It's been a pretty big week in the auto world. We already got a glimpse of the successor to one legendary sports car. Now we have a look at a successor to an even more legendary and timeless car. Jaguar has revealed the all-new F-Type convertible, the spiritual successor to the E-Type born in the 1960s.
If 100 different people had to scour the history of automotive design to come up with their own top 10 lists of the purest, most beautiful car designs ever, you wouldn't be crazy to expect 100 lists with the Jaguar E-Type on them. And the it would probably be toward the top of each list more often than not.
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If you think we're exaggerating, or injecting a little too much subjectivity, consider that Enzo Ferrari, the founder of a company famous the world over for beautiful car designs, was so overcome with the E-Type upon seeing it that he called it "the most beautiful car ever made." That quote rolled off Enzo's tongue in complete disregard to the fact that, if not a Jaguar, the title of "most beautiful car ever" would very likely belong in the hands of his very own company. In 2008, the Daily Telegraph agreed with Ferrari, ranking the E-Type number 1 on its list of "100 most beautiful cars" and explaining that the Jag received four times as many votes as the nearest competitor.
The E-Type may very well be the closest we'll ever have to an objective "most beautiful."
In framing the F-Type as a modern-day successor to the E-Type, Jaguar set itself up for both hype and scrutiny. The story isn't about a sporty, new Jaguar convertible; it's about how good the car looks and how well it reinterprets the E-Type's unforgettable curves.
The first chapter of that story is written today. The first photo of the unclothed F-Type has surfaced for the world to see. One photo isn't enough for a full comparison, but it does get the conversation started with both full frontal and diagonal-profile views of three F-Types.
We may not have been around to witness the unveiling of the E-Type, but we'd have to think there was a little more breath-stealing and drama than in the case of this F-Type. The car is definitely a slick roadster, and reminds us a little of a down-market Mercedes SLS AMG, but upon first look, it seems to lack the timeless 'it' factor of the E-Type entirely. It's a roadster, not THE roadster, and while Jaguar shouldn't have a problem moving them off the showroom floor, we don't think anyone will mistake it for the world's most beautiful car. It's styling is content to fall sleepily in line with Jaguar's current line-up, rather than standing out.
We would have loved to see Jaguar stay true to the smooth, flowing, uninterrupted look of the E-Type. Instead it busies things up with a broad front-end, a bunch of roughly cut air intakes and some sharp lines. Perhaps, it'll come together better when we see it from rear and profile angles, but for now, it just doesn't live up to the hype inherent in an E-Type successor. Then again, that's a pretty big balloon to fill, and most any car design would run out of breath long before finishing the job.
The F-Type will be offered as a rear-wheel-drive convertible. Buyers will have three engine options: 340-hp and 380-hp versions of Jaguar’s new supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and a new derivative of its supercharged 5.0-liter V8.
"Fundamentally, a great sports car is one you’ll look forward to driving because it’s fun, and the F-TYPE definitely delivers on that score," says Mike Cross, Jaguar's chief engineer for vehicle integrity. "We’ve worked hard to make sure that responses to steering, throttle and brakes are absolutely immediate, a task made far easier by the rigid aluminum structure at the car’s base."
That's about all Jaguar has to say for now. We'll have more details after next Thursday's Paris unveiling, including Jaguar's chance to explain, point for point, why the F-Type is indeed the E-Type reincarnated for a new generation. In the meantime, you can take an in-depth look at the E-Type and other notable predecessors in our original F-Type preview.
If you're more into hearing the engine than ogling the body, you should enjoy the video below. The F-Type wears black-and-white camo, but you can hear the purr of its engine and watch it carve up the track.