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Detroit Free Press Mark Phelan column

November 20, 2014 - Detroit Free Press

Nov. 20–In the world of sports cars, convertibles are for show, coupes are for go, and the ★★★ 2015 Jaguar F-type R coupe goes like a scalded cat.

The stunning two-seater claims a 4.0-second 0-60 m.p.h. time and a top speed of 186. It competes with hyper-coupes like the Audi R8 V10 Plus, BMW M6, Chevrolet Corvette ZO6, Nissan GT-R, Mercedes SL63 AMG and Porsche 911 turbo.

The F-type coupe is new for 2015. It’s the hardtop version of the F-type convertible that debuted last year. The F-type coupe is gorgeous, even better looking than the ragtop.

It’s a truism among car designers that coupes are often better looking than convertibles. That’s never been more true than of the Jaguar F-type.

A coupe’s closed top allows designers to complete the shape. Open-topped convertibles can appear unfinished. The closed body of a coupe also tends to be stiffer than convertibles. That lends itself to sportier handling.

Convertibles compensate for that by being romantic and delightful, but the F-type coupe’s looks just might be lovely enough to outweigh the pleasure of driving with the wind in your hair.

Prices for the F-type coupe start at $65,000 for a base model with a 340-hp supercharged 3.0L V6. All F-types have an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power increases to 380 hp in the $77,000 S model and $99,000 in the blistering R, which has a 550-hp supercharged 5.0L V8.

I tested a nicely equipped F-type R coupe with 20-inch black aluminum wheels, a glass roof, front and rear parking sensors and blind spot alert. It stickered at $104,950.

Hold the sticker shock. With the exception of the 650-hp Corvette ZO6’s low $78,000 base price, the F-type R coupe is a bit of a bargain among super coupes. It costs thousands, in some cases tens of thousands, of dollars less than comparably equipped versions of the R8, M6, SL, GT-R and 911 turbo.

The F-type R’s acceleration devours traffic and miles. An adjustable exhaust note lets the driver choose an unobtrusive or exciting engine note. The transmission responds quickly to manual paddle shifts and is smooth when left to its own devices.

Low and wide — about 1.5 inches lower at the roof and 1.1 inches wider than the GT-R — the R coupe hunkers down and grips fast curves like a vise. The steering is quick and direct, with good on-center feel in highway driving. The suspension is a bit harsh over bumpy surfaces.

The F-type R coupe’s EPA fuel economy rating of 16 m.p.g. in the city, 23 highway and 18 combined is in the middle of its competitive set, better than the R8 V10 plus, M6 and ZO6, but trailing the GT-R, SL63 and 911 turbo.

The interior is accommodating, though a bit short of storage bins. The test car featured a two-tone black and brown interior with deep, scooped-out sport seats. The luggage compartment provides plenty of room for a weekend’s bags.

Most of the controls are simple and easy to use, but the car lacked any voice-recognition for phone, music or navigation, despite having Bluetooth for phone calls and music.

You can only initiate phone calls with your handset or the touch screen. No car this expensive and technically sophisticated should impose that level of distraction on its driver.

Jag just announced a new app called justDrive to provide voice recognition in cars with its optional InControl connectivity package. It should be available to download onto smart phones soon.

I’m looking forward to testing justDrive. Offering a vehicle as fine as the F-type without voice recognition is a serious oversight.

InControl is available on all 2015 Land Rovers and the 2015 F-type. The rest of Jag’s lineup will offer it for the 2016 model year.

Driving the F-type coupe is a joy, but its lack of competitive controls stings. That could change if justDrive and InControl live up to Jaguar’s promises.

Contact Mark Phelan: mmphelan@freepress.com or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.

Behind the Wheel

2015 Jaguar F-type R coupe

Rear-wheel-drive two-passenger sports coupe

Price as tested: $104,950 (excluding destination charge)

Rating: ★★★ (Out of four stars)

Reasons to buy: Looks; power; handling.

Shortcomings: No voice recognition for phone or navigation; stiff ride.

Competitive EPA fuel economy ratings

(Automatic transmission models)

Jaguar F-type R coupe: 16 m.p.g. city/23 highway/18 combined. Premium gasoline.

Audi R8 V10 Plus: 13/22/16. Premium gasoline.

BMW M6: 14/20/16. Premium gasoline.

Chevrolet Corvette ZO6: 13/23/16. Premium gasoline.

Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG: 16/25/19. Premium gasoline.

Nissan GT-R: 16/23/19. Premium gasoline.

Porsche 911 turbo: 17/24/20. Premium gasoline.

Source: www.fueleconomy.gov

Comparative base prices

(excluding destination charges)

(Automatic transmission models)

Jaguar F-type R coupe: $99,000

Audi R8 V10 Plus: $182,000

BMW M6: $119,000

Chevrolet Corvette ZO6: $78,000

Nissan GT-R: $101,770

Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG: $148,500

Porsche 911 turbo: $151,100

Source: Autotrader.com

Specifications as tested

Engine: Supercharged 5.0L 32-valve V8

Power: 550 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 502 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,500 rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy rating: 16 m.p.g. city/23 highway/18 combined. Regular gasoline

Dimensions

Wheelbase: 103.2 inches

Length: 176.0 inches

Width: 75.7 inches

Height: 52.0 inches

Curb weight: 3,671 lbs.

Where assembled: Castle Bromwich, U.K.

Key features on vehicle tested

Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control; brake assist; front and side air bags; seat belt pretensioners; engine immobilizer; electronic active differential; heated seats and wheel; power windows, mirrors, locks; Bluetooth phone and music compatible; 14-way power seats; memory for driver settings; touch screen,; navigation; 770-watt Meridian sound system; keyless entry and start, dual zone climate control.

Options: Panoramic glass sun roof; blind spot alert; camel-colored seat belts; 20-inch black alloy wheels; Italian Racing Red paint; gloss black exterior trim; adaptive front lighting, front and rear parking sensors.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of American Farm Bureau Federation.
 
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