terms of the philosophy.”
So buyers can expect a very precise and agile experience. Insiders have already reported that the car sounds “sensational – almost as loud and aggressive as a D-Type”, thanks to a new performance exhaust system.
The F-Type will be built at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich factory near Coventry. Full technical details will be revealed later this year.