There’s a big problem wiTh The Jaguar e-Type. As the world’s most beautiful car, it’s been an impossible act to follow. Every subsequent Jaguar sports car has been compared to it, and none quite meet the mark. However, Jaguar appears it’s finally able to establish a new benchmark. In fact, they’ve called it the F-Type to confirm it’s the natural successor, representing the company’s first two-seater since the 1961 XKE.
By the time you read this, you’ll know about the new F-Type. But at the time we were invited to view it, the release was three weeks away and we were sworn to secrecy. In fact, we had to sign over our first born in order to obtain these photographs.
It was a price we were prepared to pay because we were treated to an introduction by Jaguar’s Global Brand Director, Adrian Hallmark, an outline by Vehicle Line Manager Ian Hoban and a masterclass from Design Director Ian Callum.
These men are re-establishing the legendary automaker as a major player for the 21st century with exquisite design and leading dynamics. All their energy will peak with the F-Type, but they still desperately need a 3 Series competitor to complete the portfolio.
As it stands, the XF and XJ are genuine contenders in their respective segments, and the new 2.0T and 3.0 supercharged engines will widen the appeal. There are now AWD options, plus the XF Sportbrake in Europe but, as Hallmark explained, these simply put Jaguar where it should be. It’s the F-Type that takes it leaping forward.
Yet with the sports car segment representing less than 0.1% of worldwide automotive sales (72000 cars), Jaguar isn’t building the F-Type to make a huge profit. And while the project will make money, its halo effect is more valuable, attracting younger buyers and transforming the brand. “As a founder member of the sports car market,” according to Hallmark, “the F-Type puts Jaguar back where it belongs.”
The F-Type’s appeal is its perfect proportions, tight lines, powerful engines and impressive packaging. It’s 20mm shorter than a 911 but the wheelbase is 170mm longer. However, the entry-level model will be priced closer to the Z4, SLK and Boxster, while performance will be on par with the Aston Martin V8.
Three versions will be available: the F-Type with a 340hp 3.0L V6 supercharged engine capable of 0-60mph in 5.1sec and a top speed of 161mph. The F-Type S gets a 380hp version of the same V6 motor, hitting 60mph in 4.8sec and 171mph top speed. While the F-Type V8 S will use a 490hp, 460 lb-ft supercharged 5.0L V8 with an athletic 4.2sec sprint time on its way to 186mph.
The V6 is expected to be the biggest seller but frankly it could have a two-cylinder diesel when it looks this good. Callum described the lines as “simple, beautiful.” He talked about its purity of surface, good proportioning and unobtrusive details.
We were able to see the car in motion, to witness how light reflected off the surfaces, how it interacted with its surroundings and to hear the racecar soundtrack, elevating it above current Jaguar sobriety.
Constructed from aluminum with steel chassis reinforcement, the company again developed new manufacturing techniques to push the boundaries. They’ve been able to get sharper pressing radii than ever before, allowing the construction of a relatively complex hood with its convex and concave lines and power bulge. Similarly, the curved door panels would previously have been created from three pieces but can now be stamped as one.
For us, it’s the taut one-piece rear fenders that give the F-Type its appeal, echoing the E-Type without copying. They feature a bodyline that picks up below the roof and runs over the fenders to create a sharp point above the distinctive LED tail lights.
Another strong line runs through the gills on the front fenders and fades into the door, brilliantly disguising the deep clamshell hood line. The door itself has a concave turn at the bottom to create more depth. It also features flush handles that pop out by remote control, concealing once you’re underway.