2012 Jaguar XE diesel spy shot

Jaguar's new small sports car, expected to be given the F-type badge when it is officially revealed in 2012, is being tested using XK-based mule cars with V6 diesel power.

These exclusive cartechnical.co.uk photos show an XK roadster mule on test this week. The car was spied on one of the road test routes near the Jaguar Land Rover headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire which sources say are commonly used by the company's engineers.

The mule clearly shows the compact size of the two-seat F-type, which will be the smallest Jaguar since the 1948 XK120. This car also has a four-outlet exhaust apparently modified from the twin-pipe XK system.

2012 Jaguar XE spy shot

The car shown here has been on the road since July 2011 and is fitted with a 3.0-litre diesel power unit. The engine is a development of the 275PS 3.0-litre V6 diesel already in use in XF and XJ saloons – but not available in the XK sports coupé. This strongly suggests that the F-type will be available with diesel power – a first for a Jaguar sports car and for the F-type's market segment.

It's likely that the production F-type shape will closely mirror that of the C-X16 concept car (below) unveiled in September, as the current XK and XF were both close to the concept cars which preceded them (ASF and C-XF respectively).

Jaguar C-X16 concept 2011