Tom Crosby: Jaguar’s 2015 F-Type R Coupe most powerful ever

Tom Crosby

Always known for performance and predatory muscular design, Jaguar has increased its annual kudos with the 2015 F-TYPE R Coupe, the most powerful Jaguar ever built.

It conceals 550-horsepower generating 502 foot-pounds of torque under the elongated hood (or bonnet, as the British call it) and that means it jumps off the starting line and twists bystanders’ necks watching it swiftly disappear. Top speed — never to be tested on a public roadway — is 186 mph. Using an 8-speed Quickshift automatic transmission or steering-wheel mounted manual paddles, the rear-wheel drive Jaguar lives up to its animal name by gobbling up miles and lesser vehicles with power and panache. This is a sports car lover’s dream, albeit with a price tag only for those whose financial dreams have become reality.

The all-aluminum body of the R Coupe (which reduces weight and helps miles per gallon) creates Jaguar’s most torsional rigid body ever. Confidence builds with handling due to an electronic active differential working with torque vectoring for braking, another Jaguar first. Torque is redistributed to the rear wheels as needed along with inner-wheel braking force that helps it tightly hug curves.

Our F-TYPE R Coupe test drive was top of the F-TYPE line (there are base, S and V8 S models also). It added for $1,200 a panoramic glass roof and for $2,100 adaptive front lighting, blind spot monitors, parking camera and sensors. Unique standard features include a rear spoiler (the trunk lid) that springs upward when hitting 70 mph and deploys downward below 50 mph. Items in the decently sized cargo area remained undisturbed.

A small switch increases the rumbling roar from the four tailpipes. Bucket seats have articulated bolsters for thighs on the Coupe’s two leather bucket seats. There are no second row seats. Door handles disappear inward as doors lock, improving aerodynamics. Reduced torque can be chosen when roadways have rain, ice or snow on them. The navigation system is standard.

Outside, the Jaguar has highly flared, muscular rear fender haunches, iconic chrome gills and lesser-flared front arches, creating a cabin-rearward stance atop 20-inch wheels on low profile tires. The cockpit is snug and spacious at the same time, with ample space for the driver’s left foot. The Meridian sound system is crystal clear. Overhead visors are small and immobile. Climate fans blow from dashboard popup vents, a stop/start system conserves gas and tire sealant, instead of a spare tire, reduces weight.

LIKE: Power, looks, handling, ride, luxury

DISLIKE: Price, visors

BOTTOM LINE: If only everyone could afford to buy one …

Base price plus destination charge $99,925 (tested at $103,225)
Vehicle weight 3,917 lbs.
Wheelbase 103.2 inches
Length 176 inches
Width 75.7 inches
Engine 5.0 liter, DOHC, 32-valve, V-8
Horsepower 550 hp at 6,500 rpm
Torque 502 lbs.-ft. at 2,500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic, manual paddles
EPA Rating 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway
Range 18.4-gallon tank, premium unleaded
Performance 0-60 in less than four seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years. View more reviews at http://www.nvdaily.com/columns/tom-crosby/