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Driven: Jaguar F-Type Coupé. Image by Matt Robinson.

Driven: Jaguar F-Type Coupé
We get to grips with the entry-level F-Type on Britain's roads. Can it really humble a Porsche Cayman S...?

   



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Jaguar F-Type Coupé

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: one of the best-looking modern cars for many a year, wonderful cabin ambience, great engine and exhaust note, much more useable boot than the Roadster, cheapest way into F-Type ownership.

Not so good: handling is good but not great, V6 S is an affordable leap up.

Key Facts

Model tested: Jaguar F-Type Coupé
Pricing: £51,235 basic; £59,613.33 as tested
Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
CO2 emissions: 205g/km
Combined economy: 32.1mpg
Top speed: 161mph
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: 340hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 450Nm from 3,500- to 5,000rpm

Our view:

Wow. Let's not mess around with preamble; the Jaguar F-Type Coupé has already won half the battle with its looks. Like so many cars nowadays, photos don't seem to do it justice because, once you're in its presence, you realise just what a sensational piece of design it is, and why it works better as a tin-top than a convertible. It's a lot wider and more muscular around the rear than it appears in pictures, while any E-Type signifiers (such as the rear window, central exhaust pipes, gaping front grille and narrow rear light clusters) are done in a sympathetic manner, rather than coming across as slavish retro-ism. White with black detailing suits its stunning simplicity to a tee; it's fantastic and probably one of the finest looking cars of the 21st century.

The interior is almost as superb, if not quite as breath-taking as the exterior. Taking its lead from the Jaguar XF, there's some kinetic drama as you press the start-stop button, as the two vents on top of the console rise out of the centre of the dashboard. Snazzy. But there's more to this cabin than visual gimmickry, thanks to a seating position that allows you to move the driver's chair to a level that has your eyes looking across the top of that glorious, twin-vented bonnet, Jaguar's beautiful, dished three-spoke steering wheel that's not too fat, not too thin, a smattering of tidy switchgear and generally pleasant, tactile materials. It's not quite as sublime as the XJ's finish in here, but the snug, backside-on-the-floor driver's chair soon makes you forget about what the console looks and feels like.

This is the V6 version with the 'basic' 340hp supercharged V6 engine. When the Roadster first came out, reviews often stated that this car was slow. Which is ridiculous; anything with a power-to-weight ratio of 216hp/tonne and capable of 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds is hardly slow. Driven in isolation, buyers would not be criticising the straight-line go this car possesses. But, in mitigation of those aforementioned reviewers, despite being supercharged the acceleration doesn't kick you in the small of your back when you demand full throttle. It's extremely linear and smooth, which is commendable in one way, but it does kind of mask the F-Type's forward momentum; there's never any moment when it transforms into the sort of vivid top-end that would have internet types writing 'OMFG' on forums. For that, you're going to have to go all-in for the R model.

Something that counteracts this lack of physical shove is the standard-fit Sports exhaust. There's a button behind the gear lever (which is an actual lever, rather than a Jag rotary dial) to make it louder - promise us if you buy an F-Type, you'll have this engaged all the time. It's a riot. The pops and bangs it makes on the overrun are brilliant, while it has a metallic howl to it under hard throttle that sends shivers down your spine. OK, it's not the out-and-out fastest sports car you'll ever drive but the sonic treasures it serves up more than compensate. And the F-Type gives a naughty little flare of revs at every start-up, which is brilliant.

It's also dynamically competent. In the first few miles, as you're easing into it, the F-Type Coupé feels firmly sprung. It rides well, but not without a few larger bumps and jolts working their way into the cabin. However, the steering is alive from the first turn of the wheel's rim. It's beautifully weighted and sharp as a tack, which makes the F-Type supremely easy to place. Knock the gearbox over into Sport - and, thank God, Jaguar does its sequential shifting the correct way; if you don't use the paddle shifts, it's pull back for up a gear and push forward for down, just like proper motorsport transmissions: Volkswagen Group, please please please take note of this. Switch the car into Dynamic mode and things improve further. The throttle response is razor sharp and the eight-speed 'Quickshift' auto does exactly what you want of it.

In this set-up, the Jag is suitably enjoyable. It corners keenly, with an abundance of grip and plenty of feel coming through your spine as the back moves about under power and weight transfer. On really choppy roads, the damping isn't quite quick enough on compression and rebound to keep up, meaning the Jag can sometimes feel bouncy; you have to back off and let it settle before re-committing. But it's still bloody great. The only problem is Porsche's Cayman S, the Jag's key rival; the F-Type lacks the German's impregnable composure and polish.

This car with options as tested was perilously close to the V6 S model in cost. Chief among these were 19-inch wheels (£1,750), a Black Pack (£950) incorporating a Premium leather interior and cruise control (£350). Some of these items are standard on the S, while it also benefits from a limited-slip differential, whereas the V6 makes do with an open diff. While we adore the basic Coupé, it does seem like it would be worth stumping up that £9,000 extra to get into an S.

Yet the fact remains that the F-Type Coupé is a massively appealing car, even in entry spec. It's probably the best handling sports car of its type after the Cayman S, but it beats the Porsche on looks and that tricky-to-define aspect known as 'charisma'. Having driven the full gamut of F-Type Coupés, we haven't found a bad one yet. This is a marvellous car.

Alternatives:

Alfa Romeo 4C: similarly stunning to behold and one of Alfa's most impressive creations since Fiat took over. It is, however, still flawed in one or two areas, most notably the gearbox.

Lotus Exige S: the track-day addict's choice. Always been superb to drive, with a sublime ride (Lotus always uses less firm damping) and plenty of pace, but they're nothing like as practical all-round as the Jag. Interior is focused yet lacking charm.

Porsche Cayman S: starts at a cheaper price than the F-Type, yet last year we drove an optioned-up one that was nearly £65,000. The Porsche is the sharper driver's tool; the Jag is the better-looking and more raucous. Both are brilliant - which would you pick?


Matt Robinson - 18 Aug 2014



  www.jaguar.co.uk    - Jaguar road tests
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2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.



2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Image by Matt Robinson.
 






 

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