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.
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.
See trim levels and configurations:
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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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 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.