At last, the wait is over. With the 2012 Paris Auto Show debut of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type, the automaker has created a purebred sporting machine that hearkens back to the core legacy of the marque. That singularity of purpose was eloquently summed up by Adrian Hallmark, the firm's Global Brand Director, who observed: "Jaguar is a founding member of the sports car segment with a rich sporting bloodline stretching over 75 years, and in the F-Type we've reignited that flame. The F-Type isn't designed to be like anyone else's sports car. It's a Jaguar sports car - ultra-precise, powerful, sensual and, most of all, it feels alive." This stunning 2-seat roadster will be available in three distinct flavors: F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S, all packing supercharged V6 or V8 engines and what promises to be the ultimate adrenalin rush.
Beauty that's more than skin deep
Based on the latest iteration of Jaguar's bonded and riveted aluminum monocoque architecture abetted by extensive Computer Aided Engineering, the new F-Type boasts an internal structure that's impressively light, incredibly strong and extremely rigid. As such, it provides an ideal foundation for the car's all-aluminum suspension hardware. The F-Type also makes use of more mass-minimizing composites than any previous Jag, including a polymer decklid and side-sill underlayments. Collectively, the effort holds curb weights between 3,521-3,671 pounds, depending on powertrain fitments.
The Jaguar F-Type's purposefully proportioned and also-alloy bodywork embodies a new corporate design language based on two key "heartlines" that help define its assertive yet elegant character from nose to tail and were first seen in the equally striking Jaguar C-X16 Concept that appeared at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Up front, a prominent and forward-leaning grille is flanked by twin side vents and vertically oriented xenon headlamps matched with J-Blade LED running lamps. The F-Type's boldly sculpted hood also features a distinctive "clamshell"-style structure that mimics the design used on the classic Jaguar XKE model. A profile view of the F-Type emphasizes its relatively long (103.2-inch) wheelbase and relatively short overhangs - the better to optimize weight concentration/distribution. Other visual highlights include prominently flared fenders filled with 18-inch/19-inch/20-inch wheel/tire packages, tastefully sculpted sills and flush-mount door handles that automatically deploy when the car is unlocked via the key fob or touch-sensitive area on the handle itself.
The Jaguar C-X16 Concept set the stage for the look of the new F-Type
The rear of the F-Type reinforces the overriding wide-and-low theme, framing tucked-in tail contours with large horizontal LED lamps and a functional lower diffuser that contains massive stainless-steel exhaust finishers - twinned center-mount pipes on F-Type V6 models and dual-paired outboard outlets on the V8. Crowning the mix is a power-activated fully lined fabric soft top. Deployable in 12 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph, it folds neatly to form an integral tonneau cover behind the F-Type's twin fixed rollover hoops when the car is running in al fresco mode.
Matching power with control
As Jag previously announced, F-Type buyers will be able to choose from three different direct-injected engines that also have dual independent variable cam timing to ensure a wide torque band. Each is made of lightweight aluminum alloy, features supercharging for extra muscle, Intelligent Start/Stop technology for added efficiency and an electronically controlled "Active Exhaust" setup that richens their sonic signatures as rev counts rise. The base F-Type comes with a 335-horsepower/3.0-liter V6, the F-Type S gets a 375-horse upgrade and the F-Type V8 S has a 5.0-liter V8 under its hood that develops 488 ponies.
All three engines boast an impressively wide torque band and send motive force to the rear wheels via a rev-matching, paddle-actuated 8-speed ZF Quickshift automatic transmission that boasts 25 different adaptive map programs to optimize response under all types of driving conditions. Other vital stats for this fast-cat hierarchy include the ability to sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.1, 4.8 and 4.2 seconds, respectively, while topping out at an electronically limited 161, 171 and 186 mph.
With that much performance potential in hand, Jaguar's chassis wizards worked diligently to endow the F-Type with equally brilliant and razor-sharp responsiveness as part of its overall dynamic envelope. Mike Cross, chief engineer, Vehicle Integrity, points out that the synergized matchup of the F-Type's suspension, steering, braking and throttle were ultimately perfected at the automaker's development center at Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit. While the base F-Type has conventional underpinnings, both S-spec models come with Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics suspension damping that continuously monitors and controls vertical body movement plus roll and pitch rates.
A Configurable Dynamics option - the first ever offered by the automaker - allows the driver to go one step beyond and fine-tune individual settings for the steering weight and throttle response as well as the Adaptive Dynamics on cars equipped with that feature. Other functional elements in the F-Type's bag of handling tricks include a Dynamic Mode that enables the driver to sharpen throttle response, increase steering weight, dial up quicker and more aggressive gear shifts and raise the stability control threshold at the touch of a button. There's also a track-focused Dynamic Launch Mode that automatically tweaks the traction control programming to optimize acceleration along with a limited-slip differential -- mechanical on V6 models and with active electronic control on the F-Type V8 S.
Formidable stopping power in all variations of this new Jaguar is provided by large 4-wheel disc anti-lock binders with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist with the Super High Performance system on the V8 S netting the largest brake discs (15-inch front/14.8-inch rear) ever fitted as standard equipment on a Jaguar production car.
While performance is its forte, the new Jaguar F-Type also makes a solid case for its inside game with a passenger compartment that's both driver centric and user-friendly. "A sports car cockpit should be an intimate place and so we aimed to get a sense of the surfaces falling towards and then wrapping around the driver," notes Ian Callum, the firm's Director of Design. There's an asymmetric aspect to the specific finishes on each side of the cabin with the S models getting unique trims and Ignis Orange highlights on various controls. The dash itself features a highly legible main instrument cluster with a driver info display, a large center screen and articulated air outlets that rise up only when needed.
Well-formed sport buckets are positioned nearly an inch lower than the seats in a Jaguar XKR-S and combine power recline with manual fore/aft adjustability to help cut weight. The F-Type's standard audio system is a 10-speaker/380-watt package designed by Meridian while a 12-speaker/770-watt upgrade with the firm's Trifield System adds even more dimension to the listening experience is optional. Other key extra include a Performance Pack that nets a smaller-diameter, flat-bottom steering wheel and revised instrumentation, Performance Seats with even deeper bolstering and the availability of full-power and heating for both.
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type is set to go on sale in America next summer with a starting price just under $70,000. Those hoping for a hard-shell version of the car will have to wait another 12-18 months for that variant to arrive.