So, what stands in the way of the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe AWD and supercar stardom? For one, it is a series production car, and various different models are available out there. Also, it is not necessarily the fastest of its kind, being easily trumped on paper by the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GT.
Also, actual supercars cost way way more than the F-Type. Consider that a Ferrari 488 GTB sells for in the region of R5 million, the R1.8 million F-Type, or the Mercedes-AMG GT S at just under R2 million, is not quite in the same league.
So, it’s not a supercar by classification, but considering the unbridled joy you will experience when driving this car, you can safely file that little fact under “who cares?”
Many things about the F-Type R AWD have some measure of contradiction associated with them. For example, it is by far one of the most elegant sports cars around, without being garish; it also carries most of its weight on the front axle, unusual for a car with a rear-wheel biased setup.
Despite this, the F-type’s limits are way up there, with 0.98 g of lateral grip. The combination of a stiff structure, firm suspension tuning, torque vectoring, and sticky Pirelli P Zero rubber give the Jaguar the grip of a bat clinging to a wall. It also has one of the most accurate and informative electric power steering setups out there, inspiring huge confidence at the wheel.
The tremendous grip leads to a different kind of problem, one that’s common to all cars in this rarefied performance category. Exploring the heady limits of this car’s cornering capabilities on public roads requires speeds that are guaranteed to provoke disapproval by badge-wearers driving vehicles with red and blue light racks. Not to mention local citizens who might show up at your home with torches and pitchforks, angry about the F-type’s exhaust, which they’ve likely mistaken for errant gunfire.
But the sound issuing from the exhaust system when the driver calls for full speed ahead is intoxicating. (As it is at start-up, few can ignore the V8’s bark when it lights off.) Find a straight stretch of highway, preferably deserted, drop the top (one switch handles everything), and tramp on the loud pedal, and you can imagine yourself conning a D-type Jag down the Mulsanne straight en route to victory at the 1955 Le Mans 24-hour race.
Okay, the F-type lacks the D-type’s outrageous jet-age dorsal fin. On the other hand, the F-type certainly is no wallflower, and its brakes make the D’s binders seem like something out of The Flintstones. We were a little disappointed that the ragtop’s stopping distance from 70 mph didn’t match the coupe’s 137-foot number, but 149 feet is hardly feeble, and the fade-free repeatability factor is race-worthy.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is another strong point. While we always like to see a manual-transmission option, particularly in a sports car (one is available in the F-type, but not with all-wheel drive or the V-8), this automatic hammers gear changes far faster than you could move a manual lever through the gates.
We can’t say we’re crazy about the F-type’s fussy, electronic shift lever, but it is one of those things that probably would become transparent to an owner over time. The rest of the interior is form fitting, handsome, and beautifully appointed. If there’s any gripe it’s rather high interior noise levels at freeway speeds with the top up—beyond just the exhaust note—rendering the Meridian audio system more or less irrelevant.
The bottom line here is a convertible sports car that delivers exceptional performance and a big dose of cachet at a price that seems almost to be a bargain by supercar standards. And there is that word again… Does it apply here? Well, if the Jag F-type R convertible doesn’t quite qualify as a supercar, it is unquestionably a super car.
Report by BERNARD HELLBERG JR | Images © JAGUAR SOUTH AFRICA