2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: The Jag we’ve been waiting for
Until I drove the F-Type R, I’d never been pulled over for a car-related offense. I’ve either been terribly lucky or far too restrained. However, while driving the F-Type R I was collared by the police.
As I approached a sleepy village, after overtaking a car to keep pace with our support truck, I slowed from the speed I was traveling at to the next, lower, speed as dictated by the signage. As I approached the village entrance a Day-Glo figure walked in the middle of my lane and pointed me to turn left.
I readied my license, credit card and waited for my bollocking. The policeman approached the door and started speaking at me, loudly, in Spanish. I speak no Spanish, but thankfully our support crew did. Mysteriously, the cop didn’t want to talk to someone who knew the lay of the land…I was asked repeatedly whether I knew the speed limit (I did), then our fixer took over. What ensued was five minuets of rapid Spanish between a man who wanted to book me and a man who wanted to get me on my way.
Our fixer did his job and, as we breezed through the village, he told me over the radio what I’d done wrong. “He’s a very stupid policeman. He said you were speeding, that you passed a car too fast. I asked for evidence. He then said that he had none. The car sounded too fast.”
“The car sounded too fast.” That kind of sets the scene for the F-Type R.
In 2011, Jaguar showed off a new concept, the C-X16. It was a sports car that made everyone who ever lusted after an E-Type feel weak in the knee-region. It was beautiful and it got tongues wagging. Jaguar was to have a sports car again. And it was going to be good.
2013 saw the F-Type launch as a convertible. I drove it and, unsurprisingly, loved it. It had noise, drama and all kinds of appeal. But it wasn’t the car I was waiting for, that was the Coupe. Thankfully, the wait was worth it.
Jaguar saw fit to add an extra engine to the Coupe line up over the convertible, the 5.0-litre supercharged R. Boasting 543bhp and 500 lb. ft., the R isn’t a slow car. Quite the opposite in fact — 0 to 60mph takes 4.0 seconds and its top speed is limited to 186mph. I’ll tell you this — you feel all of the power.
In its normal settings, the R is a relaxed car. The controls are light, easy to use and lovely. Unless you’re leaning on it, the engine and exhaust sound inoffensive and calm. Tickle the car up to around 4,000rpm and you hear the car’s back end fart out a preview of its angry V8. Press on and you’ll get more. It’s loud, and that’s cool, but comfort mode should never be used in an F-Type R. If you buy one and use it, you need to have a word with yourself, because dynamic is where it’s at.
Dynamic mode prods the R in all the right places – the steering gets heavier, the suspension stiffer, the 8-speed auto angrier and the exhaust is allowed to sing its loudest. Thankfully, its loudest is tuneful. Great, sonorous parps, belches and cracks fire out of the back of car, filling the ears of pretty much everyone nearby. Unless you’re profoundly deaf you’ll know when there’s an F-Type R nearby.
Dynamic mode turns the car from something comfortable into a proper sports car, but one that flatters the driver. There’s a myriad of systems working to keep you and you 543bhp on the road. Jaguar’s EAD electric differential keeps the power shuffling between the rear wheels to ensure you stay where you need to be, while its “torque vectoring by braking” system dabs the brakes while you’re cornering, ensuring a tighter, safer line. When you’re leaning on the car you can feel the systems working to keep you safe, but only when you’re really pushing. The car’s natural balance means you have to be really giving it some before it needs to resort to electronic interference.
Power delivery is linear and wonderful. As you press harder on the throttle you’re treated to a gentle push into your seat, a wail of cracks and bangs and a blurry background. It’s all very dramatic indeed.
Turning the toys off is also a treat, but one for another day, a fistful of brave pills and plenty of run off. The short skin-on-skin go I did have was exhilarating, slippery and one I want to repeat. Often.
As I walked away from the F-Type R after driving it pretty hard for two days, I wasn’t tired, grumpy or achy. I wanted one quite badly. I wanted to drive it around the world because it’s simply that good.
So yes, the policeman was right: The car did sound fast. Because it is.