What's it like?
Heavenly. Bonkers as well, of course – when you want it to be. But also comfortable, usable and never less than memorable. Which is a special and particularly thrilling mix for a road car and one we haven’t seen Jaguar properly resolve since the original XFR.
First, because it’s what you’ll notice immediately, the bonkers bit. The R is fast. Frantically, spankingly fast. The data box will tell you it’s half a second tardier to the national speed limit than a 911 Turbo, but it doesn’t feel it. What if feels, courtesy of the V8’s relentlessness, is just this side of anti-social. Click the adaptive exhaust button, however, and it’ll merrily cross that line, too.
Crucially, however – and here the stiffness starts to show – there is no incongruity lurking in the huge performance. Where the roadster’s chassis could seem overawed by the supercharger’s drawl, the R squats and grips and goes with a newfound oneness. The pyrotechnics and associated noise of a floored throttle can be appreciated from the get-go – and that’s important both to driver confidence and a wider appreciation of the better balance both Steves have already alluded to.
That same poise, magnified by a Surrey B-road, is what makes the pace doubly compelling. The overall dynamic picture is recognisable as the same understeer-immune, pliably agile and rear-end-adjustable package already successfully established as ‘F-type’ in nature, but its limits, precision and manageability have all been moved up a notch. What seemed precarious in the roadster is now brilliantly practicable.
Second – and possibly better still – is the ease and convenience with which it can all be packed away. In the R there is clearer definition now between the button-activated Dynamic mode and its mild-mannered counterpart; selecting the latter frees the dampers to take greater advantage of their more rigid setting and lets the chassis properly breathe. The jostle of 20-inch wheels isn’t completely eradicated, but with the superb eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox back in D, the car manages a supercruise as well as any of its rivals.
Should I buy one?
Certainly. The V8-engined roadster was only previously recommended with a host of provisos, but the coupé deletes almost all of them. Added to which, the better-reconciled R finally makes a top-spec F-type look like decent value for money. Starting at £85k puts it firmly in 911 Carrera S territory, and, measured side by side, the reasoning suddenly isn’t hard to fathom.
Not only are you buying a car endowed with considerably more power, but you’re also getting one capable of competing head on with the Porsche’s high-grade comfort, class and handling entertainment. Furthermore, it probably won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the F-type coupé is quite extraordinarily pretty. It hardly needed that kicker, but here it is. Advantage Jaguar.
Jaguar F-type R coupé
Price £85,000; 0-60mph 4.0sec; Top speed 186mph; Economy 25.5mpg; CO2 259g/km; Kerb weight 1650kg; Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 542bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 502lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic