The Jaguar F-Type Coupe finally breaks cover at the Los Angeles Auto show. It’s probably the most anticipated sports car launch of 2013 and easily one of the most scooped – but, despite this, Jaguar has still managed to pull of a couple of surprises. The addition of the F-Type R Coupe, as well as an aggressive pricing strategy, means that Jaguar will be fighting against its rivals on a more level playing field.
The F-Type R Coupe is the latest member of Jaguar’s expanding R Performance line and boasts 550bhp from its supercharged V8 – which means that the new range topper will cover the 0-60mph in just 4.0 seconds – and, from what we hear, that’s a conservative estimate. It also has a maximum speed of 186mph and can also accelerate from 50 to 75mph in 2.4 seconds. However, the numbers only tell a small part of the story – the F-Type R will be the most focused driver’s car yet from Jaguar, helped to a large degree by the superbly-engineered, super-stiff, body shell.
That’s not all, though – the suspension features adaptive dynamics that manage the car’s body movements. The springing is also firmer – it’s 4.3% stiffer in front and 3.7% tighter at the rear than the F-Type V8-S Convertible and the driver can select an even stiffer suspension setting in Dynamic Mode, which will also tweak the steering, gear-changes of the eight-speed SportShift automatic and the throttle mapping.
A new electronic active differential and a torque vectoring system has been added. The former controls the amount of torque sent to each wheel and the latter is able to independently brake the inner wheels in order to reduce understeer. The F-Type R’s brakes, meanwhile, are the largest available in the F-Type range, at 15in – carbon-ceramic units will be available soon.
Mind you, it’s the body engineering that really excites us. Features such as a high-strength, hydroformed aluminium beam that runs over each door opening from the bottom of the A-pillar to the back of the C-pillar, have been incorporated in order to maintain ‘shell stiffness, despite that low roofline and lack of B-pillars. The car’s torsional rigidity figure of 33,000Nm/degree is Jaguar’s best yet and has been achieved by clever thinking such as the single-piece aluminium pressing that takes in the coupé’s entire body side.
That also facilitated what must easily be one of the best-looking new cars to emerge in the past few years. Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar said: ‘Creating a sports Coupe is the purest of design tasks and also the most challenging; get it right and aesthetically the result will be as dynamic as the car should be rewarding to drive. In F-Type Coupe, I believe we’ve got it right. The purity of the C-X16 Concept has been retained without compromise; the long bonnet, low roofline and tapering cabin of the F-Type Coupe inspires me every time I see it.’
He would say that… but the new car’s styling has been almost universally lauded – a great result for the company, which just five years ago, seemed to be floundering. The main difference from the C-X16 is the loss of that E-type inspired side-opening tailgate, but that was never going to make it into production. Jaguar’s comeback doesn’t quite rest on the F-Type – this is no make-or-break product for the company, but more of a halo product that adds image and profitability – Jaguar’s true all-aluminium expansion begins in earnest in 2015 with the launch of its all-new small car range, as well as its own in-house engines, which are due to roll off the line in Wolverhampton very soon indeed.
Both V6-powered F-Type Coupes are are cheaper than expected, perhaps as a result of the early criticisms of the Convertible’s lofty pricing. The base F-Type and F-Type S are no less than £7285 less than their rag-topped counterparts, while the R Coupe comes in at £85,000 before options. The Coupe will go on sale next March.