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Driven: Jaguar F-Type arrives – and is set to multiply

Cat’s roar: the three-pronged model range is just the beginning, with hardcore road racers in the pipeline

F-Type roadster now on sale heralds new wave of Jag sportscars as coupe draws near

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Jaguar logo30 Jul 2013

THE all-new F-Type roadster now on sale in Australia is the beginning of a sportscar renaissance for Jaguar, with the forthcoming coupe poised to push the famous British brand deeper into Porsche 911 heartland.

Faster and more focused due to a stiffer, stronger, sleeker and yet lighter all-aluminium body, the tin-lidded two-door is set to surface in final production guise at the Tokyo motor show in November.

This is only weeks after one of Jaguar’s worst-kept secrets is due to make an appearance in concept car form at September’s Frankfurt show.

Though the F-Type coupe’s existence is not yet officially confirmed, GoAuto understands that Australian sales are slated to commence in the second half of next year.

They are expected to double the 200 or so units that insiders conservatively predict from the convertible in its first 12 months, split evenly between the three supercharged launch models.

This is despite the fact that the F-Type coupe should cost slightly more than the roadster – which kicks off from $138,645 plus on-road costs for the base 3.0 V6 – just as Porsche’s Cayman commands a premium compared to its roofless Boxster brother.

The coupe might also have the honour of siring the halo car of the range, in the shape of a hardcore V8 performance flagship charged with taking the fight right up to the 911 Turbo.

Whether that model turns out to be the rumoured R-S GT tearaway is not yet known, although Jaguar is clear about pushing the F-Type to the pinnacle of the sportscar class.

Some reports put its total power output beyond 500kW, aided by hybrid powertrain.

The current top-line F-Type convertible is the $201,945 5.0 V8 S – and that’s no slouch, offering 364kW to help launch the car from standstill to 100km/h in just 4.3 seconds, on the way to an electronically limited 300km/h top speed.

At the other end of the spectrum, the coupe may also usher in the four-cylinder sportscar of a rumoured 2.0-litre capacity, as Jaguar challenges Porsche in the bottom end of the Cayman market.

Speculated to pump out between 180kW and 200kW, the turbo four-pot F-Type will have up-spec Audi TT and BMW Z4 models in its crosshairs.

Said to be spawned from the convertible – rather than the other way around – the coupe also came under the guidance of long-time Jaguar designer Ian Callum.

While it retains the sleek flowing lines of the C-X16 concept from the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, the closed car will lose the side-opening rear hatch (a nod to the E-Type coupe) in favour of a conventional top-hinged tailgate.

The convertible’s two-seater configuration will remain, leaving the 2+2 market for the bigger and more expensive (though ageing) XK, which is set to undergo a complete redesign inside the next couple of years, growing in size and moving upmarket to make space for the F-Type.

We understand that the coupe’s hatch will reveal a slightly larger cargo area than the drop-top’s meagre 196 litres (down to 148L with the space-saver spare fitted in lieu of run-flat tyres), helping to address one of the latter’s packaging shortfalls, due in part to the pert exterior styling.

The coupe will most likely keep within the roadster’s length (4470mm), but the fixed roof may lift the overall height measurement above 1296mm, while width should at least match the rag-top’s 1923mm.

It will be another exciting dimension to the F-Type launched in Australia this week, which sees Jaguar re-enter the sportscar market for the first time since the demise of the E-Type nearly 40 years ago.

Full aluminium body construction (except for a composite bootlid for better aerial reception) on a bonded aluminium subframe, the architecture is essentially all-new, even though it is a derivative of the ‘D7A’ platform that has its roots in the XJ/XK series created in the Ford era of ownership.

Central development pillars included the stiffest-ever structure of any Jaguar convertible, even-balanced front-to-rear weight distribution, a low-slung driving position, high-response drivetrain choices, fast steering and high-performance braking capabilities.

To that end, all F-Types feature forged aluminium double wishbone suspension, while the higher-performance ‘S’ models gain adaptive damping technology to take handling and ride characteristics to their extremes.

