From £90,8609
Excited? You bet. On the evidence of this early track test drive the Jaguar F-type coupe could be the best car Jaguar has ever made

Our Verdict

Jaguar F-Type R

The powerful Jaguar F-Type R is sensational to drive, with even better driving dynamics than its lesser siblings without resorting to the savage tendencies of the SVR

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12 January 2014

What is it?

The Jaguar F-type coupé, seen here in top-flight R specification and bulging at the seams with 542bhp of supercharged 5.0-litre V8, a set of 20in wheels and tyres and, for the first time in a production Jaguar, the option of carbon ceramic brakes.

It’s a prototype rather than a full blown production example, and we were only allowed to drive it on a track - around the famous GP Circuit de Catalunya at Barcelona - but even so, just a few brief laps in this car were all it took to twig that it is very much the star of the show within the new F-type coupé line up.

The F-type R coupé is, in Jaguar’s opinion, the model that stands up best beside the Porsche 911, and to the Porsche 911 Turbo in particular. Its all-aluminium bodyshell is an incredible 80 per cent stiffer than that of the roadster, which itself has one of the stiffest structures money can buy. Its power steering is a touch sharper than the soft-top’s and its suspension only a touch stiffer, but Jaguar claims both the handing and ride are significantly improved, all of which stems from having a body that is fundamentally so much more rigid.

The brakes are also bigger, with ventilated steel discs being fitted as standard front and rear with the new carbon-ceramic discs featuring as either £7400 or £8400 options, depending on whether you go for the cast or forged 20in wheels to go with them. For the first time in a Jaguar, there’s also a torque vectoring system that tickles the unloaded inside wheels during hard cornering to help improve traction and reduce understeer. 

And as if that wasn’t enough to distinguish the car technically, the R also gets a new, second-generation electronic differential, new gearbox software that further improves the speed and shift quality of the eight-speed automatic gearbox, plus the option of a bespoke set of super-sticky, but still road-legal, Continental tyres for customers who decide to use their car on circuits.

Jaguar expects almost 60 per cent of all F-type sales to be coupés from the moment this car rumbles on to our streets in late March.

What's it like?

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. 

Should I buy one?

On a track, and a track alone for the time being, this is easily the best Jaguar I’ve ever driven.

It’s also one of the best sports cars I’ve come across, period. Without exaggeration, the F-type R coupé is that good to drive on and beyond its heady limits.

Jaguar F-type R coupe

Price £85,000; 0-60mph 4.0sec (claimed); Top speed 186mph (claimed); Economy 32.1mpg (combined) CO2 259g/km; Kerb weight 1665kg; Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol; Installation Front, longitudinal, RWD; Power 542bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 502lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
25

12 January 2014
The best car Jaguar has ever made?
Now that Jaguar is owned by the Indian company Tata and both the CEO and the head of R&D are German?
A little sad, don 't you think ?

12 January 2014
What's that got to do with it? Lamborghini is owned by Audi and have a German president. Does that make them not so Italian anymore?

12 January 2014
Conte Candoli wrote:

The best car Jaguar has ever made?
Now that Jaguar is owned by the Indian company Tata and both the CEO and the head of R&D are German?
A little sad, don 't you think ?

No. Jaguar is a British brand and that's what matters, while its products are distinctly British too. Does the Bank of England become less British because its governer is Canadian?

12 January 2014
It doesn't do 32.1mpg on the combined cycle. And how can they make it so heavy when they use so much aluminium?

12 January 2014
Ray60 wrote:

It doesn't do 32.1mpg on the combined cycle. And how can they make it so heavy when they use so much aluminium?

How about a diesel golf instead?!

12 January 2014
shortbread wrote:
Ray60 wrote:

It doesn't do 32.1mpg on the combined cycle. And how can they make it so heavy when they use so much aluminium?

How about a diesel golf instead?!

What are you on about?

12 January 2014
Jaguar are quite unusual in that they are honest about the true kerb weight of their cars when they leave the showroom. Many other makers quote a basic running car minus much trim, soundproofing and even seats.

12 January 2014
What the mpg is? Why would you possibly be concerned? Anything in double figures would be clearly acceptable for the market that this vehicle is aimed at.

I do hope that your illness is not painful and that you find an interest where your blood pressure is not going to be quite as raised as it is if you are unable to recognise that what you have posted is clearly going to incite comments that infuriate you so much.

Perhaps you need to contemplate slightly more important matters, in what ever belief you choose to follow, rather than the weight of an automobile.

My family and I will include you in our prayers this evening.

Jersey. .

P.S. I cannot imagine circumstances where Jonboy4969 would die alone. We have been together for many years and I cannot imagine ever not being with him. As well as his intelligence, compassion and good looks, he is a wonderful lover and his military career is a credit to all who served him.

Jersey64

12 January 2014
Look out Porsche & more especially AMG.

Success of the F-Type coupe is all about dynamics. Jaguar has never had a problem with Design.

The heart of Jaguar remains British, it is irrelevant where the money originates - BUT Hats off to Tata for their support of Jaguar's re-invigoration and the continued levels of investment in new vehicles.

British Jobs- Helping British prosperity and Providing prestige for Britain & India.

Hip Hip ..........................

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

12 January 2014
Well done Jaguar
It matters not that an Indian company chose to invest and saw the potential of a great British company. My only issue is that our own government should have been right behind Jaguar instead of bailing out the banks.

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

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