It’s loud and fast, but wide of the mark

Peter Burgess failed to fall in love with the original F-Type – can the coupé version convince him otherwise?

WE’VE HAD our issues, Jaguar and I, over the F-Type. Like the Emperor’s new clothes, all the press seemed bowled over, except for me. Sure, it’s mighty fast and incredibly sexy. But does it really need to be so noisy? And isn’t it too wide for British roads? And why couldn’t I get my friend’s modestly-sized suitcase anywhere in the F-type? I had to take a Kia instead, for heaven’s sake. This time I travelled to Spain to spend the night in Barcelona’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel before a short hop the next morning to Lleida where an airfield full of Jaguars were waiting.

Intriguingly, we now have a coupé version of the F-Type to sit alongside the original roadster convertible. This is good news, potentially. The aluminium roof should make it quieter inside. The price is £7,000 less than the soft top and it looks more like the fabled Jaguar E-Type.

The two V6 engines are unchanged. You get 340 horsepower, 161mph and 60mph acceleration in 5.1 seconds. Sounds impressive, and this is just the base, £51,235 model.

Another £8,000 buys the F-Type S, with 380hp. That adds 10mph to the top speed, which is more useful as a Top Trump statistic than it is in reality, and a small improvement in the acceleration.

And goodness, it’s fast. The F-Type S takes off aggressively and powers through to the legal limit before you know it. The noise – of which there is still a great deal – varies from a roar when you floor it to exhaust crackles and pops when you lift off the accelerator.

There’s a sublime eight-speed automatic transmission, with paddle shifters behind the wheel and all manner of smart traction control systems to keep it from pitching off the road.

It’s thrilling but ultimately a bit tiring, something even Jaguar will privately admit to. The good news is that the cheaper, lower-powered F-Type is said to be the quieter of the two. And so, hurrah, is the sinful V8 F-Type R Coupé.

This gets a Porsche 911 Turbo-mashing 550 horsepower. I tested it on Spain’s Aragon racetrack where, with a minder alongside, the V8 reached 160mph along the straight, and seemed manageable in the corners.

My colleague described the V8 convertible as an animal, yet they’ve added another 55bhp to the F-Type R coupé. Apparently the stiffer structure of the car with the roof means it can handle it.

It’s rather good, this one. Firstly, it doesn’t demand to be driven like a hooligan. Whatever the gear, the F-Type R will accelerate quickly and discretely – it’s actually quieter than the V6S much of the time – like a proper Jaguar, in fact.

But on dry roads both F-Types scythe through the bends like sports cars. Confusingly, there are three types of suspension on offer, but there’s so much grip from those fat tyres that only an expert will be able to tell the difference. It will still feel wide on UK country roads, though.

The Jaguar F-Type Coupé certainly turns heads, initially because people will hear you coming, but it’s an eye-catcher too. The interior is premium and nicely detailed with sporty bucket seats (if you pay a bit extra).

The top dog F-Type R Coupé costs £85,000. Expensive? Well, it is £25,000 less than a Porsche 911 Turbo. And the coupé now gets a proper boot, too.

Peter Burgess is Chariman of motoringresearch.om

THE FACTS:
JAGUAR F-TYPE R COUPÉ
PRICE: £85,000
0-62MPH: 4.0 secs
TOP SPEED: 186mph (limited)
CO2 G/KM: 259g/km
MPG COMBINED: 25.5mpg

THE VERDICT:
DESIGN Four Stars
PERFORMANCE Five Stars
PRACTICALITY Two Stars
VALUE FOR MONEY Three Stars