9

This was the most powerful version of Jaguar’s new sports car, the F-Type R. Although this title now belongs to the SVR, the Special Vehicle Operation's version owes much to its predecessor.

The top-spec V8 sits alongside its supercharged V6 siblings, although none of the range should be described as underpowered. The base V6 has 335bhp available, rising to 375bhp in the V6 S and ending with an impressive 542bhp in V8 form. Jaguar's SVO division felt this wasn't enough for their take on the big cat sports car and duly upped the power to 567bhp.

Most staggering about the F-Type R is the simple fact that Jaguar has improved the torsional rigidity of the convertible by 80 percent. That such a large change can come from adding a fixed aluminium roof is more than impressive, with the extra metal turning the F-Type into a true monocoque structure in the process.

The extra rigidity means Jaguar engineers have been able to make the F-Type R coupé even better to drive, granting extra dynamic ability by raising its spring rates at the front and rear. The coupé should have more control, better agility and greater steering precision than the convertible, then. And that was hardly lacking in the first place.

Size wise, the all-aluminium, front-engined, all-wheel-drive F-Type R coupé is comparable to a BMW 3 Series. Indeed, it shares many of its components with Jaguar’s own 3 Series rival, the XE.

With a top speed of 186mph and the 0-60mph sprint covered in just 4.0 seconds, the powerful F-Type R is thunderingly fast, although it must be said that these outstanding performance figures are translated to the convertible also - with the R Convertible capable of 0-60mph in 3.9sec before plowing on towards its 186mph limiter.

As well as the burbling 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine there are extra additions in the form of 20-inch wheels with larger steel brakes. Carbon-ceramic units with performance tyres and lighter forged wheels also feature on the options list. Although some of those options are made standard on the SVR.

Even sitting at its governed top speed, the V8 coupé remains flat and able to steer faithfully, with its large tailgate spoiler handling the generated lift confidently. Again with the power duly increased for the SVR - its capable of reaching the heavenly 200mph mark in coupé form but just a mere 195mph with a rag top affixed.

On the track, it was easy enough to discover and take the Jaguar F-Type R to its limits and hold it there, with the car’s excellent torque vectoring system eliminating understeer in most of the corners.

There’s a real feeling of the F-Type directing you to the right line, even if, like me, you have a tendency to hit the apex of a corner too early. If you’re not looking for a hardcore racer experience, its best to leave the R with its Dynamic stability mode turned on. That allows you to oversteer fairly shallowly while also keeping your speed up.

Of course, if you get brave you can turn off all the electronic aids, and doing so will allow you to pull off the kind of wild oversteer-induced drifts favoured by magazine photographers. It’s surprisingly easy to do, too, even at 40mph, because the F-Type feels so balanced. It’s tail pokes out willingly but can be held with the right power for what seems like minutes.

That depends on whether you decide to spend more to get this F-Type R. It costs from £89,980 with the SVR weighing in at £110,000, a considerable jump from the £51,450 of the base model. For all that money you would expect a decent equipment list, with the standard F-Type R coming with an AWD system, 20in alloys, an electronic active differential, LED headlights, adaptive dynamics and keyless entry and start on the outside. Inside there is a premium leather upholstery, electrically adjustable performance sports seats, a Meridian sound system and Jaguar's 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system.

The SVR not only gets more power than the R, but includes a beefier bodykit, a carbonfibre rear wing, a lightweight titanium exhaust, front parking sensors, 20in forged alloy wheels and heated steering wheel as standard.

Still, if you choose the V8 there’s no chance you’ll be disappointed. With all three F-type coupé models, there’s a shared quality of simply going straight that’s quite wonderful. You feel lordly as you drive along, fingers resting lightly on the wheel, enjoying the beautifully crafted interior, not needing to adjust anything. 

That kind of faith in a car is rare to come by, and it’s something that will lift the F-Type R out of the realm of being another mere sports car, and into the history books.

Top 5 Sport coupes

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