"It's good fun, I'm glad we're doing it," says Jaguar design director Ian Callum of the newly announced F-Type sports car. "I've been waiting 12 years to build it." That's significant because Callum has been in his current position for almost 13 years.
At a roundtable with journalists yesterday, Callum talked candidly about the design and development process behind the F-Type. First things first: the production car will look a lot like the C-X16 concept that bowed at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Callum and his team worked hard to stay true to the show car, and he says that "you won't be disappointed." He points to the changes from the dramatic and futuristic C-XF concept to the somewhat more staid XF production car as an example of "over promising" with a show car, which can frustrate both the media and potential buyers.
The F-Type, however, is "going to be fabulous." Jaguar worked to maintain a pure, disciplined design that fits in with the car's sporting nature. It will be launch as a roadster, with a coupe to follow at a later date. We will see the F-Type in production guise before the end of 2012, as it goes on sale by summer 2013.
Callum said he much preferred designing the F-Type to cars like the C-X75 supercar, which debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Although both are interesting design exercises, the C-X75 is an extremely expensive and exclusive model, whereas the F-Type will be sold in higher volumes and will be seen in public more often.
"I got more pleasure out of this one, the C-X16 and subsequently the F-Type, because it's real," Callum said. "This is a real car that will work for real people, within a good timeframe."
The F-Type name was an obvious choice within Jaguar, but maybe not so to outsider. We'd previously expected the car might be called XE, which would have fit in with the company's existing XF, XK, and XJ nameplates. However, Callum explains that the car was named to pay tribute to the C-Type, D-Type, and E-Type sports cars of Jaguar history.
"When we say F-Type, we don't have to explain what it is," Callum said. "Unless of course nobody's ever heard of the [Jaguar] E-Type."
Despite the choice of F-Type, Callum says Jaguar will not move away from its current two-letter naming scheme for other vehicles.
As to performance, we're told to expect a 0-to-60-mph time below five seconds and a top speed over 180 mph. Jaguar says the F-Type, which will have an all-aluminum monocoque made in the U.K., will have a powertrain similar to the concept. The C-X16 used a a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine and 94-hp electric motor, but in a video played at the car's launch today, we though the F-Type sounded more like it had an American V-8 on tap.
About 40 percent of all F-Types are expected to be sold in the U.S., making America the number one market for the new sports car, according to Jaguar North America brand vice president David Pryor. The company of course won't talk hard numbers, but the F-Type is expected to be an extremely strong seller. Jaguar also doesn't believe it will harm sales of the XK line, as there is unlikely to be "substitution" by buyers, in part because the F-Type is a true sports car and the XK is a grand tourer.
The F-Type also should bring younger buyers to Jaguar showrooms. The average Jaguar buyer is 52 years old, says Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark, although that's in line with other luxury marques like Mercedes-Benz. But launching the F-Type, which will be cheaper than the XK range, should bring more youthful customers. Simply put, Hallmark says "there is a direct correlation between age and price of the car."
For more on the Jaguar F-Type, check out our first post here. For more on the 2012 New York International Auto Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our New York Show homepage.