2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe Review
The Phineas Gage of sports cars.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: November 10th, 2014
September 13, 1848. The Rutland & Burlington Railroad needed to set a blast in order to prepare a roadbed for the next stretch of railroad tracks. To do this job, Rutland & Burlington hired "the most efficient and capable [blasting] foreman in their employ," a man by the name of Phineas Gage. While setting the blast, the powder inadvertently exploded. A meter-long tamping iron shot from the blasting hole, entering the left side of Gage's face, exiting at the top of his skull.
Gage survived the blast, much to the surprise of others. Hell, he was up and talking minutes after the accident. He was up and down after that, but he eventually recovered. But something was different. The kind, loving Phineas Gage that everybody knew from before the accident was no longer there. In his place was a vulgar, animalistic malcontent, "to such a degree that his society was intolerable to decent people."
You see, the accident turned Phineas Gage into an asshole.
Many years later, Jaguar was hard at work designing the sports car that would eventually replace the aging XK platform. Rumor has it that they built a successor, and that this successor was a sports car that was beautiful in its softness. Jaguar's engineers drove the single prototype around town and everybody loved it. Just before the XK successsor was set to be unveiled to the world, something happened. The accident claimed just one victim - that soft, pleasant nature.
The Jaguar survived the accident, much to everybody's surprise. However, when starting up the vehicle so as to ascertain its wellbeing, it came to life with a roar that sent people running. This was the public's first look at this car, and what was revealed to them was a hulking, snarling, snapping, beast of a thing. The women screamed. The men fell to their knees, as if to beg for the mercy of this demon spawn. The engineers, knowing that they needed to finish the unveiling, forthwith announced the arrival of the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.
And that's what we spent an entire week driving. Whether or not the F-Type R Coupe's history is true (it's not, we made it up), the fact of the matter is this - the F-Type R Coupe is brilliant in its insanity. It's a uniquely polarizing vehicle that brings out either the best or the worst of people, and it offers no apologies for its brash, no-fucks-given attitude.
Allow us to explain:
The first thing you'll do with the car is look at it. The overall shape is silky-smooth, with bulging fenders front and rear that flow between each other with little harshness. The low seating position and somewhat-high beltline give the roof a slim profile, running from the windshield cowl down to the trunklid in one single line. Then you look a little harder. The front end is a menagerie of aggression, with creases and fang-like points. The wheels are simply massive, and they fit the wheel wells without much room to spare. Get to the rear end, and your eye will immediately gravitate towards the four BL 7.2-inch howitzer cannons that Jaguar calls "tailpipes." It is the most beautiful sports car on the road today, and through some freak accident, it still manages to look scary as hell.
If you can't afford its $99,000 cost of entry, then looking at the F-Type R Coupe is likely also the last thing you'll do with it. However, if you're lucky enough, reach for the pop-out door handle and toss yourself inside.
The low-slung seating position may not be fun for the older, well-heeled folks that are likely to buy this car, but that's a good thing, because otherwise the Phineas Gage metaphor wouldn't have worked as well. The interior surrounds you, pulls you in, putting all the necessary controls within range of a quick hand motion. Everything is exactly as comfortable as you'd expect in a car that easily reaches into the six figures; it's hard to find a surface that doesn't feel plush.
Driving the F-Type R Coupe is an experience like no other. It's like you've quite literally strapped yourself into a motorized Phineas Gage. You can attempt to keep this car in line all you want - keep throttle application under 20 percent, turn off the active exhaust, leave the transmission in D - and you'll be rewarded with a great (albeit a little stiff) ride that looks good rolling down any street. Children will wave, car enthusiasts will crane their necks, and the world will love you.
But, if you switch the Jag to Dynamic mode, open up the muffler-bypassing active exhaust, and toss the shift level into S, that tamping iron of switchgear-pushing goes right to the car's brain. It becomes the Ur-Asshole, an archetypal offensive object that spits, swears, and punches its way through a crowd.
The exhaust becomes less of a note and more of an entire orchestra of evil, its V-8 beating heart turning a combination of air, fuel, and spark into a concert so vulgar that even Howard Stern would say, "Yeesh, dial it back a notch." Every extra millimeter of throttle input will increase your speed exponentially, catapulting you to likely-extralegal speeds in a barely-remembered haze of tire smoke and rear-end wiggle. You will thank the stars for traction control. Those children we mentioned earlier are now crying, those car enthusiasts dropping to their knees to move their heads a few precious inches closer to the source of that glorious howl. Your local weatherman might wonder if a thunderstorm has started. Your local lunatic will assume the Russians have finally invaded.
During our time with the car, there was only one issue that really bothered us. It's the rear sight line, a problem that wasn't present in the all-sun-all-the-time F-Type V-8 S Convertible. The fixed roof, while utterly gorgeous, results in C-pillars so thick that Sir Mix-A-Lot is considering writing a song about them. If you need to reverse, and you didn't buy the $2,100 package that includes parking sensors and a backup camera - well, good luck with that. We would have gotten out and walked.
Truly, Jaguar has created a thing of its own here. It's undeniably beautiful, and it's living ("living") proof that in this day and age of crash tests and federal requirements, automakers can still produce jaw-droppingly fierce cars.
But the F-Type is also an uncouth, depraved entity that will have your neighbors yelling out the window for you to shut the hell up as you roll down the street at a whopping nine miles per hour. If you accidentally goose the throttle and light up the rear tires, the Sierra Club will picket your house for a week. This car could have been a soft teddy bear, but when it comes to a sports car that you will undoubtedly buy as a choice and not a necessity, you don't want a teddy bear. You want Phineas Gage. You want the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.
Specs & Price
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Power Output: 550 horsepower / 502 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 16 city / 23 highway
Base Price: $99,000
As Tested: $104,975
Carbon Ceramic Brake Package: Carbon ceramic brakes, yellow brake calipers, 20-inch wheels
Vision Pack: Adaptive front headlights, adaptive high beams, front and rear parking sensors, backup camera, blind-spot monitor
Individual Options: Panoramic fixed-glass roof, round steering wheel, heated windshield, power tailgate
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE, click here: 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE.