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First Drive: 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe By Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

The new Jaguar F-Type R coupe is the most powerful production model that Jaguar has ever built, at cruising speed the Jag behaves like an elegantly stalking feline predator, always prepared to jump forward toward the deserted road ahead.

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
Photos by Ian Kuah

LLEIDA, Spain: Last year, the Jaguar F-Type Convertible impressed me along with the world’s car lovers and the hard to please automotive media.

My first test drives this week with the faster, nimbler and more fun Jaguar F-Type Coupe turned out to be even more enchanting, that is, if you want/need a solid roof above your head! This obviously is not everybody’s choice, which is proven by the fact that Jaguar is well on track to sell over ten thousand F-Convertibles in the first full year since its market launch last summer.

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The Coupe will undoubtedly attract customers who love high performance automobiles. And performance is what they will get with the F-Type Coupe, whether it is equipped with one of the two V6 variants or with the V8 engine. The new F-Type R coup is the top of the sports car range and the most powerful production model that Jaguar ever built.

Car aficionados have had a relationship with the iconic Jaguar E-Type, but F may be the next letter in the alphabet but is not the E’s successor. That is logical since it has been 52 years since the last E-Type was built. But by introducing new F-Type, Jaguar wants to regain the status of returning to be know as a real sports car manufacturer.

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The Brits do not exactly say that with the new F-Type they have built a Porsche killer, but they do say that they are offering a true sports car with the value of a 911 for the price of a Cayman. Anyway, some six months after the market introduction of the F-Type Convertible, the company became aware that it has been much too timid in their marketing of their new car. That was the reason, that Jaguar drove full speed and boldly into some 100 million American living rooms with its 60 second ‘Rendezvous: it’s good to be bad’ spot during the Super Bowl on February 2nd.

On the road with the F-Type Coupe S

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The F-Types three available engines share the base technology of double direct injection, overhead cam, variable timing valve trains and supercharging. The two variants of the 3.0-liter V6 have are identical to the ones in the Convertible, but have a 40 hp difference in horsepower among each other thanks to the software. The standard F-Type uses the V6 with 340 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque, while the F-Type S uses the version with 380 hp and 339 lb-ft. of torque.

Just like the convertible the R model is equipped with a 5.0-liter V8, but this one has 550 hp with 501.5 lb-ft of torque instead of 495 hp and 490 lb-ft.

All engines are teamed to the Quickshift 8-speed automatic transmission, developed by ZF and mapped by the Jaguar engineers in order to optimally work together with the power plants.

We started our F-Type Coupe test drive in Spain from the airport in Lleida, a city west of Barcelona. Upon touching the copper colored on-off button in the dashboard, the engine produces a retained growl, but when pushing the throttle you cannot go unnoticed anymore. If it were not for its sound, the distinctive coupe already attracts a lot of attention by its looks.

The winding roads in the hills were well suited for our drive to the Motorland Aragón. There we took our car for two stints of 3 laps on the 3.3 miles long race track to safely push it through the wide and narrow bends and along the 1 mile straight.

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What we already knew from our drive on the public roads, was confirmed there. The Coupe is extremely stiff, is planted on the road, reacts fast to steering input and a push on the throttle and sounds super potent. When you use the switch near the shift handle in the center console into the Sport mode, those reactions are even faster and by pushing a button that enhances the exhaust sound.

Is it too much? Customers have to decide them selves. Anyway the 83 decibel (or 81 dB in non-sport) are legal!

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On the road I always test the transmission in Drive, Sport set up – if available and by manually shifting the paddles on the steering wheel. Either way, the 8-speed transmission reacts instantly to the orders from the driver, or from the software that has an optimal set up to work perfectly with the engine’s revs. Paddle shifting on the track goes without thinking and it feels like the transmission needs no time to ‘think’ either.

