F-Type is its breakthrough car. The V8 will be fun, but for 911-rivalling acceptance, a six-pot is needed too. What to do? Why, develop a new one. Which Jaguar has done. Admittedly, 75 per cent of the resultant 3.0 S/C (Jag's terminology) is shared with the V8, but is that really such a bad thing?
Jaguar's giving it an early debut. It's so confident the new motor is a winner, it's replaced the normally aspirated 5.0 V8 in the XF and XJ with it: cue one XJ outside a sleepy Stratford hotel one hazy morning, tank brimmed, to let PistonHeads grab an early first (engine) drive of the new F-Type.
Six of the best
Notepad primed, we begin. A cammy starter whirs, the engine fires. It's obviously quiet, but there's still more mechanical hum than we were expecting. A pleasant underlying purpose: enhanced by opening the windows with a subtle burble from the exhausts. This is in full limo-waft NVH-max spec, too. This is thus promising.
The torque delivery is electric at mid-range revs: it's instant, ample and linear, quickly delivering wonderful high-rev power. It rushes to the redline with effervescence and total smoothness, changing up to the next of eight gears with an audible pitch-drop swallow from the supercharger.
How fast? Plenty, particularly in perception. 340hp at 6,500rpm is your reward (Jaguar's highest specific output ever) but 332lb ft spread flat from 3,500-5,000rpm gets you there. The combination of Eaton TVS supercharger (presumably similar to that on the Audi supercharged 3.0 V6), dual variable cam timing and a higher compression ratio than the V8 blend to give a decidedly more eager-feeling engine, particularly at the top end. And that's despite the XJ's 1,776kg weight...
Noise is just as important. It's a sophisticated sound, made up of lightweight whirr, characterful growl and high-pitched whine. You'll make this out only if you deconstruct the noise: the basic impression is of impeccably smooth, spirited character. In this combination of mellow bellow and transmission-impersonating supercharger whine, is there a hint of E-Type aurals there too?
Overall, it's still the driver's luxury car of choice. Now further enhanced by an engine we've discovered is enthusiastic, linear, well-rounded and audibly characterful. What a promising base to work from for the F-Type...
JAGUAR XJ 3.0 S/C
Engine: 2,995cc V6, supercharged
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 340@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@3,500-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.9 sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Price: From £65,365 (XJ 3.0 S/C Premium Luxury)