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It's been a long time coming (a smaller F-Type concept based on the XK8 did the rounds at various motor shows as far back as 2000), but finally we've seen the production-ready Jaguar F-Type. Unveiled the night before the Paris Motor Show opens this two-seat, rear-wheel drive roadster mixes the best of Jaguar tradition with new technology to take its battle directly to the likes of Porsche and Lotus. Given the looks, performance and technology on offer it's sure to bring down the average age of Jaguar owners in the process.
We've pretty much seen it all before - the CX-16 concept displayed at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show is where the F-Type takes its inspiration, and the changes are both limited and minor. That's a good thing, as the production model retains that car's short, squat and muscular stance mixed with current XK styling cues.
The door handles are integrated into the doors (whisper it - a little like Aston Martin's) and the rear spoiler can be deployed when requested by either the driver or the car. Despite being almost identical to the concept's, the front-end does seem a little heavy handed - especially around the grille area - but that's a small criticism of an otherwise stunning piece of design.
As a change from the Jaguar norm the asymmetric cabin features the firm's 'one plus one' layout, which uses distinctly different trim materials either side - the more technical finish is reserved for the driver. In a twist to the revolving air vents found in the XF, the top dashboard vents on the F-Type only reveal themselves in extreme conditions (or if the driver wants to show off to his/her mates). All models use an eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox, the joystick shaped SportShift selector offering manual control for those not wanting to use the steering wheel paddles.
It's not all a break from tradition though as the F-Type uses aluminium for its structure (first used in the XK platform), though it is interspersed with even more lightweight materials and construction techniques including all-aluminium double wishbone front and rear suspension. The result is the F-Type tips the scales at 1,597kg.
But the big news here is the engines on offer. Two supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol units kick start the range, the 340hp version already seeing service in the XF and XJ saloons, with an exclusive-to-the-F-Type version offering 380hp and 460Nm of torque. That's enough to sprint from 0-100km/h in only 4.9 seconds, while the top speed is 275km/h. If you crave even more power the range-topping 5.0-litre V8 is the one to go for, knocking 0.6 seconds off the benchmark sprint and topping 300km/h.
We can also confidently say that it'll sound epic - both the V6 S and V8 S come with an active exhaust system. Curiously enough though the V8 uses an electronic limited slip differential, where the V6 S utilises a far more pleasing mechanical system - drifters you have been warned.
There are three models available: the F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S. Currently the only car on show is the roadster seen here, but given the CX-16 made its debut as a coupé it's a fair bet that we'll soon see a fixed roof version of the F-Type in showrooms.
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