What is the Jaguar F-type coupé?
This is the most desirable car Jaguar has built since the E-type of the Swinging Sixties. Beneath that perfectly proportioned body, the F-type coupé is a front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupé with two seats and boot that’s large enough for more than just a briefcase and washbag. This means it is practical enough that an owner could drive to Scotland for a weekend away, and sufficiently thrilling that they’d want to call in at Croft racing circuit for an impromptu track day.
Depending on how hot you like your sports cars served, and how much money you want to spend, there are three versions to choose between. The coupé; priced from £51,250, the S coupé, starting at £60,250, and the flagship R coupé, which will burn an £85,000 hole in your wallet. Rival cars drivers might also want to consider include the Audi TT or R8, BMW M4 and the Cayman and 911 from Porsche.
The beautifully sculpted bodywork is pressed from aluminium, and Jaguar claims that as a result the bodyshell is light yet also the stiffest it has yet produced. However, we should sound a note of caution here: whatever Jaguar may say in its glossy brochures, the F-type coupé is substantially heavier (by approximately 180kg) than its key competitors, such as the Porsche 911. Will that harm its performance?
Decisions, decisions. The choice of engines that owners can have beneath the bulging bonnet of their F-type coupé starts with a 3-litre V6, which is supercharged to give good throttle response and impressive flexibility. It has 335bhp, and 332Ib ft from 3,500 to 5,000rpm, which means that the coupé can accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, achieves 161mph and returns up to 32mpg on the combined cycle.
Want to go faster? Try the F-type S coupé, which uses the same engine but it has been tuned to achieve 375bhp and 339Ib ft. This makes it modestly quicker, with a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 171mph, but the fuel economy falls slightly to 31mpg.
Driving test drove the S on UK roads. The supercharged V6 engine feels surprisingly racy, with a need for plenty of revs before it picks up its heels and flings the car along the road. That is strange, given it’s supercharged, which would typically make an engine extremely flexible. The engine note is surprisingly subdued, but the exhaust more than makes up for this, especially when set to Sport mode, as it pops between gearshifts and when the driver lifts off the throttle to slow, or shift down a gear.
The eight-speed gearbox is a traditional automatic, and works exceedingly well, with a smooth, easy-going nature in traffic and good responses when faced with an open, winding road and enthusiastic driver. With the V6 in its nose, the S feels a little lighter on its feet and more agile when changing direction than the V8-powered R. There’s an appreciable difference when changing between the normal and dynamic driving modes, but like the R, its rear tyres struggle for traction on anything other than a dry road surface.
Drivers who have a need for speed and like the idea of a sports car that is part Jaguar and part hot-rod should strap themselves into the deep sports seats of the F-type R coupé. Its supercharged V8 rumbles like a thunderstorm directly overhead, shaking anyone within 100 paces to the core. Neighbours won’t thank early risers who drive to work in one of these…
With 545bhp and an impressive 501Ib ft of torque (from just 2,500rpm) it gives without saying that there is no shortage of performance. Jaguar claims that the R can sprint to 62mph in 4.2 seconds and charge on to its electronically limited top speed of 186mph. In fact we wouldn’t be at all surprised to find Jaguar has run it to 200mph in secrecy at their development track.
On the road, it builds speed with such breathtaking ease that extra care must be taken at all times, or you’ll arrive at a corner or hazard travelling much faster than you thought possible…
The V8’s huge helpings of torque do create a problem, though: namely, that the engine can overwhelm the chassis at times. More than one of the Driving test team emerged from the R looking very white in the face, as the tail can snap out and shuffle sideways without much provocation.
We tried the S with standard steel brakes and the R with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, and based on our experiences, the latter are not worth paying the extra money for, as our R suffered from a softening pedal developing a disconcerting amount of travel, whereas the S pedal kept reassuringly solid.
Climbing into the interior of the F-type coupé is a fantastic feeling. For a split second you could be Buck Rogers sliding down into the cockpit of your Starfighter, one hand wrapped around the joystick-style gearlever’s trigger to shift to Drive, the other grasping the thick-rimmed steering wheel… while all the instruments glow red.
A nice option is the glass roof, which heightens the feeling that you could be sitting benath a fighter-plane canopy. The seats are seriously supportive, but you do sit a little higher in this car than, say, in a Porsche 911, while outward visibility is pretty good overall and ably assisted by a reversing camera system and multiple proximity sensors.
It feels well made, and compares comfortably with the Porsche 911. And the number of switches is kept to a minimum, thanks to the use of a touchscreen in the dashboard that aggregates the controls of most of the day-to-day functions. A pair of cup-holders are good for holding your coffees to go, and a deep-lidded stowage bin doubles up as a central armrest. There are no back seats, but the boot provides a handy 315 litres, which is more than enough to pack luggage for a long weekend away.
The one to buy
Jaguar F-type S V6
2995cc, V6 supercharged
375bhp @ 6500rpm
339 lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm
0-62mph in 4.9sec
Road tax band:
L 4470mm, W 1923mm, H 1309mm
Jaguar F-type S Coupe rivals
- Aston Martin V12 Vantage (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Audi R8 (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Porsche 911 (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)