When the Jaguar F-Type convertible hit the streets earlier this year, car guys took to calling it the “911 Killer,” as in Porsche 911. Couple that with the fact that the F-Type is the descendant of the E-Type, which is generally considered the most beautiful car ever built (Look it up: Enzo Ferrari said it), and you get a sense of the astronomical expectations. Jaguar was never going to clear the bar. Never ever. However, the F-Type R Coupe, a two-seater hardtop beautifully designed to upset the sports car market, comes damn close.
Does the F-Type really kill the 911? Look at the argument in favor: The F-Type R Coupe, which is the big daddy of F-Type variants, has a base price of $99,895 without the optional carbon ceramic brakes. Meanwhile, the 911 Carrera S goes for around $100,000. Performance-wise, the Jag crushes the Carrera, with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that fires off 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque and hits the 0-60 mark in just 3.6 seconds. The Porsche sweats to break 4 seconds, according to, well, Porsche.
Photos Courtesy of Jaguar
On the other hand, few cars have been lusted after longer and harder than the 911. And for good reason. It’s renowned for precise handling and having a style that evolves… very… slowly. The 911 is fast as hell, iconic, premium, and considered to be better balanced than any sports car on the road. It’s also expensive. And it’s everywhere you look. And Justin Bieber drives one.
My take: the F-Type R Coupe is the most significant two-seater hardtop to hit America’s streets in a generation. It has the speed, the handling, the style, and the charisma to match any sports car in its class. It punches well above its weight.
Like most of the new releases in the Jaguar/Land Rover family, the R Coupe chassis is made entirely from aluminum. The overlords at Jag claim that the coupe is a whopping 80 percent stiffer than the ragtop version, which is a tough number to swallow (is the convertible’s platform made from a Slinky?). On the very fast and narrow Willow Springs Raceway in the dusty California desert, the F-Type felt right: the aluminum-block engine plays a sweet rock and roll soundtrack, the car is light and muscular, and the steering is responsive and confident. It has the balance of a much pricier and more powerful car – the Ferrari F12Berlinetta, which has a V12 under the hood, comes to mind.
You know what else comes to mind? The 911 Carrera S. It comes to mind, and then it's forgotten. Jaguar has released a raft of new cars over the couple years that have all hinted at a renaissance of the marque. None speak as loudly as the sublime F-Type. Go out and buy one.
Photos by Jaguar