The Jaguar F-Type Coupe made its debut at both the Los Angeles Motor Show and Tokyo Motor Show last year. The release came almost a year to the day that we first saw the production ready F-Type Roadster at Los Angeles back in 2012. Almost a year after I first got behind the wheels of the F-Type Roadster, I find myself sliding behind the wheel of its Coupe counterpart wondering if the addition of a roof will take away any of the magic I found in the Roadster.
It seems as though Jaguar has got everyone involved in the launch of the new F-Type Coupé. A few weeks ago we saw David Beckham introduced as an ambassador for the brand in China, before that it was announced that Jose Mourinho would take delivery of the very first car, even Prince Harry had an opportunity to drive the car at Goodwood earlier this year. Lest we forget the fantastic Superbowl promotion too!
The F-Type Coupe range differs slightly from the Roadster. Three options are available; the Jaguar F-Type Coupe V6, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe V6 S and the range-topping Jaguar F-Type Coupe R.
Both V6 versions share a supercharged 3.0-litre V6, itself built off the platform of the legendary 5.0 litre supercharged V8 unit. Jaguar introduced the V6 to replace a naturally aspirated V8 towards the start of last year. It can also be found within the XJ and XF models. The V6, much like the 5.0 litre V8, is constructed predominantly from aluminium. The advantage is that it keeps weight low.
Providing the boost is a roots twin-vortex supercharger. The V6 features a modest 340 hp allowing for a 5.1 second 0 to 60 mph time. The V6 S gets a little more power, 380 hp and a 4.8 second 0 to 60 mph time. Both cars will apparently clear 160 mph with the V6 S capable of reaching as much as 171 mph. We borrowed an F-Type V6 Roadster last year and (during a VMAX organised event) saw 150 mph on the speedo. We don’t doubt the figures Jaguar quote.
The daddy of the range is the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe. This is where the Roadster range differs from the new Coupe. Jaguar’s excellent 5.0 litre supercharged V8 makes is again the engine of choice for the range-topping Coupe. Whereas the Roadster is limited to just 490 hp, the Coupe shares its power rating with the R-S range meaning 550 hp, 0 to 60 mph times of just 4.0 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph. Jaguar also announced that the F-Type R Coupe set a 7 minute 39 second lap time at the Nurburgring.
In terms of gearshift, the power is driven to the rear wheels through the excellent Jaguar-ZF eight-speed close-ratio Quickshift transmission. Six of the gears are designed for performance whereas 7th and 8th are used as an overdrive.
Dynamic mode is a key feature of both the V6 S and R models. All models are fitted with a variant of Dynamic mode (the chequered flag button mounted to the transmission tunnel). This actively controls vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates. A touch of the dynamics button turns the system on. The configurations are different for the Coupe than the Convertible. The spring rate in the F-Type R Coupe for example is higher at both the front and rear.
The R Coupe comes fitted with a touch screen control menu as standard allowing the driver independent configuration of the damping rates, steering weighting, gear changes and throttle response. Handy for those that find one or other standard configurations not to their taste. All three models remain limited to 4,000 rpm at a standstill meaning you can’t rev it up at the traffic lights to impress the casual bypassed.
The F-Type R Coupe sees the addition of torque vectoring by braking. It is the only model in the range to feature this option. As you will no doubt have heard, this is the latest in electronic performance aids. A computer monitors the forces involved in cornering and applies controlled braking onto the inside rear wheel, bringing it closer to the apex.
The R Coupe also makes Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes available for the very first time, albeit as an extra-cost option. Factoring in the additional costs, I suspect many will opt to stick with the standard units (which are more than capable but obviously more susceptible to fade with frequent track use).
Naturally, the F-Type Coupe’s drivetrain remains largely in line with that of the Coupe. The R Coupe is of course the exception with the addition of torque vectoring and carbon brakes.
It looks beautiful, doesn’t it? The F-Type Coupe more closely resembles the critically acclaimed C-X16 Concept from 2011. In the skin, the design looks nothing short of sensational. Whereas much of the F-Type Convertible design input went through Jaguar’s Director of Designer, Ian Callum (visually, below the midline, nothing changes), the shape of the Coupe has been felted by Jaguar’s Chief Designer Al Whelan.
As with the Convertible, there is plenty of talk about heartlines (of which, the F-Type Coupe apparently has three). These are Jaguar’s terminology for the lines that run the length of the car and define the shape.
The addition of the roof adds more muscle to my eyes. The extra side window outlines the curve of the wheel arch while the gentle slope of the rear is unbroken by pillars thanks to a nifty piece of engineering work that makes the roof pillars either side of the cabin structural. This of course means that the F-Type Coupe gets a beautiful unbroken profile.
