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Paris show: Jaguar F-Type V8 outpunches XKR-S

Room for a pair: The sexy new Jaguar F-Type is the British-based company’s first two-seater since the legendary E-Type of the 1960s.

Full reveal of Jaguar’s F-Type sportscar in Paris puts XKR-S in the shade

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Jaguar logo27 Sep 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

THE top-spec V8 version of Jaguar’s all-new, all-aluminium F-Type sportscar will have the pace to shame the larger XKR-S flagship, blasting from rest to100km/h in just 4.3 seconds – a tenth quicker than its bigger sibling – while matching its governed 300km/h top speed.

Full details of the hotly anticipated F-Type were revealed as the car made its world public debut at the Paris motor show overnight, just weeks ahead of its Australian debut at the Sydney show on October 18, where local pricing will be announced.

Two image leaks before the F-Type’s official reveal showed it to closely resemble the C-X16 coupe concept from last September’s Frankfurt motor show inside and out, with changes limited to the size of the exterior mirrors and wheels, the interior colour and seat design – plus of course the switch to a soft-top.

In Britain the entry-level F-Type is priced 18 per cent lower than the base XK, which would translate to a sub-$200,000 price point in Australia, while the flagship V8 could undercut the $340,000 XKR-S by around $100,000.

All three F-Type engines – 250kW/450Nm and 280kW/460Nm versions of a new 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and a 364kW/625Nm 5.0-litre supercharged V8 – drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed ‘quickshift’ automatic transmission with manual override via the centre console selector or steering wheel paddles.

Standard efficiency-improving idle-stop systems across the range help keep fuel consumption relatively modest, with the 250kW and 280kW V6 engines respectively using 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres and 9.1L/100km, while the fire-breathing V8 requires 11.1L/100km.

Variants packing the high-output V6 and V8 engines are badged S and get limited-slip differentials, selectable driving modes affecting throttle, transmission, steering and suspension, plus a lap timer and G-force meter.

S variants are also get an active exhaust system with bypass valves that open under heavy throttle inputs or can be held open through an option in the drive mode selector to deliver what Jaguar describes as “an authentic, rich sound, developing to a howling crescendo as the upper limits of the rev range are reached”.

In addition, Jaguar has acoustically tuned the F-Type’s rear to enable more exhaust noise to enter the cabin and the engine’s intake note is also piped into the cabin from under the bonnet, which Jaguar says “is particularly exciting when combined with the scream of the supercharger”.

While the V8 F-Type becomes Jaguar’s fastest accelerating car, the V6 variants put in a good performance too, the 250kW version completing the sprint in 5.3 seconds and the 280kW S reaching triple digits in 4.9 seconds.

Respective top speeds are electronically limited to 260km/h and 275km/h and S variants get standard launch control for a clean getaway.

Jaguar has applied its biggest production brakes to the V8 F-Type, with 380mm front rotors backed up by 376mm discs at the rear, cooled by large gills in the front bumper and air channelled around aerodynamically-shaped suspension components.

At 4470mm long the F-Type is 21mm shorter than a Porsche 911 but significantly wider at an XK-dwarfing 1923mm, while the lightest variant’s 1597kg kerb weight looks lardy compared with the 1450kg Carrera 2 cabrio – despite the 911’s aluminium content being just 44 per cent.

Compared with the XK convertible, the F-Type is 504mm shorter and rides on a wheelbase chopped by 130mm to 2622mm, and is 33mm lower at 1296mm, while boot capacity is an XK-matching 200 litres.

The base F-Type weighs 99kg less than the lightest XK convertible, while the range-topping V8 is 88kg less hefty than the XKR-S.

Jaguar claims the F-Type’s body is 10 per cent more torsionally rigid than the XKR-S overall but it has achieved gains of up to 30 per cent in areas like suspension mounting points to improve the precision with which the suspension can be tuned.

Engineers also turned their attention to weight distribution, choosing to mount the F-Type’s battery and washer fluid tank in the boot rather than under the bonnet, and the car’s short front and rear overhangs mean more weight is concentrated within its wheelbase.

The F-Type’s steering rack is the quickest yet fitted to a Jaguar, which combined with the lightweight aluminium front subframe and stiff aluminium knuckle promises responsive, communicative steering.

A driver-focussed cockpit almost separates the two occupants in what Jaguar calls a “one plus one” configuration, representing the first Jaguar two-seater since the iconic E-Type was launched 50 years ago.

An asymmetrical centre console is linked to the dashboard by a single buttress that doubles as a grab handle for the passenger.

Textures facing the driver are differentiated from the passenger side too, described as a “more technical grain” topping the instrument panel and centre console.

Buyers can choose between a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel or a circular item trimmed in suede-like Alcantara, through which a traditional pair of instruments can be viewed, flanking a colour multi-function display.

Jaguar has opted to equip the F-Type with traditional rotary ventilation controls, rather than integrating them into the central touch-screen, reasoning that “more physical interfaces and touchpoints for the driver” were important for this kind of car.

Central air vents remain hidden in the dash-top unless the climate control system detects the need for “rapid high-level temperature regulation”, at which point they automatically rise.

Switchgear is finishes in matte black with white markings and interior trim highlights are of satin chrome and dark aluminium, while the S variants have slightly darker finishes.

In the interest of saving weight, Jaguar has omitted electric fore and aft adjustment of the seats, which electrically adjust for recline and height, but fully-electric adjustment – including lumbar and side support – will be an option, as will a sportier pair of pews with additional bolstering and support.

Two premium audio systems from Jaguar Land Rover partner Meridian will be offered as options, with 10 or 12 speaker setups respectively pumping out 380W or 770W.

Jaguar says the F-Type’s exterior styling “demonstrates a new sports car design language” with cleaner lines enabled by the Aston Martin style flush door handles and flip-up rear spoiler.

In the transition from C-X16 concept to production model, the F-Type has retained the chrome-rimmed mesh grille flanked by gill-like air intakes, triangular headlights framed by strip-like LED daytime running lights and indicators and vents on the bonnet and front guards.

Sheet metal on the bonnet, front guards and doors appears unchanged, while the front splitter and side-skirt design has also been retained, along with its flowing curves, power bulges and gaping air intakes of the front end and heavily scalloped flanks.

Compared with the rest of the car, the F-Type’s rear deck remains relatively featureless and nestled low between the muscular rear guards in a way that appears to reference its spiritual ancestor – which would often be seen fitted with a chrome luggage rack for weekends away.

An F-Type coupe is expected to emerge in 2014 and could well share the C-X16 concept’s roof line, which flows right to the rear of the car, mimicking the E-Type’s boot access with its unusual side-hinged rear window.

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