by Jared Rosenholtz
Jaguar's design masterpiece and their prettiest coupe in decades, the F-Type Coupe, has been around for a few years now, doing battle with other premium sports coupes in various guises. The first model in the lineup with a V8 engine, the 5.0-liter R is a raucous, 550-horsepower supercharged V8 monster with 502 lb-ft of torque. Breathtakingly gorgeous, the Jag's looks and dynamic handling help offset its negative qualities, most notably a slightly cramped cabin and permanent noise from the engine, tires, and road. Its rivals include one from its own family, the relatively new SVR version of the same coupe, and the outstanding Corvette Z06. But it also vies for honors against more esteemed competition - the Porsche 911, and to a degree, even the Aston Martin Vantage. Nearly a decade since its release, age is becoming the F-Type's worst enemy.
2019 models are lightly refreshed, with no aesthetic changes. The big updates are inside, with the debut of a new 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system being a welcome improvement. Sadly, AppleCarPlay and Android Auto are not included with this update. Instead, more safety features have been added, with the coupe now including lane-keep assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and traffic sign recognition as standard.
Despite trendily modern lighting with LED daytime running lights, headlights, and taillights, the F-Type will continue to live on as a classically proportioned sports car, long after the environmentalists and health and safety legislators deem cars like this too excessive for public consumption. Its long hood, gorgeously pert rear end and fabulously wide hips are accentuated on the R, with even more muscular lines and quad tailpipes to differentiate it from lesser models. 20-inch wheels fill the arches and add more restrained aggression to the looks, while the rear bumper houses those telltale V8 outlets.
The F-Type R Coupe is similarly proportioned to many in its segment, measuring 176.5 inches long. Its width without the mirrors included is 75.7 inches, and thanks to its sloping roofline and sporty suspension, it sits 51.6 inches off the ground. The wheelbase is similarly average for the segment, at 103.2 inches. Thanks to all-wheel-drive, that V8 engine, and an automatic gearbox, the base curb weight of the R starts at 3,814 lbs.
Color options remain unchanged from 2018's palette, with 12 hues to choose from - two of which cost extra: Carpathian Grey and Silicon Silver. Caldera Red, Ultra Blue Metallic, Fuji White, and Santorini Black Metallic are especially pretty on this shape, but our favorite has to be the classic British Racing Green Metallic. Indus Silver Metallic is also particularly sleek, while other options include Yulong White Metallic, Narvik Black, Corris Grey Metallic, and Loire Blue Metallic. Of course, Jaguar will sell you almost any other color you desire, but these all require additional extra-premium fees to be paid for the privilege. The standard palette does just fine in this regard.
The F-Type R is available in only one configuration, with a supercharged 5.0-liter aluminum-block V8 sending 550 hp and 502 lb-ft to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This helps catapult the R from 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 186 mph. For one year only, 2015, the R was available with rear-wheel drive, but nowadays, fans of rolling burnouts will have to look elsewhere. Jaguar says that power is biased towards the rear though, with the redistribution of engine outputs only occurring when necessary. If you want a pure rear-wheel-drive sports car, the Corvette Z06 and various 911s are available, and can also be had with a manual gearbox, which is unavailable here. If instead, you want more power in the same sort of package, Jaguar offers the F-Type SVR (reviewed separately) for truly bonkers British back-road blasts.
Jaguar is clearly enamored with supercharging, as is their Land Rover sister company, and offers the boost application system on numerous models. The F-Type R coupe is another with the whine and strapped to the 5.0-liter V8 found under the R's hood, the supercharger helps develop 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to its eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-weather grip, acceleration from a standstill is just an effortless pedal stab away. Overtaking opportunities are also swiftly dealt with, the auto 'box quickly adjusting to your commands through the steering-mounted paddles. Leave it in auto mode, and the gearbox is still greatly responsive, finding the correct gear quickly and engaging it smoothly. Unfortunately, no manual option is available, but if the six-speed in lesser F-Type variants is anything to go by, that may be a good thing.
With all-wheel drive controlling power at all times, the F-Type R never feels too lairy to get heavy-handed with. Thanks to its huge brakes, it stops on a dime too, although the brakes can take a bit of getting used to at lower speeds with a bit too much bite when coming to a stop. However, this car is built to be driven hard, and low-speed smoothness is sacrificed at the altar of ultimate performance.