At the rear, the F-Type Coupe features a bootlid spoiler which rises at the touch of a button or when the car exceeds 70 mph. It is programmed to lower when the speed drops below 50 mph and Jaguar tells us it reduces lift by up to 120 kg. You can tell the two engines apart from their exhaust pipes. Both V6 models get the iconic dual central exhausts, whilst the V8 gets quad pipes mounted at either side of the rear facia.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s Jaguar used to use the slogan “Grace… Space… Pace”. The F-Type Roadster already had the Grace and Pace aspects sown up, yet the space most certainly eluded the Roadster. With a larger rear hatch, the F-Type Coupe surprisingly doesn’t appear to swallow all that much more than the Roadster although to be fair, we didn’t test it extensively.
This is where we were expecting to find most of the change. Being constructed from aluminium and with the Roadster as a full fabric droptop, plenty of structural work was necessary. The F-Type Coupe is 80 % stiffer than the Roadster as a result.
Jaguar engineers have fitted a set of reinforced hydro-formed aluminium alloy beams that run from the front of the windscreen along to the very rear of the car. Further work has also been carried on further down to beef up the torsional rigidity. The photo above of the cut-out Coupe demonstrates the construction methods used to achieve this.
Customers will be able to choose from an aluminium roof panel or, and with no reduction in rigidity, a panoramic glass roof. We didn’t get a chance to drive a panoramic version. Jaguar quote a 12 kg weight addition for the option. The panoramic roof was a feature of the original C-X16 Concept so it seems natural for Jaguar to offer the option on the production Coupe.
Inside, very little changes over the tried and tested F-Type Convertible. Owners will get a high-quality interior with a driver oriented design. Surfaces are finished in leather for the most part.
Additional features come when you look behind the drivers seat. Between the driver and passenger there is a new bucket-style cubby hole for odds and ends. The space between the rear hatch and the boot is kept tidy through the use of a parcel shelf. The F-Type R Coupe has several options including a leather headliner and alcantara finishings.
Our V6S test car featured an uprated set of 14-way adjustable performance seats, a jet interior with jet stitching, an optional powered tailgate and a 12 speaker top of the range Meridian sound system. Our F-Type R Coupe had similar upgrades including the aforementioned leather headliner.
Our first experience of the F-Type Coupe came the day after landing at Barcelona airport. Following a short flight from Barcelona to Lleida, we were united with a line of F-Type Coupe V6S on the runway tarmac at the foot of our plane.
Jaguar chose not to show the standard V6 model in favour of the slightly more powerful version. We are told that Jaguar expects most to opt for the V6S and the V8 in similar proportions to F-Type Convertible sales. The company also expects sales of the Coupe to exceed sales of the convertible for the first year of sales.
After the relevant safety briefings, we hit the road in Jaguar’s new Coupe. I had already heard (and read) rave reviews from those that had driven the prototype cars and loved it. Porsche have this market segment cornered with the 991 Carrera. On first impressions, the F-Type Coupe certainly provides more sense of style and elegance.
Leaving the airport and joining the motorway, the F-Type Coupe immediately feels even more alert than the Convertible. The additional torsional rigidity is clear even at slower speeds. It is reassuring to find that the Coupe also retains that sonorous sports exhaust note. The sound penetrates the cabin on a regular basis despite the coupe bodywork and the additional sound deadening. Only the occasional crackling over run is muffled.
As we move towards twister roads, the car gets much more involving. The brakes feel just right, the power is perfect and with dynamic mode engaged, corners are a pleasure. Visibility is okay and the only thing that lets the experience down slightly is the JLR sat nav system (no surprise there then!).
To allow us to test the handling of the car at the ragged edge, Jaguar directed us towards Motorland Aragon in Lleida in Spain. Opened in 2009, Motorland Aragon has hosted Formula Renault and Moto GP. It features a range of different corners from a long 1 km straight to tight technical corners. Perfect for testing the handling capabilities of the stiffer Coupe’s chassis.
Given the inclusion of a carbon ceramic brake option and a full complement of driving dynamics, the F-Type R Coupe was the model of choice. Our experience was split across two sections of the Motorland Complex. We had the use of the karting track to test the new torque vectoring system and the full FIA rated Motorland Aragon circuit to explore the performance potential.
First I head out onto the karting track. In order to fully experience the torque vectoring system, we were invited to enter the corners carrying a bit too much speed and without any throttle or braking input. What the torque vectoring system does is to read the situation (when understeer would most likely occur) and then apply the brakes to the inside wheels and bringing the car closer in to the kerb.