With a little help

Then it is on to the handling course of Motorland, where the new torque vectoring system can be tested on the wet part of the track. The F-Type Coupe R has a new electronic slip differential that works together with Torque Vectoring by braking (TVbB). When its sensors detect that fast cornering may cause under steer, the system applies braking torque individually to the inner wheels via the ABS system. By actively turning in the nose of the car into the bend too much, we could indeed feel the system interfering. Of course, it is not magical that it will save you in every circumstance, but it will really help, practically unnoticed and also on dry road at higher speed, when a driver does not pay enough attention and/or is not precise enough.

Impressive V8 power

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Then we take the steering wheel of the F-Type R with the mighty V8. And boy, the ‘R’ is good for some real old-fashioned muscle car fun. The cries of the F-Type’s V6 are like the purring of a house cat compared to the thunderous growls of the V8.

Starting the engine causes excitement and creates high expectations. And we were not disappointed. Not at all.

With 550 hp and just over 500 pound-feet of torque it is the fastest production Jaguar ever. The F-Type R accelerates in just four counts to 60 mph and reaches its top speed of 186 mph until electronics say enough-is-enough.

We did not go that fast, but there were several stretches of roads where we easily, though briefly, saw the needle of the odometer reach 155 mph. With the optional CCM (carbon ceramic matrix) brakes, the fast cat had no problem to quickly decelerate to a legal speed in a way that is nicely proportional to the pressure on the brake pedal.

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At cruising speed the Jag behaves like an elegantly stalking feline predator, always prepared to jump forward on the deserted road ahead.

Under all circumstances the car feels firmly planted on the road, without traction problems. On the contrary, the fat rubber – 255/35 up front and 295/30 in the rear – seem to provide never decreasing grip.

All Aluminum

Fortunately the adaptive dampers even out bad spots in the road, although we try to avoid them as much as possible. Because already in the V6 we became instantly aware of the stiff set up of the new Coupe. During the briefing Jaguar informed us that compared to the Convertible it is 80 per cent stiffer. That makes the F-Type Coupe the most torsionally rigid production model Jaguar ever made. For the insiders: the torsional stiffness is 33,000 Nm/degree.

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For this reason, a fixed roof adds a lot, but today new safety regulations asked for a stiffer roof construction than before. The requirements used to be that a roof could carry 1.5 times the weight of the car and only on one side. The new US regulations have been changed and now the roof need to support 4 times the weight on both sides, with a maximum intrusion of 120 mm, or 4.7 inches.

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Even though (except in villages) we could drive very fast, the F-Type does not wear you out. The luxurious cabin is actually relaxing, the R’s optional Performance Seats provide excellent support and a fair amount of comfort. The seating position is excellent and the visibility is good. Our only comment is that the navigation system could have been more up-to-date.

But after one and a half day in the cockpit of the Coupe, I felt I would not have wanted to miss the opportunity. It was not only fun, this cat was really exciting!

You may have guessed already, that the F-Type R Coupe could be my next car. Could, as the V8 model does not come cheap: it has a base price of $ 92,895. The prices for the F-Type start at $ 69,895 and the F-Type S at $ 81,895. but there is not much time for saving your pennies, as the F-Type Coupe will arrive at American dealerships on July 14.

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe Technical details

Body type: 2-door, 2-passenger

3.0-liter V6 DOHC 24-valve, supercharged, intercooled, 340 or 380 hp @6500 rpm, 332 or 339 lb-ft @3500-5000 rpm;
5.0-liter V8 DOCH 32-valve, supercharged, intercooled, 500 hp @6500 rpm, 501.5 lb-ft @2500-5500 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual mode

Wheelbase: 103.2 inches
Length x width x height: 176.0 x 75.7 x 51.5 inches
Track fr/rr: 62.8/64.9
Curb weight Standard/S/R: 3477/3514/3671 pounds
Boot cu.ft.: 11.12-14.37

Performance (standard/S/R):

Zero to 60 mph: 5.1/4.8/4.0 sec
Zero to 62 mph: 5.3/4.9/4.2 sec
Top speed (electronically limited): 161/171/186 mph
Fuel economy (EU mpg): 32.1/31.0/25.5
CO2 Emissions (g/km): 205/213/259