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F-Type, Range Rover Loom Large At Jaguar Land Rover Page 2

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F-Type: once more, with feeling

More than any other time in its history, today's Jaguar can fairly be said to have its best cars ever. The XJ's redesign complemented that of the XF sports sedan and the XK sportscar--but the lineup stops there, a limit that Jaguar acknowledges can't go very far in a luxury-car world obsessed with crossovers and convenience.

Still, the next step for Jaguar comes in the form of yet another sportscar--a fabulous one dubbed the F-Type. Whether it's a signal that all Jaguars will be renamed in the future or not, the F-Type revives the legacy of the old E-Type Jags in an unsubtle way, while leveraging the lightweight aluminum construction of the current XK.

Due on sale in 2013, the F-Type's been predestined, in a way. Back in 2000, Ford showed an F-Type concept at the Detroit auto show, a sporty roadster loosely the same size as the coming new model. It was never built, and became one more proof point to Jaguar fans that Ford was mismanaging the brand's products and reputation.

That's more difficult to argue with the investments made in all-aluminum technology that came under Ford, and that will underpin the F-Type. The two-seat roadster will be built with the same bonded-aluminum technique used on the XK and the XJ, with aerospace glue and rivets used to hold together body sections. Jaguar engineers say they've gotten the stamping qualities of aluminum down to within a millimeter of steel--so preserving the gorgeous bodywork of the recent C-X16 concept coupe shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show is a distinct possibility.

The initial powertrain has been confirmed to be a new 380-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, one of a range of new engines coming to the Jaguar-Land Rover family over the next two years. In the concept C-X16, Jaguar promised the coupe would accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 4.4 seconds.

When it arrives, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type is expected to have a soft convertible top, like the XK from which it's derived (it rides on a short-wheelbase version of the XK architecture). The roadster won't be offered as a coupe initially, though a hardtop is expected to join the lineup. The kinship to the XK suggests a V-8 version is possible--as is a turbocharged four-cylinder edition, though that may not be likely for U.S. customers.

As for pricing, it's too early to set firmly, but a base range from more than $50,000 is likely for the Porsche Cayman competitor.

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