Jaguar is currently testing prototypes for its new F-Type sports car, which has been confirmed for launch in the middle of next year, initially as a convertible.

So far, all the spy shots of prototypes we’ve seen, including those released by Jaguar (pictured below), have shown cars with a twin-pipe exhaust exiting from the center of the rear bumper.

Now, a prototype has been spotted with two sets of exhaust pipes, one on either side of the rear bumper, each of which has a twin-pipe design. This arrangement is similar to what was shown on the original 2011 Jaguar C-X16 Concept.

This suggests that Jaguar is out testing a more extreme version of the F-Type, likely to be a high-performance 'F-Type R' model powered by a V-8.

Jaguar has confirmed that the F-Type will be available with a new supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, but the automaker hasn’t stated whether this would be the sole powertrain offered. The supercharged V-6 in the F-Type is to be rated at 380 horsepower, which should give the car a nice edge over rivals like the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4. However, to target the likes of the SLK55 AMG, the F-Type is going to need a V-8.

Thus, Jaguar’s 5.0-liter V-8 is expected to be offered as an alternative to the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, though it’s too early to determine whether it will be naturally aspirated or supercharged. If the latter is true, we could see the potential F-Type R deliver upwards of 542 horsepower, though Jaguar is likely to limit the output so that its new sports car doesn’t steal the performance halo from its current flagship, the XKR-S.

With the entry-level F-Type taking on the Boxsters and Z4s of the world, a V-8 powered F-Type R would compete nicely with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage as well as lesser versions of the Porsche 911. This would then leave the door open for Jaguar to move its next-generation XK further upscale, allowing it to compete with higher positioned GTs like the Aston Martin DB9 and Porsche 911 Turbo.

Whatever the case is, we should know soon as Jaguar is set to unveil its 2014 F-Type at a major international auto show later this year.