The Jaguar F-type Coupé is the most powerful series-production Jag model ever. It responds accurately to even the smallest of steering inputs through an exceptionally stiff body. It is fearsome, loud, and fast.
The F-type Coupe is well built, with precise shut lines, a lustrous finish to its paintwork and perfect attention to detail everywhere we looked.
Does that description seem fitting for a Jaguar, which for decades has been the place you go for comfortable high-speed sitting rooms? Chief engineer Mike Cross replies: “It’s time for a change. This car is more than just the coupe version of the F-type roadster. It’s a high-performance sports car with a completely different character.”
It’s an unusually good-looking car, the F-type Coupe. While the roadster is not exactly left wanting in the looks department, the addition of the hard top has – to these eyes – turned the F into a stunning piece of kit. The front and rear just seem to gel in an especially slinky fashion and the curvaceous rear haunches are another Ian Callum masterpiece.
But the biggest visual payoff is at the rear, due in part to the glorious absence of a spoiler—at least, an obvious one. When the car exceeds 110km/h, an air deflector nesting in the tapered shut-line rises to reduce lift. It retracts again when you slow down.
Approach the car and tap the little button on the door handle. Out pops a thin slither of a door handle in one of the most surprising delights you’ll find on any car door. The fab glass roof flooding the cabin with soft daylight and a switchable exhaust.
Slip inside the F and you’re faced with a snug cabin. There are obviously no rear seats here, just a shallow cubby and a pair of coat hooks, which means that 2+2 fans will still have to look to the Germans.
The F-type Coupe has a 315-litre boot, which is fine for a weekend’s luggage.
The wraparound sports seats are very comfy and set low, giving a view across a long bonnet whose contrasting black air vents hint at the power onboard; meanwhile over your shoulder the view is framed by an ovoid rear window with overtones of E-type – while a pop-up rear spoiler with prominent Jag leaper bisects the view like a parodying billboard aimed at the driver.
The cabin feels very driver focused, thanks to deeply cowled instruments and a central grab handle that seems to fence the passenger off from the dashboard controls. These include simple rotary temperature dials, but the touch-screen infotainment system is a little distracting to use on the move
The cockpit itself is a revelation for a Jaguar: it’s unashamedly sporting, with only a few big, chunky controls for the ventilation, a large touchscreen and not a lot else. The one I go for the test drive was finished in lovely leather.
The touchscreen is a bit antiquated now compared with the German and Japanese competition and you can’t even press the bottom row of buttons in the touchscreen from my seating position unless you’re double-jointed. The digital read-out in between the dials in front of you is pixelated and low-tech, too. Jag is working on a new generation of multimedia screens that will arrive soon.
Connecting a phone via Bluetooth is easy and automatically remembered, and music can be played along the same connection.
Even entry-level versions get part-leather seats, sat-nav, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and engine start, a USB socket, Bluetooth and an eight-inch colour touch-screen. The S adds full-leather trim, 19-inch alloys, a non-switchable active sports exhaust, upgraded brakes and a better-quality sound system.
Time to hit the start button.
The V6 starts up with an enthusiastic burble. The centrally mounted rear exhaust pipes are huge – and so is the sound. Dab the brakes, select D and off you pootle, the coupe is easy to drive around town thanks to the eight-speed automatic box.
Still, Jaguar claims a punchy 0-100km/h time of 5.1sec and top speed is rated at 259Km/ for the entry-level F-TYPE with 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine.
In the middle comes the F-TYPE S, with the same engine tuned for 380 PS (279 kW; 375 hp), a top speed of 275 km/h and 0 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. The top of the range model is the V8 S, with Jaguar’s 5.0-litre, 495 PS (364 kW; 488 hp) supercharged petrol engine
The layout is front-engined, rear-wheel-drive. The gearbox is an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters offering manual override.
Three driving programs are available: a normal one, one for slippery conditions and a Dynamic mode.
The auto transmission helps give this car a Jekyll and Hyde character but It’s an easy daily driver.
In normal running, the exhaust note is obviously V6 but more muted. Tap the sports exhaust button and all hell breaks loose. The F-type remains an exceptionally sonic proposition and little of the screaming anger of the V6 is lost with the addition of a tin-top roof.
In manual mode on your favourite back road, the F Coupe simply wails along like a mini F1 car, the exhaust popping and banging every time you slot up the ‘box and, especially, when you back off the throttle. It’s high drama indeed but sometimes it’s so loud you have to deselect sport mode so as not to act like a show-off …
Braking performance is great, though, aided by fine pedal feel and admirable resistance to fade during my track tests.
It’s nimble, too. It might weigh more than its Porsche rivals, but the F-type Coupe is still playful and pointy, responding to inputs at the large wheel with speed and agility.
It tracks flat through corners, with hardly any body roll, the standard limited slip diff ensures great traction and the brakes haul off the inevitable speed with insouciance.
It delivers poise, thrill and interactivity above and beyond the ability of many rivals, but casts them over a backdrop of refinement, touring comfort and high-speed stability that fewer still can match.
It’s an inspired car, but it’s not encumbered by its maker’s sporting legend. It may not be perfect, but it is wonderful. It’s a machine of incredible allure – and, like the E-type was, it’s great value.