Few recent product launches have generated as much buzz as that of the Jaguar F-Type, a 2-seat sports car widely hailed as the “spiritual successor” to the British marque’s legendary E-Type.
But kudos are one thing, reality another, and despite strong early demand for the 2014 Jaguar F-Type, the convertible body limits its appeal in many parts of the world – which is why the maker is revealing the new F-Type Coupe at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.
TheDetroitBureau.com got a first look at the hardtop sports car and if our initial reaction reflects what show-goers will experience, Jaguar is likely to have some serious trouble keeping up with demand. Indeed, the maker is forecasting that the new Coupe will account for well over half of F-Type sales once it goes on sale next spring.
The hardtop not only maintains but enhances the basic lines of the F-Type Convertible, picking up on the ragtop’s long nose and chopped rear, as well as its curvaceous side panels and muscular shoulders. But the way the roof flows into the back of the F-Type body yields an even more sensually balanced feel overall.
“This has been a long time in coming,” proclaimed Ian Callum, Jaguar’s global design chief, during a sneak peek a day before the F-Type Coupe’s formal unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show.
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The maker had given a hint of what was coming with last year’s C-X16 concept coupe, and for the large part, the F-Type Coupe maintains the basic lines of that show car – perhaps the most notable difference being the more traditional hatchback of the production vehicle. A power-operated hatch, incidentally, can be ordered on all versions of the new Coupe.
Reversing traditional procedures, Jaguar designers and engineers developed the all-aluminum F-Type Convertible first. The payoff is an even stiffer body for the Coupe – “the most rigid body we’ve yet delivered” on any Jaguar vehicle, said vehicle platform chief Ian Hoban.
Another advantage to the Coupe design is the added storage space, 407 liters in metric terms. For Americans, the best way to translate that is to note there’s plenty of room for two large golf bags in back.
Like the Jaguar F-Type Convertible, the new Coupe will be offered with three distinct powertrain options, starting with the “base,” 340-horsepower V-6. That 3.0-liter supercharged package, rated at 332 pound-feet of torque, will launch the F-Type from 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds, on the way to a 161 mph top speed.
The midrange F-Type V6 S Coupe package features an upgraded version of the 3.0-liter engine producing 380-hp and 339 lb-ft. It will hit 60 in 4.8 seconds and top out at 171 mph. Among the other niceties, this model gets the Jaguar Active Exhaust system.
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Jaguar throws all the proverbial bells-and-whistles at the top-line F-Type R Coupe, including the active exhaust and an updated version of its electronic limited-slip differential, or e-LSD, first introduced on the F-Type V8S Convertible, as well as optional carbon ceramic brakes. The most powerful version of the Coupe will make a hefty 550-hp and 502 lb-ft, and the e-LSD is one of several systems designed to put power to the pavement. There’s also a new torque vectoring by braking system which shifts torque from left to right to help improve cornering. Jaguar claims a 4.0-second 0 to 60 launch and a top speed of 181 mph for the Type R.
The new F-Type Convertible has been an unexpected home run for the British maker – even based on Jaguar’s own, optimistic early forecast. The F-Type is already capturing more than 20% of the U.S. sports car market. But going forward, the marque is betting it will gain even more ground on key competitor Porsche. According to U.S. brand chief Jeff Curry, the Coupe could soon account for 60% or so of total F-Type sales worldwide.
Aggressive pricing could help. The 2015 Jaguar F-Type V6 Coupe will start at $65,000. That’s not only $4,000 less than the Convertible but also positions the hardtop as a cost-competitive alternative for Porsche Boxster and Cayman buyers. The V6 S jumps to $77,000, while the F-Type R Coupe will start at $99,000 when it rolls into American showrooms next May 1st.
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