2014 Jaguar F-Type

Slotted below today’s XK roadster and coupe but overlapping them in price, the new F-Type convertible may have a spiritual ancestor in the classic Jag E-Type, but as chief designer Ian Callum says, “this car is for now.”

And for now, it’s a sportscar in the purest form only. No coupe version’s been confirmed, though Jaguar officials hint at a logical hardtop companion for future international auto-show debuts.

The link to today’s XK is clear, but the F-Type clearly progresses beyond that smoother shape. The F-Type has a relatively tall front end with a large grille opening flanked by dual air intakes and capped by upsized, upswept headlamps, underlined in LED lighting. There’s enough Corvette and Maserati influence to go around, especially at those intakes–Callum refers to them as “gills.” The hood’s a clamshell design–it’s another heritage influence that also helps crash safety.

The shape grows sleeker along its shoulder line and along the decklid, where thin baguette-shaped LED taillamps–the thinnest possible, he says–bulge at one end with circular insets that directly refer to the E-Type.

The design’s at its best from the sideview, where there’s just enough overall length to let the muscular suggestiveness play out over surfaces and shoulder lines and door skins unbroken by door handles–they’re hidden, popping up from flush by a touch of the fob or a finger. It’s a touch Jaguar’s kin at Aston Martin might appreciate.

The cockpit’s a more intensely focused environment than in the XK. The driver steps into a cockpit with a hooded binnacle of gauges, while the passenger gets a grab handle–a tacit message about the real mission at hand here. Much of the ancillary information will continue to be displayed on a big LCD screen, but climate controls are back to prominent positions on the stack as rotary knobs with push functions for seat heating. Subtle cues drive home the sportscar message: drivers get a different grade of trim on their part of the IP, and on the more powerful versions the start button, shift paddles and sport-mode switch are marked in diving-watch orange. A flat-bottomed steering wheel will be on the options list, too.

Each of the F-Type’s three engines has forced induction. There’s a supercharged V-8, as well as a pair of new supercharged V-6s–set apart by twin inboard exhausts, while the V-8 has quad exhausts, mounted outboard.

The six-cylinders are 3.0-liter units, one tuned to 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque; it’s shared with other Jaguar products, including the XJ and XF sedans for the 2013 model year. In 380-hp tune, it’s a distinct version held aside strictly for the F-Type. The 0-60 mph estimates for these models are 5.1 seconds and 4.8 seconds, respectively, and top speeds are limited to 161 mph and 171 mph.

An eight-speed automatic transmission with rev matching and paddle-shift controls is the only transmission available–for now, Jaguar officials hint. Unlike the latest models from the marque, the F-Type doesn’t sport a rotary shift control–it has a conventional shift lever that, if anything, preserves the packaging for a true manual transmission.

All powertrains have direct injection and stop/start systems. Active exhaust is standard on the two higher-performance models, and optional on the 340-hp F-Type. The more powerful V-6 gets a mechanical limited-slip differential; the V-8 gets an electronically controlled version for maximum traction. The latter two models will have launch-control modes for fault-free acceleration runs.

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