2014 Jaguar F-type Coupe review

  •  New F-type Coupe driven in UK
  •  V6 S and V8 R models tested
  •  On sale now, priced from £51,235

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So, is the new Jaguar F-type Coupe simply a tin-top variant of the F-type Convertible?

The engineering highlights suggest that it’s a lot more than that. The all-aluminium body is a whopping 80% stiffer than the soft-top’s, and the suspension is firmer. Then there’s the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 R model, which we’ve driven on road and track and is available only as a Coupe.

The rest of the Coupe’s engine range consists of the same 335bhp or 375bhp supercharged 3.0 V6 petrol engines found in the convertible, although the supercharged V8 S model is replaced by the R.

Other than it being the most powerful model in the range, the 542bhp R is set apart by an electronically controlled limited slip-differential, which works with a torque-vectoring system that brakes the inside wheels when cornering to aid agility.

The R also retains the same adaptive dampers that feature in top-end F-type convertible models, with suspension, steering, gearbox and exhaust settings that can all be adjusted independently.

Meanwhile, the V6 S Coupe gets a conventional limited-slip differential to help traction, but the base V6 doesn't. It’s also worth remembering that the V6 Coupe models cost £7k less than the equivalent F-type Convertible models.

Carbon-ceramic brakes are available as a £7400 option on the R and S, and Jaguar’s eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox is standard across the range.

What’s the 2014 Jaguar F-type Coupe like to drive?

We’re familiar with the supercharged V8 engine in the R Coupe because it features in the XKR-S and other hot Jags. Here it has the same blend of explosive pace tempered with a predictable power delivery and a precise throttle response.

Its real star quality is that you don’t have to work it hard if you don’t want to. You can use the masses of low-end torque and still build speed seriously quickly. However, it’ll rev quickly beyond 7000rpm if you want all of the R's rabid performance. The V8 engine sounds fantastic on full song, too.

We've yet to try the entry-level V6, but the V6 S is like the R in that it has two different characters. Leave all the adaptive bits – steering, throttle, gearbox and exhaust – in standard mode, and it’s a refined, calm cruiser. Stick it in Dynamic and you can really attack a country road, and while you need to rev the S's motor harder than the R's, it’s still an easy and yet thrilling car to drive quickly.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox can feel a little lazy and occasionally picks the wrong ratio in its standard setting, but it sharpens up well in Sport mode and, in manual mode, it gives you full control of gearchanges.

The steering remains unaltered from that in the Convertible, delivering rapid but smooth responses and a satisfying weight, while the torque-vectoring systems in the R can be felt subtly working away as they help tug the car’s nose around corners.

Essentially, the more focused set-up of the R actually makes for more progressive and manageable responses than you get from the Convertible –  especially if you suddenly lift off the throttle mid-corner.

That’s not to say that the R is a beginner’s choice. It feels every inch a proper, serious sports car; alert and likely to bite back if you get it wrong, and a much more serious rival to the Porsche 911 than the F-type Convertible.

The V6 S doesn’t turn in to corners with quite the same crisp precision; you can wash wide of your chosen line a bit more easily than in the electronically enhanced R, and there’s a tad more body lean. Even so, it still feels sharper than the F-type Convertible – nimble and always on its toes, and generally a delight to drive whether you’re just cruising along or trying a bit harder on your favourite B-road.

What really benefits the Coupe over the Roadster is its better grip. Put simply, the Coupe has lost some of the Convertible’s flightiness and gained a more planted, stable cornering ability. Chuck the Coupe into a fast corner and you feel confident that it’ll grip and go, whereas in the Convertible, the rear-end has a habit of stepping out too easily. 

Ride comfort is decent enough in both models. The R barely feels any harder than the V6 S, and while both cars feel suitably firm through dips and can thunk loudly over sharper intrusions, in general they’re both comfortable and settled, even if you hit a bump mid-corner.

Refinement is acceptable. Tyre and engine noise are easily ignored, and even though here’s a fair bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, the Coupe is a surprisingly relaxing cruiser.

Those carbon-ceramic brakes are quite something, too, but at the price we’d say the standard steel brakes on both models (they’re uprated for the R) offer better feel at normal road speeds and are unlikely to suffer fade. Only if you plan to use your F-type fairly regularly on track are the hard-wearing ceramic brakes worth the extra.

What’s the 2014 Jaguar F-type Coupe like inside?

The dash remains unchanged from that in the convertible, which few will find issue with. Rising dash-top vents provide the trademark Jaguar sense of theatre, and everything has a sense of luxury that you’d expect. The standard leather-clad sports seats in the R are successful, too, having adjustable bolster support and a broad range of movement.

There’s also a bag hook and a useful if oddly shaped cubby behind the seats, but what will really please buyers is the boot. There's 315 litres of space that will allow you to carry one set of golf clubs, although you will need to remove any woods and place them in the boot separately.

This is a vast improvement over the convertible, which has little useable space in the cabin or boot. Just be wary of adding the optional spacesaver tyre, because it will sit on top of the boot floor, rendering it nearly useless.

Even the base F-type Coupe gets leather seats, 19-inch alloys, a USB socket, Bluetooth, an eight-inch colour touch-screen and sat-nav. However, you do have to pay extra for automatic lights and wipers, while a leather-covered dashboard also ups the price.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. After all, the F-type Convertible is a very good car, and the Coupe is sharper to drive, easier to live with and better value for money.

Granted, it’s up against giants of the sports car arena, but in some ways the R in particular hits a sweet spot somewhere between the foaming-at-the-mouth madness of the Jaguar XKR-S and the unflappable precision of the Porsche 911.

That said, while the V6 S model is a very good car and is cheaper to buy than an entry-level 911 Carrera, it's slower and ultimately less capable than its German rival.

What Car? says...

 

Rivals:

Mercedes SL

Porsche 911

 

Specification

Jaguar F-type R Coupe
Engine size Supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Price from £85,000
Power 542bhp
Torque 502lb ft
0-62mph 4.2 seconds
Top speed 186mph
Fuel economy 25.5mpg
CO2 output 259g/km 

Jaguar F-type S Coupe
Engine size Supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol
Price from £60,235
Power 375bhp
Torque 339lb ft
0-62mph 4.9 seconds
Top speed 171mph
Fuel economy 31.0mpg
CO2 output 213g/km 

Jaguar F-type Coupe
Engine size Supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol
Price from £51,235
Power 335bhp
Torque 332lb ft
0-62mph 5.3 seconds
Top speed 161mph
Fuel economy 32.1mpg
CO2 output 205g/km

 
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