The system most definitely works. It is a slightly bizarre feeling heading into a corner, knowing you have almost certainly overcooked it, only to feel the inside wheels pull themselves neatly into the corner. Of course, oversteer was evident too as the traction control and electronic differential managed the power through Motorland’s half wet, half dry handling track.
Over at the GP track, after a sighting lap from our excellent instructor and a quick hot lap to demonstrate what is possible, we soon find ourselves leaving the pit behind the wheel. Having experienced the F-Type on the very limit of grip over at the karting track, it is refreshing to feel that on the dry circuit, the F-Type R actually offers a staggering amount of grip and stability.
With the traction control, torque vectoring and electronic differential fully engaged, the performance on offer is stunning. Motorland’s GP track offers a mixture of tight technical corners and wide open curves as well as a 1.9 kilometre straight. You would need to be driving quite cautiously to fall short of 150 mph here. The carbon ceramic brakes tended to rearrange the contents of my stomach getting the car stopping in time.
With our allocated 8 laps complete, I took a look back at the telemetry. Whilst i’m not the greatest of lap time warriors (arguably my partner for the event, Tony Dron, is), I had managed to overtake a number of cars. Even so, the telemetry built in to the car revealed that I had just once exceeded 50% of the carbon ceramic’s braking potential. I put this down to their effectiveness (and a little to my driving skill of course!)
The following day I slide behind the wheel of the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe for an on-road experience. The most powerful of the two models starts with a more pronounced growl. I suspect that from startup, the baffles on the sports exhaust are programmed to remain fully open for a few minutes while the engine warms up. Move the shifter from park to neutral or drive and the growl subsides to a quieter idle.
Having experienced the F-Type R Coupe the previous day with its performance legs on, sampling it on the Spanish country roads presented an entirely different proposition. On a mixture of Spanish motorways and plenty of mountain roads, the 5.0 litre V8 shows a completely different side.
Pace is effortless in the R Coupe as the engine combines a high horsepower figure, plenty of torque and the instantaneous delivery we come to expect from the supercharger. In Drive mode with all the dynamic features dialled down, small throttle inputs produce quite a sedate and relaxed ride.
Unfortunately, the F-Type R Coupe also revealed one of the distinct disadvantages to all that strengthening during our journey along a particularly bumpy motorway stretch. The combination of extra rigidity, short spring travel and large wheels meant the car crashed through uneven road surfaces.
On better surfaces, I start to wonder if you need much more? A stunning design, with excellent performance, a reasonable price and a solid construction. The F-Type R Coupe is a massive amount of fun. The extra power does more to broaden its range of skills than you would originally have thought possible.
Jaguar F-Type V6S Coupe vs F-Type R Coupe
The inevitable question many will ask is: should I be spending extra on the F-Type R Coupe over the V6S? This is of course a difficult question to answer. Both have their advantages and both are excellent sports coupes.
Our initial opinion is that the F-Type R Coupe is the better of the two models. It has that feeling of effortless power, a richer exhaust note and the addition of the dynamic features. Not a surprising conclusion by any stretch of the imagination.
I noted during our first drive with the V6S car that because of the slightly lower power rating, the engine required a higher level of throttle input occasionally to complete an overtake or to accelerate away from a corner at normal speeds. Often the gearbox would shift down a few gears to find a sweet spot and this would allow exhaust noise to permeate into the cabin, even without any of the dynamic aids turned on. From the perspective of a customer who wishes to use their car daily, this could put the V6S at a slight disadvantage.
The R Coupe by contrast feels more relaxed at normal speeds. Of course, one could say that the disadvantage of the R Coupe is the extra power. If you are looking to use the car come rain or shine then the R Coupe will most likely require more caution that its V6 counterpart.
I wouldn’t discount the standard V6 version of the F-Type Coupe either. The setup of the F-Type platform, the chassis, the refinements, the feel of the package make for an exciting package regardless of the engine you choose. Ultimately, all three are geared towards providing a visceral performance feeling and both the V6S and the R Coupe achieve this and more.
Having had a variety of different experiences with the F-Type Coupe over a period of three days, I have to conclude that the F-Type R Coupe is the best variant of the F-Type yet. The extra rigidity gives it an edge over the Convertible. The added torque vectoring by braking and the option of carbon ceramic brakes bring the R Coupe closer to supercar territory than ever before. The V6S also manages to raise the high benchmark set by its droptop cousin.
Did I miss the open top driving experience of the convertible? I’d be mad not to with 20 degree plus Spanish temperatures, yet the trade-off is that the Coupe offers that extra performance edge. A thoroughly entertaining drive.