The Jaguar F-Type Coupe was a sure bet for production the minute the F-Type convertible launched and immediately acquired a waiting list several months long. While Jaguar primarily launched this new, coupe version of the F-Type at the LA motorshow - taking place concurrently with the event in Tokyo - we were pleased to see and get our hands on a solitary, white F-Type R Coupe out in Japan.
And if that opener has made us sound slightly nonplussed about the F-Type Coupe, like it was a given, we’re giving the wrong impression. We’re very glad it’s here, for two main reasons: First, because competition and choice against the default Porsche Cayman or 911 is always nice to have in this corner of the market.
READ: Porsche Cayman S review
Second, because our primary criticism of the F-Type convertible is that it’s a bit porky. Think 150kg too heavy. The Coupe, with its stiffer structure from the fixed roof sheds some weight compared to the convertible. Jaguar wasn’t saying exactly how much, but we’d bet on somewhere between 50kg and100kg, and that will have an immediately positive impact on the way the car drives.
Otherwise, what you see is what you get. The F-Type Coupe is just as you would expect a coupe version of the convertible to be. It stays remarkably faithful to the look of the 2011 C-X16 concept - the preview of the F-Type - save for one important detail: on the concept car, the rear boot lid hinged open sideways, in a nod to the E-type. Sadly for production such a solution proved too costly to engineer so you get a regular, hatchback-style opening boot lid.
At the front of the car, the look is the same as the convertible, with the same panels, fixtures and details. Move back and, of course, that fixed roofline is different. And because the F-Type uses one of the biggest single sheet metal pressings in the entire auto industry along the body side, you get a lovely, uninterrupted shape, with no socking panel joins. It’s just a shame there are now two odd little triangles of surface, in-board of the rear spoiler, which automatically deploys at 70mph.
Open the doors and the Coupe answers one of the biggest criticisms of the F-Type convertible - practicality. Spec a spare wheel in the drop top and you’ll be folding up little beyond underwear when packing for trips away. The Jag Coupe solves that problem by offering up to 405 litres of luggage space. Which means there’s now easily enough space for a week away for two. Which we’d find particularly important, as the F-Type’s the kind of car you’ll want to go on European grand tours in.
The cabin still feels snug, but in an intimate rather than a cramped way. There’s a bit more space behind the driver and passenger seats than in the convertible too. Otherwise it’s "as you were" between F-Types, and that means a mix of good and bad. Positives: great seats, supple leather coverings, the copper-orange colour touchpoints; sat against the negative of that clunky JLR touchscreen interface. But the good far outweighs the bad.
Along with the fixed roof, the F-Type Coupe ushers in some exciting powertrain and technical additions, which should make it an even sharper drive than the convertible. As we’ve know from our first drive with the F-Type, that car isn’t exactly a shabby drive in the first place.
Primary among these changes is that this coupe is known as the F-Type R Coupe - R being Jaguar’s sports line equivalent of BMW's M. The R Coupe gets the company’s supercharged, 5-litre V8 - and that means 550bhp and ability to run 0-60mph in 4 seconds dead. To cope with that, it gets an up-rated electronic differential and something called Torque vectoring by braking, the latter to help it simply refuse to understeer. We’d bet it’ll oversteer on demand if you’re into doing big skids, too.
Add to that the option of carbon ceramic matrix brakes - which give you a yellow calliper by way of identification and drop a further 20kg from the weight scales - and we expect the F-Type R Coupe to be an utter riot to drive, possibly literally. If you’re still living in the 20th Century though - or should we say, consider yourself a "real" driver - then the F-Type Coupe’s still only available with an auto box, albeit ZF’s brilliant 8-speed. So if you’re determined you want a manual, you’ll need to buy a Porsche, Audi, or Aston.
To go with the R version of the Coupe, there’s the S model - which uses the same V6 supercharged unit as the convertible - and the standard car that runs a detuned version of the supercharged V6. As we discovered on the F-Type convertible launch, the S is hardly a slouch and will doubtless be several thousands less to buy than the R, so do make sure you want and need that extra power before you jump in.
Call us spoilt, but having pored over the F-Type Coupe on stand and spent a coupe of days with an F-Type convertible in Italy, we came to the conclusion that, were it us, we’d probably stick with the regular F-Type convertible.
It might be heavier, but to our eyes it's prettier too - the window line and the rear haunch of the coupe simply aren’t as elegant as the convertible. Plus, putting the roof down gives you an extra dimensional experience to the car and makes it all the easier to enjoy the F-Type’s crackling exhaust party piece noises. Bear in mind that, if you’re taking an open-minded view, a Porsche Cayman will be cheaper, arguably more "pure" to drive and slightly more practical. Whereas a 911 offers you two rear seats.
But none of that stops the F-Type Coupe from being deeply covetable. And for those of you that have one on order, we have no doubt that you’re in for a treat from the day you step behind the wheel.