First Drive : Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Mike Humble

The range-topping 5.0 V8 Jaguar F-Type R. Lovely, isn't she?
The range-topping 5.0 V8 Jaguar F-Type R. Lovely, isn’t she?

A wannabe E-type or a modern day XJ-S were just some of the comments that were banded around in my earshot when sampling the top of the range Jaguar F-Type Coupe. As you may remember, we experienced the 3.0 supercharged “S” back in the summer and came away feeling impressed and proud to be British. Styling is always subjective but I found the sporting Jaguar to be achingly pretty and it commands attention pretty much everywhere you go – the nice kind and right kind of attention too. All in all, I loved every moment be it behind the wheel or stood looking at it from a small distance.

So when the chance to grab a steer of the V8-powered version came about, the chance was not to be turned down. The 3.0 V6 Supercharged car I last drove had 380Ps under the long and curving bonnet, but now I was to be holding the reigns if you like to a 5.0 V8 working with a twin scroll supercharger. The end result is a car that looks almost identical to the “S” model in every way, but with an almost offensive amount of power – 550Ps. It would be fair to say that, in the right hands, it will arouse surprise and reward and in the wrong hands quite simply become a widow-maker.

From the moment you prod the console mounted button to fire up the V8 plant, you just know you are in for one hell of a ride. The woofle and gurgle cannot be described in words alone so let’s just say it’s a good sound but it’s a loud one too. Like many, if you leave for work early on a morning, you may see the odd curtain twitch – I certainly did but the comments afterwards tended to be “wow, that sounds good”. Once warmed through the 5.0 V8 settles to a flawless thrum on idle with an incredible lack of vibration in the body shell or cockpit.

The UK-built 5.0 V8 features a twin scroll supercharger and 550Ps of oomph. Performance wise... It'll tear your face off but it also sounds amazing
The UK-built 5.0 V8 features a twin scroll supercharger and 550Ps of oomph. Performance wise… It’ll tear your face off but it also sounds amazing

So, what’s the difference over the 3.0-S? Well… it’s mainly power and noise – and lots of it, too. Where the “S” is smooth and very easy to drive with effortless linear performance, the “R” begs to be driven hard from the off. You have to master the throttle pedal with skill and precision at first but, once accomplished, you soon become at one with the Jaguar – it’s not a vehicle for the faint hearted. Progress around town is pretty good and even though the ride comfort is very much on the sporting side, for a car with seemingly zero suspension movement, Jaguar engineers have given it just enough comfort.

Obviously deep potholes and ruts need to be avoided and, if they’re not, the Jaguar will hop and jitter around – especially under power. But build up the pace on a nice road and the F-Type remains in control and actually quite refined with what a few passengers remarked as a decent ride comfort. But to talk about ride quality too much would be foolish – if you are after a quick Jaguar to pop up to the shops in or to enjoy the serene comfort of a luxury car, why not try the XF-R for size? The F-Type R is a long distance point to point missile.

On the subject of “does it go, Mister?” as a young lad said recently, Jaguar claim it will pass the 60 mark in around 4.0 seconds and spear on to a limited maximum of 186mph – I have no cause to doubt them. But it’s not so much the numbers but how it does it. In full auto mode the F will make you scream in either fear or delight, drive in manual paddle shift and your abilities can be tested to the limit. The speed of the gear changes and the way it devours time and distance is astonishing to experience, the power is there at any speed and in any gear… it really is astonishing to witness or experience.

The cockpit is comfy and nicely trimmed. There is a surprising amount of oddment space too and refinement when cruising is more than acceptable. Hi-Fi has a marvellous sound quality
The cockpit is comfy and nicely trimmed. There is a surprising amount of oddment space too and refinement when cruising is more than acceptable. Hi-Fi has a marvellous sound quality

The handling is electric thanks to tyre equipment wider than a Barford Road roller, brilliant steering feel thanks to a conventional hydraulic PAS system and gigantic fade – free brakes which are progressive and well specified for the power. Cornering at speed brings a steering turn-in that’s sharper than anything a Sheffield Master Cutler could produce. For sure, if you tickle the throttle the Jag wags its tail like a spirited Labrador puppy but it’s all consummate to the colossal power the car produces. Nor does it feel out of its depth either, it’s well balanced in every scenario it’s put through.

One thing is noticeable from the outset and that’s just how rigid the body shell feels. Despite the whole structure being made from aluminium for lightness, the car actually seems to be weighty and well planted on the road with no tremors or unsettling feedback through the shell or via your backside. Not only is the Jaguar a pretty car bordering on being a work of art, it’s also a piece of engineering excellence – the plug welds and other fixtures and fittings that makes up this gorgeous two-seater construction proves that Jaguar really have come on in leaps and bounds in the past decade.

Switching on the aptly titled “Dynamic Mode” sharpens up the steering and damper settings and by turning on the “Active Exhaust” which by-passes the exhaust flow through the rear silencers, your world becomes tinted with a hint of red mist. The bark and over-run pop from the quad slash tail pipes took me back to the time I first heard War of the Worlds via a premium Hi-Fi and Wharfedale E70 speakers… absolutely spellbound. The noise can get tiresome after a while, and when it does, you simply turn the function off and it all goes serene once again.

