Jaguar unveils sensational Jaguar F-Type in Paris

Do they think it's a winner? The clue's in the name

Jaguar has unveiled its sensational new F-Type sports car on the eve of this year's Mondial d'Automobile motor show in Paris.

The shape of the new car has already been heavily trailed in the form of the C-X16 concept car seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show about a year ago and, for the last few days, anyone who is interested has been able to see accidentally leaked pictures of the finished car on-line. Nevertheless, so important is the F-Type to Jaguar's future that its official unveiling still counts as one of this year's great Paris highlights.

We already knew that the F-Type would have a choice of two 3.0-litre V6s and a 5.0-litre V8 – now Jaguar has given us a more detailed picture of the line-up. The two V6s deliver 340 and 360 PS, while the V8 is good for 495 PS. The least powerful V6 has already been seen in the XJ saloon, and provides excellent performance even in that larger car. The two V6 models are badged F-Type and F-Type S, the V8 as F-type V8 S. The base car is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and reaching a top speed of 161 mph. The equivalent figures for the V8 are 4.2 seconds and 186 mph. All have an eight-speed automatic transmission branded Quickshift.

Like the larger XJ and XJ, the XF uses a lightweight aluminium architecture, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why Jaguar has been able to achieve such strong claimed performance figures from the new car.

The two more powerful models get an Active Exhaust system that uses electronically controlled bypass valves in order to enhance engine sounds; Active Exhaust is also available as an option on the entry-level model.

There's no sign so far of the hybrid drivetrain which Jaguar made such a fuss about when it unveiled the CX-16 concept at the Frankfurt show last year – although a diesel hybrid version of the new Range Rover is on the way, so perhaps there will be a hybrid F-Type eventually.

How serious is Jaguar about making the F-Type a success? The name alone suggests the company thinks it has a winner on its hands. Since the most famous Jag of all, the E-Type, went out of production in 1975, Jaguar has produced several coupe and convertible models but never claimed that any of them was that car's true successor. The F-Type's name alone suggests that the company has now put such modesty behind it and and thinks this car will be a hit.