They don’t seem to come along very often, new Jaguars, so there’s always a sense of excitement when one lands on the show floor at a motor show. And if you see the F-type in the metal, you can’t help but get a little tingle of excitement about the new Jag sports car.
It is, in fact, the first sports car Jag has made since the Sixties E-type. But they make the XK I hear you cry? Well, sports car in this instance is being defined by Jaguar as a two-seat, smaller-size roadster. In time, a coupe will join the party, but for now, the F-type comes in a pretty drop-head format only.
Jaguar unveiled the F-type the night before the first Paris press day at an event at the Musee Rodin in central Paris and wheeled on Lana del Ray to sing some video games as an introduction to the car. Call that representative of the company’s desire to keep itself classy and connoisseur-like (Rodin) while attempting to appeal to a more modern, clientele (Lana).
The car will be available initially in three engine trims - two V6s (one 340bhp, one 380bhp) and one V8. Prices aren’t confirmed yet but look likely to kick-off from north of £50k, which means that from a positioning point of view - both in price and size - the F-type slots between a Boxster and a 911 in the Porsche world of sports cars. That’s our major disappointment with this car - we had hoped it would compete with high-end TTs, Z4s, SLKs and Boxsters. But it seems like its sized and priced half a size up from that.
It looks pretty neat though. It’s not E-type "wow", but nor is it old man Jag. The view from the rear three-quarters is particularly impressive with the lovely curve of the rear wing and the neat, slim rear lights. At the front we find the Jag face - the grille in particular - a little too "rugby player’s gumshield" in appearance, but spec your F-Type in a darker shade and it disappears into the body.
Step into the snug, strictly two-seat cockpit, and you’re greeted by a mix of familiar Jag cues and some new novelties. The most imposing element is the large "flying buttress" or passanger-side grab handle, which spears off the top of the dash and cradles the unit with the gear stick in it below. Ahead of it are the now familiar Jag touchscreen, but we’re pleased to see that the heating and ventilation controls have been spilt out to be controlled by three lovely rotary metallic dials. Speaking of ventilation, you might be wondering where the centre air vents are? Well, in an attempt to bring some theatre to the cockpit, Jag’s designers have hidden them on the top of the dash, above the centre screen. Select heating/air con to your face, or should the climate control decide the cabin needs it, and the top of the dash lifts up to reveal a pair of air vents.
You might also be wondering about the copper colouring for the shift paddles, starter button and traction control settings. Keying three of the main driver interaction points together, they were inspired by the controls in a fighter jet cockpit according to Jag’s chief designer, Ian Callum.
In the gauge cluster, rather than the XJ’s digital dashboard, there’s a pair of giant dials - one for speed, one for revs - hidden between deep cowls, and divided by a central TFT screen. You get a small but chunky little wheel that’s trimmed in alcantara and has a flat bottom - they’ve taken note of how Audi does it, clearly - and you’ll be able to option either a 380 or 770W Meridian hi-fi system – the top-of-the-line set-up featuring the Trifield System which Merdian say places both the car’s occupants at the centre of their own "perfectly focused field of sound". This presumably works best with the roof up?
It doesn’t quite have the young-at-heart appeal we were hoping for, but the F-type’s nonetheless a very important car for Jag and - if the company’s recent models are anything to go by - it should be brilliant to drive. We for one, can’t wait to get behind the wheel.