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.
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 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.
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…