Jaguar says that the styling of its F-Type was inspired by the E-Type of half a century ago. In the video presentation at the F-Type Coupe’s launch in Spain, they even relied on an extremely distended shadow of the E-Type coupe to draw the visual connection between the two.
Unfortunately, the narrow-bodied, sausage-shaped and puny-tyred E-Type never did it for me, looks-wise. Good thing, for my sake, that I don’t think the F-Type Coupe looks anything like the E-Type.
Like its F-Type Roadster sibling which was launched last year, the Coupe is stubby, squat and purposeful. The Coupe is visually identical to the Roadster below the waistline, which means a brooding, feral face with gaping oval grille and aggressive side “whisker” intakes, big wheels and tyres that fill the arches nicely, and real sheet-metal muscle in the crisply defined haunches that drape and flare over the rear wheelarches. On the Coupe, this effect is accentuated by the glasshouse, which in plan view tapers teardrop-style towards the rear.That glasshouse is, of course, what sets the F-Type Coupe apart from its Roadster sister, and it’s a beautifully executed affair. From side-on, the curve of the roofline flows smoothly from the A-pillar, sweeping down to meet the downswept tail and drawing the eye to those slitty, “concept car” tail-lamps. That slim, swooping band of metal that defines the roofline is actually a single hydro-formed aluminium alloy beam, which adds significant stiffness to the structure while at the same time weighing very little.
On F-Types with the optional panoramic glass roof, the visual drama is heightened by the unbroken sweep of shiny black glass from front to rear screens, like a fighter jet’s canopy.
Inside, the Coupe is just like the Roadster – except with a fixed roof (trimmed inside in either Alcantara or leather, incidentally). It’s still a strict two-seater, but there’s ample room for the heads and shoulders of those two occupants, although the seats may not extend quite as far back as those significantly over 1.8m in height may like.
The seats themselves are gorgeous items, slim but heavily bolstered and sprouting a pair of “wings” at shoulder height for support – they really wouldn’t look out of place in a racecar. The seating position is low-slung but very natural, with the steering wheel and stubby gearlever falling comfortably to hand. The leather and stitching on the dashboard, door cappings and seats are top-notch, and the whole cabin looks and feels like a very expensive, exquisitely crafted place.If you’ve seen the letterbox-like, 200-litre boot of the Roadster, the luggage space under the Coupe’s hatch will be a revelation. Relieved of the need to also house a folding roof, the Coupe’s 407-litre boot can take a large suitcase or two sets of golf clubs.
Ditching the soft-top reaps other benefits – the Coupe is 20kg lighter, model-for-model, and its bodyshell is also 80 percent more torsionally rigid at 33,000Nm per degree, making it Jaguar’s stiffest production car ever. But despite its all-aluminium construction and pert dimensions, the F-Type is still no lightweight – the Coupe weighs between 1577kg and 1665kg, depending on specification and equipment. That’s markedly heavier than the Porsche 911, for instance.
Like the F-Type Roadster, the range for the Coupe consists of two 3-litre supercharged V6 models (same engine in different states of tune) and a 5-litre supercharged V8. The two V6 models (called “V6” and “V6 S” respectively) are mechanically identical to their Roadster counterparts, which means the “lesser” one delivers a still-impressive 340bhp while the full-fat model boasts 380bhp.
But both pale next to the whopping 550bhp figure of the V8, which itself has 50bhp more than the V8 S Roadster can muster from the same engine. This, plus several chassis tweaks to make it more extreme, have justified Jaguar applying the “R” moniker. Hence, where the V8 version of the Roadster is called the V8 S, this car is called the F-Type R Coupe. This isn’t the first time said 5-litre V8 has produced such figures, though. The higher-tuned version of this engine has already been seen in the XKR-S, XJR and XFR-S, so it was only a matter of time before the F-Type range similarly benefitted.
An 8-speed automatic gearbox from ZF does duty in all three models, with lovely metal paddles behind the steering wheel giving tactile pleasure to the fingertips as you call up each gearchange.
