Jaguar's F-TYPE Coupe really takes the gloves off in 5.0-litre R guise. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The Jaguar F-TYPE R Coupe brings some big guns to the sports car sector, with a 575PS supercharged 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet and it's laden with goodies like AWD, torque vectoring, carbon ceramic brakes and a 380w Meridien sound system. It'll bludgeon its way to 60mph in just 3.5 seconds and the asking price is around £97,000.
Is £97,000 a lot of money to pay for this car? Think carefully about that for a moment because how you answer it will very much depend on how you position this car. Think of the Jaguar F-TYPE R as a small Porsche 718 Cayman-like coupe that's been hopped up on the juice and then that asking price might seem a bit optimistic. If, on the other hand, you see this as a car that offers more talent, presence, power and modernity than something like an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and it can be argued it's something of a bargain.
We're tended towards the latter view. We've been impressed by every F-TYPE we've had seat time in and the R is just the ultimate - for now at least - extension of that line. With 575PS under the bonnet and a fantastic all-wheel drive chassis, this is the Jaguar sports coupe we've been waiting years for.
There's no other way to put this - the F-TYPE R is a monster. The powerplant is good for 575PS, with drive going to all four wheels via an excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox. The extra rigidity of the coupe body helps the suspension and steering fine tune their responses. That said, the F-TYPE R is, like every other F-TYPE we've sampled, at its best when rough-housed. Expect the same delicacy and precision of a Porsche 911 and you might come away disappointed. The R rewards a bit of hooliganism behind the wheel and will entertain on track until the rear tyres are cremated. On road, it's better to be smoother with the controls where you can enjoy the huge reserves of torque, the clever torque vectoring system, the beefy carbon ceramic brakes and the smart logic of the gearbox software. What'll it do against the clock? Jaguar reckons 60mph disappears in 3.5 seconds on the way to 186mph. It's been independently tested over a standing kilometre in 21.49 seconds, which makes it quicker than a 997-generation Porsche 911 Turbo or a Lamborghini Gallardo. Those are some serious credentials.
Design and Build
Those of you expecting a much more aggressive shape to go with that hefty power output might come away a little disappointed. As far as styling goes, this isn't a big wing, shouty sort of car. There's a pricier, slightly more extrovert version of this model badged the SVR if you want it, but there's a measured restraint about the standard 'R' that looks classy and well-judged. A slightly smarter front end and full-LED headlamps mark out this lightly revised version.
Overall, this model still manages to make the Porsche 718 Cayman seem rather hall-of-mirrors in its proportioning, and while it's not as instantly beautiful as an Aston Martin Vantage, it looks as if it would thoroughly work the Vantage over in a bar fight. Spotters will note the R's raised bonnet vents and the gloss side sills. There are some lovely details such as the pop-out door handles and the single flying buttress that swoops down from one side of the centre console, to the neatly styled gear selector, the giant TFT display in the dash and the deep-set driving position. The boot is relatively big, giving the Coupe shape a definite advantage over the tiny boot of the F-TYPE drop top. You'll get 315 litres in up to the parcel shelf and 407 litres to the window line.
Market and Model
In many ways the £97,000 F-TYPE R Coupe's biggest rival might well be the 450PS F-TYPE P450 Coupe which still packs a concussive punch yet retails for over £20,000 less. That's a huge step in price in the range and while the R Coupe can indeed mix it in performance terms with cars costing a good deal more, how badly do you need that added power?
It comes very well equipped though, with many of the extras you'd pay thousands for in a typical Porsche 911 being included as standard. Carbon ceramic brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels, a twin-stitched premium leather interior, a ten-speaker Meridien 380w stereo, a switchable sports exhaust, satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth are all standard.
Cost of Ownership
The WLTP fuel consumption figures don't make great reading. You just know that if a manufacturer quotes a combined economy figure of 26.4mpg, you'll probably be looking at mid to late teens on a daily basis. The R Coupe does have a 70-litre fuel tank which gives it an effective real world range of around 265 miles. Feather-foot the throttle and you'll do a good deal better on a long run. WLTP-rated emissions are rated at 243g/km.
