It's the biggest and baddest Jaguar F-Type on sale. But, does the F-Type Coupe R represent a rational purchase? Paul Maric finds out.
Irrational purchases — we make them all the time. Everything from temporarily in-trend clothes to smart watches, they’re decisions we eventually look back on, scratching our heads in confusion.
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe R could be considered such a thing. We know from experience that the F-Type V6 S is arguably the best value proposition in the range. It sounds great and moves like you wouldn’t believe. But, for the very same reason we buy a pointless gadget or other novelty item, the F-Type Coupe R is extremely appealing.
The Jaguar F-Type range starts from $119,400 for the entry level manual V6 S. The top-spec Coupe R on test here is priced from $226,970 in automatic rear-wheel drive form and goes up to $261,370 for the all-wheel drive convertible Coupe R.
It’s the definition of a style statement. The stunning rear wraps around to a phallic front end, which houses the car’s monstrous supercharged V8 engine. Black highlights team with strips of LED lights and discreet badges to create a head-turning sports car that can’t be matched for substance and style.
The door handles pop out of the doors when the car is unlocked and offer an Aston Martin-esque entry experience. There is also embossed labelling on the reverse-opening bonnet that reads ‘supercharged’, hinting at the potential that lies beneath.
Inside the cabin there is a mix between classic Jaguar and a more youthful, sporty Jaguar. Seat controls are located on the door panels, while a fighter jet-esque joystick lever is employed to shift between gears.
Bronzed buttons are strewn throughout the cabin, while elegant paddle shifters adorn the steering wheel. Jaguar has spent a lot of time and effort consolidating buttons and controls to ensure a clean layout.
In terms of technology, the F-Type is lacking. The central touch screen uses a low-resolution display, which is slow and doesn’t offer the response of systems fitted to competing vehicles. Voice recognition is also sub-par, with most commands requiring accurate and convoluted inputs.
The standard sound system — a 380W, 10-speaker Meridian unit — is one of the most disappointing sound systems we have experienced in this segment. It lacks clarity and isn’t befitting of a Jaguar. Buyers after a serious sound system need to fork out $6900 for the 770W, 12-speaker Meridian unit.
Tech deficiencies aside, the interior is a great place to spend time. The driver sits close to the ground and visibility out the front, sides and rear is excellent. The long front-end makes parking front-in to kerbs a bit tedious at times. The situation is helped by front and rear parking sensors that prevent nasty scratches and scrapes. The reversing camera is nothing to write home about though, it's low-resolution and doesn't offer a wide angle of visibility, especially at night.
Storage space within the cabin is reasonable with two cup holders, a small centre console and average sized glove box rounding off the options. The boot can cater for 407 litres of volume without a space-saver tyre, or 315 litres with the spare tyre within the boot.
Jaguar’s F-Type Coupe builds on the E-Type design heritage built into the F-Type Convertible, giving an even closer style resemblance to the iconic British sports car. There is simply no angle the F-Type Coupe looks less than gorgeous from.
Not only does the F-Type Coupe R have the looks, it sounds incredible and is the fastest F-Type on the market. On top of that, you can also option gargantuan carbon-ceramic brakes that are now available for the first time. All these things add up to a proposition likely to be looked back on as an irrational purchase.
That is until you start the engine...
Beneath the bonnet is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine that produces an eye-watering 404kW of power and 680Nm of torque. Torque is sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter with the package consuming a combined fuel consumption of 11.1L/100km — which is rarely achieved if you enjoy constantly listening to the big V8.
Jaguar claims the F-Type Coupe R can dash from a standstill to 100km/h in just 4.2-seconds. Our testing found that it was hard to match that figure without a very grippy road or launch control — the latter is only available on V6 models. It hooks up well after it has moved off the line, but grapples for grip from a standing start. That’s even with 295mm wide treads on the rear.
It’s hard to put the engine and exhaust note into perspective. With the active exhaust flaps closed; there is a deep V8 thrum that reverberates at idle. A press of the exhaust button transforms this V8 beast into an ear-blistering muscle car. The exhaust note is hard to describe, it’s a mix between an old muscle car and a car with no exhaust. The noise is nothing short of epic and immediately clears any perception of this car being tailored to an older Jaguar buyer.
Equally impressive is the throttle response in any gear. Despite a complex eight-speed automatic gearbox transferring torque to the wheels, the supercharged V8 has enough gusto at the lower end of the rev band to make use of its higher gears. The gearbox also shifts quickly enough to forget any need for a dual-clutch arrangement.
The steering response and feel is very good, but the F-Type lacks a more precise feel through the rack like you would find in a Porsche. While all-wheel drive, a manual gearbox option and electric steering are coming to F-Types in Australia, the vehicle tested ran a hydraulic steering system.
While the steering is good, but isn’t amazing, the brakes more than make up for its small deficiencies. Brake pedal feel is excellent and even without optional carbon ceramic brakes; the F-Type Coupe R pulls up continuously time after time, even if you get stuck into it.
When the flag button is pushed next to the gear lever, the F-Type’s dynamic driving mode is activated. This mode further sharpens throttle responses and gives the F-Type Coupe R an even sharper edge. Adaptive dampers monitor body motion and pitch rates over 100 times per second and vary damper response accordingly.
The F-Type's ride errs on the side of firm in the city, but it's not overly jarring. In dynamic mode, the ride firms up entirely to offer a very sporting ride.
Body control is near perfect during cornering with steering inputs measured a further 400 times per second to work in unison with pitch, roll and vertical movement sensors to adjust active damping rates to essentially eliminate body roll.
In fact, the F-Type Coupe R is almost terrifying in the way it continues accelerating. Our tight and twisty test circuit tested the car’s limits, but proved that such a large engine in such a small body delivers mind-numbing pace that requires extra levels of concentration. I have driven a heap of very fast supercars and the F-Type Coupe R is the closest you will get to their levels of manic acceleration without spending over half a million dollars.
There’s no escaping this fact — the F-Type Coupe R weighs a staggering 1764kg. That’s around 50kg more than an SS Commodore. While it is fast and quite nimble when pushed, more could be done to bring weight levels closer to a Porsche than a Holden.
Despite the F-Type Coupe R’s portly weight and less than ideal steering, I wouldn’t have anything else in this price range. While a Porsche may drive or feel better behind the wheel, it simply can’t match the styling, noise and audacity of the Jaguar F-Type. The noise never gets old and the car itself represents the idea and near perfect execution of a gentleman’s racer.
It’s not perfect, but it’s hard not to love everything about it. If you’re in the need for another irrational purchase, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R should be at the very top of your list.