ALMOST one year after the Jaguar F-Type broke cover with a stunning new convertible, there is now an arguably more delectable alternative - the F-Type Coupé. Viewed as the spiritual successor to the E-Type, the Coupé is both a styling and engineering coup for the British sports carmaker. By giving the F-Type a fixed roof and rear hatch, Jaguar has created a design that is modern and distinctive, yet latently harks back to the 1960s icon. Because depending on the angle of the sun, the F-Type Coupé casts a shadow that is uncannily similar to the E-Type silhouette.
Like the all-aluminium F-Type Convertible, the Coupé's body uses the same lightweight alloy with each side featuring a large single-piece aluminium pressing. There is no centre pillar but Jaguar employs an innovative hydroformed alloy beam to add strength and achieve a roofline low enough to be aesthetically pleasing, yet strong enough to pass a rollover crash test.
The rear end's elegant window line is matched by the equally attractive tailgate, which tapers down between pronounced rear haunches. Like the Convertible, the boot lid conceals a (shorter) rear spoiler that automatically deploys above 70 kmh.
And like the Convertible, the Coupé is available with three engine options to drive the rear wheels. There is a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 for both the F-Type Coupé and F-Type S Coupé, producing 340hp and 380hp respectively.
For the Jaguar F-Type R Coupé, a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 delivers 550 hp and 680 Nm. With so much power and torque for a 1,665 kg two-seater, the result can be brutal mayhem depending on the driver and road conditions.
During this week's media launch in Spain, the flagship F-Type was unveiled with suitably top-of-the-line features. The R Coupé has an Electronic Active Differential as standard. EAD improves traction in a corner by transferring torque from one rear wheel to the other and it does so more quickly than a mechanical limited slip differential.
For the first time, the active diff works with Torque Vectoring by braking, which brakes the inner wheels for even sharper turn-in into corners.
Adaptive Dynamics variable damping is also standard and when Race mode is engaged, the suspension is firmed up and the R Coupé turns into a big snarling cat.
Floor the accelerator and it leaps forward with an angry growl, thanks to the Active Sports Exhaust system, which can be turned off if the drone gets to you on long, high-speed jaunts.
But even without it, the exhaust crackles and pops, with a delicious backfire when you lift off the gas pedal.
Steering wheel-mounted shift paddles can be used to shift the brilliant eight-speed auto transmission manually. This gearbox is so quick and obedient that it doesn't feel like a conventional automatic.
With torque vectoring, the handling is also tractable and this is demonstrated on a wet handling circuit. Turning late into a corner, the electronics brake the inner wheels to correct the trajectory by "rotating" the R Coupé around the apex. Unless you're foolhardy, you should exit neatly without running wide.
But drive recklessly and the torque-loaded F-Type will bite back. Excessive acceleration, especially on a wet road, may cause the tail to swing out if your steering is less than precise.
The R Coupé can also be ordered with Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes, which are stronger and more fade-resistant than ordinary steel versions. Jaguar has taken several steps to ensure that its CCM brakes also promise a natural brake pedal feel. More importantly, decelerating from breakneck speeds of 250 kmh and above has never felt faster or more reassuring.
Try that once and you will probably agree that the Jaguar F-Type R Coupé's performance and design are breathtaking.
Jaguar F-Type R Coupé
Engine 5,000cc V8 supercharged
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Max power 550 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Max torque 680 Nm @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
0-100 kmh 4.2 secs
Top speed 300 kmh
CO2 emissions 259 g/km
Distributor Wearnes Automotive
Tel 6378 2626