This Jaguar is a car that demands attention when you look at it and gets respect when you drive it…
If there is such a thing as an affordable supercar, the 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe might just come close.
Of course, that is relatively speaking, when compared with the sticker prices of its rivals.
This Jag will turn heads, thanks to its styling, and wealthier shoppers will doubtless be interested due to the price. Just as last year’s F-Type convertible won the praises of auto journalists and the buying public, the hardtop version of this sexy car is more engaging, more powerful and arguably more beautiful. The North American launch for the Coupe was held in California traversing the twisty roads outside Los Angeles on the way to the Willow Springs racetrack for a thunderous romp around the circuit as fast as my skill would let me.
The F-Type is sold with three trim levels, the $72,900 base, then the $84,900 S and the top of range R for $109,900. With 340hp, 380hp and a whopping 550hp, respectively, these cars are up on power and down on price when compared to similar priced/horsepower Porsches. (The one exception is the new 450hp Corvette Stingray that has 450hp and a stunning $55,000 starting price.) What this car has over the competition, and the convertible version, is a sleek body and platform formed entirely from aluminum. With a special hydro-formed roof support that can carry four times the vehicle’s weight, the stiffness of the coupe is eighty percent greater than the convertible. And a stuff structure is what is needed if you want to make a supercar. The convertible has a 495hp but the coupe is fitted with a 550hp version of the supercharged V8 because the body and chassis has the strength to accommodate such a powerful engine.
Almost every review of the convertible commented on the raspy exhaust note from either the supercharged 3.0L V6 or V8 engines. The S and R models of the coupe also get a sports exhaust that can be made louder or quieter with the press of a button, but the fixed roof of the coupe muted the impact compared to the convertible.
On the road to the track event, I drove the supercharged 380hp S model fitted with superb sports seats and leather everywhere that matters, like the doors and dash. The back cargo area is surprisingly big and capable of accommodating two sets of golf clubs. Jaguar has done a superb job of finishing the hatch area with a cover that helps separate the cabin from the trunk area.
The three main dials on the centre console are easy to use for heat and air conditioning but the radio/navigation unit is not as quick or precise as I would like. In fact, I missed three turns on our drive route due to the lag in navigation display.
As the trim levels increase in price the added features are not so much about additional luxury items, rather more performance features. As each trim gets more power, there are more aids to help get all that power down to the ground. The S trim gets performance brakes and a mechanical limited slip differential but the R model adds torque vectoring to help steer the car through the corners and an electronic active differential to apply power more precisely to the rear wheels when the driver asks. Ceramic brakes are also an option on the R trim. My instructor at Willow Springs was Davey Jones, who has two Rolex Daytona watches to show for his wins at the 24-hours of Daytona. The R on the track is nothing short of amazing.
With such low-end grunt from the supercharged 5.0L V8 engine and endless horsepower, the all-aluminum F-Type just danced in every situation. Willow Springs is a technical track but after a half dozen laps, the powerful cat roared with pleasure in every turn. In performance mode the electronic aids are more forgiving allowing the car to rotate in the corners when pushed hard, the steering is very sharp and the driver can actually get the power down with confidence.
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is an expensive machine but in the supercar world is a relative bargain. If you are in the market for a Porsche or other high-end coupe, this Jaguar, especially the R version is a car that demands attention when you look at it and gets respect when you drive it.
Power: 340hp, 380hp or 550hp
Fill-up: 10.4L/7.1L/100km (city/highway base)
Sticker price: $72,900-$109,900