Jaguar F-Type R Coupe 02 | 04 | 2014Scotcars rating

    Jaguar finally puts a roof on its mouthwatering F-Type convertible, and the result's sensational

    F FOR FELINE and F for F-Type Coupe: one of those cars that looks fast standing still, in a constant state of cat-like crouching, poised to surge forward and head towards the horizon. (Watch our video of the new Jaguar F-Type Coupe)

    So step forward Scot Ian Cullum, custodian of Jaguar’s design heritage, who oversaw the crafting of the company’s first compact two-seater sports car coupe in nearly 40 years.

    Stylists, Dumfries-born Callum included, get all hyperbolic about muscular haunches and tapering bonnet lines, and he can be forgiven because the Queen of the South supporter has masterminded a future classic, a worthy continuation of the genuinely iconic E-Type’s bloodline.

    And for Jaguar purists the F-Type — which generated 1300 UK sales last year in drophead gorgeous form — is devoid of Aston Martin cues, the product of Callum’s past association with that marque. Unlike the handsome, larger, but Aston-esque XK which will be discontinued this summer.

    After two days of road and track action on board the aluminium-bodied coupe, there is no doubt that Porsche’s enduring 911, Audi’s radical R8 and Nissan’s revered GT-R are at risk of a serious mauling in the supercar arena.

    There is a sense of liberation within Jaguar-Land Rover, generated by the serious R&D funding sunk into its new model army by Indian owner’s Tata … and the F-Type Coupe symbolises that.

    With a lightweight two-door bodyshell, moulded virtually out of one piece, the Castle Bromwich-built coupe is 80% torsionally stiffer than the convertible and occupies no more road space than a 3-Series BMW.

    Aesthetics and stunning performance apart, it's worth pointing out how safety features — that is a set of airbags tucked in above and behind the seats — meant the arcing (whoops, lapsed into stylist speak) roofline could be a couple of inches lower, while meeting US Federal roll over regulations.

    Once the walk around admiration routine is over, then clamber inside the F-Type’s cockpit rather than cabin with its snug, if not smug driving environment. Form — including slightly lurid red leather seat insets and matching wall-to-wall stitching — and function, with rapidly assimilated instruments and controls combine.

    Point is that if you are dealing with a 5.0-litre, 550PS, V8 R-badged version, capable of — like the proverbial scalded cat — catapulting to 60mph in four seconds, and onwards to a theoretical and (limited) 186mpg, then fretting about switches and dials is counter productive.

    Related: Jaguar plans Club Sport F-Type

    I did drive the more, relatively, sedate V6 340 and 380PS siblings but the R (for V8 roar not V6 rasp) was sampled on both, sparsely populated western Catalonian roads and the Motorworld Moto GP race circuit.

    So if you insist on blowing that Lottery winning loot, then you might as well go for bust, which in this case means £85,000. The ‘basic” R price involves electronically guided torque vectoring that finesses the inside wheels should you breenge into corners too fast. Plus an active suspension system that proves your fillings don’t need to be loosened by the bolted down, ultra high performance car chassis.

    If you want to complete the package, then for £7400 or £8400 extra (depending which you choose), you can fit yellow calliper ceramic brakes on respective 19in and 20in alloys. They proved prudent during the adrenaline-soaked laps round Motorworld, guided with tranquil patience by local Spanish race aces.

    All F-Types come with a switch that puts the suspension, steering, engine and transmission into more aggressive modes, while a separate exhaust button releases the hooligan, provoking a rising cacophony, plus over run bark and crackle. We switched it off while rumbling through sleepy, siesta-time villages.

    In terms of driving dynamics, chassis guru Mike Cross has again weaved his magic. The F-Type R Coupe combines precision and balance with communicative steering feedback, but when that demon button is pressed, commitment and concentration are required. A high performance driving course would be prudent.

    Three-hundred miles of public road driving included some stunning, sinuous Cataluña Rally terrain, and the temptation was to re-run those sections just for the more familiar hell of it.

    One slight niggle involves the tail spoiler which pops up automatically above 70mph, or at the press of a button. It catches your eye in the mirror and conceals those curious and daft enough to tailgate you, including, whisper it, the pursuing constabulary aware of the motorway limit being exceeded.

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    Hugh Hunston

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £85,000
    Engine / Power: 5.0-litre V8 /550PS
    How fast?: 0-62mph 4.0secs / max 186mph (electronically restricted)
    How big/heavy?: L4470mm, W1923mm H1321mm / Weight 1650kgs
    How thirsty/CO2?: 5.5mpg/ 259g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 50 / Band M (£1065, then £490 a year)
    Alternatives: Porsche 911, Audi R8; share of luxury yacht.

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