Jaguar roars back into sports cars

The cat is back, with energy efficiency in its sights. Jaguar announces its first 2-seater convertible sports car in over 50 years. Watch it race around track with former Le Mans champ.

Jaguar's F-type 2-seater springs from the C-X16 concept car (above) it showed last September.

The cat is back, this time with energy efficiency in its sights.

Indian-owned, British car maker Jaguar said it will return to its iconic sports car business with a new "F-type" convertible 2-seater that succeeds the iconic "E" model that went out of production in 1976.

The new car is based on the C-X16 concept car that Jaguar unveiled in September at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and marks a return to a market that "we have been absent from for too long," said Jaguar global brand manager Adrian Hallmark at the New York Auto Show (I guess you have to have a name like "Hallmark" to get a job like that).

Jaguar released a video (below) of the car racing around a track, heralded by former Formula 1 driver and Daytona and Le Mans champion Martin Brundle.

What's not entirely clear is why Jaguar is now hailing the F-type as a return to the sports car market, when a year ago it announced it would build a plug-in hybrid electric/gasoline-powered sports car, the C-X75 (Jaguar wasn't immediately available for comment). The reason probably relates to the public's hesitance to buy electric cars and to instead purchase efficiency-improved, conventionally fueled vehicles.

Unlike the C-X75, the F-type does not have plug-in electric capability.  Jaguar is giving the gasoline-powered car an aluminum chassis, lightening its weight and contributing to fuel efficiency.

"The car could be considered a spiritual successor the convertible Jaguar E-type, which was produced between 1961 and 1975," said Autoweek. "The E-type is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cars ever produced."

According to the BBC, Jaguar said last September that the C-X16 concept - now the F-type - accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds and emits 165 grams of CO2 per kilometer, comparatively low for that sort of car - but environmentally worse than the hybrid C-X75, rated at 99g/km.

The concept car included a regenerative braking system that charged lithium ion batteries by converting braking energy using the Kinetic Energy Recovery System developed for the Formula 1 racing circuit, the BBC said. Presumably the F-type includes the same.

Jaguar, owned by India's Tata Motors, will build the car in Birmingham, England, for sale in 2013.

C-X16 image from Jaguar website.

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