The hard top successor to Jaguar’s design classic is a ferociously quick beast.
By Ghaith Madadha
The F-Type, the successor to the iconic 1961-75 E-Type, finally made its debut in 2013 in the guise of a stylish and slinky convertible. A thrilling, more driver-focused coupe version has now been unleashed which maintains the soft top’s gorgeous glamour-puss design, but adds a brutishly muscular supercharged V8 engine and a set of keen, but refined driving characteristics.
Before its engine is even fired up, the R Coupe manages to convey a great sense of speed thanks to its taut bodywork and massive tires. Furthermore, it looks integrated and harmonious from all angles—from its broad wire-mesh grille and hungry intake gills, along its side ports voluptuous shoulder-line, to its sharp ridged deck, slim moody taillights, and quad tailpipes.
With its bonded and riveted aluminum construction, the R Coupe’s greater fixed-head stiffness makes it the most rigid Jaguar ever, and 15 kg lighter than its convertible sister. Fixed to a stiffer frame, the F-Type’s sophisticated double wishbone and adaptive damper suspension provide enhanced ride and handling properties. For more natural feel and nuance, hydraulic-assisted steering is employed, while a clever 8-speed automatic gearbox combines buttery smoothness and succinct responsiveness. The F-Type’s gearbox features a clutch system for crisply concise shifts in higher gears. Both suspension and gearbox can be tailor-set to different modes for either more comfortable or sportier driving, including a steering-mounted paddle-shift ‘manual’ gearbox mode.
Set low and far back for ideal weight distribution, the R Coupe’s brutally effective supercharged direct injection 5-liter V8 engine develops 542 BHP at 6500 rpm and 501 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. Thanks to its mechanically-driven supercharger, it bolts off-the-line with electrifying and lag-free reflexes, before cinching the 0-100 km/h sprint in 4.2 seconds as it scrambles for traction. The R Coupe effortlessly picks up speed and charges with indefatigable disdain towards its electronically-governed 300 km/h top speed.
The R Coupe’s muscular across-board torque is ever-accessible and underwrites its relentless and urgent power delivery set to a thunderously burbling, bellowing, and howling exhaust note when driven with a light touch.
Tenaciously grippy on dry tarmac, one can ease the power back on by a corner’s apex to slingshot into a straight. However, on a soaking wet Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain, the car’s sledgehammer-like torque demanded a little more restraint. Powering out of corners in a higher gear than when dry, a gentler right foot avoided stability control system interventions. With an active electronic limited-slip differential, the R Coupe can re-apportion more power to the wheel with most grip, while electronic torque vectoring uses selective braking for tidier, more agile cornering. Buttoned down on rebounds, the F-type was reassuringly stable and settled at high speed straights and sweepers, where an automatically rising rear spoiler generates more downforce.
The R Coupe’s cabin is well-insulated from harshness, noise, and vibrations, and allows one to enjoy its gutsy and gurgling active exhaust concerto. The R Coupe, which is built with a classy, ergonomic, and sporty inside, is finished with red-stitched fine leather upholstery, rich suede roof liner, and real metal and carbon fiber trim and panels. It features chunky contoured flat-bottom steering wheel, clear dials, and an intuitively user-friendly infotainment screen, from which one can individually tailor throttle, steering, and suspension settings. The R Coupe even boasts an automatic tailgate and 407-liter boot capacity. Driving position is spacious, well-adjustable, and comfortable, but headrest adjustability would be welcome.
Engine: 5-liter, all-aluminum, direct injection, supercharged V8-cylinders
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive, electronic limited-slip differential
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 501.5 (680) @3500 rpm
Top speed: 300 km/h (electronically governed)
Fuel economy, combined: 11.1 liters/100 km
CO2 emissions, combined: 259 g/km
Fuel capacity: 72 liters
Length: 4470 mm
Width: 1923 mm
Height: 1321 mm
Steering: Variable assistance, rack & pinion
Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 380/376 mm
Tires, F/R: 255/35R20 / 295/30R20