The Jaguar F-Type Coupe promises to be one of the finest sports cars Jaguar has ever produced. So there was one thing on our mind when we drove the car for the first time: how does it measure up to the brilliant Porsche Cayman S?
After all, while we love the F-Type Convertible, we’d still take a Porsche Boxster ahead of it, as it’s cheaper and better to drive. In the case of the Coupe, though, things aren’t so clear cut.
Take the price for example: the F-Type V6 Coupe costs £7,285 less than the Convertible, which means it starts at £51,235 – that’s similar money to a Porsche Cayman S with a PDK gearbox.
However, the pick of the F-Type Coupe range is the V6S tested here. Yes, it’s an extra £9,000, but the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 gets 375bhp, plus there’s more kit, like a limited-slip differential, sports suspension with adaptive dampers and an active exhaust which amplifies the rasping soundtrack of the gorgeous V6.
So financially, spec-for-spec, the V6S Coupe is still in the Porsche’s ballpark – a promising start.
Jaguar says the Coupe’s body is so much stiffer than the Convertible’s that it’s the most torsionally rigid production car the company has ever made. You notice that immediately, when you up the pace on a twisting piece of tarmac – there’s the same pin-sharp steering as in the soft-top, but the chassis just feels that bit more trustworthy and unflappable.
Firing the car through a series of tight bends reveals that the front and rear of the Coupe work together in harmony, with impressive turn-in and plenty of traction for putting the power down on to the road.
The limited-slip differential helps here, while in Dynamic mode, the well judged ESP allows a little bit of slip before gathering things up again.
Then there’s the eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox. It can slush the ratios together seamlessly if you want, but put the car into one of its racier settings and you get a satisfying jolt as ratios fire home, accompanied by some explosive noise from the exhausts. It doesn’t take long to realise that, yes, the F-Type Coupe is Jaguar’s best driver’s car yet. But does it have the poise of a Cayman S?
On a track, it’s generally preferable to have your engine mounted in the middle – like the Cayman – rather than up front, unless, of course, big powerslides are your thing.
But, really, how much time do you spend on track? On the road, the F-Type never feels wanting whether you’re in the mood for fun or just want to cruise.
Put the adaptive dampers and sports exhaust into their normal modes and you can waft along in quiet and comfort, while appreciating the finely trimmed cabin.
Regardless of handling, performance and price, there is one reason why the F-Type Coupe may specifically appeal to some people over a Cayman – Jaguar says you can put two sets of golf clubs in its 407-litre boot. Then there’s its gorgeous exterior. Interestingly, when Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum initially conceived the F-Type, it was as a Convertible. However, the Coupe is arguably the better looking version.
On our test drive, it certainly attracted plenty of attention – noticeably more than if we had been in the Cayman. And that brings us back to whether the F-Type Coupe is a better buy than the Porsche? Well, in our eyes, both are five-star cars, in subtly different ways. While the Porsche has the edge for handling, the Jaguar is more desirable – pick between them, and you’ll be smiling either way.