Overall, we think that all of that's probably quite irrelevant. If you average more than 20mpg in this car, then you're not using it properly and it deserves a better home. Like all Jaguar models, this one comes with a standard three year warranty though here, unlike some rivals, there's no cap on the number of miles you can cover in this period. You can pay a relatively small premium to extend the coverage period to five years if you wish.
It's hard to see how Jaguar could have done a lot better with this car. If owners had built a wish list of what this car ought to have been, it wouldn't have emerged much differently. Maybe a little lighter, possibly with the option of a manual gearbox but that would have been about it. The F-TYPE R is a masterstroke and one that we should be proud Britain can create.
Being proud is one thing, turning that pride into solid orders quite another. The R faces some serious competition, not only from Porsche's evergreen 911 but also from cars like Aston Martin's aged but still alluring V8 Vantage, Maserati's sleek GranTurismo and the modernist Mercedes-Benz AMG GT. Still, if you like your sports cars elegant but with a serious side order of attitude, the Jaguar's elbowed its way into becoming the go-to choice.
By Jonathan Crouch
Back in 2014, Jaguar described this F-TYPE Coupe as the most capable and involving car it had ever built. A fixed-top version of the F-TYPE Convertible, this model cemented the Coventry brand's reputation as an ever more credible rival to Porsche, reviving memories of some of the company's legendary classic coupes. It handles. It goes. And it delivers.
2dr coupe (2.0 petrol / 3.0 V6 supercharged petrol / 5.0 V8 petrol)
The F-TYPE Coupe, launched early in 2014, was arguably the most significant car the Jaguar marque had made since the Sixties. Back then, buyers expected legendary things from this Coventry company. Cars like the C-Type and the XK120, 140 and 150 models were fresh in the memory, paving the way for the E-Type sportscar that arguably represented this maker's greatest hour. Sadly, that car proved to represent a pinnacle of performance it would take Jaguar another fifty years to replicate. But replicate it they finally did when open-topped versions of this F-TYPE were launched in 2013. Here, at last, were signs that Jaguar could again make a proper sports car, even if the finished product still retained elements of the laid-back Grand Touring GT philosophy more familiar from the brand's modern era performance cars.
What, commentators like us wondered at the F-TYPE's original introduction, would a more focused fixed-top version be like, a stiffer, sportier, even more dynamic thing? This Coupe model was our answer. It's rigid, rakish and revs like a race car, whether you prefer V6 or V8 power. Depending on model, you can choose manual or Quickshift automatic transmission and either rear or All-Wheel Drive. This is, in short, a very complete, very special machine indeed. A 2.0-litre 300PS four cylinder model was introduced for the 2017 model year. The F-TYPE Coupe sold in its original form until Autumn 2019, when it was heavily facelifted. It's the pre-facelift 2014-2019-era models we're going to look at here.
What You Get
'Engaging, precise, intuitive and alive - the definitive sports coupe'. That's the way that Jaguar describes this car and for once, the marketing rhetoric isn't too far from the mark, underlining the Coventry company's determination to go its own way and offer something different. As with the Convertible model, the shape's an interesting one, defined once more by what are described as 'heartlines'.
You get a dramatic, cabin-rearward, sweeping roof profile. Providing an unbroken silhouette, it aims to highlight the visual drama of the tapered cabin nestled between the powerful rear haunches. There's also a lovely aluminium-finished side window graphic that's there to accentuate the compactness of the car and the roof profile. If you've opted for an AWD version, distinguishing touches include a deeper bonnet power bulge and more distinctive vents. Details like these add the finishing touches to what is a unique piece of penmanship, one that Jaguar's Director of Design Ian Callum says he's inspired by every time he sees it.
As in the Convertible version, the two front occupants are separated by a prominent grab handle, which sweeps down from the top of the centre console and on automatic models wraps around behind a joystick-shaped SportShift gear selector: in contrast to other Jaguar models, there's no rotary gearshift controller here. Good. It's all symptomatic of the design team's determination to create something very different. An intimate place where luxury is not allowed to supersede purpose.
