Weight is the enemy of performance, so you’d be forgiven for thinking Jaguar had lost the fight with its new F-TYPE Coupé. You see, the F-TYPE is the first Jaguar developed to compete directly against the world’s most accomplished and successful sports car – the Porsche 911.
But weight is merely one factor in the complex equation which determines a great driver’s car, and Jaguar have an advantage over the rear-engined Porsche which they’re keen to emphasise:
“It is essential in the design of a great sports car that weight is evenly distributed front to rear and that the centre of gravity is kept as low as possible.”
“A shorter car is more agile; a wider car is more stable. The relationship between F-TYPE’s length and width was precisely engineered to deliver inherent agility — Its low centre of gravity reduces body roll in corners, while short front and rear overhangs mean that the mass is concentrated within the wheelbase. These essential factors combine to ensure that F-TYPE is naturally agile.”
The two main criticisms of Jaguar’s F-TYPE are its weight and lack of luggage space. The latter is greatly improved in the coupé – with boot space more than doubled from 196 litres to 407 litres when loaded up to the tailgate – the problem of weight however is worse with the coupé relative to its main competition from Porsche.
The F-TYPE was designed from the outset as an open-top sports car, which partly explains why the coupé weighs the same as the convertible.
But with the Porsche 911, the coupé weighs 70kg less than the cabriolet, putting the F-TYPE coupé at even more of a disadvantage.
Jaguar talks about its “industry-leading expertise in aluminium construction”, which makes one wonder how heavy the F-TYPE would be if they’d made it from steel. With a torsional rigidity of 33,000 Nm/degree it’s the most torsionally rigid production Jaguar ever, which should bear fruit when maintaining its dynamic performance under load.
As with the Convertible the F-TYPE Coupé comes in three versions; a 335bhp V6-powered entry-level model, 375bhp V6 S and V8-powered model which tops the range – but instead of the 488bhp V8 S there’s a new 542bhp V8 R with a whopping 502 lb-ft (680Nm) of torque.
All three versions send their power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while the F-TYPE R features a new second-generation Electronic Active Differential which uses Torque Vectoring by braking to control the amount of power distributed to each driven wheel.
Performance is the same between convertible and coupé versions, albeit with a slight improvement in fuel efficiency thanks to the coupé’s more aerodynamic profile.
While the standard and S models are cheaper than their convertible counterparts, the V8 R costs £5,015 more than the V8 S convertible. Performance improves by up to 0.2 of a second from 0 to 62mph – 4.0 seconds against 4.2 seconds while fuel efficiency remains the same despite the R’s additional 60 bhp.
But is it enough to claw back some of the 911’s advantage?
Well, pitting rear-wheel drive against the 911 Turbo’s all-wheel drive reduces the F-TYPE’s weight disadvantage to just 45kg, which on the face of it makes the V8 R look something of a bargain – Jaguar’s F-TYPE R costs just £85,000 compared to the £140,852 charged by Porsche for the 911 Turbo S.
That may not be quite enough to beat the Germans at their own game, but it should make the F-TYPE worthy of consideration if you’re looking for dominant road performance.
Jaguar’s Chief Engineer of Vehicle Integrity, Mike Cross, sums it up “The F-TYPE R Coupé represents the pinnacle of Jaguar’s R Performance range — It’s precise, and it’s fast.. and a true driver’s car.”