Jaguar F-Type Coupe review
The Jaguar F-Type Coupe's breathtaking looks and blistering performance make it an instant classic
If there’s a car that encapsulates everything good about Jaguar in 2014, the F-Type Coupe is it. Bold, beautiful and beguiling, it looks and feels like the product of a company at the top of its game.
A year since the Jaguar F-Type Convertible was launched, but the F-Type Coupe made just as many waves. Like the drop-top version, it offers striking good looks and great performance, while the coupe body means there’s a bit more practicality to go with it. It’s also over £5000 cheaper than the soft-top car.
Jaguar offers the F-Type Coupe in three versions - the F-Type V6 which produces 335bhp, the 375bhp F-Type S, and the F-Type V8 R, which has 543bhp and 680Nm of torque. Rear- and all-wheel drive models are available, while a manual gearbox can be had on V6 models only.
Both F-Type S and R models feature adaptive dampers for improved handling, plus an active exhaust that produces a spectacular engine note. Whichever model you choose, the Jaguar guarantees an exhilarating driving experience that rivals the Porsche 911 and Cayman, as well as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Our choice: F-Type S AWD
Jaguar likes to do things differently. While most car makers launch a coupe first and roadster second, Jag has done the opposite.
It’s a clever plan. Roadsters often look a little clumsier than their tin-top siblings, so while the F-Type Convertible is undeniably handsome, the Coupe version is as close to design perfection as you’re likely to get.
Designer Ian Callum claims that the F-Type Coupe is his favourite creation to date, and it’s hard to argue. Like the E-Type, it has a long bonnet and short tail profile that gives it incredible road presence. It’s based on a wider and shorter XK platform, although the F-Type looks and feels a more focused and serious driver’s car than its classically styled stablemate.
Jaguar’s flagship looks as stunning as ever, with crisp lines and gentle curves giving a rakish stance. At the front, the F-Type’s gaping grille dominates the low nose and, with the addition of bonnet vents, helps cool the huge engine. The sleek headlamps follow the bonnet’s contours and feature LED running lights.
The vents and big sill extensions on the side of the car give the F-Type real ground-hugging presence, with the low, tapering roofline flowing into the muscular rear wheelarches and sharply styled back end. Alloys, narrow tail-lights and sloping hatch complete the svelte look, while the diffuser-style rear bumper and quadruple exhausts reinforce the fury on offer from under the bonnet.
The interior design is as precise as the exterior. Open the long coupé door and lower yourself into the F-Type’s cabin and you’re met by lots of soft leather. The high dashboard and chunky centre console put the focus on the driver, and supportive sports seats mean you can get a great driving position.
It’s not all perfect, though – most of the materials feel plush, but the fake carbon fibre around the multimedia system and harder plastic for the trinket tray next to the gear selector detract slightly from the otherwise premium image. These small details feel at odds with the lovely leather and metal used elsewhere.
The V8 R model comes with a more aggressive look courtesy of a Sport Design Pack that’s optional on V6 models. All-wheel drive cars can be recognised by bigger air vents and a more pronounced bonnet bulge.
The latest infotainment system is a big improvement over that in older cars, while Jaguar’s InControl apps give you an alternative navigation method plus podcast and parking apps you can download.
What immediately grabs your attention in the F-Type Coupe is its engine. Whether it’s the 3.0-litre V6 or 5.0-litre V8, these supercharged motors have been honed to deliver tractable power and a stunning soundtrack. Even the entry-level model fires up with a bark, while every press of the throttle comes with an aggressive snarl.
Although the company has made some seriously powerful machines in the past, their underperforming transmissions have usually taken the edge off the driving experience. That’s all changed with the F-Type. The eight-speed auto in the V8 R is an incredible gearbox that fully showcases the ability of the engine. It’s silky smooth in full auto mode, and works exceptionally well in semi-automatic mode, too, delivering fast and crisp changes. Unlike some semi-autos, where the manual shift is little more than a gimmick, the F-Type’s gearbox combines the control, accuracy and punch of a double-clutch transmission with the smoothness of a traditional self-shifter.
Unless you really want a manual shift, we’d stick with the auto – the manual isn’t as slick as some rivals’ change, and it’s only available on the V6 anyway.
