Richard Aucock | January 2014
The Jaguar F-Type Roadster has been a hit from the day of its launch back in April 2013. Despite only being on sale for seven months out of 12, it still managed to outsell the Porsche 911 Cabriolet last year. Current estimates suggest it commands a staggering 25% of the sports car market it competes in.
For 2014, Jaguar is stepping things up yet another gear. The firm expects the new F-Type Coupe it launches in dealers this spring to be the best-selling variant of the range. In other words, the arrival of the hard-top F-Type could more than double sales on top of today’s booming levels.
Like the Roadster, it’s made entirely from aluminium and, thanks to the closed roof, is 80% stiffer than the open-top car. That’s hardly a ‘soft’ car; that figure’s thus quite something. Even more temptingly, Jaguar has priced it to undercut the Roadster, with the base 340hp V6 starting at just £51,235. That’s Porsche Cayman money for a car with 911 potency.
There’s a 380hp V6 S for £60,235, but the surprise headliner of the range is not a 495hp V8 S, but a full bore F-Type R Coupe model, whose supercharged V8 puts out a staggering 550hp. That’s more even than the £119k Porsche 911 Turbo, and just 10hp shy of the £140k 911 Turbo S. Yet this costs just £85k. Remarkable.
It even ticks the boxes the F-Type Roadster doesn’t. It has a boot, for example, boasting more than 400 litres of space. The cocoon-like cabin is even more appealing and special (particularly with the optional panoramic glass roof). And the hot R can be optionally had with Jaguar’s first-ever mainstream production carbon ceramic disc brakes – with the very track day users this vibrant car is partly configured for in mind.
Jaguar has thus already launched this car with a bang. Question is, does it stack up in action? MR headed to Spain, and the Catalunya F1 circuit, to find out…
What is the 2014 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe like to drive?
The F-Type Coupe looks stunning. The hard-top rear end is an unqualified success, particularly those awe-inspiring rear arches (no aluminium car in the world has ever had a one-piece panel stamping this deep). The roofline is both graceful yet exciting, and the delicate hand of touch in the sculpting proves Ian Callum’s design team are artists.
Yet the way this F-Type R Coupe drives is a measure for the way it looks. It’s incredible. It performs as strongly as you’d expect a 550hp V8 dropped into a compact 4470mm long, 1600kg car to, of course: the 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds is clearly traction-limited, not power-restricted. The electronically-capped top speed of 186mph would, free from the limiter, surely nudge 200mph, it seems.
It’s the way this power is delivered that’s just as thrilling. Because it’s supercharged, there’s no lag or delay, so great swathes of power are yours immediately. On a circuit, it makes it brilliantly vibrant; on a twisting British back road, even more so. The quickshift eight-speed paddle-operated gearbox is as alert too, meaning nobody should ever long for a manual.
Boy, does it handle. Particularly this R, with its torque vectoring under braking that helps get the nose tucked in accurately (the fade-free carbon ceramic brakes stop it firmly and strongly, lap after lap), and its active rear differential that lets it shuffle between the cusp of oversteer and understeer to maintain stability in high-speed corners.
It’s not reliant on tech either. Meaty steering (heavier and more informative than the Roadster) is accurate and sharp, the long-wheelbase chassis is balanced and the feeling of you being sat right in the centre of the car, with it rotating around you, is very appealing.
Is the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe a modern day TVR?
The Jaguar F-Type R Coupe is certainly as fast, dramatic and exciting as a TVR – think of it as the sort of car that legendary company would have made if it had ever stepped into volume car production.
That’s because, for all its high tech sophistication and clear integrity, it’s also riotous to drive. Turn off the systems and the rear end will perform smokey drifts at the drop of a hat – we had the tail out by the second corner of our out lap at Barcelona, and it felt the most natural thing in the world to do.
The noise it makes is sensational too – all bellowing exhausts, wailing V8 engine and, when you lift off, the sort of bangs and crackles you normally only get on Bonfire Night. Pets and small children may well be similarly terrified by it.
This character is what really makes the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R a star. It has all the engineering quality you’d hope from a car company that wants to compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz (indeed, with the F-Type range, no less a brand than Porsche), but Jaguar has also rather brilliantly given it a brash yet charming character all of its own; there’s not a car on sale that drives quite like this, and we adore it.
MR VERDICT: 2014 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is a beauty. The Roadster remains lovely too, but this is the real deal, the genuine successor to the Jaguar E-Type – and, at bargain prices starting from £51k, just the model to put the cat amongst the Porsche pigeons.
It’s the F-Type R Coupe that’s really surprised us, though. We didn’t see this one coming. And we certainly didn’t expect something quite this fast and entertaining to drive. On first evidence, it’s little short of brilliant.
Yes, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe is the real deal, and the R Coupe is the perfect way to launch it with a bang. Get down to your dealer pronto before the queue gets too long…
- Porsche 911 Turbo
- Aston Martin V8 Vantage
- 2015 Ford Mustang
- Chevrolet Corvette Stingray V8
Engine 5.0-litre V8 supercharged
Gearbox Eight-speed automatic
Price from £51,235
Torque 501lb ft
0-62mph 4.2 seconds
Top speed 186mph