Jaguar flirted with a replacement for the E-Type in 2000 when it displayed an F-Type concept at that year’s Detroit motor show. But it’s taken 12 years, a change of ownership (from Ford to Tata Motors, in 2008) and a major design overhaul of Jaguar’s existing model range, and another two-seater sports car concept (the C-X16) to reach a point where the F-Type is now production reality.
Here’s CarAdvice’s guide to all you need to know about the 2013 Jaguar F-Type.
Jaguar insists it was more focused on creating a 21st century two-seater sports car rather than designing an obvious replacement for the E-Type. There’s certainly no direct styling correlation between the two Types, old and new. In our view, the F-Type’s proportions are terrific and its rear end – with hints of the BMW Z8 roadster - the best, and most distinctive, area of design execution.
Jaguar design chief Ian Callum says four key areas were targeted for the F-Type design: proportions, beautiful lines, clean surfaces, and details.
Click to read Ian Callum’s Jaguar F-Type design overview.
SIZE AND CONSTRUCTION
The Jaguar F-Type is 4470mm long, 1296mm high and quite wide at 1923mm (a figure that excludes the side mirrors. Its length makes it longer than a Porsche Boxster but 20mm shorter than a 911 and 320mm shorter (and 15mm lower) than its 2+2 sibling, the Jaguar XK.
Its 2622mm wheelbase is also 170mm longer than the 911’s, pushing the F-Type’s wheels further forward and rearward compared with the Porsche.
The F-Type sits on the fourth generation of Jaguar’s renowned aluminium architecture that is now in its 10th year, and is lighter and stiffer than the XKR-S, which the company says was its internal benchmark.
Torsional and lateral stiffness compared with the XKR-S have increased by 10 per cent.
Cast aluminium is used for the front suspension subframe and double A-arm suspension front and rear.
The base F-Type registers 1597kg on the scales, with the V6 S at 1614kg and the V8 S at 1665kg.
ENGINES & VARIANTS
There are a trio of F-Types in the initial line-up, each powered by a supercharged aluminium engine. Two are V6s, one’s a V8. The entry-level model gains a 250kW 3.0-litre V6, the F-Type S features an uprated, 280kW of the same engine that’s exclusive to this Jaguar, and the F-Type V8 S adopts a 364kW V8.
All three engines produce their maximum power at 6500rpm. The V6 engines develop 450Nm and 460Nm respectively, both between 3500rpm and 5000rpm. The V8 not only has more pulling power (625Nm) but that torque is also spread across more of the rev range (2500-5500rpm).
Jaguar says the supercharger ensures the engine delivers instant response.
It adds that “every great car must have a great soundtrack”. The V6 gets dual exhausts and the V8 and quad outboard pipes.
There’s just a single transmission choice: an eight-speed ZF automatic. For the F-Type, however, Jaguar has dispensed with the rotary gearshift dial of its other models to create “a more tactile interface”. There are also paddleshift levers behind the steering wheel.
PERFORMANCE & EFFICIENCY
Naturally, the pace of the Jaguar F-Type increases as you step up through the line-up rank. The base F-Type accelerates from 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds, which makes it half a second quicker than a Porsche Boxster and three-tenths slower than a Porsche 911 Cabriolet.
In-gear acceleration, according to Jaguar, sees the car complete 80-120km/h in 3.3 seconds. The lower-powered V6 is the most fuel efficient with a fuel consumption rating of 9.0 litres per 100km (with CO2 emissions of 209g/km), though the 280kW V6 uses just a fraction more (9.1L/100km) while gaining more in performance.
The V6 S F-Type reaches three figures from standstill in 4.9 seconds to beat a Boxster S PDK and fall just shy of the 911 Cabrio PDK (4.8sec). The 80-120km/h rolling acceleration is ticked off in 3.1 seconds.
The Jaguar F-Type V8 S makes a bigger leap again (no pun intended). It takes just 4.3 seconds to reach 100km/h, and passes from 80 to 120 on the tachometer in 2.5 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 300km/h (40km/h faster than base V6 and 25km/h faster than V6 S).
The V8 S, however, will also drain the F-Type’s 72-litre fuel tank quicker – at a rate of 11.1L/100km (CO2 emissions 259g/km).
All figures are helped by a standard stop-start system.
The F-Type V6 S and V8 S models include a launch mode system that Jaguar says can cut acceleration run times by a couple of tenths. Drivers will be able to time themselves with the incorporated stopwatch, and monitor g-forces with a G-meter.
