The EFTM Garage was visited this week by Jaguar’s F-Type R P575 super-coupe. Make no mistake, this thing is the absolute best of British and should signal a revival of the Cool Britannia movement. It’s like Liam Gallagher, Gordon Ramsey, Barry Sheene and the Arctic Monkeys all rolled into one, together with a deafening Spinal Tap soundtrack exhaust. It’s a dead set weapon, unsociable, ostentatious, impractical and I love every inch of it!
Visually, the 2021 model year sees a moderate nip and tuck job performed front and rear. Thankfully, Jaguar’s designers have been careful to preserve what will surely be remembered as one of the great silhouettes. It’s classy, timeless and muscular. The Sorrento Yellow of the test car is my least favourite of Jaguar’s paint palette and by choosing, say, classic Fuji White or classy Caldera Red you will find yourself $17000 better off – yellow and matt finish are both expensive options.
Speaking of price, there is no two ways about it, this is an expensive car. Without options, the F-Type R will set you back $323,667. Add in what I think are essential options (suede cloth seats and headliner and the carbon ceramic brake pack) and you’ll need to find an additional $25k. So, sure, it’s expensive, but is it good value? Well, let’s have a look at the competition.
BMW’s M8 Competition is around the same coin, but is much more of a traditional, uber spec, grand tourer, rather than an out and out two seat sports car. A Porsche 911 is a much tighter and more accomplished handler, with the staggering ability to make a good driver look like a great driver, but it is visually much, much plainer than the Jag. Audi’s R8, my go-to money no object coupe, presents a compelling case, but I think the ultimate competition for the F-Type comes from Mercedes’ AMG GT. Like the Jag, the Mercedes sports a front mount (although technically mid-mount) V8 engine (twin turbo-charged in the Merc and supercharged in the Jag), two seats, rear drive (well, AWD in the Jag, but with a heavy rear wheel bias) and striking silhouette with a bonnet that stretches for miles.
So, which would I choose between the Mercedes and the Jaguar? That’s easy – the Jag every single time. Like the R8, the AMG GT is just too polished; too perfect; too easy. You have to really earn your keep when you are peddling the Jag with any sort of pace. I swear, if you find your enthusiasm has rapidly outrun your ability, this cat will bite hard! Like an East End bouncer, it really wants to head butt you. You have to earn this car’s respect. It’s an immensely enjoyable car when you get it right and scary when you don’t.
It’s expensive, but there is just nothing else like it available from the factory floor, complete with, now, five year warranty. You could build something like it, from, say, a classic muscle car base, but to get it to perform anywhere near the Jaguar’s abilities will cost you a lot more than the asking price for Coventry’s finest.
The build quality is an interesting point of this car. It looks like it has been built in the backyard… of someone very, very skilled in building bespoke sports cars. It works, but it’s a long way from perfection. The R8 and, to a lesser degree, the AMG GT feel like they’ve been built under operating room levels of precision and sterility. Neither is better, they just provide very different driving experiences. So, is the F-Type R cheap? Of course not. Is it good value? Absolutely.