It's not often talent and drop-dead gorgeous looks go together, so forgive us for keeping reserved about the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R prior to driving it. Something that looks that good surely must also be a bit wobbly at its limit, or so we worried.
But as a former prime minister once sagely said, nope, nope and nope. We were wrong.
Let’s start with the grunt. Sweet mother, the grunt. The F-Type Coupe R rear-wheel drive version feels like a top fuel dragster to the layman that’s never been in anything fast before, but the all-wheel drive version is even quicker altogether. Earth to Jaguar, stop performance testing your cars into a headwind – we bettered Jag’s 4.1sec 0-100km/h claim for this car by nearly 0.4sec.
Our PCOTY as-tested 3.75sec 0-100km/h time for the all-claw Jag – without launch control, mind – put it second in the PCOTY drag stakes. Same, too, for its absolutely storming 11.8sec quarter at 193.35km/h. An eleven second car, folks.
And it beat its rear-drive sibling by about the right amount, we reckon. At PCOTY last year, where it finished a surprise third outright, the rear-driver clocked a 3.99 and 11.99 at 193.42km/h.
It’s on the open road you’re most aware of the extra pair of driveshafts, though. The rear-drive version invites care when picking up the throttle, but in the all-wheel drive version, not so much eggshell-treading is needed. Just boot it and go.
The traction is incredible; the all-wheel drive F-Type Coupe R converts its 404kW and 680Nm to forward momentum with a brutality and effectiveness the rear-drive version can’t quite match. And the ability to pick up the throttle earlier and harder shows in the lap times, the all-wheel driver 1.7sec faster than the rear-driver’s PCOTY time from last year (1:35.8 versus 1:37.5).
Whether or not that’s worth an extra $16K is subjective. But on a bendy road, having twice the traction is undeniably reassuring – and the punch off slow corners is truly something.
So, fourth place. This says more about how good the top three is than any particular shortcomings of the F-Type Coupe R AWD.
As a performance car, it’s truly mega. You’ll take forever to tire of the grunt, or the noise – it sounds proper. Dig deep in corners and you’ll find actual chassis talent and sophistication; on a twisty road it kept up with the semi-slick shod AMG GT S.
To think that this is Jaguar’s first stab at such a car – and it’s only up from here – makes us feel all warm and fuzzy about the future of V8 performance cars. PCOTY or otherwise, this big, feral kitty is truly one of MOTOR’s favourite cars right now.
Engine: 5000cc V8, DOHC, 32v, s/c
Power: 404kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 680Nm @ 2500-3500rpm
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Brakes: 380mm ventilated discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 376mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers
Suspension: A-arms, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (f); A-arms, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (r)
Wheels: 20 x 9.0-in (f); 20 x 10.5-in (r)
Tyres: 255/35 ZR20 (f) 295/30 ZR20 (r) Pirelli P-Zero
0-100km/h: 3.75sec (2nd)
0-400m: 11.80sec @ 193.35km/h (3rd)
Lap Time: 1:35.8sec (3rd)
Dylan Campbell: 3RD
“Full throttle, you will wet your pants in terror and howl with laughter. Yet it’s got talent, too”
David Morley: 6TH
“I’d prefer something a bit more tactile, but you can’t argue with the numbers”
Scott Newman: 3RD
“Insanely fast, extremely enjoyable, all-wheel drive system just needs a little more rear-drive bias”
Tim Robson: 3RD
“It doesn’t necessarily invite you to push hard to find it, but underneath lies an extra layer of talent and skill”
Warren Luff: 4TH
“Many AWD cars understeer on the limit, but it maintains the character of the regular F-Type”