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Jaguar F-Type R Coupe engines, drive and performance

2014 - 2017 (change model)
Performance rating: 5 out of 55.0

Written by Gareth Evans Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

There’s only one engine available, and it’s an absolute peach. It’s safe to say Jaguar F-Type R Coupe performance is explosive at the very least.

What we’re dealing with here is a 5.0-litre, supercharged V8 petrol engine which creates 542bhp. It feeds its power and 680Nm of torque through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and then to the rear wheels.

That translates into a sprint from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, with a top speed of 186mph.

What that feels like on the road is a sensational turn of pace. You’ll hit licence-losing speeds before you know it, and there’s absolutely no let-up as the speeds climb into the stratosphere.

We hit over 150mph on a race track and the F-Type R took it very much in its stride, feeling like it could just go on accelerating forever. The engine feels like it just wants you to go faster and faster – there’s none of the highly strung feeling you get from some high performance powerplants.

Worthy of special mention is that gearbox. It’s an extremely clever unit which seems to change gear perfectly in all situations. We were particularly impressed with how it picks the perfect gear when driving normally, using part throttle. It means there’s always enough torque from that incredibly versatile engine to facilitate quick overtaking or just a rapid getaway.

Standard kit includes a switchable active exhaust system, which allows you to have a crazy level of tailpipe volume when required without going the whole hog and pushing the Dynamic button.

Toggling the switch into Dynamic mode sharpens up the whole car. If you’re driving on a race track or your favourite country road, this is the set-up you need. It swaps the maps for gear-change speed and ferocity, throttle response and suspension settings to turn the F-Type into one of the best sports cars out there.

The first thing to note about the F-Type R is that it has perfect weight distribution and a brilliant, rear-wheel drive chassis. This means it’s a true joy to drive, whether you’re going quickly or feeling a bit more laid back.

Sporty yet supple suspension

It sits on adaptive suspension which can alter the car’s handling to cope with different situations, such as fast driving or bumpy roads. This means not only is the F-Type R comfortable, it can turn into a very rewarding sports car at the touch of a button.

A torque-vectoring system is installed exclusively on F-Type R models. This uses the brakes to gently tighten up a line when cornering a little too quickly, without worrying that your driving will result in the car going straight on in a corner.

While this isn’t the first time we’ve driven a car with such a system (the Porsche Boxster and the Ford Fiesta ST both use similar techniques) we found Jaguar’s attempt very impressive indeed; it’s nearly impossible to detect it working. You just pick a line, point the ’wheel in the required direction and the car does the rest.

This works in conjunction with a clever electronic rear differential which decides how much of the engine’s output to send to each of the rear wheels for maximum cornering performance. It’s a highly proficient attempt, and something that sets the R apart from the rest of the F-Type Coupe range.

Dynamic mode

You can sharpen up the handling further with the Dynamic button, which puts more weight into the steering and stiffens the suspension set-up for a sportier drive. This unlocks the F-Type R’s true potential as a sports car, and it’s fortuitous that the switch is very easily reached while driving as you’ll find yourself using it rather a lot. When in town, keep it in normal mode; drive into the country, select Dynamic and have the time of your life.

Stops right now

The R comes with brakes that are upgraded from the regular F-Type, and very impressive they are too. They’re more than up to the task of fast road driving and offer prodigious levels of retardation along with meaningful feedback for the driver.

You can also order optional Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) brakes for the ultimate in stopping power. These are very expensive, but if you’re going to take your car onto a track day then there isn’t a better box on the options list to tick. The cost does include some bespoke alloys (required to clear the larger, bright yellow calipers) but there’s a real and noticeable performance benefit. You save a total of 21kg from the weight of the car, and because that weight is saved lower down the handling is improved quite significantly.

The brakes employ highly advanced techniques to remain adjustable and progressive, yet at the same time providing nearly unbelievable stopping power. We tested these on track and came away astonished at just how well the car performs with them fitted. It felt more nimble and at the same time confidence-inspiring.

Keen drivers may also want to consider ordering a suede steering wheel, which allows ultimate control during extended periods of faster driving.