Just enough space for a brace of cases or the weekly shop. Those wide rear flanks give the car a stance with attitude - everyone who commented thought the F-Type R was cool
Just enough space for a brace of cases or the weekly shop. Those wide rear flanks give the car a stance with attitude – everyone who commented thought the F-Type R was cool

As with the 3.0-S, a cute little boot spoiler automatically pops up at higher speeds and lowers again once you slow down to landing speed. All in all, the 5.0-R is a devilishly great touring speedster which is sadly wasted in the UK, for nipping over to the Austrian Alps for a fondue party or flying down to Monte Carlo for a friend’s boat christening the F-Type R would excel. The boot will take a brace of cases and there are some neat little pockets and spaces for odds and ends – a whole lot more than you would find with the cabriolet version, and with a much better ride.

So going back to my opening gambit – is it a modern E-type or XJ-S? Good God, no. Whereas the aforementioned classics and the more recent XK-R seemed to appeal the more genteel gentleman, the F-Type R is a hard core road ripper that is a gulf apart from the traditional Jaguar image of Pink Gins at three o’ clock and padded tweed jackets. It’s the real deal and the full package of style, disturbing performance and mouth-watering looks – a car for which no excuses have to made once purchased… but it comes at a cost.

Excluding the options, the 5.0-R relieves the potential customer of £85.000, which may seem a lot to pay. But you gain genuine supercar performance with superstar looks and a voice with more substance than Tom Jones – everyone who viewed and sampled the car remarked on how great or cool it was. Tail sliding, tyre burning, laugh-out-loud fun or high speed long distance leather and suede trimmed GT opulence… as Blind Date’s “Our Graham” used to say – the decision is yours!

A full warts and all review of the Jaguar F-Type R can be seen by clicking here…

 

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

12 Comments

  1. A true Jaguar sportscar. Such a beautiful body design, with all the required traditional Jaguar attributes, plus plenty of retro details, yet thoroughly modern at the same time. Interior is a bit more generic but very purposeful.

    Out of all the modern Jags, this is the one that is closest to perfection IMO. It also shows how you CAN have retro Jag styling cues in a modern package.

    If they could apply the same thinking to the saloons, it would be great.

  2. “Styling is always objectionable but I found the sporting Jaguar to be achingly pretty and it commands attention pretty much everywhere you go – the nice kind and right kind of attention too. All in all, I loved every moment be it behind the wheel or stood looking at it from a small distance.”

    Styling objectionable? Surely not. Did the spell checker mean objective?

    Better keep buying the lottery tickets…

  3. A fabulous car, and I am not really a fan of Jaguars.

    The Coupe does a fantastic job making the occasion visual reference to the E Type but also having a healthy injection of contemporary age originality. It is certainly better looking than the Convertible version. Job well done, Jaguar. If only the same passion had gone into the XE saloon.

    That said, I do still miss the XK; a great shame the arrival of the F Type effectively speeded up its demise rather than help complement it. For now, however, the F Type is a great sporting halo model for Jaguar. Long may this continue!

    • There is definitely still room in the range for an XJS style grand tourer, maybe a modern version of the lovely XJ coupe from the 70s?

  4. It just shows that if you invest, it pays off!
    Both Land Rover and Jaguar never actually managed to invest in new products since the early 1960’s until recently that the Indians took control.
    Until the Tata era they strugled the update the old designs, now they come up with world beating exciting products.
    Thanks to Tata that recognised the potential!

  5. Actually Demetris, I think BMW and then Ford both invested heavily in LR and Jaguar. Take the 2000 year RR or the first all aluminium XJ6.

    However, while Ford helped massively with improving quality and manufacturing tech, it failed to oversee the delivery of Jaguars were truly desirable, until the XF, and at that point they were already looking to sell. From 1989 until 2009, your brain said you should like the S-Type or the XJ or the XK, but the heart wasn’t in it.

    The XF, XJ and F-Type gives us the most desirable Jags since the mid-eighties, and in terms of tech and design, since the late-sixties.

    LR did much better product wise under BMW then Ford, hence the stronger sales performance, with cars that people really wanted.

    Freed from the distant control of Detroit and Munich, a much strengthened management at Gaydon and Coventry, who value and invest in engineering and design, have lifted these two iconic brands to new levels and delivered cars that everybody wants.

  6. Ian, perhaps i am overseeing the numbers, and i am a little too much sentimental over the issue, but it never occured to me that either BMW or Ford were serious about JLR. I cannot imagine what the targets or purposes of BMW and Ford might be at the time of the acquisition in both cases, but the history says that they both offloaded JLR very soon, having in mind that investements like this pay off in the long term. I fully agree with the last paragraph of your message though. Especially Germans have a very strong opinion on the way things should be.

    • Neither BMW or Ford planned to “off load” their respective parts of JLR, it was something that was forced upon them by other events.

      In the case of BMW it was the massive amount of cash the Rover Group was consuming it threatened to bring down the whole group. They needed to sell Land Rover to plug the hole left in their balance sheet.

      In the case of Ford, they dropped both JLR and Volvo (Cars) because they needed support of the US Government and they would not get that if they continued to direct investment into their Premium European brands.

      If the business decision had been based on “business logic” rather than “politics” it would have made sense to keep them.

  7. Ford wanted the Jaguar brand to move their product up-market; BMW wanted Land-Rover’s engineering to get them into the lucrative SUV segment.

    • BMW didn’t need LR’s off road capability, as the SUVs they produce aren’t designed to go off road! They already had 4wd versions of the 5 series anyway.

      BMW recognised the potential profitability of LR, something Ford also realised when they bought it for £1.6bn, which ultimately had the happy effect of bringing Jaguar and LR together!

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