All F-Types feature a Dynamic Mode – accessed via the touch-screen – that, when engaged, sharpens throttle response, reduces steering assistance, stiffens the dampers, speeds up gearshifts and holds gears, and allows more lateral movement of the car’s rear end before the stability control system intervenes. Drivers can tailor different combinations to their preference.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The F-Type features Jaguar’s fastest-ever steering rack – a 14.6:1 ratio – and intriguingly is hydraulically rather than electrically driven. That bucks the trend for modern cars (even the 911 has switched to electric) and bodes well for steering feel and weighting.
It’s also more compact, lighter and stiffer than the acclaimed XKR-S, and the company is making big promises for the F-Type – stating it will be the most rewarding Jaguar to drive yet.
“It has near-perfect weight distribution, it is extremely fast and agile,” says Jaguar brand director Adrian Hallmark. “The F-Type’s ability starts where the XKR-S finishes.”
He adds, however, that the F-Type will have the Jaguar driving characteristic of “duality” – meaning that while it will be a focused performance sports car it will not have a punishing ride.
The Jaguar F-Type V6 S and Jaguar F-Type V8 S gain the company’s Adaptive Dynamics suspension that monitors driver inputs and vehicle attitude and varies damper rates up to 500 times a second to help minimise unwanted body movements.
For stopping power, the entry-level F-Type is fitted with brake discs 355mm up front and 326mm rear (with silver calipers). The F-Type V6 S has 355mm discs at all wheels, with calipers painted red or black.
The F-Type V8 S adopts the biggest set of standard brake discs of any Jaguar – 380mm front and rear, also painted red or black.
The two S models feature limited-slip differentials – mechanical for the V6 and electronic for the V8 – to assist traction and any desired sideways-driving antics.
ROOF AND INTERIOR
The F-Type’s fabric roof – which like a Ford Model T only comes in black - opens and closes in just 12 seconds. There’s no tonneau cover and Jaguar says this makes it light, small and efficient.
The two seats are a development of those found in the XKR-S, with two choices offered. A quick sit inside suggests the (fully electric) seats will do a brilliant job of both providing long-distance comfort and body-hugging support in corners.
Electric-adjust controls for the seats are positioned on the doors in Mercedes-Benz style.
There’s also two steering wheels – a traditional round helm and one with a sportier flat bottom section.
A two-tone interior is available as an option, though the V8 F-Type we sat in had an all-black interior.
However, this did allow certain parts - the paddleshift levers, engine start/stop button, and Dynamic Mode switch - stand out that were coloured in an orange metallic that Jaguar calls Ignis and says is inspired by professional divers’ watches.
Ahead of the driver are two large analogue instrument dials (speedo left, tacho right) that flank a central TFT display screen.
The centre console and centre stack are grouped by a chunky stitched-leather surround and forms a partial visual barrier to the passenger seat to create a cockpit feel for the driver.
Switches on the console include the aforementioned Dynamic Mode toggle, electric park brake, deployable rear spoiler, stability control on/off, Active Exhaust (for S models) and of course the button for operating the roof.
After the theatrics of the XF sedan and its revolving air vents, the F-Type puts a different spin on things with twin central air vents that rise out of the top of the dash.
COUPE AND R VERSIONS
The Jaguar F-Type was previewed by a concept – the C-X16 (pictured above) – that was a coupe and it’s no coincidence. Jaguar isn’t officially confirming the hard-topped F-Type, but expect it to pop up some time in 2013.
As with the Mercedes-Benz SLS, the F-Type roadster was developed before the coupe to ensure it has the appropriate structural stiffness from the outset rather than face the compromises of deciding to produce a convertible from a hard-top version.
And for those buyers who don’t find the performance of the V8 S F-Type sufficient, count on an R version ramping things up with a more powerful version of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8. The F-Type R could potentially break the 4.0-second barrier in the 0-100km/h sprint.
PRICING AND RIVALS
Jaguar Australia will announce local pricing and specifications at the 2012 Sydney motor show on 18 October, so for now we only have the guide of Jaguar brand director Adrian Hallmark.
“The F-Type pricing will sit almost exactly in the middle [of Boxster S and 911 Cabriolet],” he said.
In Australian pricing terms, the Boxster S starts from $133,300 and the 911 Cabriolet from $254,600, so based on Hallmark’s quotes you could surmise that the F-Type will cost from about $190,000.
“No one does this size [of sports car] and performance at this price,” says Jaguar brand director Adrian Hallmark. “So [the F-Type] will have a unique performance, design, character and market position.”
That won’t stop natural comparisons with both the Porsche Boxster (a bit smaller) and the Porsche 911 Cabriolet (a bit bigger). Same goes for the F-Type coupe that will follow, which will be measured against the likes of the Cayman, 911 coupe and Aston Martin Vantage.
Click to view a comprehensive photo gallery of the 2013 Jaguar F-Type.