2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe first drive
Is this the Jaguar sports car we’ve been waiting for?
The Jaguar F-Type Roadster is off to a great start. It’s a car enthusiasts have dreamt about for years, ever since the original E-Type was phased out in the early 1970s. Jaguar tried several times to launch a successor to the E-Type over the years, but to no avail – making the arrival of the F-Type last summer a momentous occasion for the firm.
The Roadster has been picking up awards and high praise ever since, particularly in choice V6 S guise. This 380-hp model has plenty of performance and strikes the perfect balance of driver-focused driving dynamics; the base 340-hp V6 and bold range-topping 500-hp V8 S are fine too, but the V6 S is the connoisseur’s choice.
Thing is, it’s not been quite clear where the F-Type sits alongside its arch-rivals from Stuttgart – the Porsche 911, Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman. The F-Type is cheaper than a 911 but pricier than the smaller roadster and coupe twins. Jaguar’s been coy on explaining things further, preferring to say nothing until the range is complete: this means waiting until the rollout of the hotly anticipated F-Type Coupe.
Now, it’s here. And where we’re testing the car – in its home country of England – it’s priced significantly below the Roadster. Yes, Jaguar has chosen to do what the E-Type did all those years ago – provide sports car thrills and show-stopping style for prices that, compared to the competition, are a relative bargain. This car provides the muscle to chase the 911, but is priced at Cayman money. And that makes it a tantalising proposition indeed…
Concept car looks become reality
It was the Jaguar C-X16 concept car that first signalled to the world that Jaguar was planning on replacing the E-Type. Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, it was the star of the show and most thought it looked ready for the showroom there and then.
Jaguar clearly agreed: the F-Type Coupe is, within a few millimetres, that concept car brought through to production. Glinting in the Barcelona sunshine where Jaguar let us drive these early production cars, the plunging coupe profile evokes the E-Type but the design and detailing is also entirely contemporary. It’s particularly striking from the rear three-quarter, where the design is inch-perfect and achingly desirable.
Highlights include the one-piece aluminium side panels, with almost impossibly sculptural and muscular rear haunches. These boast the deepest draw of any aluminium panel produced in the car industry, a manufacturing marvel that adds to the drama.
Jaguar designer Ian Callum wanted to create a car that wasn’t overblown or overburdened, one that was elegant and recognisable at a glance. He’s done this – and to our eyes, the F-Type Coupe is even more successful in this respect than the Roadster. Good as the open-top car is, it’s the Coupe that makes it complete.
Just as most prefer the 911 coupe to the cabriolet, we think the purest, most iconic F-Type is the Coupe rather than the Roadster.
F-Type surprise inside
The F-Type Coupe is better than the Roadster on the inside, too – surprisingly so in one respect. Most assume the open-top car will sound better than the closed coupe. Not so. Thanks to the noise paths between the engine, the exhaust and the occupants, it’s the coupe that has the purer sound and more sonorous note in V8 R guise. It sounds terrific, a highly convincing supercar – and it’s even more exciting than the 911 in this respect.
It’s a practical car too, at last. The rear coupe hatchback reveals a 410-litre space that, although still not deep, is long and wide. You can use it for a weekend’s luggage now – pack smart and you’ll even get a week’s worth in there. This isn’t something you can do with the Roadster. And, up front, the more cocoon-like feel to the cabin makes it more sporting and showcases the wonderful dashboard design even better.
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