The Jaguar F-Type has had a hard time gaining acceptance in the automotive world, but then, the the classic E-Type is a phenomenally tough act to follow ... think coming on after the Beatles. Nevertheless, Jaguar is still in there punching with last week’s world première of the F-Type R Coupé version of its F-Type Convertible, which won the 2013 World Car Design of the Year.
Like the convertible, there are three versions of the F-Type Coupé: The F-Type, the F-Type S, and the F-Type R. They’re all based on a lightweight and strong all-aluminum bodyshell which Jaguar says "embodies the uncompromised design vision" of the C-X16 concept." Instead of panels, the body is made of a pair of high-strength, cold-formed AC600 T61 aluminum sides formed by deep-draw pressings that remove the need for joints on the panel surface.
According to Jaguar, this construction has a torsional rigidity of 33,000 Nm/degree – the most rigid of any production Jaguar. Because the F-Type Coupé doesn't have B-pillars, a high-strength, hydroformed aluminum alloy beam runs from the A-pillar to the D-pillar by way of the door opening line to the rear quarter window. This allows for the desired interior space while providing enough strength to provide the choice of aluminum or panoramic glass roof panels.
Like the convertible series, the F-Type Coupé is a bit timid when it comes to style. The designers want it to carry the banner of the E-Type, but the lines are fairly conventional rather than provocative. Despite the grille with its twin “shark gill” openings, the feel of the silhouette and the passenger cabin seems to be trying to fit the mold rather than break it. The only really interesting touch is the composite rear spoiler hidden in the tailgate which reduces lift by up to 120 kg (264 lb), but you only see that when it hits 70 mph (112 km/h).
The F-Type Coupé comes with a choice of three engines. The top-of-the-line F-Type R has a 5-liter supercharged V8 with spray-guided direct injection, dual independent variable cam timing, and a high-pressure die-cast lightweight aluminum block stiffened with cast-iron liners and cross-bolted main bearing caps. There are four-valve cylinder heads made of high-grade, bespoke aluminum, and a roots-type twin vortex supercharger fed by two intercoolers with their own water-cooling circuit to improve power and efficiency. Put that together and you get 542 bhp (550 PS) and 680 Nm (501 ft-lb) of torque.
On the other end of the scale is the standard F-Type Coupé with a similar engine configuration, though in a 3-liter V6 producing 335 bhp (340 PS) and 450 Nm (331 ft-lb) of torque. In between is the F-Type S. It also has a 3-liter V6, but it pumps 374 bhp (380 PS) and 460 Nm (39 ft-lb) of torque.
On the track, the differences between the three show up on the clock. The F-Type R does 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.0 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph (299 km/h). The F-Type lags well behind in reaching 60 in 5.1 seconds and a limited top speed of 161 mph (259 km/h), while the F-Type S comes out at 4.8 seconds and a limited 171 mph (275 km/h).
The F-Type is, no surprises, rear-wheel drive and has an eight-speed “Quickshift” flappy paddle gearbox, though there is full manual sequential control available via the paddles or the central SportShift lever. According to Jaguar, the closely-stacked, sporting ratios exploit the engine's rev range, so it says inside its optimal power band with every gear change.
Keeping the F-Type Coupé on the road is the all-round double wishbone suspension with second-generation Electronic Active Differential (EAD). This system uses a multi-plate gear clutch operated by an electric motor, which automatically redistributes engine torque between the rear wheels. It does this by monitoring the car in real time, estimating road friction, matching that against the driver’s inputs, and delivering the appropriate torque within 200 milliseconds.
Along with the EAD is Jaguar’s first use of Torque Vectoring by braking, which analyzes input from a battery of sensors. If there is a danger of understeer, the car can apply the necessary braking to the individual inner wheels to help take the corners at higher speeds with more stability.
Working with the Torque Vectoring is the Sports suspension with Adaptive Dynamics damping and Configurable Dynamic Mode, which adjusts damper rates at 500 times per second to allow for more stability, faster gear changes, and sharper throttle response by controlling vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates.
The F-Type R Coupé uses Jaguar's Super Performance braking system as standard, but are optional for the other two variants. With 380 mm front and 376 mm rear discs, the brakes are cooled using under-body air channelling mapped out with Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis. Optional on both F-Type R and F-Type S Coupé models is the Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) braking system that Jaguar says provides absolute consistency of performance and excellent fade resistance while shaving off 21 kg (46.3 lb).
For fuel economy, there’s a stop/start system that automatically shuts down the engine when the car comes to a halt and the driver's foot is on the brake pedal. It can restart the engine in less time than it takes for the driver's foot to move from the brake to the accelerator and according to Jag, can deliver emission and fuel savings of up to 5 percent.
Since a sportscar is no fun without a soundtrack, the quad, outboard-mounted tailpipes have an Active Sports Exhaust system, which uses electronically controlled bypass valves in the rear section of the exhaust to reroute the exhaust for lower back pressure and what Jaguar believes is a suitable roar.
The interior of the F-Type carries over the driver-centric focus. The F-Type R Coupé has leather seats with inflatable side bolsters and wings to keep you from sliding about while cornering. The leather spreads from there to the dashboard, binnacle, armrests, door inserts, and center console. The F-Type S Coupé makes do with partial leather/suede cloth sports seats.
"With F-Type Coupé, the Jaguar engineering team has exceeded our considerable target of building a car that delivers even more driver reward than the acclaimed F-Type Convertible,” says Ian Hoban, Vehicle Line Director. “Engineering an exceptionally rigid all-aluminium Coupé body structure was the key to achieving this, as it's the fundamental basis for enhanced dynamic attributes. The result is that the F-Type Coupé is the most dynamically capable and involving Jaguar we've ever built."
Jaguar has yet to announce price and availability.