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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jaguar F-Type

The Jaguar F-Type is a sports roadster, but on the larger end of the sports car spectrum. It's designed to compete with cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 and other luxury sports cars in the same class.

First drive impressions of the F-Type can be found at our sister site, Motor Authority. For more, stay tuned for a full review of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type.

The two-seat convertible is slotted below the current XK coupe and convertible, though it shares its aluminum construction techniques. The shared heritage isn't as clear at first glance, since the F-Type ushers in some new design themes for Jaguar. It sports a high front end--in part to handle European crash regulations--and LED front lighting, with some strong influences of Maserati and Corvettes from the past. The taillamps are also LEDs, and they're the thinnest possible shapes that could be made, Jaguar says.

The cockpit has a driver-oriented theme, with the passenger given a grab handle--a strong visual cue to the F-Type's dynamic intentions. There's a big LCD screen for infotainment displays, but a set of rotary knobs control some secondary functions. Not everything's been steered off into touchscreen interfaces.

The Jaguar F-Type will be offered with three engines at launch. Two are supercharged V-6s, both 3.0-liter units, one with 340 horsepower, the other with 380 hp. In its slowest form, the F-Type will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. But with the top-level 5.0-liter V-8 with supercharging and 495 horsepower, it's capable of 4.2-second 0-60 mph times and a top speed of 186 mph.

All versions are rear-wheel drive, and all sport an eight-speed automatic transmission with rev matching and paddle controls. A manual transmission could be in the works, though, as a turbo four-cylinder model is also rumored. Stop/start is standard, and active exhaust is available on the top two models.

A bit larger than the intended competition of SLK, Boxster, and Z4, the Jaguar F-Type is about 176 inches long, riding on a wheelbase of 103.2 inches. Curb weight of about 3500 pounds is kept low with aluminum construction down to the suspension level--it's all independent, and steering is electric, and there's an adaptive suspension available so that all the F-Type's responses can be controlled from a comfort mode to a sport mode.

The convertible top is power-operated, but it's lined in Thinsulate, and folds in such a way that no tonneau cover is needed. (It also lowers or rises into place in 12 seconds, at speeds of up to 30 mph, Jaguar notes.) For now, the F-Type is only a convertible, but a coupe version is considered a certain addition.

Finally, luxury features won't be left off the sportscar's menu just to save a few ounces--not if the well-heeled buyer wants them. Power sport seats will have manual fore/aft adjustments to save weight, but upgraded "Performance" seats will be an option, as will full power adjustment. Audio systems will come from Meridian, with either 10 or 12 speakers, and either 380 or 770 watts of power.

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type goes on sale in the U.S. in May 2013. The base 340-hp supercharged V-6 model will be priced from around $69,000; the 380-hp supercharged six, from around $81,000; and the V-8 sportscar, from about $92,000. A wide range of personalization options will also be available.

Demand for the car has already proven high, with more than 2,000 orders placed within weeks of its debut. Jaguar is hyping the car, too, with celebrity appearances and pro racing driver tests.

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