Jaguar has confirmed full details of the stunning new Jaguar F-type sports car on the eve of its debut at the Paris motor show. The long-awaited E-type successor will reach UK showrooms as a convertible by next May, with a coupe to follow around 18 months later.
At 4470mm in length, the F-type is sized between the Porsche Boxster and 911, and, at around £55,000, is set to be priced between them too. So confident is Jaguar of the F-type’s unique positioning, it believes it has carved out a new niche in the sports car segment.
In describing his latest creation, Jaguar design director Ian Callum deals with the inevitable E-type comparisons first. “I was very aware of Jaguar’s history when I designed this car,” he said. “I am acutely aware of every detail of the E-type, and I love it. It is Jaguar’s rightful place, building a two-seat sports car, and that history gave me a great deal of confidence going into this project.
“If people want to compare this design to the E-type’s that’s fine, but that wasn’t the goal and it wasn’t on my mind. I hope this car will be considered for its own place in the record books. This is a Jaguar F-type.”
Global brand director, Adrian Hallmark said: "This is the car to take the brand from successful niche player to successful global player. In fact, this is the most important car for jaguar for 50 years. This is the essence of the Jaguar driving experience.
"Jaguar is built on three pillars that have underpinned all our success: technology, design and performance. This car has them all.
"This is the first breakthrough product in the new era of Jaguar. It is that significant
"We not only had external challenges to face, but internal challenge: creating a spiritual successor to the cars sir William Lyons made so famous"
The F-type has carried over from the C-X16 concept remarkably unchanged. There are nods to the E-type – in its clamshell bonnet, sloping tail and tail light design for instance – but this is a very different type of Jaguar sports car with its own identity.
It’s the first Jaguar sports car that does without the oval front grille. “I was tempted by it,” admits Callum, “but you have to let things go.” The result is an edgier four-cornered ‘mouth’ – first previewed on the C-X75 and C-X16 concepts – that gives the F-type the look of a very modern Jaguar.
Pairs of ‘shark gill’ openings, which hint at the F-type’s performance and give what the maker calls “rear view mirror recognition”, flank the grille. The slim vertical headlights follow the shape of the car and form part of a pair of ‘heartlines’ on either side that start at the gills, run over the front wings, and drop down into the door lines before disappearing into the rear wings.
The rear of the F-type references the E-type, most notably with the gently sloping tail. The rear LED lights wrap around the wings, there’s a diffuser, and integrated into it is the exhaust pipes – twin central pipes for V6 models and split quad pipes for V8 models. A hidden spoiler also pops up from the rear at speeds over 60mph, and goes down again when the speed drops below 40mph.
Also on the bootlid is the Jaguar name, as well as the badge, as Jaguar wants to shout loudly about exactly who made the car Callum describes as the “bulls eye” of its now four-strong model range.
In profile, the F-type’s classic front-engine, rear-drive layout gives traditional long bonnet and short overhang proportions. It is 21mm shorter than a Porsche 911, and 128mm longer than a Boxster. This F-type is just 4mm taller, at 1296mm, than the Boxster.
At 1923mm, the F-type is a considerable 115mm wider than a 911, a car itself that is wider than ever in its most recent 991 generation.
The width is dictated by the F-type’s underpinnings. It is based on the all-aluminium monocoque structure and body that is seen beneath the larger and more expensive XK. The structure – which includes a 261kg body-in-white – helps contribute to a kerb weight of 1597kg in its lightest form. That’s 63kg lighter than the base XK 5.0 V8, but still a considerable 207kg and 252kg heavier than the lightest 911 and Boxster models.
The F-type is 324mm shorter than the XK and the wheelbase has been shrunk by 130mm to 2622m. That wheelbase is longer than most small sports car as the F-type uses front-mounted longitudinal engines.
Callum wanted to create a “simple, exciting and intimate” interior, that’s based around the driver and is as much about well-executed switches and buttons as new technology. The high centre tunnel has grab handles mounted to it that acts as a barrier between driver and passenger and all the major controls are in easy reach.
Features include a thick-rimmed, small steering wheel and a gearshift selector in place of Jaguar’s now familiar rotary dial.
A hard-top was considered for the roof, as was a soft tonneau cover, but a Z-fold soft cover was chosen as it was the lightest and took up the least amount of space. Boot space is 200.5 litres, and Jaguar will offer you bespoke luggage to fit its awkward shape. The roof can be raised and lowered in 12 seconds at speeds of around 50kph.
Paris Motor Show complete image gallery
Issue: 194 | Autocar India: October 2015
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