Jaguar F-TYPE CONCEPT Roadster Debuts in Detroit
12 January 2000Jaguar F-TYPE CONCEPT Roadster Debuts in Detroit
DETROIT, Jan. 11 -- Jaguar's new F-TYPE CONCEPT roadster is unveiled today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Inspired by the XK180 concept car revealed at the Paris Salon in 1998, Jaguar designers set out to create the ideal, compact Jaguar roadster, evoking the spirit of the legendary E-type. The F-TYPE CONCEPT, the most compact Jaguar sports car in more than forty years, presents the company's ideas for a roadster that would take Jaguar into a new segment of the global market. Presentation of the car at international auto shows will help gauge the public's reaction to the concept of a dynamic, technically advanced, Jaguar roadster. Commenting at the reveal at the Detroit Show, Jonathan Browning, Jaguar's Managing Director, said, "The F-TYPE CONCEPT roadster is an exercise in pure Jaguar sports car design. Its purpose is quite simply to provoke reaction from current and potential customers. With the F-TYPE CONCEPT, the world is our focus group". The design team with the responsibility for creating the F-TYPE CONCEPT was led by Keith Helfet, whose track record includes the XK180 concept car and XJ220 'super car'. He was therefore ideally qualified to execute the brief to create "an uncompromised Jaguar roadster". Work commenced under the direction of the late Geoff Lawson, Jaguar's Director of Styling, who died suddenly in June 1999. The project was completed under the aegis of the new Director of Design, Ian Callum, who says the F-TYPE CONCEPT is a tribute to Geoff Lawson. "Sadly," he said, "This car is the last to bear Geoff's inimitable stamp. It is a fine example of the standards we will strive to maintain." While XK180 was designed around existing mechanical components, which exercised constraints on the car's size and layout, there were no such limitations on the roadster concept. Helfet and his team were able to create a car that is more compact than XK180 and 25 inches (645mm) shorter than the XKR, on which XK180 was based. It is also four inches (100mm) narrower than both cars. The design team set out to produce a shape that is contemporary, functional and distinctively Jaguar. To fulfill Jaguar's core engineering value of equal weight distribution for excellent dynamic performance, the concept dictated both a long bonnet and a cockpit which sits in the ideal position relative to the wheelbase. The resulting design achieves the balanced proportions of a traditional Jaguar sports car, evocative of the seminal E-type. Helfet was careful, however, that the new design should have its own personality and not become a pastiche of the '60s car. "Designing-in the Jaguar style is an instinctive process," he said, adding, "Heritage is an inspiration, but not more than that." Jaguar design is always up-to-the-minute in terms of technology, and just as the E-type was one of the first mass production cars to be shaped by aerodynamics, the F-TYPE CONCEPT also features aerodynamic aids for optimum dynamic performance. The nose of the car carries a 'splitter', a low-set aerofoil designed to move automatically with increasing speed in order to increase downforce. At the rear, a fixed diffuser tunnel also uses increasing speed to generate additional downforce. The distinctively styled headlamps employ an adaptation of the latest 'Baroptic' light guide technology in a unique multiple-element cluster. The ultra compact rear lamps, pioneered in the XK180, use LED (Light-emitting diodes) technology to deliver high performance and a unique 'jewel-like' appearance. The interior of the F-TYPE CONCEPT, similar to that of the XK180, also draws its inspiration from the functional simplicity of the aluminium "Lightweight" E-type, specially built for racing in the early '60s. In keeping with the roadster theme, the minimalist interior conveys simplicity and practicality. True to Jaguar roadster tradition, the switches and controls are designed to have a utilitarian elegance. Working under Helfet were two young designers, Adam Hatton and Pasi Pennanen, who were responsible for much of the interior detail. Drawing on the engineering craft skills within Jaguar, switches and cockpit fittings are fashioned from solid aluminium, to provide a unique, precision-engineered tactile quality. The F-TYPE CONCEPT does not sacrifice practicality for appearance. Packaging, construction, accommodation, luggage space, legal requirements on a world scale and the ability to turn the design into production reality were all considered during the creation of the car. Jaguar designers ensured that this concept car could be made production-ready without sacrificing its roadster spirit. The new Jaguar is designed to accept a range of powertrain options, starting with the 240 horsepower AJ-V6 engine successfully introduced in the S-TYPE saloon, while a supercharged version with around 300 horsepower is also a possibility. Automatic or manual transmissions would drive the rear wheels, while all-wheel drive is a production-feasible option. Jaguar is synonymous with the excitement of sports cars, sports car style and sports car performance, complemented by an illustrious record in international motor sport. From the XK 120 through the race-bred C and D-types to the original E-type, Jaguar sports cars shared a purity of form, function and performance. The creation of the F-TYPE CONCEPT roadster, together with a return to the race tracks of the world through Formula One, the pinnacle of motor sport, reaffirms Jaguar's strategic emphasis on sportiness and excitement. "The F-TYPE CONCEPT is a clear signal of Jaguar's intent to return to the true sports car market in which we were so successful in the 1950s and 60s," commented Jaguar's Managing Director, Jonathan Browning. "Complementing the recently launched S-TYPE compact saloon and, next year, the new X400 small saloon, the F-TYPE CONCEPT would attract a new generation of younger sports car buyers, both male and female, to the Jaguar marque."