If the advertising is to be believed, the 2014 Jaguar F-type Coupe is a bad car.
However, that’s not bad in the traditional sense. No, it’s bad of the ‘gentleman villain’ sort, so it dresses sharply, it has a voice with growling, deep-chested power, and it can give its rivals a right seeing-to before making off, scot-free, with the dough.
That’s all well and good on the screen, but in reality those rivals will include the Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911, both of which have sent the odd young pretender scuttling back to its own manor, bruised and humiliated.
So, will the Jag be good enough take on the recognised guv’nors, or is it merely… not bad?
What’s the Jaguar F-type Coupe R like to drive?
This is the full-on Scotch Bonnet F-type, so up front lies a 542bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine. It drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
It’s an understatement to say that performance is searing. Put your foot down and you can imagine how Wile E Coyote felt strapped to an Acme super-rocket. The 0-60mph dash is covered in 4.0 seconds flat and the car won’t stop accelerating until it hits 186mph.
However, the real eye-opener isn’t how quickly the F-type gets off the line, it’s the way it can overtake; mid-range acceleration is genuinely unsettling in its sheer ferocity.
Better still is when you activate the car’s Dynamic mode. This sharpens up the throttle response, quickens gearshifts and opens up the exhaust pipes to maximum volume. The resulting noise is spectacular – full-on Nascar as you accelerate, and crackling fireworks when you ease off the accelerator. You find yourself accelerating and decelerating just for the fun of it. There is a high-quality Meridian audio system fitted to the F-type but, frankly, it’s largely redundant.
So the F-type Coupe R has straights sorted, but in order to be a genuine rival to the Nissan and Porsche it needs to be good in corners too.
Luckily it is. It grips well and once into a corner it hangs on until you get on the power and launch it towards the next bend. However, there is a slight qualifier here, because as good as the F-type’s steering is, there is always a momentary delay between turning into a corner and the nose actually following the line you want it to.
It passes in a fraction of a second, but it’s still enough to give you a hint of uncertainty as you commit to each bend. That’s why it’s best to employ the slow-in, fast-out approach and enjoy the power along the next straight.
Talking of straights, the F-type Coupe R is perfectly happy on motorways. Just switch off Dynamic mode, quieten the exhausts and the Jag will make you quite happy to sit there for mile after mile.
It even rides pretty well, considering it’s on huge-diameter alloy wheels. The body control is pretty tight but at no time do you feel like your organs are in danger of being shuffled.
If there is a downside to the sheer footprint of rubber it’s that there’s quite a bit of road noise at 70mph.
What’s the Jaguar F-type Coupe R like inside?
First things first, it’s a two-seater. There are no ‘occasional’ rear seats or an area for extra luggage.
Nonetheless, there’s enough space for two sizeable adults in the cabin, and the electrically adjustable seat and steering wheel make finding a good driving position simple.
There are enough cubbies dotted around the cockpit for odds and ends, and the boot is easily big enough for a weekend’s luggage - or (at a push) a set of golf clubs placed at an angle.
Everything’s well built, if not quite up to the same exacting standards you'd find in a Porshce 911, and there’s the added theatre of the vent ‘pod’ rising from the top of the dashboard when you start the car.
However, we recommend that you spend some extra on a couple of options. Firstly, the extra £1500 for the panoramic glass roof is well worth the cash because the cabin is far too claustrophobic without it. Secondly, you need to spend an extra £350 to get dual-zone climate control, although we cannot really comprehend why you should have to pay extra for this on what is already an £85,000 car.
Should I buy one?
The F-type Coupe R makes a pretty compelling case for itself. It offers a vast amount of performance for the money, and there are few showstoppers on the road like it. If you want to feel like an A-lister as you drive down your local high street, this is the car to buy. It garners fond attention like few other cars, and certainly none with such a (comparatively) low price.
However, be aware that the F-type Coupe R likes a drink. The Government figures may say it’ll do an average of 25.5mpg but in reality you will get nowhere near that – a tank range of around 260 miles is closer to reality. Simply having to stop for fuel so often could become wearing.
However, the reason you won’t get anywhere near that mpg figure is because the car encourages you to drive it with a certain enthusiasm; you can’t help but put the foot down or change down just to hear the crackle of the pipes. It makes you want to get up early to go out and simply enjoy a drive – to go out and be 'bad'.
If that’s not a reason for buying one, we don’t know what is.
What Car? says
Engine size 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol
Price from £85,000
Torque 502lb ft
0-60mph 4.0 seconds
Top speed 186mph
Fuel economy 25.5mpg