Jaguar's F-Type sports car, first shown as a traditional front-engined, rear-wheel drive car, is to be mid-engined. The mechanical layout of project X600, as it is known internally, has been reconfigured in order to provide the highest standards of handling, roadholding and driver entertainment, and to differentiate it more completely from the bigger front-engined XK8, whose replacement will have appeared before X600 goes on sale in three to four years. The mid-engine layout will also distinguish the car from the small Aston Martin sports car, AM 305, currently under development - ironically this car started life as a mid-engine machine, but switched to a classical front-engine, rear-drive layout part way through development. Given that Jaguar and Aston are part of the same group, it is conceivable that the Coventry company picked up the mid-engined design when Aston abandoned it. The F-Type was originally shown as a concept car with a front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels, as per the E-Type. Though well-liked by the public, this car was criticised in some quarters for being too retro and unadventurous.
Power for the F-Type will come from the 201 bhp 2.5 litre, 240 bhp 3.0 litre and a new 3.0 supercharged V6, and there is likely to be a choice of manual transmission and paddle-shift semi-automatic. Jaguar is known to be targeting the Porsche Boxster, which it considers to be the most competent and entertaining comparable sports car currently on sale. Though a bigger car, Jaguar insiders also rate the ageing Honda NSX for its handling, engine note and ease of driving.
Meanwhile Jaguar is readying its replacement for the XJ8, for its world debut at the Paris motor show this September, although the car will not be going on sale until the very end of this year at the earliest. The XJ replacement is notable for its body construction, which is entirely of aluminium, like that of its rival the Audi A8. The object is weight-saving, benefiting fuel consumption, performance and agility. Engines will include a 240 bhp 3.0 V6, the new 300 bhp 4.2 V8 recently launched in the S Type, and the supercharged 4.2, its power possibly raised from the 400 bhp of the S Type to 450 bhp. Eventually, a V6 turbodiesel developed in collaboration with Peugeot and Ford will be available too.
Jaguar is also considering a high performance X-Type R, although the scale of its current engineering workload may preclude the development - the company is presently developing the XJ8 replacement, the X600 sports car, a replacement for the XK8 and a range of diesel engines.