Jaguar's new baby sports car, dubbed F-type, is taking its first steps out on the public roads. CAR's scoop photographers have caught the new XE cabrio on the highways around Jag's engineering headquarters in the Midlands.
Although this engineering mule is a cut-and-shut Jag XK, it's clear to see the shrunken wheelbase planned for the F-type.
Jaguar F-type: due in 2013
The F-type is a key part of Jaguar's expansion plans. Due in 2013, the compact sports car will be offered as both a coupe and convertible.
Tellingly, CAR said back in September 2009 that the F-type roadster would come ahead of the coupe. That news is supported by today's new spy photos of the F-type convertible test hack.
This is no mere pie-in-the-sky dream – the project has a codename, X152, and these engineering mules are concrete proof the baby sports car is proceeding towards launch.
How expensive will the Jag F-type be?
Jag insiders talk of it being priced above the Porsche Boxster but below the 911. Let's call it £55,000.
It's a two-seater and will be powered by V6 engines mounted way back in the engine bay for a front-mid layout to improve handling. To keep costs in check, the F-type will be closely related to the bigger XK, which will move up a notch in class and price to make space for the new F-type.
How quick will the Jaguar F-type be?
We're still some way from knowing the precise figures for the new F-type sports cars, but naturally aspirated V6s would develop around 275bhp, according to our sources, rising to nearer 350bhp with supercharger in situ.
Faster R versions are a dead cert, following in the footsteps of the XK-R and XF-R. Once the full range of F-type sports cars is launched, Jaguar product planners talk of volumes as high as 40,000 a year.