With such a high curb weight, one would expect less agility from the R coupe, but it is pleasantly surprising here. Unfortunately, that is made possible through excessively stiff suspension that doesn't get much more compliant in comfort mode. Switch the adaptive dampers to their stiffest setting, and you'd better have a great chiropractor or be driving on glass. What it gives up in comfort, the R makes up for in ability, its weight and suspension helping to keep it from skittering across the road when bumps are encountered. The steering too is sharp and direct, but again, as with most other electrically assisted power-steering setups, is missing true feel. The road noise and that mad motor will also be difficult to live with on a daily basis, the noises emanating from them being a constant reminder of the performance focus of the F-Type R.
The F-Type R is not too far off its competitors here, but as is characteristic of a supercharged V8, it won't be suited to record-breaking cross-country road trips. Official EPA estimates are 15/23/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With an 18.5-gallon tank, the estimated range on a full tank of gas will be around 333 miles, which is better than the Corvette Z06 will manage.
The R is typical of most modern British sports cars (not that there are many of them left) in that the interior is well-appointed with leather and soft-touch materials, but lacks the overall finesse of a premium German sports car. The infotainment system has been updated again this year, but unfortunately is still less than ideal to navigate. On the plus side, Bluetooth and a pair of novel retractable climate control vents as well as navigation are included, and most controls fall to hand easily, with the 12-way power-adjustable seats being controlled via switches on the door panels. Heated and cooled seats are available, along with a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel. Those seats are firm and comfortable enough for a couple of hundred miles but, coupled with sub-par headroom and legroom, can be a distressing place to sit for extended periods.
With only two seats to worry about, one would think that Jaguar's designers would have put more of an effort into making them comfortable places to be, but alas, there's only so much one can do when the sloping roofline and firm suspension both eat into headroom and emphasize a focus on performance dynamics. The seats are well-padded, but anyone with a larger frame or a six-foot height will find the R Performance perches less than accommodating. Fortunately, there is a large scope of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel, but even so, interior occupants are going to be sharing breathing space.
F-Type R models are trimmed as standard with Windsor leather, which bedecks the dash, door cards, and seats. Color options are expansive, with a Pimento Red leather option being particularly high on wow factor. A tan shade, a chocolate brown, and various black options with contrasting stitching are also available, while an ivory leather choice is on offer for the daring. Trim accents can be finished in your choice of "Delta" aluminum, knurled aluminum, or carbon fiber.
If ever you wondered why CarBuzz doesn't simply offer figures for cargo space and leave it there, here's the answer: raw data can be very misleading. The F-Type R coupe claims 14.4 cubic feet of storage in the trunk, which seems like a fairly large amount for a hardcore sports coupe, but if you open the rear lid, you'll find a narrow and shallow trunk that won't fit even one golf bag, a prerequisite for the stereotypical Jag coupe brigade so enamored by older offerings like the XK. Instead, you may manage a couple of overnight bags in the F-Type, but that's it.
Behind the seats is an awkward cargo net, supplemented by narrow door cards and a glovebox that can barely fit the owner's manual. A pair of medium-sized cupholders are included, but these too are shallow. If you require a modicum of practicality, this car is certainly not worth the test drive.
The Jag's interior includes a few of the usual amenities you'd expect in a premium sports car. A rearview camera is standard along with keyless entry and 12-way power-adjustable seats. Automatic cruise control with traffic sign recognition, a power-adjustable steering wheel, power auto-dimming rearview mirrors, single-zone climate control, and an adaptive exhaust are also standard. Heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel are available too. Standard safety upgrades are automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and a drowsy driver monitor. Rear park sensors are standard, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is available. A sunroof is not available, but you can spec a panoramic glass roof for more light if you so desire.
Jaguar's InControl infotainment featured in the F-Type R is a new system offered by the company, and features a 10-inch touchscreen paired with a 10-speaker Meridian audio system. This can be upgraded to a more powerful 12-speaker setup. The R features Bluetooth and USB connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, and navigation as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not included. Instead, Jaguar has opted for their own smartphone connectivity solution, which also allows you to check vehicle stats and vitals from your smartphone or smartwatch. Unfortunately, it's less polished than a new technology ought to be, and this new infotainment system is already due for an upgrade.
The 2019 F-Type R has been subject to two recalls thus far - one in September of 2019 for an incorrect tire placard label, and one earlier in January of the same year for a potentially fallible crankshaft pulley bolt. Your new Jaguar is covered with a new vehicle limited warranty and roadside assistance for five years/60,000 miles, which Jaguar claims is the best coverage by luxury automobile brands. In addition, complimentary scheduled maintenance covers the car for the same period.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has yet rated the Jaguar F-Type in any model variant, with Europe's rating agency also not producing any crash ratings as yet.
