Cat coupe out of its cage
The F-Type joins its convertible sibling on a mission to excite — but not pamper — drivers and devour corners
RAISE your hackles, cat people. Jaguar’s ruthless F-Type Coupe has arrived, completing the mainstream F range with an emphatic note.
Supercharged V6s kick the range off, matching the two specifications of the convertible sibling, but Jaguar haskindly delivered a coupe with the ability to fry tyres, warp minds and carry a little more luggage.
Neither V6 could be seen as lethargic but the F-Type R — the only roofed version available for the local first drive — sprints from rest to 100km/h in under 5.0 seconds on to a governed 300km/h top speed.
The 3.0-litre (250kW.450Nm) “starter” model is $119,900, with 18-inch alloys, leather and suede interior and sports steering wheel. The mid-spec (260kW/460Nm) asks $152,300 and gets the must-have active exhaust as standard, plus adaptive dampers, limited-slip diff, 19-inch alloy wheels and brake upgrade.
The 5.0-litre V8 (404kW/ 680Nm) is $219,600, with a leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel, 20-inch alloys, adaptive sports suspension, further brake upgrade (with the $20,000 option of carbon ceramic discs). It hits 100km/h in a raucous 4.2 seconds.
The all-aluminium V8 tops the pops thanks to a Roots-type supercharger fed by two intercoolers.
The drive to the rear is distributed by an electronic active differential. Working with torque vectoring braking to fire the big coupe out of bends in a hurry. Its adaptive dampers check body roll by adjusting damper rates up to 500 times a second.
The coupe has more road presence than the convertible, with the same road footprint — it’s a little over 1.9m wide which makes it look aggressive. Muscular yet elegant, the sloping roofline endows cleaner lines to the rear, although it’s mini-me pop-up spoiler looks a little dinky compared to the droptop’s version.
The bodyshell feels strong and the brand’s investment in aluminium construction methods seems to be bearing fruit. The coupe’s body side is made from a single aluminium pressing, part of a package that is the most torsionally rigid production Jag to date.
Bootspace — virtually nonexistent in the convertible — improves a little in the coupe. There’s up to 407L if you ditch the space-saver spare.
There are front and side airbags, automatic bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, rainsensing wipers and stability control among the standard fare. However, tyre pressure and blind spot monitoring, parking sensors or reversing camera are amazingly not standard on any F-Type.
The first local drive was undertaken in the coupe lineup’s headline act, the R. From the first full-throttle surge, the vocal blown V8 makes it easy to believe the 4.2-second claim for the sprint to highway speed.
The active exhaust brays belligerently, in a lower tone than the supercharged V6 previously sampled, and the noise — combined with the sharp exterior — makes for an A-grade head-turner.
Steering is meaty and the helm even meatier. The snug cabin has little in the way of storage but plenty in the way of style and quality materials.
The touchscreen nav and infotainment system is starting to age a little, although it can still crank out a nice noise if you tire of the engine’s soundtrack, unlikely though that is.
The features list is light-on, given the $200,000-plus sticker. Missing are seat heaters which, along with parking sensors and camera, are standard in much cheaper cars.
Ride quality is also not great, even with adaptive damping set to less extreme efforts.
The R can fidget in the bends when taken at speed if the bumps come (not dangerously) and the underpinnings still disturb the cabin excessively.
Ride-handling compromise is a black art that seems better mastered in Porsche’s Cayman and 911, which in price and intent sit either side of it.
The pay-off for some will be the theatre of the Jag, the image of the brand and fact that there are not many on the road.
A handsome brute with style and presence. On the right (smooth) road, it devours corners and straights like few others. But the big cat’s a ride disappoints, as does the lack of some key standard features.