What is it?
The S coupé represents Jaguar’s pinnacle of six-cylinder F–type performance, a car that admittedly falls a little short of the V8’s Ferrari-level performance, but saves its buyer nearly £25,000 against the top-performance model and has a unique character and capability of its own.
It is powered by the highest output version of the supercharged V6 going, a potent 375bhp edition, which drives through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox whose special Jaguar-designed electronics allow it either to function as a full automatic or to be controlled manually via steering-column paddles.
There is a special Dynamic regime that holds gears longer and changes up quicker, operable in either automatic or manual modes.
Launched more than six months after the convertible F-type, the coupé is much more than the open-topped car with the sun blocked out. It is considerably more rigid, a property that has allowed Jaguar’s engineers to stiffen the suspension (for better agility and body control) and sharpen the steering - to make this arguably the best handling road-going Jaguar ever.
What's it like?
It’s a consummate driver’s car, that’s what. The S coupé has all the weight distribution advantages of the basic coupé, along with bigger steel brakes (380mm fronts against the entry model’s 354mm units) and an extra 50bhp on tap from the same 3.0-litre supercharged V6 that powers the base car.
Among other dynamic advantages you get bigger (19-inch) wheels as standard and a mechanical limited-slip differential to limit wheelspin on quick departures from rest.
The near-identical torque curves for the six-cylinder models shows there’s a very small “oomph” difference (about 7 lb ft) between the base and S-models in the mid-ranges.
You have to take the V6S unit right to its 6500rpm redline to find the 50bhp of extra performance, but if you do you cut 0.3 seconds off the 0-60mph time (now 4.8 seconds) and push the top speed to 171mph. This is a quick car in any company.
However, as with every F-type, the S coupe’s strongest suit is the handling. Huge grip, terrific steering, near-perfect stability. Unlike the entry car the S gets adaptive dampers, which assess road and driving conditions and choose damper rates accordingly.
The result is more appropriate damping at either end of the spectrum, a little more suppleness at slow speed over bumps; a little more control when the car is being pressed hard through bends. The standard system is good, but if you drive the pair one after the other you definitely notice the difference.
Should I buy one?
Why not? This is one of the finest and quickest driver’s cars on the road, especially in the performance bracket. It’s better value, for sure, than the thundering V8 flagship (although many will find that car’s huge potential irresistible) and has a bit more polish and capability than the entry-level coupé, which is around £10,000 cheaper.
It has rivals from other brands, of course, but licks any Aston for capability-versus-price (and doesn’t lack name-appeal) and affords the driver a completely different experience from the rear- or mid-engined Porsche range. For me (but not everyone) long nose and short boot wins every time.