Overall rating: 4.5/5
We reckon that the new Jaguar F-Type Coupé is even more alluringly gorgeous than the roadster version, and the 380hp V6S model covers all the bases. It's not a perfect car, but it's so damned desirable that we forgive it its niggles. On top of all of that it's cheaper to buy than the convertible.
In the Metal:
The F-Type Coupé is gorgeous. It's as simple as that. It builds on the pert rear deck, sharp fold lines and dramatic curves of the roadster with an evocative roofline and a rear window that is unashamedly inspired by the Jaguar E-Type. The new coupé can be anything from an attention grabbing extrovert (choose orange paintwork and dark alloys) to a subtle, yet utterly divine lesson in class (a dark blue perhaps with a lighter shade of grey for the wheels. If you go for a bright colour we urge you to splash out on the glass roof, as it makes the car look even more special.
Realistically, the interior of the F-Type Coupé doesn't quite merit the full five stars here. It's a great driving environment, there's no doubt, but it's not especially spacious - and larger drivers may find the (lush) seats a little narrow. At least the bugbear of the roadster's useless boot is no more, with 407 litres of usable space in the coupé. Rubberised plastics for the switchgear are good rather than great in terms of tactility and perceived quality, but it all works intuitively. The gold-coloured gearshift paddles and engine start button won't be to all tastes, but they do emphasise that this is a car designed to be driven.
Any fears that the defining feature of the roadster (its noise) would be lost by the addition of a roof are quickly dispelled. If the mood takes you, the V6S can be the epitome of hooliganism. Slot the gear selector left into S for Sport, take over gear changes via the paddles for yourself, then pull back the toggle switch into Dynamic mode and the fun really starts. A hard-edged note emanates from the centrally-positioned exhaust outlets as you accelerate. Change up a gear on throttle and the lightning-fast shift is accompanied by a staccato bark from the exhaust. When it's time to slow down again, the down-changes are punctuated by gratuitous automatic throttle blips, but the best part is the snare drum-like 'rat-a-tat-tat' on the overrun. It'll make grown men giggle like teenagers and this range of noises is what separates the F-Type from the likes of the Porsche 911.
And while all of the above might well convince a buyer to go for the Jag, it's not the only trick up its sleeve. The V6S is a seriously fast car by any measure. The supercharged V6 puts out 380hp and 460Nm of torque, and thanks to the use of a supercharger the delivery of all this is smooth and linear throughout the rev range. Indeed, there are no audible tell-tales from under the bonnet that there's a 'charger there; it just feels like a large capacity V6. That feeling is enhanced by the zeal with which it revs out to its 7,000rpm limiter. There's plenty of torque everywhere in the engine speed range, but it's impossible to resist using the upper reaches of the rev counter. Likewise, you'll find yourself changing down into second gear unnecessarily just to hear the cacophony from the exhaust.
But all this noise and performance would be pointless without a decent chassis, and thankfully Jaguar has delivered. The coupé is considerably stiffer in torsion (imagine picking the car up and trying to twist it about its longitudinal axis) than the roadster, which means the suspension has an even more rock solid basis on which to build. Bear in mind, however, that the F-Type is designed to be a sports car, not a GT cruiser, so it's always firmly damped, no matter which mode the adaptive damping is in. It's never rigid enough to shake your fillings loose, but some larger bumps threaten to put the car off line, even if this rarely actually happens.
Keen drivers will forgive it all that for its super-sharp responses and the agility with which it tackles a series of bends. The steering, an hydraulically assisted system, is simply sublime, offering up oodles of information without ever wrenching the wheel out of the driver's hands. It can feel a little heavy in Dynamic mode at first, but on the move that extra weight is welcome and it's a joy to thread down a challenging road. The test route through the Spanish mountains was fast and punishing on the brakes, but they didn't show the slightest hint of fade throughout, and the pedal feel and modulation are nigh on perfect.
It's a sign of how well-judged the S is that we didn't feel the need to take the stability and traction control systems out of their default setting, and not until I sat to write this report did I wonder what the F-Type would be like with a manual gearbox. As is, it's an exciting and enjoyable car to drive. Its limits are high, making it safe for anyone to drive, but we can't help but notice that it has been developed with the keener driver in mind, and we very much approve of that.
What you get for your Money:
The new Coupé is available as the regular F-Type (powered by a 340hp version of the same supercharged V6 as the S) for €94,820, which considerably undercuts the Porsche 911 that Jaguar reckons it is competing with. In truth, buyers of that model should probably consider the new Porsche Boxster GTS too. The F-Type V6S Coupé starts at €109,570, which is still nearly €40,000 less than a 911 Carrera S. The top-of-the range F-Type R Coupé is €161,740. That sounds like an awful lot more money, but believe me: if you can afford it, it's worth every cent. The Coupé is usefully cheaper than the equivalent F-Type roadster.
Aluminium plays a large part in the make-up of the F-Type, and the Coupé takes things further. One aspect of the design that the engineering team is most proud of is the one-piece side body panel, which means there are no joins that require disguising. This looks better of course, but also makes the whole structure stiffer. Jaguar says that the Coupé is the most torsionally stiff car it has ever produced. A surprising 50 per cent of the aluminium used in the F-Type's body comes from recycled metal, and the process of joining it all together - riveting and bonding - is claimed to emit 80 per cent less CO2 than welding a comparable steel structure.
The Jaguar F-Type Coupé is an intoxicating car. It's cheaper and much more practical than the also brilliant roadster, yet it's the variant we'd choose, money no object. Objectively, it's probably not as polished an all-rounder as the Porsche 911, but it's far far more interesting. And did I mention how good it looks?