Jaguar’s F-Type was originally envisioned as their best shot yet at creating a 911 slayer, one that could appeal to the everyday sports car owner as well as the hot blooded performance obsessed, depending on which day of the week it is.
The very name alluded to the British marque intending it to be a spiritual successor to the famed E-Type, a front-engine, rear-driven, compact grand touring sports car. However, roughly 6 years since the first example rolled off the production line, the F-Type, while respectfully successful in its own right, never managed to cause the Porsche icon much bother.
No doubt this is one of the reasons behind the rumoured move to take the F-Type upmarket with its next evolution, moving the engine behind its driver a’la C8 Corvette while they’re at it. With that change alone, the car might then-on be referred to as a proper supercar with rivals like Ferrari and McLaren. It would also justify a higher price tag, offering a potentially wider profit margin for Jaguar.
A recent report from UK publication Autocar gives a brief glimpse at the machinations behind the scene, at least from a few months ago, where execs mull over a possible new direction for the brand’s flagship performance model. Unsurprisingly, voices call would for the eschewing of combustion power in favour of a fully electric or hybrid powertrain. Such are the times.
However, one idea that did seem to resonate was to resurrect one of the company’s most loved concept cars in recent memory: the C-X75. First shown at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the stunning mid-engine coupe featured an electric drive system comprising of four motors for a total of 580kW, assisted by 2.0-litre twin charged petrol engine and a dual micro gas turbines as range extenders.
The car, albeit in a modified form, would latterly emerge as a drivable V8-powered baddie star-car in the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre, where it found a second wind with fans old and new - mostly new - who were equally as enamoured with it as before. By some accounts, it even managed to upstage the Aston Martin DB10 the title character was driving.
Ian Callum, previously the design director at Jaguar Land Rover, said he had helped lay out the blueprint for the next-generation F-Type before his (recent) departure from JLR, a project undertaken with his would-be successor there, Julian Thompson, saying their plans got “quite close” to the C-X75.
Should this roadmap still be in place, we could we be seeing the next Jaguar performance model come in a mid-engine format, marking the first time since the legendary XJ220 of the 1990s that such a thing has surfaced. Callum, however, noted that Jaguar does have a tradition with preferring a front-mid layout instead - examples include the current F-Type and XK before that.
Of the ideas proposed, Callum says that it was a toss up between “short-nosed electric/mid-engine format” or take a safer and more traditional route when deciding which shape and layout would serve their purposes the best, though this could ultimately be determined on which drivetrain JLR deems most appropriate.
Whichever way this plays out, the current F-Type still has years of life left to live. The car isn’t expected to be replaced for at least another 3 to 4 years - plenty of time to snap one up if you’ve always fancied it.
Reportedly, one of the main hurdles involved with the creation of any new sports car is the matter of its underlying architecture. Engineering an all-new platform is costly in itself, but it would need to be compatible with a variety of powertrain types, including hybrids and the fully electric. JLR will likely also need it to be modular enough to be used in other vehicles, with a variety of packaging combinations.
A similar dilemma plagued Toyota not too long ago, resulting in them teaming up with BMW to develop the third-generation Z4 Roadster and GR Supra in parallel, using common ingredients. Prior to that, Toyota and Subaru co-developed the BRZ and 86 in tandem for many of the same reasons.
Ironically, BMW are also faced with a tough choice with regard to the i8, a hybrid sports car that derives the majority of its performance from a mid-mounted 1.5-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder. Execs in Munich are torn between leaving the formula unchanged or transitioning it into a fully electric model, perhaps by borrowing a few pages from the I-PACE’s bag of tricks. In that case, perhaps yet another jointly-developed performance car is in our future, this time between Jaguar and BMW.
At the moment, all this can only be posited as conjecture. That said, it’s clear that the first-generation F-Type’s eventual demise would need to be filled by a replacement, whether direct or otherwise, by another sports model. Leaving that void would be antithetical to Jaguar’s DNA, or so Mr Callum thinks.