Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
We tested the Jaguar F-Type S back in January in convertible guise, in the snow……..8 inches of snow………and now we’ve got the Coupe R on test, in July, in 31° Centigrade of glorious British sunshine. Someone at Driving Torque really needs to brush up on their meteorological knowledge.
Anyhow, here it is, all 550bhp of it powering only the rear wheels as this isn’t the new AWD model, this is the good ol’ rear-wheel-drive version. Gulp. Look at the four cannons protruding from its rear end – ever noticed how dirty-diesel engines’ exhausts point apologetically down? These ones point up, almost defiantly – for maximum aural effect.
I’ve often stated that a good, solid roof does more for me than a convertible in terms of aesthetics, but, as was the way with the original E-Type, I’m just not so sure with this one. The roof-line slopes gently down to make a point that tapers off beautifully, but because of this, the whole visual centre of the F-Type Coupe is shifted rearwards, resulting in that sports-car shape being metamorphosed into more of a GT.
And that’s a good job because take the V6 out of the F-Type and put this V8 in, and the whole car changes. Adding a roof and the tuned ‘R’ suspension obviously stiffens everything up and makes turn-ins and mid-corner alterations more precise, but the convertible was never jelly-on-a-plate anyway, it’s more about the huge waves of power that the supercharged monster lurking under the bonnet serves up.
On our typically narrow, windy B-roads, the sheer grunt available in the F-Type R makes the car trickier to throw around than the V6; use anywhere near all of the performance on offer and the horizon that was once distant is upon you very, very quickly. It’s so responsive that giving it any gas through a bend has you wondering if the rear is all-of-a-sudden going to overtake the front as the pendulum effect grabs ahold, even with traction control left firmly on. Does all of this increase the adrenaline it provides? – Yes. Does it also take away from the sports car feel? – Definitely.
As with the ‘S’, there’s a few different modes for various driving styles: the ZF 8 speed ‘box can be operated manually or shifted across into sports mode to keep those all-important revs up, and there’s a ‘dynamic’ setting that quickens throttle response, makes the suspension more eager to react to direction changes and, perhaps most pleasingly, opens some baffles in the exhaust, just in case the V8 wasn’t shouty enough before.
And, oh boy, is it shouty now. I still prefer the two, centrally mounted blunderbusses of the V6 to the V8’s twin sets of double exhausts, but in full-on, lunatic mode the crackles and bangs are bordering on the obscene, even with the coupe’s metal roof to keep things a bit more civil. To use the F-Type R Coupe as a GT, though, you’ll probably want to keep things a bit more toned down or the whole thing will just grate after a while. With its fairly respectable boot space compared to the laughable convertible’s, I do think the GT market is where it’s really aimed at, especially since the demise of Jaguar‘s XK.
Inside the F-Type Coupe there have been a few revisions since its launch two years ago. Cosmetically it’s pretty much the same cabin with quality leather, chunky stitching and a couple of grab handles for when things get hairy. One major change, though, is the new InControl infotainment system, complete with apps and a 8” touchscreen. It doesn’t look that different to the last system but it’s so much more user-friendly, especially in its speed to respond to commands that it brings the JLR range up to date with the competition.
Jaguar apparently set the 911 as the benchmark for the F-Type to beat, who wouldn’t? It was always designed to be a sports car first and foremost, but I think this coupe ‘R’ has made a little niche for itself. Let’s look at the 911 range – to get near the F-Type’s 0-60mph time of 4.0s, you’ve got to beat it and that’ll take a GT3, GT3 RS or Turbo – prices start at just over £100K, rising to over £130K, whereas the F-Type Coupe R we have here is a mere £87K OTR.
Let’s look at the other competition. The Mercedes AMG GT is a smidgen quicker to 60 (3.9s), and probably looks a touch more special if I’m honest, but that starts at £110K. R8? – Over £120K for similar performance, Maserati Gran Turismo? – over £120K again, just to keep up. Notice a recurring theme here?
Jaguar have always been a premium marque, but they’ve also consistently offered relatively good value for money. I’m not saying the F-Type R Coupe is perfect – rear visibility is dreadful and I’d still like more feedback through the wheel, but for this blend of looks, sound, performance and usability – it’s a bargain.
By Ben Harrington
Specifications; Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, Transmission – 8 speed automatic, Layout – Front engine, RWD, Power – 550bhp, Torque – 680Nm, Emissions – 255g/km CO2, Economy – 26.4mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 186 mph, Acceleration – 4.0s 0-60mph, Price – £86,800 OTR, £96,450 as tested
For full details go to: www.jaguar.com