Out back, the F-TYPE Coupe gives you substantially more luggage space than you'd get in its convertible counterpart - up to 407-litres, as opposed to 196-litres. That's a bit less than the combined front-and-rear cargo area offered by a rival Porsche Cayman, probably because of the fact that due to the location of the rear axle, the boot here has to remain quite shallow. That said, it's considerably bigger than that provided by a Porsche 911 - and easily large enough for two sets of golf clubs.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Most F-TYPE Coupe owners in our survey seemed very satisfied, but we did come across a few issues. There have been reports that the rear differential can leak oil due to faulty seals. If this is repaired, make sure the coupling hasn't been over-tightened as this can ruin the diff completely, first signalled by worrying noises from the rear of the car.
Some owners have also found the valves in the active exhaust system can stick open. This can require a new back box, normally fitted under warranty. Original F-Types were susceptible to small stones getting between the window seal and the glass. The rising centre air vent and pop-out door handles have also caused issues for a few owners, and a few owners have reported a few squeaks and rattles. Otherwise, it's just the usual things - scratched alloys etc. And obviously insist on a fully stamped-up service history.
(approx based on a 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe 3.0 V6) A headlamp bulb is about £4. An oil filter is around £30. A front brake disc is in the £98-£185 bracket. The cost for front brake pads varies quite a lot - anything from around £38 - but obviously more for top Brembo pads. A wiper blade is around £8. An air filter is around £60.
On the Road
Like any true sports car, this one looks poised and ready, even when it's standing still. 'Drive me', it seems to say as you approach and the door handle springs out to greet you. 'Start me' it seems to shout once you're enveloped in the figure-hugging sports seats and angled towards the little copper-coloured starter button. 'Rev me', it seems to insist as you fire the engine and a spectacular set of aural fireworks begin.
Even in the 340PS V6 model thanks to 450NM of torque, sixty from rest is just 5.1s away en route to 161mph, figures you can improve to 4.8s and 171mph by opting for the V6S version. A 2.0-litre 300PS four cylinder model was introduced for the 2017 model year. Whatever your choice of engine, there's a choice of either a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission or Jaguar's rapid-fire Quickshift auto gearbox with wheel-mounted paddle shifters and eight closely stacked sporting ratios, optimised to constantly keep the supercharged engines in the sweet spot of the power band.
If you're considering the V6 F-TYPE alternatives, there's certainly a strong case for upgrading to the V6S version. One of the key advantages of that model is that, providing you're happy with an auto gearbox, you can also get the option of All-Wheel-Drive. This torque-on-demand system works with a clever IDD 'Intelligent Driveline Dynamics' strategy to exploit the maximum performance potential of all that extra traction while still keeping this car's natural rear-wheel-drive character.
Where you'd think AWD would be really helpful would be in controlling the awesome potential of the 550PS 5.0-litre supercharged V8-powered F-TYPE R model. And so it proves. This flagship variant puts out a prodigious 680Nm of torque, which is one reason why there's no manual gearbox option at this level. As a result, 60mph is achievable in around four seconds en route to a top speed that you'd find would be limited to 186mph, were you able to achieve it on a deserted autobahn or your own private runway.
The F-TYPE Coupe took all that was great about the Convertible version and built on it. So you get a stiffer chassis, a more affordable asking price and more power in the top V8 R model. The result is a very special car indeed. Even if you can only stretch to a V6 version. After all, compared to a rival Porsche Cayman S, Jaguar brought us a machine that was arguably better looking, unarguably better equipped, more powerful and endowed with a greater sense of occasion, inside and out. While it won't match the Porsche's delicacy of response at the limit, the F-TYPE Coupe got its chief competitor's measure in enough areas that count to really give the German brand something to worry about.
We don't think it'll suit many who associate performance motoring from this brand with XJS or XK models. Buckle such people up behind the wheel and they're liable to be a little taken aback. No matter. Jaguar needed to find a younger, more demanding, hungrier audience for its sports cars. It needed to convince people that here and now in this market at this time in history, it could be great again. Mission accomplished.