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Jaguar F-Type Coupe R First Drive

By raccars Published

Jaguar reveals the F-Type Coupe to RAC Cars in dramatic fashion – with a high-speed test drive of the dramatic 550hp F-Type Coupe R at Spain’s top F1 circuit! Porsche should rightly be worried about the challenge from Jaguar’s brilliant new sports car…

Price: From £51,235 (test F-Type Coupe R: £85,000)
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 186mph (limited)
MPG: 25.5mpg
CO2: 259g/km
On sale: Now
Insurance group: 50

Three UK Jaguar F-Type Coupe R facts

1: Jaguar has intentionally priced the F-Type Coupe significantly less than the F-Type Roadster: it will thus become the most popular F-Type variant
2: The F-Type Coupe will offer Jaguar’s first-ever set of mainstream production carbon ceramic brakes. Spot them from their yellow calipers
3: The Jaguar F-Type Coupe range starts at £51,235, and the best-selling F-Type Coupe V6 S costs £60,235. The cheapest Porsche 911 costs £74,088 – and even then it doesn’t come with an auto gearbox as standard…

What is it?

The Jaguar F-Type Roadster has been an absolute smash hit for the sporting British brand since its launch last year. Now, things are stepping up another gear, with the introduction of the F-Type Coupe. Expected to be the best seller of the line-up, Jaguar is again offering it in three V6 and V8 iterations, all with a progressively more focused setup.

Jaguar wants the F-Type Coupe to feel a bit more racy than the Roadster, though. A stiffer bodyshell helps here: the open-top version of the all-aluminium F-Type is hardly floppy and flexible, but the Coupe takes things to another level. It’s 80% stiffer which has helped make it even sharper and more responsive.

And so, while the regular 340hp V6 and 380hp V6 S versions are the same as their Roadster siblings, Jaguar has turned the dial up even further on the range-topping V8. There’s no 495hp F-Type V8 S here – rather, an F-Type Coupe V8 R with no less than 550hp!

This places it firmly in Porsche 911 Turbo territory (never mind the entry-level 911s with ‘just’ 350hp…) but while the German icon costs upwards of £119k in Turbo guise, the F-Type Coupe R retails at £85k – nearly £35k less! As for the entry-level V6, that costs from £51k, which alongside the £75k 911 is again a bit of a steal.

Tempted by this relative bargain new Jag? You bet! Particularly as it looks absolutely fantastic…

Styling and interior

If you like the open-top F-Type, wait until you see this one. The rear end is perfectly sculpted and oozes elegant aggression, while the standout drama of it really does hark back to the legendary E-Type.

The highlight is the rear three quarter view. Cast your eyes down the impossibly muscular rear haunches – made from single-piece aluminium side panels boasting the deepest draw of any aluminium car panel in the world – and savour simple but bold creases and an uncanny eye for proportion from designer Ian Callum.

The roof is available in conventional guise or panoramic glass roof: the latter looks great from outside and creates quite an effect inside too. The dash is the same as the F-Type Roadster, but feels more special thanks to the closed cabin, while the view back through the steeply raked rear glass is more like a supercar.

This Jaguar F-Type also has a boot too, unlike the F-Type Roadster which has something more akin to an oversized glovebox. It’s still not particularly deep but the luggage bay stretches to more than 400 litres, and so is actually larger than a Volkswagen Golf…

Performance

Jaguar introduced the F-Type Coupe to RAC Cars at the Spanish F1 circuit near Barcelona. This is a very fast circuit with some very challenging twists and turns… lucky, then, that it laid on the full fat F-Type Coupe R for us to drive, then!

This car is an absolute firecracker. 550hp from the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is backed up by more than 500lb ft of pulling power: it goes from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds (you sense this is limited by traction from the rear wheels rather than actual power) and only an electronic limiter stops it going faster than 186mph.

On the move, it’s staggeringly fast. Using a supercharger means it responds to the throttle instantly and the surging drive it is apparently always capable of releasing makes it feel like a modern-day TVR – it’s a real thriller. The eight-speed paddleshift automatic gearbox brings F1-like sophistication too.

Then there’s the noise: amazing. The exhaust crackle, the V8 wail, the throbby warble – this car’s arsenal of sound effects is world class and is another reason why the F-Type Coupe R is such a dramatic machine. Trust us, you’ll fall in love with it before the first mile of your test drive is through…

Special word for the brakes too. On top of the F-Type’s regular three systems, Jaguar now offers an optional carbon ceramic system, distinguished by yellow brake calipers. These boast tremendous resistance to fade and reliable pedal feel even during track use. We found they were remarkable, a big step up even over the regular high-power brakes. As you’d hope for an option costing around £7000…

Handling

Jaguar has designed the F-Type Coupe R to handle with equal excitement to the way it performs. It’s an absolute delight of a machine, a real heart-on-sleeve car that is clearly led by its rear wheels first. If you’re prepared to be bold with the throttle, setting this car into smoky sideways drifts is almost child’s play.

That’s best left reserved for the track, of course: what it does also mean is that the F-Type Coupe R is a very well set up road car, with lots of natural balance and precision. The firm, meaty steering is very crisp and accurate, the chassis has no edginess and even the fact you sit so deep and low within it gives you confidence.

Jaguar has given it some trick features too. There’s torque vectoring by braking, which helps the front end turn into corners by dabbing the brakes on one side of the car. The electronic rear limited-slip differential can also help stop the front and rear ends of the car pushing on during fast cornering, leaving it neutral and committed even at high speeds.

It’s all enjoyed within a cabin that, thanks to Jaguar’s sixth sense judgment of ride quality, is also poised and comfortable even when road surfaces degenerate. It’s a sporting car but not one that’s hard or punishing to live with. Again, we fully expect drivers to be surprised by the sheer talent of this focused all-rounder…

Price and value

As mentioned, the F-Type Coupe starts at £51,235. This makes it stunning value, particularly as that 340hp model still comes with an eight-speed paddleshift gearbox and a welter of options as standard. Even this gets from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds and can do 161mph – all for £25k less than the cheapest Porsche 911 Carrera auto!

The 380hp F-Type Coupe V6 S is expected to be the best seller; this costs £60,235 and breaks the five-second barrier to 62mph, going on to 171mph. And the range-topping F-Type Coupe R, with no less than 550hp? Even at £85k, it’s a steal.

Fuel economy

One thing the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R doesn’t particularly concern itself with is fuel economy. Sure, the relative light weight of it will help – the all-aluminium chassis tips the scales at around 1600kg. Slippy aerodynamics will also cut drag at speed.

But at the end of the day, it’s still a big 5.0-litre V8 with a huge great supercharger bolted on. The official figures say 25.5mpg and 259g/km CO2; so enthusiastic is this car, we’d expect you to rarely see 20mpg in everyday use. And it would be worth every penny…

Verdict: Jaguar F-Type Coupe R

The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is a stunning looking machine that will become the best-selling model variant in the range for very good reason. Beautiful as the F-Type Roadster is, this looks even better and is all set to be a modern classic.

The F-Type Coupe R’s staggering performance, noise, handling and sheer drama simply seals things for us. It’s a riotous car to drive, already one of the most exciting new model launches of 2014. We love it and, when it arrives in UK showrooms this spring, we feel absolutely sure you will too…

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