The launch of the F-Type Coupe gives Jaguar a formidable one-two punch in the highly competitive sports-car segment. This is, after all, the first real pair of speedsters Jaguar has released since it floored the automotive world when it revealed the E-Type at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961.
As with the convertible, the Coupe is offered three ways. To continue the boxing analogy, the hard-hitting jab comes in the form of the base Coupe – it arrives with a 340 horsepower supercharged 3.0L V6 engine. The right cross is found in the F-Type S. While it uses the same engine, it has been tweaked to pump out 380 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. The knockout punch, however, is the F-Type R. This study of the sweet science gets its power from a 5.0L supercharged V8. It gives the R the wherewithal to compete with just about anything in the world – 550 horses and 502 lb-ft of torque tends to lend that ability!
The F-Type S Coupe proved it to be very fast, accelerating from rest to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds. It also turned the more important 80 to 120 km/h trick in 3.3 seconds. The credit is down to the aluminum chassis and the fact the Coupe is 20 kg lighter than the convertible. This means each horsepower only has to motivate 4.2 kilograms of Coupe.
The R’s extra horsepower drops the power-to-weight ratio to a jaw-breaking three kilograms per horsepower! The sheer force at play sees it speed to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. That pales when compared to the blindingly fast in the passing move – at 2.4 seconds it’s pure nirvana!
The bonus is that both the S and R models sing superb tailpipe melodies. The blown V6 has a delightfully throaty roar that backfires and burbles during wide-open throttle upshifts, and crackles when the gas is lifted coasting downhill. However, the R’s V8 has a richer tone altogether. It reaches its delightful crescendo as the tachometer needle sweeps through 3,000 rpm and it stays that way to redline – credit the R’s quad tailpipes and active exhaust system. When the eight-speed manumatic is shifted down a cog or two it elicits a wonderful rev-matching burble. On the way back up the gears there’s a soulful blat as it upshifts and piles on amazing speed. The acoustic combination is such that it forces me to repeat this move over and over during the drive.
Putting the power to pavement is accomplished flawlessly. Not only is the roofed model stiffer (up 80%), the adaptive suspension that’s standard on both the S and R models measures body motion and adjusts the dampers 500 times every second to ensure they are doing exactly what’s required. When wafting along, the ride is compliantly comfortable. Drop the hammer and the suspenders dial out unwanted body roll. Understeer and oversteer do surface when the Coupe is pushed to the limit, but both traits are remarkably benign. Even when its tail flicks out mid-corner it is a graceful, easily-corrected affair. The steering turn-in response is also razor sharp without feeling twitchy. In the end, the F-Type does everything expected of a world-class sports car very well.
In terms of outright handling, the F-Type R takes things to a higher plane – the larger P255/35R20 front and P295/30R20 rear tires, stiffer springs and dampers deliver superior dynamics. The new torque vectoring system uses these upgrades very effectively. It brakes the inside wheels when heading into a corner, which turns the car into the curve with more authority. It also works in conjunction with the rear electronic locking differential to bring better stability. Around the handling track at the Motorland Aragon race track in Spain, it works to perfection, pulling the nose of the car into the corner smartly. The effect brings a significantly better response, as it reduces the amount of steering input required.
Adding the carbon-ceramic brake option brings mind-numbing stopping power – it is a $12,500 option on the R, but well worth the coin. At the track it is possible to leave the braking to what seems like an impossibly late point. Pushing smartly on the pedal sees it scrub off enough speed to clip the apex and roar off down the next short straight. At one point on the track, the system has to reduce the R’s speed by around 245 km/h in one hard brake application at the end of the 1.7-km back straight, if it is to make it through the next second gear corner. Remarkably, the ceramic brakes do this many, many times without fading into oblivion.
Both the S and R models available for testing feature Jaguar’s Dynamic Mode. It sharpens the throttle response, puts more heft in the steering, stretches out the upshift points, firms the damping and puts the exhaust in business mode (each facet can be tailored individually). In Dynamic setting the R is a true demon — it devours corners as though equipped with its namesake’s claws.
The new hardtop Coupe is very different car from the convertible with its sassy roofline, available fixed panoramic glass roof and large roof-hinged liftgate. As a bonus, it bumps the cargo capacity from the convertible’s 200 to a much more usable 324 litres. Finally, it is different in that the view through the rearview mirror is letterbox-like, and that’s before the spoiler – which adds needed downforce – rises at 110 km/h. When this happens, the view is cut in half again. Does it matter? Nope!
Naturally, the Coupe’s cabin is all about the Jaguar experience. The materials are exquisite, the leather comes from the finest cows and there are tasteful accents placed strategically throughout the cabin. Then there are the two front seats. These things are beyond reproach, as they hug the riders without feeling confining. Throw in the flared shoulder area, adjustable side bolsters and pneumatic lumbar support and the comfort proves to be first class over the 500-kilometre drive route.
With its stunning style, lavish interior, beguiling handling and world-class turn of speed, the F-Type Coupe is a very real player in the rarified air that defines the high-end sports-car segment. What is perhaps, more impressive, is the pricing – it is as aggressive as the car itself. At $72,900 for the base model, it is far more affordable than many of its peers. Pricing tops out with the F-Type R at $109,900, which is thousands less than its rarified competitors. In the end, the F-Type’s combination of attributes will see Jaguar contend for the sports car heavyweight title once again, just as it did in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe
Base Price: $72,900/ $84,900 (S)/ $109,900 (R)
Engine: 3.0L supercharged V6/ 5.0L supercharged V8
Horsepower/ Torque: 340 hp, 332 lb-ft/ 380 hp, 339 lb-ft (S)/ 550 hp, 502 lb-ft (R)
Transmission: 8-speed manumatic
Fuel Economy Ratings (City/ Hwy./ Comb.): 10.4/ 7.1/ 8.9L/ 100 km/ 10.8 / 7.3/ 9.2 L/ 100 km (S)
Basic Warranty (MOS./ KM): 48 / 80,000