There is no doubt at all that the E-Type is one of the most memorable cars of all time. Combining sleek, beautiful looks that have barely been bettered with superb engineering and stunning performance, here was a sports car-cum- grand tourer that defined the era perfectly. Its apparent successor, the beleaguered XJS, was a bloated misfire, a design oddity that somehow looks better today than it did when it was contemporary, and it’s safe to say there has never been a true successor to the legendary E-Type. Perhaps this car will be the one that breaks the silence: it’s the long-awaited Jaguar F-Type, and it makes its debut at the Paris Motor Show. This show is proving to be something of a sensation with the Jaguar joining the McLaren P1 among the many new models on display. Is, then, the F-Type a worthy successor to the legend, or is it merely capitalising on the name?
Jaguar F-Type – Remembering a Legend
At first glance the F-Type is a pretty car, resembling very closely the C-X16 concept that was shown in Frankfurt last year. The edges have been smoothed over and the lines refined, but there is little difference between that styling study and the production car. Many have commented on its resemblance to the current Maserati range, and they have a point: the front end, in particular, could be mistaken for one of the Modena marques models at a glance, but perhaps that is merely an indication of current design trends. It is a pretty car, without doubt, and one that pays homage in some ways to the E-Type’s design cues. More to the point it takes some styling ideas from the XK8 – itself a very attractive car – and there are hints of latter-day Aston Martin in there, too. Overall, the cabriolet design works well; we have yet to see the coupe version that is expected to be added at a later date. The problem is, it has a hard act to follow if it is to be considered an E-Type for the 21st century, so can it succeed?
Jaguar F-Type – Performance & Style
The decision to launch the car in drop-head form is an unusual one; usually there is a coupe to match – the concept, you may remember, had a roof – but Jaguar has taken the decision to leave the hard top until later. Perhaps this is indicative of its intention to market the car heavily in the USA. There is a compactness to this Jaguar that is both refreshing and unusual; it is much less heavy handed than the XK8, for example, which was a big car in every sense. The familiar 3.0litre V6 supercharged engine is the power-plant of choice, and in base form will give the car a more than adequate 335bhp. A more powerful version is planned with power raised to 375bhp. Then there’s the full on, F-Type R model, which will be powered by the mighty 5.0 supercharged V8 and delivering in excess of 400bhp. There are no figures, as yet, relating to performance, but we expect it to match its intended rivals with ease. Look for further information after the official launch in Paris.
Jaguar F-Type – Will it Take Off?
The problem with launching a new model using a name that evokes such a legendary car is that expectations will be very high indeed. That Jaguar has taken the decision to do so says it has high hopes for the F-Type. This is a pretty car with all the right attributes, and using a power unit that is proven. Where, though, is the market for such a vehicle? There is a clear market for super-expensive hypercars such as the Pagani Zonda and Bugatti Veyron – not to mention the aforementioned McLaren – but in pitching the Jaguar F-Type at an expected £55,000 (approximately $90,000) the car is heading straight into Porsche 911 territory. Of course, there is little suggestion that the Porsche loyals will switch to a Jaguar, but it does have some serious rivals. It sits, in price terms, beneath the Aston Martin range but above the likes of Mercedes C-Class convertibles, and surely it must be more appealing than an Audi TT? Only time will tell, and with deliveries planned for the middle of 2013 there is much expectation at Jaguar. The E-Type is still held in reverence some 50 years after it burst onto the motoring scene, but it is hard to see the Jaguar F-Type – fine car though it is – having the same impact. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome addition to the range.