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.
Equally discreet is the rear wing that rises from the trunk lid above 60mph and drops below 40. It’s part of an aero package that includes a distinct front splitter, side blades and rear diffuser. They appear gloss black on the S models (matte on the base V6) and the diffuser houses strong central tailpipes on the V6, four outboard tips on the V8. “We wanted to differentiate the models without any of them feeling cheap or sub-standard,” explained Callum.
For this reason, each gets different diameter wheels: 18, 19 and 20" depending on power output. However, the wheel and tire width remains the same on all, maintaining the prestige of each.
At the front, the grille was inspired by the 1968 Jaguar XJ6, and is similar to the XKR-S and C-X75 concept. Callum claimed it represented a new face that would help with future product recognition.
The same ’68 XJ6 also inspired the hood bulge, making a powerful statement along with the strong front ducts and hood vents. “We wanted this car to be assertive in the rearview mirror,” Callum continued.
Single projector headlamps are framed by signature J-shaped LED running lights. A bodyline flows from the upright front duct through the lamps onto the front fender to give a feeling of width and strength.
In our opinion, this could be Callum’s best work, rivaling his DB7 and Vanquish for beauty (although we also worship him for the Escort RS Cosworth!). He explained how every aspect of the F-Type was optimized, from its tight surfaces to its small overhangs and details like the slim rear wing. “We get every millimeter we can from the engineers,” he confessed, explaining how his design team pushed the packaging to the limit.
This is even expressed in the cockpit, where the central air vents are motorized; disappearing into the dash for visibility, appearing on demand when temperatures dictate.
With the dash and console centered around the driver, the team chose to forego the preferred rotary gear selector for a conventional shifter and steering wheel paddles (colored Ignis orange on S models). These operate the standard ZF eight-speed trans and give access to the launch control.
The V6 S model gets a mechanical limitedslip diff, “for that authentic feel”, while the V8 S has an e-diff. However, all models get a 14.6:1 steering rack: the fastest ever fitted to a Jag.
Steering, adaptive suspension, engine response and shift speed can all be optimized through the Dynamic Mode toggle switch or via the touchscreen that allows favorite presets as well as offering a lap timer and g-meter.
Like a traditional sports car, the interior has round analogue dials and plenty of switches. You have the choice of either a flat-bottomed steering wheel or round, and sit in sports seats redesigned from the XKR-S under a Z-fold roof structure that uses a simple mechanism requiring 12sec to erect at up to 30mph.
You’ll want the roof down to enjoy the Active Exhaust (standard on S models). It opens a valve at full throttle to produce a knee-quivering noise from both engine options. It also helps remove unwanted noise at lower speeds, making the F-Type even more civilized.
With its light but rigid aluminum body, the V6 model will weigh around 3500 lb, the V8 closer to 3670, but with perfect 50/50 distribution that sees even the screen washer bottle located to the rear.
The brakes are large and powerful – Jaguar engineers worked on pedal feel and modulation to ensure sporty dynamics from every interface. The V8 S gets the largest brakes ever fitted to a Jag – 15" front, 14.8" rear. The V6 S gets 15/12.8" while the base V6 has 14/12.8".
You’ll be able to dress the car in a wide choice of wheels as well as a broad paint pallet and plenty of interior trim colors plus contrast stitching and other options to personalize your F-Type in multiple ways.
Perhaps our only criticism was a small trunk, but we’d happily sacrifice some practicality for such a stunning shape. Better still, we’ll wait for the Coupe that should arrive in a year or so. That has to be drop-dead gorgeous.
2013 Jaguar F-Type S
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
2995cc V6 DOhC 24v, aluminum-alloy cylinder block and heads, dual independent variable cam timing, direct injection, Eaton twin-vortex supercharger, dual intercoolers
ZF 8hP70 eight-speed “Quickshift” automatic
15" rotors f, 12.8" r
Wheels & Tires
19" wheels, 255/40 r19 f, 295/35 r19 r Pirelli P Zero tires
Peak power: 380hp at 6500rpm
Peak torque: 399 lb-ft at 3500-5000rpm
Top Speed: 171mph
Weight: 3558 lb