The base-model V6 Coupe isn’t available at the launch, so I have to “make do” with the V6 S. On open roads, it’s wonderful – beltingly fast, very nimble, and composed even over poor surfaces. The engine’s 380bhp is ample, the supercharger giving strong, lunging acceleration from low revs and taking the car to 100km/h in a claimed 4.9 seconds. If anything, it feels even quicker than that. The engine sounds superb, too, singing stridently to its redline, and rasping and crackling on the overrun when the drive mode selector is in Dynamic.
The ZF 8-speed autobox may not boast fancy twin-clutch tech, but it is still lightning-quick, snapping through upchanges and grabbing downchanges with an urgency that can beat many twin-clutch transmissions.Swivelling the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel (a regular round wheel is a no-cost option) elicits an instant, sharp response from the nose, the car flicking into bends with little inertia. There is some slight body roll, but it’s kept well in check and doesn’t hamper the fun one bit.
This being a front-engined, rear-driven two-seater, the experience is different from that of a mid- or rear-engined sports car. There is more yaw in corners, more sense of the rear wanting to step out. Ultimate grip is fantastic, but overall the Coupe is less planted than, say, an Audi R8 or a Porsche 911.
I’m seated almost above the rear wheels, behind a long bonnet, which gives me a more intimate feel for that rear end (does this read like it’s mildly illegal?) and allows me to better sense its impending breakaway, and when it does so, the extent and progression of the slide.
For such an agile car, the ride is impeccable. It’s firm, but bumps are massaged and muffled with dismissive ease, and they never succeed in upsetting the car’s rhythm, even when in Dynamic mode. On straight stretches of tarmac, the Coupe feels supple and long-legged, while on more sinuous roads, that suspension compliance keeps the car from being deflected by mid-bend bumps, while at the same time maintaining sharp, stable handling. If the V6 S Coupe is the annoyingly capable all-rounder, the R Coupe is the badass of the range. Its engine note is louder and much wilder than that of the V6 S, bellowing and snarling all the way from idle to cut-out, and emitting the most exhilarating thunderclaps from its barely silenced exhaust system (quad pipes, instead of the pair for the V6 S).
Apart from an extra 50bhp, the R Coupe sets itself apart from the V8 S Roadster with significant chassis revisions. Spring rates have been slightly increased over those of the V8 S, while the electronically controlled adaptive dampers and the Electronic Active Differential (EAD) have both been retuned to suit the car’s more focused nature, with the EAD benefitting from a new electronic controller that continuously senses road grip at each rear wheel and provides the necessary degree of lockup to parcel out the torque appropriately. The R Coupe also features Jaguar’s torque vectoring, which brakes individual inside wheels in corners, effectively “pulling” the car towards the bend’s apex and helping to pivot the car.
On open roads, the F-Type R Coupe is noticeably firmer-riding than the V6 S and deliberately more hardcore. The steering is slightly heavier, and it directs the nose with even more alacrity than on the already excellent V6 S as well as the V8 S Roadster. There’s less body roll, too, making the R Coupe feel even more planted.
With all that extra power, it’s obviously more rapid than the V6 S, doing the century sprint in 4.2 seconds on its way to its (electronically governed) 300km/h top speed. And that sprint time would almost certainly be quicker if it wasn’t limited by the ability to put all that power down through the rear tyres.
The V6 S is a consummate all-rounder – achingly pretty, exhilarating to drive hard, yet also an accomplished mile-eater. But for ultimate visceral thrills, the R Coupe is unbeatable. But whichever model rocks your boat, it’s clear that the F-Type Coupe doesn’t have to sit in the shadow of the E-Type, because it’s brilliant in its own right.
TYPE V8, 32-valves, supercharged
BORE X STROKE 92.5mm x 93mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 9.5:1
MAX POWER 550bhp at 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 680Nm at 2500-5500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 330.3bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
DRIVEN WHEELS Rear
0-100KM/H 4.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 300km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 9km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 259g/km
FRONT Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers
REAR Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers
FRONT / REAR Ventilated discs
TYPE Pirelli P Zero
SIZE 255/35 R20 (front), 295/30 R20 (rear)
TRACTION CONTROL ABS with ESP
KERB WEIGHT 1665kg
TURNING CIRCLE 10.66m
PRICE INCL. COE $550,000 (after $15k CEVS surcharge)
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km
+ Beautiful inside and out, huge fun to drive, storming pace, stirring noise
– Not as light as it should be, cannot match certain German rivals for sheer grip