Jaguar is especially proud of the newly-standard driver aids equipped to all F-Type variants, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and a drowsy driver monitor. Park assist, emergency brake assist, auto high beams, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are also available. The cruise control system can also identify traffic signs and automatically adjust the car's speed to match. Six airbags are fitted around the cabin, including side-curtain head protection.
The F-Type is single-minded in purpose, with very little about it compromising its performance for greater ergonomics. It's uncomfortable on longer journeys, ridiculously loud all the time, and not exactly a class-leader when it comes to creature comforts. Hardcore and focused, the F-Type R is particularly deft at handling tight corners as well as fast bends, just not corrugated tarmac. But just look at it. Yes, it's cramped inside, impractical, and very difficult to see out of, but it is just gorgeous, and with the adaptive exhaust, makes a fairly reasonable attempt at being civilized. The price is rather high for something not truly exotic, and there are certainly faster, more comfortable, and even more exciting cars that will cost about the same or less - but very few that look the way this one does. If the looks mean nothing to you, then a Porsche 911 is arguably a better choice in almost every respect; but then again, everybody's got one, while the F-Type stands out from the crowd.
The F-Type R Coupe's base price starts at $100,750 before Jaguar's $995 destination charge, taxes, and other fees. Fully loaded with all the available options, the R will include carbon fiber exterior add-ons, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats, and massive carbon-ceramic brakes measuring 398 mm in front and 380 mm at the rear. All in, the price of the F-Type R can easily exceed $120,000, which is, coincidentally, the price of the more hardcore F-Type SVR.
The F-Type R is a standalone model in the F-Type Coupe range, and as such is not subject to trim variations. A 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive. This setup produces 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. LED headlights and taillights are standard exterior inclusions, with auto wipers, power mirrors, rear park sensors, adaptive suspension, and keyless entry among the additional standard equipment. A rearview camera, Windsor leather interior trimming, power-adjustable seats and steering column, and push-to-start are also included. A ten-inch infotainment system is in place with a ten-speaker sound system supplied by meridian as the default. The adaptive exhaust exits via four pipes at the rear of the vehicle, and unique bumpers further separate the looks of the R from less powerful models in the lineup.
5.0-liter Supercharged V8 Gas
A number of packages are available for the F-Type R, with Climate Package 2 being one of the better add-ons one can spec. This package costs $1,635 and adds a heated steering wheel and windshield, dual-zone climate control, and heated and ventilated seats. The extended leather package adds more Windsor leather to your interior, with the center console, instrument panel, and glovebox receiving the trimming for $2,550. Performance-wise, a carbon-ceramic brake upgrade steps front and rear discs up to 398 mm and 380 mm respectively, with unique wheels thrown in. This is the most expensive package, at $12,240. Carbon fiber exterior accents can also be had and will set you back $3,470.
The F-Type R is only available in one guise, so if you'd like to fork out over $100k on the sports coupe, you may as well make it more comfortable to live with, by adding heated and ventilated seats and dual-zone climate control with Climate Package 2. The extended Windsor leather interior package is also worth considering to up the luxury feel of the interior, but we'd avoid enhancing the performance any further with the carbon-ceramic upgrade unless regular track days are your thing, as the standard brakes are plenty sharp enough.
The R is not the top model in Jaguar's F-Type lineup. Instead, that honor goes to the F-Type SVR, which is also powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8, but in this application has been tuned to develop even more power at 575 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. This sends it from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a higher top speed of 200 mph. As a sort of halo car for the range, the SVR is obviously even more expensive. The extra $22,000 you need to fork out for this car earns you a carbon fiber rear wing, aluminum shift paddles, upgraded interior trim, front parking sensors, and a heated steering wheel as standard. So is it better than the R? Well, at that kind of money, one would expect supercar performance, which the SVR delivers, but the foibles of the regular R are still present and problems like noise and discomfort are amplified. We'd be happy with the regular R, but if you're a regular track-rat, then the SVR will shave seconds off your lap times.
The Jaguar's price pits it against some pretty special metal. Porsche's 911 has always been the benchmark of sportscars, with handling and feel that are simply out of this world. Add all-wheel-drive to the mix, and you have a sports car capable of obliterating just about anything on track or on a twisty mountain road. The F-Type too has great handling but, of course, can't match the 911 for driving feedback and raw feel. The Porsche also one-ups the Jag in the interior stakes, with a far higher level of quality and a classy feel that doesn't appear to be trying as hard as when you step into the Jag, all while offering semi-usable rear seats and practical storage. Yes, the Porsche is expensive and gets ridiculous when you go too crazy on the options list, but there will always be a willing buyer for it on the secondhand market, and it's likely to be far more reliable too. In just about every measurable facet, the Porsche is the better car and always will be.