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The Power Principle

Jaguar’s joyful top-down roadster emerges as a jaw-dropping, track-ready racer in the supercharged R version of the new F-Type Coupe.

Jaguar created something of a sensation with the release of the F-Type convertible last year: A sporty two-seater that delivered an appealing and distinctly modern-classic British look. With the release of the new F-Type R Coupe, the game changes: With the added rigidity of a hard roof and the oomph of a honking 550 hp, 5-liter supercharged V8 power plant, those sexy lines might become downright irresistible.

At a base price of about $99,000, the F-Type R sits at the top of the family, and elegantly so. A sports coupe, so often the truest test of design appeal, needs to hit all the right visual notes. From this car’s massive grill, bookended by twin intake openings on either side; along the flowing side lines, to the muscular rear wheel haunches; and down along the sweeping rear roof line culminating in an automatic (more than 70 mph) pop-up spoiler, the F-Type R oozes a just-about-to-pounce feline danger from the curb.

On the track, in this case the challenging 3.5-mile F1 COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in Austin, Texas, the sheer power of the car became instantly apparent. A 0 to 60 mph surge of just four seconds (with ample higher-end torque to jump the car from 50 to 75 mph in well under three seconds) is managed by a slick paddle- or shift-activated 8-speed ZF transmission and tamed by optional 15.7/15-inch carbon ceramic matrix brakes that create a more organic, connected stopping and handling experience.

The riveted all-aluminum architecture of the F-Type platform and the car’s adaptive technologies, which control body movement and roll by continuously tweaking damper rates up to 500 times a second, deliver a masterful drive feel even on I-85.

The car’s interior, appropriately, gets a race-inspired redux via leather performance seats with inflatable bolsters that spark off during high-G cornering, and a standard leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel. Special R logo badging, contrasting dash and seat stitching and a superb 770W Meridian audio system add just the right amount of luxury to the performance feel of the cockpit.

With such a winning marriage of design, performance and technology, comparisons to the legendary Jaguar E-Types of the 1960s are only natural. So, is the F-Type R Coupe destined to hold the same feted position in the history of luxury and performance motoring? Run, don’t walk, to take your own test drive and answer that question yourself.

SPEC CHECK

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
Base Price: $99,000
Engine: 5-liter V8
Transmission: 8-speed ZF manual
Horsepower: 550 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 502 lb.-ft. @ 5,500 rpm
Cargo Capacity: 11 cu. ft.
Fuel tank: 19 gal.
Weight: 3,671 lbs.
0 to 60 mph: 4 seconds
Top Speed: 186 mph (electronically limited)

FAB FEATURES
Pop-up rear spoiler
Panoramic glass roof panel
LED “J blade” running lamps