JAGUAR today finally confirmed it will build a new two-seat convertible sportscar, and that it will be called the F-Type – more than 12 years after presenting the first F-Type concept.
The long-awaited spiritual successor to the famed E-Type of the 1960s will go on sale in mid-2013, with Australian deliveries beginning soon after.
A coupe version is expected as early as 2014.
The British brand first showed an F-Type concept car at the Detroit auto show in January 2000, six months after the death of its designer Geoff Lawson, whose replacement Ian Callum is responsible for the latest version.
Mr Callum also designed the C-X16 concept car – a coupe that provided the inspiration for the new open-top F-Type – which appeared at the Frankfurt motor show last September.
Jaguar Cars global brand director Adrian Hallmark announced F-Type production plans at the New York auto show, but the company only released photos of a car covered in F-themed camouflage.
Mr Hallmark said full technical and range details would be released later this year and talk at the show suggested the final production car would be revealed at the Paris motor show in late September.
“The reaction to the C-X16 has been so positive that we’ve accelerated our development of an all-new Jaguar sportscar,” said Mr Hallmark in New York.
“The core appeal of Jaguar’s cars is their sporting heart, and that heart will beat stronger than ever before in the F-Type.
“Its development is a vivid representation of the confidence and ambition of the Jaguar brand, and the desire amongst our engineers and design team to produce a world leader in a market segment that we have been absent from for too long. But no longer – the F-Type is coming.”
The new all-aluminium sub-XK sportscar, which will be Jaguar’s smallest model, but said it would be a strict two-seater and would be launched as a convertible – clearly opening the door for a later coupe version.
Mr Hallmark promised “stunning sportscar performance” from a range of petrol engines, “including a new powerplant”.
Last year’s C-X16 concept had a hybrid powertrain, with an all-alloy 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine developing some 280kW of power and 450Nm of torque, linked to an electric motor producing 70kW and 235Nm.
With a lightweight aluminium chassis and body, the concept car could accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.4 seconds, matching the company’s performance flagship XKR-S, which has a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine.
Mr Hallmark said in New York that today also marks the point that the F-Type’s rigorous development schedule moves to final on-road testing, with engineering prototypes now leaving Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant, where the production cars will be built.
Photos of the car being track-tested reveal a pop-up spoiler on the bootlid.
Jaguar Australia brand manager Kevin Goult said he was excited about the car and indicated that we get the car soon after its global launch because “Australia is a significant market for the business”.
“We will have the car soon after launch, so mid-2013 is what we’re looking at,” he told GoAuto today.
“Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on one.”
Mr Goult said the F-Type would be a serious sportscar rival to the established players, indicating he is confident of luring buyers away from German cars such as the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK.
Whether it can match the circa-$100,000 pricing of those cars remains to be seen as the XK starts at around $220,000.
Overseas reports suggest the F-Type will be pitched somewhere between the Boxster and 911, which would translate here to more than $150,000.
Mr Callum – now director of design at Jaguar and responsible for its acclaimed styling – is a lifelong fan of the marque and has drawn on the company’s legendary sportscar tradition, including its famed Le Mans winners of the 1950s.
He began work on the car after Jaguar was taken over by Indian car-maker Tata, which re-energised the concept as part of a model expansion plan.
“A true sportscar needs to be pure in both its purpose and its form (and) to have the opportunity to produce such a car for Jaguar has been a privilege both for myself and for my team,” said Mr Callum.
“The C-type, D-type and E-type Jaguars were all sportscars that held true to this principle in their era, and the F-Type will hold true to that same principle in its time, a time that is soon to arrive.”