This is the Jaguar F-type coupé, a car that its maker calls the most dynamically capable, performance-focused production car it has ever built. It also significantly undercuts the convertible version on price in base form.
The entry-level coupé and coupé S closely mirror the performance spec of the V6 roadster range, but the range-topping F-type R coupé is heavily modified. It is powered by the 542bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 used in the XKR-S and XFR-S, as well as the Project 7 concept seen at Goodwood this year. The R coupé accelerates from 0-60mph in 4.0sec and has a governed top speed of 186mph. Its power-to-weight ratio is 325bhp per tonne.
Where the base F-type and F-type S do differ from the roadster, though, is on price. Each is £7285 less than the equivalent open-top F-type, which has drawn criticism for its lofty pricing. The R coupé starts at £85,000.
The car will go on sale next March, with Jaguar putting the main focus on the R coupé, which, the company says, takes best advantage of the car’s torsional rigidity of 33,000 Nm/degree — the best figure yet for a production Jaguar.
Jaguar dynamics chief Mike Cross said: “It is the best expression of Jaguar’s core values of sweet and intuitive steering and a great blend of ride and handling.”
That rigidity owes much to the innovative single-piece aluminium pressing that encompasses the coupé’s body side. This eliminates the need for multiple panels and cosmetic joints. Jaguar claims that it is “probably the most extreme cold-formed aluminium body side in the automotive industry”.
To enable a low roofline with no B-pillars, a high-strength, hydroformed aluminium beam runs over each door opening from the bottom of the A-pillar to the back of the C-pillar.
The bonded-in roof panel is available as either aluminium or as panoramic glass, and neither option alters the
“The body stiffness gave us more scope to dial in driving characteristics that were more linear and precise without compromising refinement,” said Cross, who is currently running an R coupé as his daily driver as part of the final evaluation programme. “Achieving that stiffness in a lightweight structure is key to what I believe to be the sweetest car in our range.”
The R coupé’s performance is marshalled by two new pieces of technology: a second-generation Electronic Active Differential (EAD) that works with ‘torque vectoring by braking’, pioneered on the
new Range Rover Sport, to enhance handling and make
it more exploitable on the limit in all conditions.
EAD controls the amount of driveline torque fed to each wheel, operating like a more advanced version of a limited-slip differential. Operating with the torque vectoring system, it reacts to deliver any setting, from open to full locking, in just 200 milliseconds.
Additionally, the torque vectoring system brakes inner wheels when it detects potential understeer. Jaguar says it “works at a subtle level” to finely adjust the car’s trajectory and improve handling feel and balance.
These new systems work in tandem with Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics System, which actively controls vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates by adjusting damper rates up to 500 times a second according to driver inputs and the attitude of the car on the road.
The R coupé’s spring rates have been increased by 4.3 per cent at the front and 3.7 per cent at the rear compared with those of the V8 S convertible. As on the convertible, drivers have the option of selecting a Dynamic mode, which firms damper rates, increases steering weighting, allows faster gearchanges and sharpens throttle response.
Neither EAD nor torque vectoring is available on the F-type and F-type S models at present, although Cross emphasised that it was technologically possible. “It’s a matter of pricing, and giving the customers at each price point what they want,” he said.
The R coupé uses Jaguar’s so-called Super Performance braking system as standard, featuring 380mm front discs and 376mm rear discs. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available as an option on the R coupé and S coupé models, offering an unsprung weight saving of 21kg, as well as performance gains.
All coupé models utilise the eight-speed Quickshift transmission also found on the F-type roadster, but the R coupé’s software has been recalibrated to suit the greater engine outputs.
Jaguar’s switchable active sports exhaust is also standard on the R coupé. The company says it takes “aural excitement to new levels”.
The styling of the coupé is almost identical to that of the Jaguar C-X16 concept first shown at the Frankfurt motor show in 2011. In order to keep that form, a rear spoiler rises automatically at 70mph, before lowering again when the speed drops below 50mph.
The interior is also familiar, although the R coupé gets add-ons such as ‘Performance’ seats, which have side bolsters that inflate under heavy cornering. Boot space, heavily criticised on the roadster, is put at up to 407 litres. Jaguar says that’s enough for two golf bags.
Q&A Mike Cross, Jaguar chief engineer, vehicle integrity
What makes the F-type coupé special?
“The body stiffness gave us a great platform on which to work and develop the car. We had experience of the platform from the roadster, but the extra stiffness opened up a new level of capability. The new technology also opened new possibilities: the electronic differential brings a new handling focus and the torque vectoring adds a new degree of sharpness.”
What will roadster drivers notice is most different?
“The handling and linearity of response are exceptional. It is more dynamic, it is more focused and it is faster and more precise. Its capacity to entertain is wider.”
Do the electronic aids detract from the driving experience?
“Quite the opposite. It has been developed to drive well regardless of the driver’s ability, and the systems are developed to be intuitive and immediate. It inspires confidence in every ability of driver. The systems are seamless and the car feels authentic in its responses.”
Can you give us a ’Ring time compared to the convertible?
“It’s not really relevant, so all I’ll say is that the coupé’s time starts with a seven. It is a fast car. But the real gain from ’Ring testing is not the lap time. I’m prouder of how it handles on a Welsh B-road than I am the ’Ring lap time.”
The R coupé sounds ripe for further developments.
“I would agree. It’s possible.” Jaguar F-type coupe revealed | Autocar