Plans for Jaguar’s on-again, off-again two-seater roadster are set to be revived. The car, code-named Jaguar F-type, could be launched in time for an end-of-recession launch in 2011.

The Jaguar F-type, a Porsche Boxster rival, has the enthusiastic backing of group chairman Ratan Tata, who signalled his openness to it last year, even before his acquisition of Jaguar was complete. He believes Jaguar must use image projects like the new roadster to “show a new face” when demand for a new wave of more efficient luxury returns.

The move signals Tata’s complete break with the management style of Ford, JLR’s former owner, which believed Jaguar needed to spend its restricted model development funds on ‘mainstream’ projects like the Jaguar X-type estate and diesel.

“Putting exciting projects on the back burner is the thing we should not do,” said Tata. “Certainly we must attend to business by doing our utmost to cut costs and reduce time-frames, but above all we must ensure that we come out of this slump ahead of where we were – with exciting cars like the roadster that show where we want to go.”

Jaguar showed a promising front-engine, rear-drive F-type concept car in 2000, touting it as evidence of an “intent to return to the sports car market in which we so successful in the ’50s and ’60s”, but subsequently dropped it to concentrate on more mainstream projects.