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.