Jaguar F-Type R roars and claws
Updated British grand tourer is a supercharged sizzler with improved steering
Creating a spiritual successor to a car as iconic as the E-Type required the right mix of modernity and historical respect, and Jaguar got the balancing act mostly right with the F-Type launched in 2013, both on a design and engineering level.
But when it came time for the car’s midlife facelift last year, there was some tut-tutting over its departure from stylistic heritage, with new slim horizontal headlamps replacing the vertical lights that had paid more faithful homage to the E-Types.
Still, it’s a stunner, and it displays historical Jaguar sporting genes in its double haunch styling line stretching across the flanks, just like on the original E-Type.
Inside, the facelifted F-Type has embraced the digital age with a new 31cm high definition, personalisable virtual instrument cluster that replaces the old analogue instruments. It offers a choice of display themes, including a full navigation map, but to underline the car’s sporting nature the default mode displays a large central rev counter.
The restyled two-seater interior blends traditional Jaguar craftsmanship with lavish Windsor Leather and satin-finish Noble Chrome. Cabin detailing includes monogram stitch patterns in the seats and door trims, and Jaguar motifs in the headrests.
Along with the styling tweaks, the F-Type has been improved in one key area: its steering. Where the 2013 version had a tiller that felt too light in the cut-and-thrust of driving on twisty roads, the facelifted car has reworked electric power steering that feels a little heavier and provides a more appropriate visceral interface to driving a high-performance car.
Especially one as high-performing as the P575 F-Type R, the flagship of the range, which has a 5.0l supercharged V8 firing 423kW and 700Nm to both axles. Thus endowed, the Jaguar is capable of high-spirited exploits and the test car covered the 0-100km/h dash in 4.2 seconds in our Gauteng altitude test at Gerotek (Jaguar claims a 3.7 second sprint at sea level).
Perhaps those numbers seem a tad lethargic compared to a peer such as the Porsche 911 Turbo S, which boasts a sub-three-second 0-100km/h time. But the Jag feels really quick and it’s easy to fire off the line. There’s no launch control system to fiddle with; you just boot the throttle and off she goes. The smooth gearshifts are a highlight too, and snick with impeccable speed and precision.
Along with Sport and Rain modes, the driver can flick a switch to select a Dynamic mode (appropriately labelled with a chequered flag) which stiffens the suspension, turns up the exhaust volume and quickens the throttle response while turning the digital instrument cluster red.
With the exhaust sports mode selected the car makes a primal rasp, giving a loud charismatic voice to the driving experience. However, the car has a Quiet Start function should you not wish to wake the whole neighbourhood on a quiet morning.
The fiery V8 power is ably handled by an uprated sports chassis that keeps the car pinned down in fast corners with the aid of all-wheel drive, stability control and a rear electronic active differential. With tweaks to the suspension and the aforementioned meatier steering, the handling’s neat and predictable and it’s a satisfying driver’s car, even though it’s heavier than a Porsche 911 and doesn’t feel as crisp.
There’s plenty of grip, but when you do push the limits the all-wheel-drive car reacts with a playful tail rather than frustrating understeer. On our handling track the car’s surprising weak point was the carbon ceramic brakes, which felt spongy and never got near to activating ABS mode no matter how hard the pedal was stomped.
As part of the update Jaguar’s reworked the variable damping for better low-speed comfort, giving this F-Type a smooth ride for a sports car. It’s firm but not uncomfortably rigid or choppy on its 20-inch low-profile tyres, and conducive for commuting or taking extended trips in reasonable comfort.
For all the power on call, this Jaguar doesn’t dent the fuel budget too badly. Petrol consumption was more than 13l per 100km when we were playful with the car, but reduced to an impressive 10l when driving normally.
It underlines the suave and sporty Jaguar’s endearing duality: it can be a meek kitty one moment and a sharp-clawed ball of fury the next. At just more than R2.5m it’s also a relative bargain compared to its rivals.
Type: V8 petrol Supercharged
Type: Eight-speed automatic
Type: All-wheel drive
Top speed: 300km/h
0-100km/h: 3.7 seconds (claimed); 4.2 seconds (as tested)
Fuel Consumption: 11.3l/100km (claimed); 13.0l /100km (as tested)
ABS brakes, stability control, electric front seats, 20-inch wheels, leather seats, switchable active exhaust, electric mirrors, electric windows, climate control, touchscreen infotainment, multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, remote central locking, digital instrument cluster, LED headlamps with daytime running lights
Warranty: Five years/100,000km
Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km
Lease*: R54,072 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupe, 430kW/700Nm — R3,542,680
Porsche 911 Turbo S, 478kW/800Nm — R3,849,000
Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe, 375kW/675Nm — R3,650,000
Jaguar F-Type R Coupe P575 AWD automatic
Styling, sound, improved steering
A refined and racy grand tourer
*****Value For Money