Potent, agile and sensual… Return to Jaguar heartland

Jaguar’s sports car pedigree is beyond doubt, but that bloodline had become somewhat diluted in recent years. Now the F-Type has put the famous motoring brand back on the main grid. So much so that it in March it was named the 2013 World Car Design of the Year.

Announcing the F-Type as the winner, the advisory panel of design experts said, “The long wheelbase, short overhangs and flared fenders give this car a good stance. The contour in plan view tapered toward the door emphasises the muscular rear fender that houses the driven wheels.

“The F-Type exterior maintains Jaguar’s own elegance in its horizontal proportion and rounded surfaces, yet it looks very dynamic. But (we) would like to say the interior design is even more attractive. It is clearly driver-oriented, and a grip bar for the passenger is nicely integrated into the big centre console. The seat design is superb, too.”

Collecting the award, global brand director Adrian Hallmark commented, “The F-Type is the first full-blooded Jaguar sports car to be launched for more than 50 years. Its architecture and technology are world class, wrapped in an evocative and progressive design that could only be a Jaguar – ‘Callum unfiltered’, as we call it in-house. It is as dynamic yet refined as any Jaguar sports car should be, and is a unique proposition from a performance and price perspective.”

The “Callum” he was referring to is director of design Ian Callum, who said of the award-winning model, “The F-Type is a sports car that is true to Jaguar’s design values – beauty of line and purity of form.”

Previously, at the model’s launch, Hallmark had noted that Jaguar was a founder member of the sports car segment, with a rich sporting bloodline stretching over 75 years. “And in the F-Type we’ve reignited that flame. The F-Type isn’t designed to be like anyone else’s sports car. It’s a Jaguar sports car – ultra-precise, powerful, sensual and, most of all, it feels alive.”

 

Power and Balance

Representing a return to the company’s heartland –  “a two-seater, convertible sports car focused on performance, agility and driver involvement” – the F-Type’s underpinning engineering ethos is centred on Jaguar’s expertise in the use of aluminium. Featuring the most advanced iteration of Jaguar’s rigid and lightweight aluminium architecture, the F-Type has ideally balanced weight distribution that allows its involving rear-wheel drive dynamics to be explored to the full. Utilising extensive Computer Aided Engineering programmes, the attention to detail involved in the F-Type’s creation extended to the development of a new, lighter, aluminium front subframe.

In order to maximise the benefits of its advanced structure, the F-Type features all-aluminium double wishbone front and rear suspension and a quick-ratio steering rack for ultimate responsiveness. The aluminium architecture has been optimised to provide the stiffest possible underpinnings for the suspension, with rigidity gains of more than 30 per cent in key areas compared to any other Jaguar application.

Three variants are available: F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S. Each is distinguished by the power output of its supercharged petrol engine, with all engines featuring stop/start technology to maximise efficiency.

A new 3.0-litre V6, developed from Jaguar’s 5.0-litre V8, is available in either 340PS or 380PS variants, powering the F-Type and F-Type S, respectively.

The V6 models are joined by a newly developed Jaguar V8 engine: producing 495PS and 625Nm of torque in the F-Type V8 S model, it has a torque-to-weight ratio of 375Nm/tonne, accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 300km/h, while emitting 259g/km of CO2.

The 380PS V6 F-Type S covers the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.9 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 275km/h, with CO2 emissions of 213g/km.

The 340PS V6 F-Type accelerates to 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 260km/h, while emitting 209g/km of CO2.

The F-Type’s shape, and “eye to the future”, is defined by two “heartlines” forming the front and rear wings.

The front of the F-Type features a new interpretation of the bold angular Jaguar grille, from which flows the muscular clamshell bonnet with its signature “power bulge”.

The focus on driver involvement and sporting performance is emphasised by the “one plus one” layout of the asymmetric cabin; while, taking inspiration from cockpits of fighter airplanes, the controls are ergonomically grouped by function. Further aeronautical inspiration can be found in the joystick-shaped SportShift selector controlling the eight-speed transmission.

As for the driver environment, Ian Callum says, “We wanted the experience of sitting in the F-Type to be exciting. A sports car cockpit should be an intimate place and so we aimed to get a sense of the surfaces falling towards and then wrapping around the driver.”

As to be expected of a Jaguar, the F-Type is luxuriously trimmed, although the palette of switchgear colours is deliberately understated and technical “to ensure nothing detracts from the driving environment and experience”. Switches are finished in soft-feel matte black with white markings for maximum legibility, while the highlight accents are satin chrome and dark aluminium.

The F-Type is available with three audio systems, two of which come from British experts Meridian. These offer either 10 or 12 loudspeakers with outputs of 380W and 770W, respectively.

The model is equipped with a fabric, rather than metal, convertible roof, which not only represents a significant weight saving but also optimises packaging and helps maintain a low centre of gravity for greater agility. The hood itself can be fully raised or lowered in just 12 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h, and Its multi-layer construction includes a thick Thinsulate lining for optimal thermal and sound insulating properties.

“We are creating a new generation of Jaguar sports car so it has to be credible from both a performance and design point of view,” says chief engineer (body complete) Mark White. “It has to deliver, has to be a great handling car with a stiff, rigid platform underpinning it and it has to look every inch an icon.”