Trying to make lightning strike twice in the same spot can be dangerous business, much like calling any new car the spiritual successor to one of the most successful and beautiful roadsters ever built. With the 2013 Jaguar F-Type unveiled today in Paris, the British sports car maker dares to suggest it has finally revived the formula that created the E-Type roadsters of the 1960s, but with all the power and perks required to compete in the 21st century.
Since its purchase by India's Tata conglomerate in 2007, Jaguar and Land Rover have flourished, in part because the two companies have kept focused on British-designed and built vehicles while finally vanquishing the quality problems that have bedeviled their vehicles for decades. But since the demise of the E-Type in 1974, Jaguar has struggled to build a successful, smaller model; the X-Type forced on the company under Ford's ownership a decade ago became a rolling punchline.
This time, Jaguar's success provided chief designer Ian Callum the time and resources to design a roadster that's smaller than anything Jaguar's built since 1954, and echo the uncluttered looks of the E-Type without copying it outright. Built from an aluminum frame and body, the F-Type will be sold as a soft-top convertible only at first -- although it's clear there could be a coupe version following closely behind.
Power comes from one of two engines: a supercharged, 3-liter V-6 that comes in 340 hp or 380 hp editions, and a supercharged 5-liter V-8 good for 495 hp, both of which are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V-8 will push the F-Type to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds -- a few tenths of a second slower than a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, its closest competitor.
"This is the car that, as a team, we have always wanted to do," says Callum, and if the F-Type successfully revives the spirit of its predecessor on the road, Jaguar will get more chances to make magic.