“It’s a watershed vehicle for the storied manufacturer, and one deserves every bit of praise it receives…”
by Rob Rothwell
As I dropped my aging butt into the heavily contoured driver’s seat of Jaguar’s new F-Type Coupe the first thing I learned was that it was a long way down!
High doorsills made ingress even more challenging but the hardship of entry was well worth its cost.
With the introduction of its F-Type, the storied British marque now offers hope to greying loyalists needing validation that sixty is the new forty. Regardless of age, the machine rewards its pilot with an exhilarating driving experience more Porsche-like in its execution than Jaguar-traditional.
The F-Type – nominally regarded as today’s version of the revered E-Type – arrived on Canadian soil as a 2014 model, available only as a convertible roadster. For the 2015 model year, Jaguar put a lid on its edgy two-seater with the introduction of the Coupe version. Its stunning lines steal the spotlight from the near-venerated convertible.
Surprisingly, the sensual body of the UK’s latest icon encompasses plenty of head and legroom, not to mention decently sized stowage beneath its narrow rear hatch. But Costco capacity isn’t a hallmark of sports cars, the F-Type included. Of greater importance is what’s beneath the bonnet.
A range of three power plants are available, two of which are supercharged V6 mills each displacing 3.0 litres yet developing 340 and 380 horsepower respectively. The subject of this week’s review is the brawnier of the pair, denoted by the “S” within the Coupe’s nomenclature.
A third engine choice ups the testosterone immensely. The supercharged 5.0 litre V8 beneath the hood of the F-Type R Coupe dispenses a massive 550 horsepower to the Jag’s rear wheels. All three engines are backed by a ZF QuickShift 8-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles.
With regret, I must inform our driving purists that the F-Type – Coupe or Convertible – is not available with a manual transmission. Pity really. Nonetheless, this cat has claws and plenty of forced-fed performance.
Unlike its more traditional siblings, the F-Type doesn’t impart the soothing qualities of a restrained engine note and supple underpinnings. Nope. Nada. Rather, it is raucous, brash, and by some accounts – that being my better half’s – uncivil. The raunchiness is justified though given the exceptional performance capabilities and egoistic essence of the machine.
Jaguar literature pins a 0-100km/h time of just 4.3 seconds on the F-Type R Coupe and 4.9 seconds on the slightly tamer S version. The base car arrives at 100km/h in 5.3 seconds, yet there’s far more to this cat’s ability than sprinting.
I particularly enjoyed my tester’s quick, precise steering and exceptional road-feel. Communicative steering allows the driver to feel every little tug and tag the road surface inflicts upon the wheels, which the F-Type delivers with little filtering. This quality also enables the driver to sense the approaching adhesion limits of the rubber, which is essential for track driving.
I had the opportunity to drive the F-Type on Mission Raceway’s road course last year and know from that experience just how competitively the car performs. There is true sports car DNA here with driving dynamics further hastened by highly responsive brakes, which clamp immediately and remain predictable, linear, and fade-free throughout.
While the F-Type may not be my choice with a free pass to the Jaguar showroom, it’s a watershed vehicle for the storied manufacturer, and one deserves every bit of praise it receives.
F-Type Coupe Specs
Power: 340 horsepower – 3.0 litre V6 Supercharged engine
Performance: 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds
Fuel Economy: 11.8 8.4 L/100km city and highway
Starting Price: $72,900
Power: 380 horsepower – 3.0 litre V6 Supercharged engine
Performance: 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds
Fuel Economy: 12.2 8.7 L/100km city and highway
Starting Price: $84,900
Power: 550 horsepower – 5.0 litre V8 Supercharged engine
Performance: 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds
Fuel Economy: 15.0 10.2 L/100km city and highway
Starting Price: $109,900