Few new cars have carried such a crippling burden of expectation as the F-Type roadster. There's the name, for a start; it immediately invites comparisons with Jaguar's greatest ever hit, the 1961 E-Type, which wasn't directly replaced when production ended in 1974.
The message is clear: the F-Type is supposed to represent nothing less than the company's return to the business of making sports cars after a gap of 39 years. And there's something else, too. The F-Type is only expected to sell in small numbers but it has to play the leading role in defining what Jaguar is all about.
If the F-Type hits the mark, thousands of buyers will feel better about buying an XF, an XJ or one of the new Jag models in the pipeline. But if it doesn't generate the right sort of magic, it will have failed, even if it meets its sales targets.
Jaguar has also raised the stakes by stoking interest in the F-Type to fever pitch with an almost two-year extended tease of a launch that kicked off with the unveiling of the C-X16 concept car at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. At least we've known from the start that the F-Type is a stunning looker, an outstanding effort, which, like other recent models prepared under the leadership of Jaguar design chief Ian Callum, manages to capture the grace and power of past Jags without the slightest hint of retro.
AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS