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Jaguar's F-TYPE Coupe really takes the gloves off in 5.0-litre R guise. Jonathan Crouch reports.
The Jaguar F-TYPE R Coupe brings some big guns to the sports car sector, with a 575PS supercharged 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet and it's laden with goodies like AWD, torque vectoring, carbon ceramic brakes and a 380w Meridien sound system. It'll bludgeon its way to 60mph in just 3.5 seconds and the asking price is around £97,000.
Is £97,000 a lot of money to pay for this car? Think carefully about that for a moment because how you answer it will very much depend on how you position this car. Think of the Jaguar F-TYPE R as a small Porsche 718 Cayman-like coupe that's been hopped up on the juice and then that asking price might seem a bit optimistic. If, on the other hand, you see this as a car that offers more talent, presence, power and modernity than something like an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and it can be argued it's something of a bargain. We're tended towards the latter view. We've been impressed by every F-TYPE we've had seat time in and the R is just the ultimate - for now at least - extension of that line. With 575PS under the bonnet and a fantastic all-wheel drive chassis, this is the Jaguar sports coupe we've been waiting years for.
There's no other way to put this - the F-TYPE R is a monster. The powerplant is good for 575PS, with drive going to all four wheels via an excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox. The extra rigidity of the coupe body helps the suspension and steering fine tune their responses. That said, the F-TYPE R is, like every other F-TYPE we've sampled, at its best when rough-housed. Expect the same delicacy and precision of a Porsche 911 and you might come away disappointed. The R rewards a bit of hooliganism behind the wheel and will entertain on track until the rear tyres are cremated. On road, it's better to be smoother with the controls where you can enjoy the huge reserves of torque, the clever torque vectoring system, the beefy carbon ceramic brakes and the smart logic of the gearbox software. What'll it do against the clock? Jaguar reckons 60mph disappears in 3.5 seconds on the way to 186mph. It's been independently tested over a standing kilometre in 21.49 seconds, which makes it quicker than a 997-generation Porsche 911 Turbo or a Lamborghini Gallardo. Those are some serious credentials.
Those of you expecting a much more aggressive shape to go with that hefty power output might come away a little disappointed. As far as styling goes, this isn't a big wing, shouty sort of car. There's a pricier, slightly more extrovert version of this model badged the SVR if you want it, but there's a measured restraint about the standard 'R' that looks classy and well-judged. A slightly smarter front end and full-LED headlamps mark out this lightly revised version. Overall, this model still manages to make the Porsche 718 Cayman seem rather hall-of-mirrors in its proportioning, and while it's not as instantly beautiful as an Aston Martin Vantage, it looks as if it would thoroughly work the Vantage over in a bar fight. Spotters will note the R's raised bonnet vents and the gloss side sills. There are some lovely details such as the pop-out door handles and the single flying buttress that swoops down from one side of the centre console, to the neatly styled gear selector, the giant TFT display in the dash and the deep-set driving position. The boot is relatively big, giving the Coupe shape a definite advantage over the tiny boot of the F-TYPE drop top. You'll get 315 litres in up to the parcel shelf and 407 litres to the window line.
In many ways the £97,000 F-TYPE R Coupe's biggest rival might well be the 450PS F-TYPE P450 Coupe which still packs a concussive punch yet retails for over £20,000 less. That's a huge step in price in the range and while the R Coupe can indeed mix it in performance terms with cars costing a good deal more, how badly do you need that added power? It comes very well equipped though, with many of the extras you'd pay thousands for in a typical Porsche 911 being included as standard. Carbon ceramic brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels, a twin-stitched premium leather interior, a ten-speaker Meridien 380w stereo, a switchable sports exhaust, satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth are all standard.
The WLTP fuel consumption figures don't make great reading. You just know that if a manufacturer quotes a combined economy figure of 26.4mpg, you'll probably be looking at mid to late teens on a daily basis. The R Coupe does have a 70-litre fuel tank which gives it an effective real world range of around 265 miles. Feather-foot the throttle and you'll do a good deal better on a long run. WLTP-rated emissions are rated at 243g/km. Overall, we think that all of that's probably quite irrelevant. If you average more than 20mpg in this car, then you're not using it properly and it deserves a better home. Like all Jaguar models, this one comes with a standard three year warranty though here, unlike some rivals, there's no cap on the number of miles you can cover in this period. You can pay a relatively small premium to extend the coverage period to five years if you wish.
It's hard to see how Jaguar could have done a lot better with this car. If owners had built a wish list of what this car ought to have been, it wouldn't have emerged much differently. Maybe a little lighter, possibly with the option of a manual gearbox but that would have been about it. The F-TYPE R is a masterstroke and one that we should be proud Britain can create. Being proud is one thing, turning that pride into solid orders quite another. The R faces some serious competition, not only from Porsche's evergreen 911 but also from cars like Aston Martin's aged but still alluring V8 Vantage, Maserati's sleek GranTurismo and the modernist Mercedes-Benz AMG GT. Still, if you like your sports cars elegant but with a serious side order of attitude, the Jaguar's elbowed its way into becoming the go-to choice.