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Review: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

by Amos Kwon
Review: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Coupezoom in

    2016 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

  • Powertrain: 5.0-liter Supercharged V8, 8-Speed ZF Automatic Transmission, AWD
  • 0-to-60 Time (secs): 3.9
  • Top Speed (mph): 186
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 15/23 (18 combined)
  • Curb Weight (lb): 3,814
  • Wheelbase (in): 103.2
  • Total Length (in): 176
  • Base Price (USD): $103,600
  • Price as Tested (USD): $128,695

To call Jaguar sales tepid in comparison to the sport/luxury juggernaut, BMW, would be a serious understatement. In 2014, Jag sold just north of 450,000 cars, while BMW ran away with 1.8 million units worldwide. But you’d never guess that by taking one look at the Jaguar F-Type R AWD Coupe. Quite simply, it might just be the most beautiful car made today, and that’s not automotive hyperbole. Jaguar is clearly no longer just going after men in their 60s who like to drive big, potent sedans. They want the younger driving enthusiasts who also happen to have pretty deep pockets.

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That being said, the fact that Jaguar is infusing all of their V8 cars with AWD standard also means that the F-Type R is also about driving control in order to harness all 550 horses from its 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The original R debuted with rear-wheel-drive, making it extremely tail happy with all that power.

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Frankly, that extremely playful nature was a big part of the F-Type R’s appeal, but we agree with Jaguar’s move due to the fact that 90% of owners won’t have a clue how to drift or wrap the car around a switchback like a bespoke rally car.

Owners, however, will be too busy gawking at the damned thing to worry about their lack of skill since it exudes sensual power with the fastback design. That rear quarter panel is a designer’s dream come true, and Ian Callum must be patting himself on the back for the brilliant execution.

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The way the rear haunches and the C-pillar merge in perfect harmony give the Coupe a beauty the convertible could never match. In Ammonite Grey with yellow brake calipers and 20” Storm forged wheels, the F-Type even trumps traditional British Racing Green in the style points department. It’s the ideal combination of anger, sport and sophistication.

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The F-Type R’s interior is a truly comfortable place to conduct the business of driving. The $1,000 optional deep-set leather and Suedecloth (alcanatara) seats are both grippy and laterally supportive, and even the headliner, A-pillar and header rail get the faux suede treatment. White contrast stitching everywhere, as well as what’s known as a matte finished “carbon fiber effect” – not the genuine article – is found on the center console. It looks handsome, but the weave isn’t convincing enough for a $100K+ sports car. Of course, you can option it out with the real deal should you choose to spend the coin. The UI is easy to operate with an 8” touchscreen that’s well within driver reach. And thankfully the temperature controls are dial and pushbutton operation, large enough to operate at highway speeds and visible without progressive lenses (we tried).

None of these controls is that interesting, however, compared to the switch for “Dynamic” mode which remaps the F-Type’s software with a quick flick of the index finger. It noticeably sharpens throttle response, gives a modicum of heft to the new electric power steering, stiffens the suspension and shortens shift times at higher speeds. Couple this with the Active Sport Exhaust, which uses Active Bypass Valves for increased exhaust flow, and it’s a powerful performance symphony that delivers one of the sweetest automotive sounds on earth, giving a Ferrari V12 a run for its money and perhaps even trumping it. You’ll find yourself ripping the gas just to hear the combination of roar and crackle, waking up the neighborhood from the Camry/minivan doldrums like an M80 set off at 2 in the morning on a work night.

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Once you’ve parked yourself in the dark and comfy digs and fired up the big engine, the F-Type delivers the goods. Despite the fact that the car’s weight gets bumped up by 176 pounds by the AWD system, it’s made up for by the added control. The Adaptive Dynamics system adjusts constantly to driving style, taking data from body motion, pitch and roll in order to increase the F-Type’s stability. I drove it in the dry and the wet and found it confidence inspiring, though it did feel heavy at times.

The fact that the AWD system can send up to 50 percent of torque to the front wheels when needed makes a car that otherwise would suck in Chicago winters a viable option, as long as you lose the summer rubber before November rolls around. The torque vectoring, though not really noticeable under regular driving conditions, provides further aid by braking the inside rear wheel and adding power to the outside rear wheel to provide better steering performance under hard driving. It seems that Jaguar acknowledged the weight gain and infused the right technology to offset that problem. Our test car also benefited from the Carbon Ceramic brake package option, adding not just $12K to the bill but also spectacular stopping power from its 15.7” diameter front and 15” rear discs. Coupled with the dark Storm wheels, it’s a sinister delight that style-minded weekend tracksters will drool over.

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The result of the F-Type R’s AWD improvement is a real-world (albeit a rich, real world) luxury performer that’s now more controllable, easier to drive hard and usable in four seasons. You can drive it about as hard as you can as the Porsche 911 Carrera S, and it’ll make the Porsche look like a cream-colored family sedan when you pull up in the F-Type. There’s no question that Jaguar has created another automotive icon, creating its own capable footsteps in the shadow of the original legend, the E-Type.

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