Design first, then, because you can’t mention the Jaguar F-Type without mentioning its design, or its design director, Ian Callum, whose CV makes a handy checksheet of cars that still look good today: Volvo C70, Ford Puma, Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, and every Jaguar conceived during the past decade.
The F-Type follows Jaguar’s familiar recent themes: an economy of lines and taut surfaces, the latter an area in which Jaguar has worked hard to get the best from its aluminium skin. Radiuses of some crease lines are down to 8mm – much sharper than you’ll typically see from this lightweight but hard-to-press metal.
The resulting shape meets, in our eyes, unanimous approval. Seemingly, the question isn’t “Do you like it?” but “How much do you like it?” A typical answer is “Quite a lot”.
That aluminium skin clothes an all-aluminium alloy monocoque, with all of that material’s relative advantages and disadvantages. Evidently, one of the important ones is that it sends a message: aluminium is an alluring metal. They make planes and space rockets out of it, after all.
But while some car makers use it widely in some chassis areas and in other areas not at all as part of a multi-metal structure, Jaguar’s monogamous relationship with the material, which has a high specific strength but a relatively low density, does it few favours when it comes to packaging. It also does not necessarily bring with it the weight advantages Jaguar would have you believe.