THE stakes couldn’t be any higher for one single car...
If Jaguar are to regain their status as one of the world’s great car brands, the new F-Type has to be a 100 per cent sales success.
Failure is not an option and the F-Type can’t simply be very good. It needs to be outstanding – thousands of British jobs are riding on it.
The car also carries the considerable burden of being the long-awaited successor to the legendary E-Type. Jaguar need the F-Type to have the same magic as its predecessor and the same halo effect on the image of the brand.
This week in Dubai, after years of waiting, I finally got the first insight into just how good the F-Type is, and whether or not it lives up to the hype surrounding it.
KEN Gibson gets a chance to ride in the latest offering from the big cats stable, will it live up to all the hype?
THE F-Type is the start of Jaguar’s new model revolution which aims to more than double sales.
Jaguar bosses know the firm needs another TWO big-selling new models alongside the F-Type to end years of under-achieving and give them a future.
Even if it is a sales success, the F-Type will only hit figures of around 15,000 a year because sports cars are a niche market in today’s world.
The two new models which will be vital to Jaguar will be a small executive car due in 2015 and a radical new SUV that will follow in 2015/16.
They will stretch the range, alongside the F-Type, XF and XJ to a five model line-up, good enough to take on Porsche.
But the F-Type is the catalyst to re-igniting Jaguar, a halo car to once again make the firm desirable.
This week, Motoring Editor KEN GIBSON found out if it’s good enough to carry that burden.
X factor ... Ken Gibson in the F-Type
AS the Dubai sun rises on the Jaguar F-Type, it looks every inch the car to launch a new era for the firm.
After decades of living in the shadows of its famous past, the F-Type is the car that will decide Jaguar’s long term future.
Recent models like the XK Coupé, the XF and XJ saloons have all been very good cars but they have lacked the motoring X factor to make them irresistible.
The F-Type has that X factor, just like the 1960s E-Type — the last Jaguar to capture the imagination and shock the motoring world.
It looks sensational from every angle. Designer Ian Callum and his team have done an outstanding job on delivering a sports car that is truly desirable.
Rear-ly great ... dramatic and simple lines
It has dramatic but simple lines, an aggressive imposing face and the fabulous rear end that looks like a £100,000-plus supercar.
And it looks like a car that demands to be driven, and driven very fast. Which is exactly what we did on the long, open roads of the desert outside Dubai, the perfect setting to put a sports car through its paces.
I’d been given the chance to ride shotgun as the F-Type underwent final testing before hitting UK showrooms in April.
Although I was totally frustrated at not being in the driver’s seat, I settled for the chance to find out how good the car really is.
And the first thing I can tell you is when you press the starter button, it sounds like a proper sports car.
Vehicles like this have to sound special, they have to make the hairs on the back of your head stand up and fill you with expectation.
Racing ahead ... this is worthy of E-Type
And both the 3litre V6 and the 5litre V8 engines that power the F-Type make a deep riotous roar of intent that builds up to a crescendo of noise that leaves a glorious buzzing in your ears.
They both have their own distinct sound. The V8 is deeper, throatier, like a gun firing. It is more intimidating But the V6 has its own sweet symphony that will be music to the ears of any sports car aficionado.
So the F-Type looks and sounds the part. But does it deliver a drive to go with it? Jaguar’s chassis guru Mike Cross says the priority was for the car to be fun to drive.
It takes only a few miles on the open desert roads to answer the question.
The F-Type comes alive when you flatten the accelerator and it feels every inch a pure sports car.
Sporty ... plush interior
It hugs the road like a second skin and the faster you go, the happier it becomes. This is a Jaguar built for speed.
And both the V6 and V8 supercharged engines deliver serious speed. Even the entry-level V6 has 340bhp, which propels it from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds to a top speed of 161mph.
But it’s the 595bhp V8 that really blows you away.
I was literally thrown back into the seat when full power was unleashed. It takes just 4.2 glorious seconds from 0-60mph and the top speed goes up to 186mph.
As my driver, senior endurance test engineer John Winchester, floored the V8, it was obvious even from the passenger seat that this is a Jaguar capable of locking horns with not just a Porsche Boxster, but the 911.
And after a day on board, it was also obvious that the F-Type is the real deal, a pure two-seat sports car worthy of following in the tyre tracks of the E-Type.
F is for the future
Success ... job security for Jaguar workers
THE F-Type is far more than a sports car – there are thousands of British jobs riding on its success.
For workers such as 21-year-old Thomas O’Sullivan, the car is the passport to job security for him and his family.
He has been at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich factory for only four months, after previously facing an uncertain future on building sites.
Now Thomas feels he has a long-term future with prospects to develop a career.
He said: “There are real opportunities at Jaguar for a young person. I’m really enjoying coming to work and it’s great for me and my family to have a stable future for the first time.”
Working with him on the production lines is Mark Baker.
At 57, he is at the opposite end of the scale with more than 35 years’ experience at the company. But like Thomas, he believes that the future is now bright for Jaguar.
Mark said: “It’s the most confident I have ever felt about the future. The firm is on the way up with new models like the F-Type.”
It has been a rollercoaster ride working for Jag over the years.
Mark added: “When I started there were 13,000 people working at Castle Bromwich. A few years ago that was down to 1,000 and the plant was facing closure. But Jag have backed the plant and I’m looking forward to finishing my career here.”
Future Phil Livingstone, 61, is a veteran of 39 years at Castle Bromwich — and he also sees a positive future for the firm.
He said: “My job has been threatened a few times over the years. But you can see a real future now with the new models and the money they are investing here — and the F-Type is like sex on wheels.”
Another worker whose life is being transformed by Jaguar is 29-year-old sheet metal worker Steve Richings.
He experienced the harsh side of the industry when he lost his job with the closure of Peugeot’s UK factory.
Steve said: “That was a hammer blow but I always wanted to get back in to the industry. Getting a job with Jaguar is a great opportunity because everyone is very confident about the future.”
The workers are the human face of why the F-Type needs to succeed for Jaguar.
They are part of 3,000 workers — including 1,100 new recruits — taken on by Jaguar at Castle Bromwich to build the F-Type alongside the XF, XJ and XK models.
The turnaround is nothing short of remarkable.
Just a few years ago, in the middle of the double-dip recession, owners Tata were close to shutting the plant.
But in the end they kept faith with the factory and its workers.
They invested multi-millions turning it into a high-tech, highly efficient plant about to deliver the most exciting line-up of cars in Jag’s history.
Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage...#ixzz2KzpOiWvt