Ray Massey mini test: Cat with all the cream
Motoring editor Ray Massey takes the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe 5.0 litre V8 (from £85,000) for a mini test and tells you the best and worst bits of his drive.
A beautiful — but dangerously so — two seater sports coupe that looks gorgeous from all angles and really does draw the crowds. The two best views are probably the aggressively feline face, which other drivers will see in their rear-view mirrors, and its impressive rear, which they will see just seconds later after it sprints past them and accelerates away into the distance leaving them for dust.
Harmonious blend of art and craft. Beautiful lines drawn and sculpted by Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum and his team are made physical all-aluminium reality by the technical prowess of vehicle line director Ian Hoban and his engineers. They’ve bent, shaped and coaxed the metal within a millimetre of its life to make the coupe svelte, but super-strong; elegant, but exceptionally taut.
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Jaguar F-Type R Coupe 5.0 litre V8 (from £85,000)
This big cat really does have a roar to match its head-turning looks, reaching a howling crescendo when you let rip — especially in an echoing tunnel, windows down.
I tested the 5-litre V8 F-Type R Coupe — and a 3-litre V6 S Coupe over two days across north-eastern Spain, including a spin with the V8 around the Motorland F1-approved race circuit and some potentially treacherous mountain roads in Catalonia and Aragon.
The powerful supercharged 5 litre V8 developing 550 bhp — about the same as five Ford Fiestas — propels it from rest to 60mph in a mere four seconds flat and on up to a top speed of 186 mph (where it’s legal).
A beast at taking tight mountain bends with a bevy of safety features that help keep you glued to the road like a train on tracks. It makes you feel a better driver than you really are. This is helped by a super stiff chassis.
The car has a cosseting cockpit-style interior
This Jaguar really will drive you around the bend — but in a way that could save your life. It has a clever system that means should you over-cook it on a tight bend and risk going off the road, sensors automatically apply the inside brakes. This keeps the car gripping the road as you continue around the curve without falling victim to ‘understeer’ — the mass and forward motion of the car over-riding your attempt to steer around the corner. And boy does it work. It goes by the rather clunky name of ‘torque vectoring’, but it’s really the ultimate anti off-road technology.
On looks and performance this car is sharp enough to tempt James Bond out of his Aston Martin — its creator used to design those, too.
The V8 R Coupe has two pairs of twin exhaust at each corner.
Even the standard V6 Coupe with one pair of twin exhausts — in the middle — hits 60mph in 5.1 seconds with top speed from its supercharged 340bhp engine electronically limited to 161mph. The V6 S Coupe with a 380bhp engine hits 60 mph from rest in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 171 mph.
You can ‘tune’ the ride and handling to suit your mood via a dashboard screen — whether for performance driving or cruising.
You can ‘tune’ the ride and handling to suit your mood via a dashboard screen – whether for performance driving or cruising.
Great stopping power from the optional carbon ceramic matrix (CCM) braking system.
Sophisticatedly smooth and closely calibrated automatic 8-speed Quickshift gearbox with simple manual over-ride using paddles on the steering wheel or a nudge on the central SportShift lever. Your gear is displayed as a large character, which helps.
Cosseting cockpit-style interior.
On firing up the car from a start button, the upper part of the dashboard rises up from the flat like an old-style cinema organ. Pure theatre.
The rear spoiler pops up with a flourish, too, to help keep you glued to the road.
You can specify a metal or panoramic glass roof.
Enough space in the 407-litre boot for two sets of golf clubs. You can even buy specially designer luggage to fit below the tailgate.
There is enough space in the 407-litre boot for two sets of golf clubs.
The scintillating performance comes at a price. Expect high fuel bills. The official average fuel economy figure for the 5-litre V8 R Coupe is 25.5mpg. And I’ll wager that’s in a test akin to a country vicar tootling around in a Morris Minor. The temptation to exercise your twitchy right foot on the accelerator pedal will, I suspect, make fuel use far more profligate.
For the record, the S Coupe averages 31mpg and the standard Coupe 32.1 mpg.
It’s the same story with the CO2 emissions, which determine your road and company car tax. A hefty 259g/km for the V8 dropping to 205g/km for the standard V6 Coupe.
The R starts at £85,000. But you’ll quickly approach the ‘ton’ adding on all those tempting extras such as the carbon ceramic brakes, Meridian 770W sound system, even more sumptuous, contemporary leather interior, panoramic glass roof and power tailgate. Coupe prices start at £51,235 with the Coupe S at £60,235. Start saving.