Interestingly, while idle-stop technology is fitted to all models, the F-Type eschews electric power steering for a conventional hydraulic rack and pinion set-up – one that is 10 per cent quicker in ratio than any other Jaguar.

‘S’ cars also gain a limited-slip differential (mechanical in the V6, electronic in the V8), a selectable driving mode for uplifts in throttle, transmission, steering and suspension responses, a lap timer and G-force meter, and an active exhaust system with bypass valves.

Capable of being piped into the lush cabin, Jaguar calls it “an authentic, rich sound, developing to a howling crescendo”.

The V8 S also scores 380mm front rotors backed by 376mm discs at the rear (compared to the standard 354mm/325mm and 380mm/325mm items in the regular and V6 S models respectively), cooled by large gills in the front bumper and air channelled around aerodynamically shaped suspension components.

More airflow management comes in the form of flush underbody, concealed doorhandles that retract when not in use, and a rear spoiler that rises above 100km/h to cut lift by up to 120kg.

Development testing was conducted at the Nardo Test Track in Italy, Death Valley in North America, and the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany.

Customers around the world currently have a choice of three supercharged powerplants to Australian customers – all driving the rear wheels via a new ZF-supplied eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission with paddle shifters that Jaguar dubs Quickshift.

No manual gearbox is available for the time being.

The base F-Type arrives in Australia using a 3.0-litre V6 producing 250kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque between 3500rpm and 5000rpm.

Tipping the scales at a hefty 1597kg (about 300kg more than the Cayman), the 3.0 V6 model is capable of a 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds, a top speed of 260km/h, 9.0 litres per 100km mileage on the combined cycle, and 209 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions.

Jaguar turns the wick up in the $171,045 S version of the V6, upping outputs by 30kW and 10Nm for quicker acceleration – four tenths are taken from the 0-100km/h sprint and top speed is 15km/h higher – although there are slight penalties in terms of weight (17kg), economy (0.1L/100km), CO2 (4g/km) and, naturally enough, price ($32,400).

Another $30,900 brings two more cylinders and 49kg extra in the form of the 5.0-litre V8 S, delivering 364kW at 6500rpm and 625Nm from 2500rpm to 5500rpm.

Its key figures are 4.3s from 0-100km/h, a 300km/h to speed, 11.1L/100km consumption and 259g/km of CO2.

As noted when pricing was revealed in May, the current F-Type flagship is $26,600 south of the cheapest 911 Carrera Cabriolet.

A range of driver-assist technologies are available such as blind-spot and lane-change monitoring, reverse-traffic detection, bi-Xenon headlights, adaptive front lighting and intelligent high-beam adjustment.

The F-Type does away with the other Jaguar models’ trademark rising rotary transmission canister for a more conventional gearlever with full manual operation.

To help improve interior/boot packaging, the standard electrically actuated fabric roof uses a folding Z-design, takes 12 seconds to lower and re-erect, and can be done so at up to 50km/h.

Even the base variant includes a full suite of active safety features that come under the company’s Dynamic Stability Control system, keyless entry and start, an eight-inch monitor, satellite navigation, 380W audio, suede and leather sports seats, aluminium trim highlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, a pedestrian contact sensing system that helps mitigate bonnet impact injuries, and an automatic anti-rollover bar.

Jaguar also offers a massive range of options to personalise the F-Type including scores of material and trim choices, high-performance audio sound and a range of different roof colours.

All variants receive free scheduled servicing for the first three years or 100,000km – whichever comes first.

The F-Type was developed primarily for three markets – the US, UK and Germany, and each are expected to account for 48, 23 and 17 per cent of all sales respectively. The rest of the world – including Australia – falls within the remaining 17 per cent.

2013 Jaguar F-Type Convertible pricing*
3.0 V6 (a) $138,645
3.0 V6 S (a)$171,045
5.0 V8 S (a)$201,945
*Excludes on-road costs.

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