Piers Ward04 April 2012

It's offical: welcome to the Jaguar F-Type

Get ready for a very cool, very important and very small big cat…



Remember the Jaguar C-X16? That gorgeous, compact sports car that gave a passing nod to the E-Type? Well, good news because Jag is going to build it, and will call it... the F-Type.

Yes, 37 years after the E-Type disappeared, Jaguar is building a spiritual successor. And it's building it in Britain, which is great news for the Castle Bromwich factory.

See more pics of the Jaguar F-Type

At the moment, details are a little sketchy because it's not due to go on sale until mid-2013, but we do know it will appear as a canvas-roofed convertible first and virtually unchanged from the C-X16 concept car. Other than the missing roof, obviously, and some minor aero tweaks like a pop-up spoiler.

It's also going to be the most focused Jag yet. Think XKR-S scale of things. Which might seem a bit of a paradox, given that convertibles aren't normally associated with hardcore driving, but for various engineering and launch-timing issues, Jag is going down this route. A coupe will follow, though, so don't panic.

Engines are also unconfirmed at the moment, but expect to see an all-new 3.0-litre supercharged V6 from launch, pushing out between 360-380bhp, as well as some Jag-developed four-cylinder motors from 2015. The concept had a hybrid in it, but this is a fair way off production reality - JLR is concentrating on getting that into the Range Rover first.

All these engines will be mated to an 8-speed auto gearbox, but Jag is remaining cagey about other transmissions. When we asked whether a manual would come, given how Jag wants the F-Type to be a focused sports car, the question wasn't denied. Read into that what you will.

Price? No specifics yet, but it'll sit between Porsche Boxster S and 911 Cabriolet, which means that it should be good value, given the power figures are closer to 911 than Boxster.

Jag needs this car. It's not a replacement for XK, and Jaguar needs a halo car to reflect the sports car heritage. The XK is too soft for that. As Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar Global Brand director, said: "Without a sports car, Jaguar
 is not Jaguar. It's like Porsche would be without a 911."

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