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The new Jaguar F-Type

New Jaguar F-Type

The Jaguar F-Type, a two-seat sports car based on a shortened platform of the XK convertible and recent winner of 2013 World Car Design of the Year, was officially launched in the UK on the 20th April. Expectations are high, not only for fans of the iconic British brand, also for the company itself, straying somewhat from the safety of its heritage to try and firmly establish itself in the convertible sports car market.

There are hints of the E-Type in there, which is no surprise given the F's inevitable monicker of 'successor' to that most famous and beloved of autos. The standard model (£58,520) gets a 340-hp version of Jaguar's own supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine; the F-Type S (£67,520) bumps it to 380 hp. The F-Type V8 S, coming in at a shade under £80,000, boasts 495 hp! 0-to-60-mph times are cited at 5.3 seconds, 4.9 seconds, and 4.3 seconds respectively. There's a similar progression in the electronically limited top speeds: 161 mph, 171 mph and 186 mph. CO2 emissions come in at 209, 213 and 259 g/km and mpg is 31.4, 31 and 25.5.

All models are fitted with ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission which Jaguar calls Quickshift, offering manual sequential control through the sportshift selector or steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters - rumours are abound that Jaguar might re-introduce manual gearboxes over the next 12 months or so. The F-Type is surely a contender for one, it will without doubt be the sports credibility icing on this sumptuous auto-gateau, with an extra generous sprinkling of fun-dreds and thousands to boot.

Jaguar F-type Interior

So, what is it like to drive? Jaguar's catchphrase at the moment is "Connected Feel", a description of the "immediate, precise, and proportional response to all driver inputs" that Jaguar have implemented. And it's certainly warranted. It feels good, part of you, a monster, grown up, a sensation greater than the sum of its parts.

To that end, the F-Type boasts 10% faster steering and the lightest and stiffest body structure of any Jaguar, with an aggressively tuned version of their Adaptive Dynamics damping system. The V6 S is fitted with a mechanical limited-slip differential while the V8 S gets an electronically controlled version using a multi-plate clutch to send torque to the rear wheel with the most grip. The F-Type has a bonded-and-riveted aluminum body structure, cloaked in aluminum body panels, and a composite trunk lid making it 77lb lighter than a comparable steel structure. It's not the lightest of cars per se, but it has plenty of power under the bonnet and the steering is light, precise and responsive.

Inside, the cabin is low, luxurious and modern, not overly roomy. The familiar funky gadgetry is ever present with a delightful array of switches, rockers and dials beautifully accented, chunky hand stitched leather handles and gearshift and a choice of three different steering wheels - standard, flat-bottomed and rally (Alcantara). The fit, finish and presentation is excellent.

The soft top folds away in only 12 seconds, the trunk is understandably tiny, and the Active Exhaust system which opens extra valves under hard acceleration is sublime. 

Overall, the F-Type Jaguar has style in spades and is certainly not shy, and with a price tag significantly less than comparable sporty cars, perhaps it really has got the power to lure away rival brand devotees.