Senior managers have tantalized Jaguar fans with the possibility of a road-legal lightweight version of the F-TYPE Coupe.
With up to 200kg discarded from the 1665kg F-TYPE R Coupe, a Club Sport version of Jaguar’s newest sports car should sprint to 100km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, launching it towards supercar territory, sources hinted.
The 4.5-metre sports car would tip the scales at around 1465kg or less, with more aggressive aerodynamics and a far more austere interior, racing-style carbon-fibre seats and lightweight carbon-fibre panels.
Hinting that the investigation into the Club Sport F-TYPE Coupe is further advanced than Jaguar would like to admit, F-TYPE Programme Director Russ Varney said it would need volumes of around 500 cars a year to be a viable proposition.
“We have three or four things we are looking at for the next developments of the F-TYPE and a lightweight, harder version is a long way up that list,” admitted Varney.
“It depends on how far you want to take a lightweight F-TYPE. I would like to take it to the point where it’s still this car and not a different car. I wouldn’t want to turn it into something like an Elise.”
Jaguar has made famous lightweight versions of some of its most famous historical production vehicles from its glory days, including the C-Type and the E-Type, and it’s a sign of the marque’s burgeoning confidence that it’s considering doing it again.
“If you could get a couple of hundred kilos out of it, that would be a special car.
“We won’t get any weight savings of significance by looking at any one thing, so it has to be holistic across every part and that’s a lot of engineering,” he cautioned.
“For that to make sense we would need to have in the order of annually 500 sales a year and then it’s a good program.”
While the F-TYPE is based around a very stiff, largely aluminium modular chassis architecture, its luxurious leather-clad interior delivers scope for weight savings, but a 200kg target will need more than a spot of Alcantara.
“To get 200kg out of it would involve lots of lightweight materials. The risk with some of the light materials is that you have to put some counter measures in for some of them, which adds weight back in,” Varney admitted.
“Carbon-fibre panels would help a lot straight away, and quite easy to make and the tooling is quite cheap at those volumes.”
While the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine seems a natural fit for a Club Sport F-TYPE, with its 404.5kW of power at 6500rpm and a crunching 680Nm of torque from just 2500rpm, it hasn’t been locked in.
That’s despite the V8 R being the fastest Jaguar ever around the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, lapping the 20.8km former F1 track a full six seconds faster, at 7:39, than the XJ220 supercar.
One of the V8’s advantages is that it already has the option of carbon-ceramic brakes, which arrive with a package that includes torque vectoring and save 21kg over the standard steel units, though Varney suggested the brakes have more weight to give up.
“You get down to a critical mass of weight savings once we go so far and then we can start downsizing brakes and engines and things.
“As a powertrain, the V8 is superb but the V6 has its advantages for that style of car, too,” Varney hinted.
While the mid-range F-TYPE S’s supercharged 3.0-litre V6 is 0.7 seconds slower to 100km/h than the V8 F-TYPE R and has only 280kW of power and 460Nm of torque, it’s significantly lighter before a single piece has been stripped out.
The F-TYPE S weighs 1594kg, which is 71kg down on the V8 R, though it lacks the faster car’s active differential and active damping.
“We wouldn’t think it would need active damping. For a competition-style, road-legal car, there are lighter solutions,” he said, admitting fixed-rate dampers and springs would be more likely.
The standard V6 S also uses 9.1L/100km on the combined NEDC cycle, which is 2.0L/100km better than the V8 and could allow Jaguar to give a Club Sport V6 a fuel tank that is smaller and lighter than the standard 72-litre unit.
“You get more speed as you get lighter, but you also sometimes have to add some surprising things, which would make it cost a lot more,” Varney warned.
“One example is that as you get faster, the computers on things like the traction control and the skid control are working very hard on calculations, so you have to upgrade to the next level of computer power.”
With weight the key focus of a Club Sport-style F-TYPE, Mr Varney also insisted Jaguar would not follow Lamborghini down the road of delivering a lightweight version of the Cabrio as well as the Coupe.
“The Coupe is already 15kg lighter and the people who want these kinds of cars don’t want it as a roadster.”