Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: Review
- by Vikrant Singh
- Apr 3, 2014
- Views : 27904
We drive the new Jaguar F-Type R Coupe in the Spanish mountains with rain for company. And go around a race track as well!
There are so many things that feel right about the new Jaguar F-Type R Coupe that I can't help liking it. Sure, its Rs 1.8 crore price tag isn't one of them. Nor is its lack of bottle holders in the door pockets, but then I am just nitpicking here. The bottom line is - the new F-Type Coupe is a gorgeous looking car. Compared to its Convertible sibling, the Coupe's design feels more complete; its rear haunches, more seductive; and its silhouette, icon ready. The roaring Jaguar logos on the grille and the wheels look menacing; the bulge on the bonnet conveys power; and the numerous vents all over - hood, fenders, and bumpers - speak of an engine which is a glutton for air; which it is with a supercharger and all. Cutting a long story short, the F-Type R Coupe is epic.
Sadly, the interior isn't as grand. It doesn't have half the flair of the Coupe's exterior. The design isn't cutting-edge modern and the materials just don't feel as expensive as the car's list price would suggest. To live with though, it is more than passable. The driving position is spot on and the visibility (this is a low slung sports car, lest you forget) isn't bad either. There's a whole lot of equipment in here as well from digital climate control to a multi functional steering wheel to even a reversing camera. And there are a couple of cup holders too and a boot that measures in at 407 litres. Yes, the luggage space is as large as the Hyundai Xcent, and that's worth a pat on Jaguar's back.
The Coupe is based on the F-Type Convertible which is already on sale in India. It uses the same aluminium construction with pressing, casting and hydro-forming like processes used to bring both lightness and strength to the structure and it shares its underpinnings with the Convertible as well. It has the same track lengths, the same wheelbase and even the same brakes (well, mostly). What it does get additionally, is a fixed roof. And this roof has helped increase the F-Type's torsional rigidity by 80 per cent. So, the car (ideally) will jiggle less, and it should feel more pointy, connected and manageable than the Convertible.
And it does. Or did, at the Motorland circuit a day earlier. The circuit which is part of the MotoGP calendar is a truly breathtaking one. It has constant elevation changes and nearly every corner is blind. And when you are in a car that takes only a little over four seconds to hit 100kmph from a standstill, blind corners on an unfamiliar race track isn't the best recipe. As expected I was struggling to get my lines right, overshooting apexes at almost every corner. But, I still wasn't running wide into the dirt or slithering over kerbs, courtesy the car's sharp handling and some electronic intervention.
The F-Type R Coupe comes with Torque Vectoring and an intelligent electronic limited slip differential. Both these driving aids are exclusive to the R version and help correct the car's line around a corner, especially if it understeers. So, you enter a corner too hot or turn in too late, you'll find the car pulling itself tighter into the bend, both on and off throttle. If off throttle, the car brakes its inside wheels to pull itself into the corner. On throttle, the torque distribution to the rear wheels changes, with the outside rear wheel getting more of it to help tighten the line. On a dry track, it works brilliantly. But, when you find yourself driving this 550PS, rear wheel drive, glorious sounding V8 Jaguar on the near deserted, nicely surfaced and endlessly winding roads of Muntanyes de Prades in the rain, all you get is unintentional oversteer. Everywhere. Even with all the electronic nanny systems working overtime. You just can't help love this brutality of the R Coupe's response if you take it for granted.
The S version of the Coupe is more civil. It starts at Rs 1.5 crore without options and gets a supercharged V6 with 380PS. It is also lighter, less unnerving and more manageable to drive on the road. And, it's still fun and entertaining, and it has a lovely sound too. It might not crackle and pop as loudly as the V8 on the overrun; and it might lack the V8's feral induction and exhaust notes when revved without mercy to its redline. But, the S is no softy. It too can get the hair on your neck to stand. And it too will oversteer at the smallest provocation. But, because its torque isn't put down like Thor's charging hammer (that's the R for you), you don't end up with sweaty or shivering palms if it goes all sideways on you.
Moreover, the S shares the 8-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox with the R (with a different final drive ratio) that adapts to the driver's style matching the need to up or down shift almost intuitively. And as the name suggest, it is in fact a quick shifting 'box. The steering is the same on the two cars, as are the brakes, wheels and tyres. The suspension construction and geometry is identical too, but the R does get a stiffer setup. But, no matter the similarities, the S Coupe just doesn't feel as special as the R. It's not manic enough; it never feels all too powerful, and one doesn't need to be on top of his/her game just to survive an invigorating drive in the S.
For me then, the F-Type R Coupe is the version that embodies everything that's fantastic about this new Jaguar. What's more, it has the ability to cruise. We weren't on mountain roads all day, and had a few straight motorway sections on our drive route as well. And on the motorway, given you don't turn up the exhaust note via the button on the central tunnel and refrain yourself from overspeeding, the F-Type R Coupe makes for a quiet, composed, easy to live with long distance cruiser. There is some wind noise that seeps into the cabin, but nothing a bit of music can't drown out. The seats, though firm, never feel uncomfortable, and the steering though heavier on the R compared to the S, again isn't heavy enough to leave you with aching forceps or arms.
And then there's the ride. The R gets adaptive damping which when pushed hard around corners helps firm up the ride to keep the body roll in check. But, when ambling around peacefully or cruising around the ton mark in a straight line, the dampers are more relaxed and with it, the ride way more absorbent than we would have expected in a sports car with such performance. Like I said, there are so many things that feel right about the new Jaguar F-Type R Coupe that I can't help liking it.