We would recommend adding the £1,630 Active Sports Exhaust to make the most of the Jag’s fantastic soundtrack. It adds another dimension to the F-Type driving experience, and you’ll find yourself holding on to gears most of the time to revel in the fantastic mechanical symphony. The supercharged V6 delivers a healthy punch, too. There's also a performance brake system, which adds bigger discs and uprated hydraulics.
In corners, the car is a lively performer, although the comfortable suspension means it's not quite as sharp as a Porsche Cayman in the corners. Turn off the traction control, and the F-Type will light up the rear tyres at will, and skilled drivers will be able to perform smoky powerslides with ease, although the lack of a limited-slip diff means the Jag can become ragged at the limit.
However, we’re big fans of the all-wheel drive cars – they’ll flatter most drivers with their ability to get all of that power onto the road without drama, while the electric power steering isn’t corrupted in any way – it’s still faithfully responsive. Torque Vectoring by braking is now standard across the range, further improving sharp turn-in to corners and helping to reduce understeer.
With selectable driving modes, the F-Type is a great long-distance GT car, munching miles with ease in the Normal setting. The ride is composed, but there’s still a firm edge and mid-corner bumps do upset the car’s rear end. Flick the switch and slot the R into Dynamic mode and it’s even more noticeable, as the Jag stiffens up and turns hardcore. The steering is light and very responsive, and combined with torque vectoring by braking an inside wheel, it means the F-Type’s chiseled jaw darts into turns quickly. Yet as there isn’t much feedback from the wheel to sense what’s going on, if you’re too ambitious with your corner speed the car will wash wide.
It’s best to go slow in and fast out – but be careful how hard you push the accelerator pedal, because the F-Type AWD is still a supercar at heart. You can adjust your cornering line with the throttle, yet when the tail starts to slide, the electronically controlled active four-wheel-drive system redirects power to the front axle, which makes the Jaguar’s nose snap back into line.
In everyday use, the F-Type is fairly relaxed. While the firm suspension fidgets and shimmies over rough surfaces, it’s pretty comfortable overall, and the long eighth gear means the engine is barely ticking over at motorway speeds.
Jaguar recorded a great result in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, taking second place overall and cementing its 2014 placing. Yet when it comes to reliability, the brand didn’t fare so well, ranking 13th. The dealers are excellent, though (they rated third out of 31 in our 2015 survey; see Page 68), so if anything goes wrong you can expect good service. Despite packing plenty of tech, we haven’t heard of any horror stories with the Jaguar; it should be stress-free to own.
Euro NCAP doesn’t crash test cars like the F-Type, but the strong, lightweight aluminum structure should hold up well to any impact. The Jaguar only features four airbags – fewer than most of its rivals – but it does have a powerful brake system, while ESP and four-wheel drive add extra peace of mind.
As with luxury items, though, some of the advanced active safety kit on the F-Type is optional: this includes the blind-spot warning system and reversing camera.
Despite its many talents, the F-Type isn’t the greatest example of automotive packaging. The cabin is a tight fit – if you’re over six feet tall, you can expect to make some compromises on comfort.
The coupe body creates a 407-litre boot, which is a lot more than you’ll find in the F-Type Convertible, and there’s a deep bin under the boot floor, too. Space drops to 315 litres if you use the load cover, which is more than in the rival Porsche Cayman.
The Jag also has a deep bin at shoulder height between the seats, an armrest cubby and twin cup-holders. It’s comfortable at the wheel, although rear visibility is spoiled by big wheelarches and a small rear window.
Inside, the glove box is a decent size and there’s two cup holders. The door bins are next to useless though.
Fuel economy is unlikely to be a big concern for those lucky enough to afford a Jaguar F-Type. It’s thirsty, expensive to tax and, if used as a company car, will take a big chunk of your salary in Benefit in Kind tax.
Nonetheless, a stop-start system is standard on every model, keeping CO2 emissions down to a relatively reasonable 209g/km - a figure that's very impressive for such a high-performance sports car.
Jaguar cars traditionally suffer from heavy depreciation, but experts predict the F-Type will buck this trend, with residual values of over 50 percent after three years. Jaguar has also been performing very well in recent customer satisfaction surveys: it finished second in our 2014 Driver Power survey.
Jaguar offers a servicing package over three or five years that is well worth specifying. Opt for the former, and you’ll pay the equivalent of £331 per year (£995 total), while the five-year pack (£1,495) works out at £299 per year.