Jaguar F-Type at the 2012 Paris Motor Show

  • Competes with: Porsche 911, BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette
  • Looks like: The cat is finally getting a nimbler option that’s befitting of the marque’s heritage
  • Drivetrain: 340-hp and 380-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6; 495-hp, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8; eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Spring 2013

Ever since Tata Motors, an Indian company, bought Jaguar-Land Rover from Ford, it has continued to reinvigorate both storied British brands. After expanding the Land Rover lineup, with the Range Rover Evoque, the Indian carmaker is turning its sights back on Jaguar with a new entry-level roadster, the F-Type.

Besides the cloth droptop, the F-Type is a spitting image of the C-X16 coupe concept we saw last year. Like the concept, the roadster ditches the horizontal lamps worn by current Jaguars for vertical bi-xenon lamp designs with integrated LED daytime lighting. There are pronounced dual brake air inlets and a wide grille with a large front spoiler and diffuser. While the F-Type’s front is angular, the rear is more curvaceous and swept back. The overall look is almost disjointed, from front to back, but somehow it all comes together for a distinct design. It’s a thoroughly modern interpretation of the famous 1963 E-Type — hence the car’s “-Type” nomenclature.

Hopefully, we’ll see similar styling on the entry-level sedan and station wagon that Jaguar is in the midst of designing.

The Jaguar F-Type fills a narrow space in the market; it’s not quite as large as the four-seater XK, but it’s much larger than other luxury brands’ two-seat roadsters and convertibles. We think the closest natural competitor to the F-Type is the Porsche 911, though final judgment will depend on how the F-Type drives and its asking price.

Like the rest of Jaguar’s offerings, we expect the F-Type to offer the most horsepower for the buck compared with its competitors. The V-6 and V-8, which both come with superchargers, offer 340- and 380-horsepower for the V-6 and 495-hp with the V-8. All powertrains are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddles; there’s no manual transmission offered. Along with the weight-saving aluminum body and chassis, the F-Type is expected to be wicked fast. Jaguar says the base model should achieve zero to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds; the V-8 should reach that speed in 4.2 seconds.

The hybrid version teased on the C-X16 is unfortunately unavailable. The F-Type does come standard with a start/stop system, which should improve fuel economy by 5%, says the carmaker.

While the exterior is dramatic, Jaguar has stuck to a conventional setup in the cabin; it reminds us of the Audi R8’s layout. There are three large climate control knobs on the center console with small displays in their centers.

The new F-Type will be available in three trims — F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S. The model will launch as a convertible only, though we’d expect a coupe model to follow. It can be equipped with 20-inch wheels and a 770-watt stereo system. We’ll have more information on features and pricing in spring 2013 when the roadster is scheduled to go on sale.

2012 Jaguar C-X16 Concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show
Jaguar C-X16 Concept: Photo Gallery
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