We had a chance to sit down at the LA Auto Show with Jaguar Designer, Wayne Burgess and discuss the gorgeous new F-Type Coupe. We were fascinated to discover why the company had led with the Convertible version, bucking market trends to introduce the soft-top later in the model's life cycle.
According to Burgess, the decision to build the roadster was taken early in the whole process, rather than it being an after thought. "Many companies offer a coupe and then decide to build a convertible once they see sufficient sales volume," explained Wayne. "However, this makes it harder to set the tonneau and trunk heights, or to create sufficient rigidity without adding extra weight. But since we decided there would be an F-Type Convertible at the beginning of the process, the engineers were able to create a structure that was strong enough to support both models."
As a result, the new F-Type Convertible is almost as stiff as the new Coupe and just as beautiful. However, there are a few differences between each model beyond the obvious metal roof. "We raised the trailing edge of the rear fender about 15mm and it flows deepen into the tail than on the Convertible," Wayne continued. "This resulted in possibly the deepest monoside single body pressing ever attempted on a production vehicle, which was only possibly with our new aluminum pressing techniques.
The new rear hatch extends further down the tail than the soft-top version but still integrates a pop-up rear wing. "We wanted to retain the deployable rear wing because it's invisible until needed. This allowed us to maintain the lines of the cabi over the roof and into the tail, as if it had been stretched off the rear of the car," he explained.
The new shape also gave the designers another stylistic highlight in the brightwork around the window frames. "It's a beautiful C-shape that wasn't possible with the Convertible but gives the car a strong focal point from the side," Wayne said.
The trunk was predictably shaped to accommodate two sets of golf clubs. "not many designers actually play golf, so we had to borrow some sets from other people at Jaguar and would fit them into the trunk to ensure we had enough space," Wayne admitted.
As with the Convertible, the V8 Type R model retains its 50/50% weight distribution for ideal handling balance but this 560hp R version of the supercharged 5.0 V8 is currently only offered in the Coupe body style. We couldn't get any confirmation whether it would eventually be offered with the soft-top, nor would they deny the possibility of an RS version in the future.
Everybody at Jaguar was delighted by the reception given to the new Coupe, which continues the brand's expansion and will shortly be followed by a 3-Series competitor, followed by the company's SUV. The latter was shown in C-X17 concept form at the LA Auto Show, and we were assured this it was very close to the production version, even though that might be two years away...
And while we were concerned about Jaguar cannibalizing some of Land Rover's off-road sales, a Jaguar spokesperson pointed out the C-X17 is based on its "3-Series" platform, so would be more car-like than the current Evoque, Range Rover Sport or LR4. However, Land Rover's suspension and electronic expertise for finding traction and ground clearance when off-road would certainly be exploited.