PARIS--Jaguar's recent history involves a line of large, premium cars, from the long XK to the bulky XJ. The new F-type represents a departure, a return to smaller, agile cars. The F-type is designed from the ground up as a roadster with a shorter wheelbase than other cars in the Jaguar line. The smaller size also paves the way for a smaller engine, which will give the F-type better fuel economy than its big brothers.
The F-type measures just over 14.5 feet in length, a foot shorter than the XK Convertible. The rear track is almost 2 inches wider than the front. Constructed of an aluminum alloy, the car weighs about 3,600 pounds. Jaguar boasts that the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive design allowed for perfect balance.
The F-type will come with three engine options, two 3-liter V-6s and a 5-liter V-8. All of these engines use direct injection and superchargers to increase power and efficiency. The base F-type will have a supercharged V-6 making 340 horsepower, while the next up, the F-type S, makes 380 horsepower from its supercharged V-6. Both engines displace 3 liters, so it is likely Jaguar uses a larger supercharger and different tuning for the F-type S. Finally, the F-type V8 S gets a similar direct-injection, supercharged 5-liter V-8 as used in other Jaguar models.
A limited slip differential comes standard on the F-type, improving handling. The exhaust uses electronic bypass valves, which run quietly under low power, then open up for a louder exhaust note under acceleration. Jaguar says the V-8 F-type can hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, while the F-type S makes the same speed in 4.8 seconds. The base model takes 5.3 seconds.
The F-type goes a little retro compared with its stablemates; for example, it uses real analog gauges for the speedometer and tachometer instead of an LCD panel. The navigation unit looks to be the same as used in current Jaguar models. Two Meridian-branded audio systems will be available, one with 10 speakers and 380 watts and the other with 12 speakers and 770 watts. Both should be more than adequate for the car's two-seat cabin.
Only one transmission will be available, an eight-speed automatic, to which Jaguar attaches the logo Quickshift. Built by German automotive supplier ZF, it will likely use a lockup clutch to eliminate torque converter slush. The car also comes with launch control.
The Jaguar F-Type will hit U.S. showrooms in summer 2013.