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

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@news.com.au

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.

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

VERDICT

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.

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