You climb into the F-type coupé, wrap your palms around its thickish but perfectly sized leather steering wheel and think, 'OK, this is proper, this is really rather a serious sports car actually, time to engage the very sharpest areas of your mind, otherwise something terrible might start to happen.'
So you rumble down the pitlane, with the Dynamic Drive program set to its most aggressive mode (dampers, steering, engine, gearbox and exhaust all dialed up to 11) and it doesn’t take long for the good bits, no, the brilliant bits to come flooding out. The performance this thing generates is somewhere between immense and plain hilarious. With the traction control system still engaged, it has so much grunt that it won’t actually allow you full power on the exit of a corner until you’re in fourth gear, sometimes fifth.
Most road cars, even most fast road cars, feel a bit puny along the straight bits of GP circuits. But the R coupé feels worryingly, wonderfully rapid, even along the never-ending main straight at Barcelona. Genuinely, it feels 911 Turbo fast in a straight line – to a point where it actually makes you feel a touch uncomfortable physically to begin with. I can’t imagine how unhinged the R coupé will feel on the B two-seven-whatever.
As ever, you need to turn all the systems off (or at least you do on a circuit) to appreciate just how exquisite the rest of the car really is; the chassis, the new E-diff, the steering, the brakes, the whole shebang. Otherwise, with the traction and torque vectoring and all the other stuff that will undoubtedly keep you out of the undergrowth on a wet road switched on, you can’t get to any of the really good stuff. It remains locked away inside an electronic cupboard, never to be appreciated. And with 542bhp in a 1665kg car you absolutely have to provide such protection to prevent your customers from killing themselves.
But switch it off, swallow a brave pill, summon the courage to begin opening the throttle half a second earlier than feels sensible in most corners and...crikey, the R coupé transforms into one of the most fantastically unhinged but, vitally, also one of the most fundamentally well balanced, beautifully resolved sports cars you will ever have the joy of driving. And if you then take it that little bit further it will show you tricks, do things, that you never thought possible from a mere road car.
And with the carbon-ceramic brakes fitted (I tried cars with steel and carbon discs), it also stops like no other Jaguar in history – perhaps not quite in the same league as the Porsche 911 GT3 for pure stopping power but very much a car in the same vein, and with the same capabiities, elsewhere.