A new derivative of the Jaguar F-Type will launch every 12 to 18 months over the supercharged sports car’s lifecycle as the British marque aims to replicate the ‘obsessive’ nature of Porsche with its 911.
In an open discussion with a small group of Australian journalists at the New York auto show, Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark said everything from a targa-top version of the F-Type to ultra-high-performance all-wheel-drive flagship models were on the table between now and the end of the car’s lifecycle in 2020.
“I worked for Porsche for 10 years, so I’ve got a certain affinity to the brand,” Hallmark explained.
“The parallel to Porsche is their almost paranoid obsession with lifecycle management, and I think it’s exactly the way to go for a sports car. Every year you’ve got to do something that gives someone that’s already bought one the reason to come and look again, even if they don’t need one.
“If you can get people to change every 18 months, you get two customers for every normal three-year period, you get two sales for every one customer.”
Hallmark said the decision to launch with the Jaguar F-Type cabriolet – a more difficult vehicle to develop from an engineering perspective than a conventional hardtop – made developing additional body styles with more rigidity and body stiffness easy.
“We’ve not confirmed which body styles [we’ll add to F-Type], but doing a coupe is so simple, a targa is simple as well, and then of course we’ll always keep the prototype body tools, so if you want to make the wheel arches a little bit wider or put holes in certain places we can do that on a low volume at relatively low cost but high added perceived value. The potential for this car is massive.
“We’ve kicked off with cabriolet, we’ve kicked off with two core engines at three power levels, but over the next seven years I promise you we will innovate like crazy, we will be active in the product lifecycle of that vehicle and we will be fully competitive from day one until the final day of its generation.”
Hallmark said with the obvious exception of the bodywork, every component of the limited edition Jaguar XKR-S GT track special could be applied to F-Type, paving the way for a high-performance F-Type R and even more hardcore models beyond that.
“If you look at the XKR-S GT and all those components that we’ve developed – the brakes, the wheels, the steering stiffening, the suspension stiffening, the damping that we’ve created, and the anti-roll bars – all of that is retrofittable on other models in the range,” he said.
“So this was really a test bed, not just to have a bit of fun for this particular car, but also to be able to build a kit of parts that we can use on other products.
“You can imagine F-Type has way more potential performance headroom than we’ve currently realised with the first cars.
“I won’t today confirm if or when we will do an F-Type R, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t.”
Hallmark said the introduction of all-wheel drive was a serious consideration for such a model with in excess of 500hp (373kW). The initial F-Type flagship – the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 S – sends 364kW of power and 625Nm of torque to its rear wheels.
“When you get over 500hp … getting more power to the engine is not a problem – you can put different gear on the supercharger, we could even turbocharge and go crazy if we wanted – but getting the power down in a rear-drive car is the real issue,” he explained.
“We want to build a modern, intelligent sports car. It’s not just going to be brute force, it’s going to be manageable, absolutely rewarding, take you to your limits but never punish you when you get there, and so all-wheel drive is absolutely key to managing much higher power than 500hp if you want to do it in a really controlled manner.
“I think for the real high-performance cars of the future, all-wheel drive is important. We don’t have a date for that, but we’re considering it.”
The Jaguar F-Type launches globally in April ahead of its arrival in Australia around the middle of the year.