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Jaguar F-Type 2021 review: R

EXPERT RATING
8
Jaguar's two-seat F-Type sports car was upgraded in late 2019, and the flagship R model picked up revised looks, more power, and tricky suspension improvements. It goes like a scalded cat!

After a long gestation period where a variety of Jaguar corporate overlords toyed with the idea of a successor to the all-time iconic E-Type, the F-Type finally emerged in late 2013 to a global intake of breath.

It managed to capture just the right amount of Jag heritage, folded into a high-tech package, with a simple choice of supercharged V6 and V8 engines, housed in a supremely sleek convertible body.

Over time the formula has become more complex, with the arrival of a coupe version, powerhouse R and full-fat SVR variants, special editions including the exotic Project 7, and more recently, 2.0-litre, turbo four-cylinder models to make this stunning two-seater more accessible.

A late 2019 update added some extra catnip, including a redesigned nose and this is the flagship F-Type R, complete with supercharged V8 power and performance-focused underpinnings. Time to dive into this latest chapter of the Jaguar F-Type story.

Jaguar F-Type 2021: V8 R AWD (423KW)
Safety rating
Engine Type5.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency11.3L/100km
Seating2 seats
Price from$264,966

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

It's hard to pin down direct competitors for the $262,936 F-Type R, except one; Porsche's 911 Carrera S, a clear price and performance rival at $274,000.

With a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo 'flat' six producing 331kW/530Nm the 911 is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 3.7sec, which (surprise, surprise) exactly matches the Jag's claimed performance number.

Cast the net a little wider and you'll snag the likes of Nissan's GT-R Track Edition on the low side ($235,000), and the Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupe ($326,635) for around $50K above the F-Type's asking price. So, the standard features list needs to be impressive, and long story short, it is.

Drilling down to the depths of detail on this car’s equipment spec would need a review of its own. (image: James Cleary) Drilling down to the depths of detail on this car’s equipment spec would need a review of its own. (image: James Cleary)

Drilling down to the depths of detail on this car's equipment spec would need a review of its own, so here's the highlights package.

The 10-inch 'Touch Pro' multimedia screen manages a 380-watt Meridian audio system featuring 10 speakers (including subwoofer), digital radio, dynamic volume control and a 10-channel amp, as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity.

It's also the gateway to the car's configurable dynamic set-up, 'Navigation Pro', phone connection, ambient lighting, reversing camera, and a lot more.

It comes with 20-inch alloy wheels and racy red brake calipers. (image: James Cleary) It comes with 20-inch alloy wheels and racy red brake calipers. (image: James Cleary)

Full-grain 'Windsor' leather is applied to the 12-way, electrically-adjustable (plus memory) performance seats. There's also a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster, cruise control (and speed limiter), keyless entry and start, auto rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming and power folding heated door mirrors (with memory), a switchable active exhaust, LED headlights, DRLs and tail-lights, as well as an electrically adjustable steering column (with memory), climate control, powered boot lid, 20-inch alloy wheels, racy red brake calipers, and specific 'R' branding on the leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, door tread plates, and centre console.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

Although it kicked off as a roadster, a coupe version of the F-Type was always part of the plan. In fact, Jaguar's C-X16 concept, that in 2011 previewed the eventual production car, was a hardtop.

Following the Coupe's public reveal at the 2013 Los Angeles motor show, I asked Jaguar's then head of design, Ian Callum, if the bean counters had vetoed the concept's ultra-cool side-opening hatch door; one of many styling hat tips to the E-Type. His response was a wry smile and slow nod of the head.

It's a shame that door didn't make it to the showroom floor, but the E-Type is still a strong design influence on its successor.

It has specific ‘R’ branding on the leather-trimmed sports steering wheel. (image: James Cleary) It has specific ‘R’ branding on the leather-trimmed sports steering wheel. (image: James Cleary)

At close to 4.5m long, around 1.9m wide, and a fraction over 1.3m tall, the F-Type R looks more compact in the metal than it does in photographs, arguably the hallmark of a successful sports car design.

A long, flowing (front-hinged) bonnet (Jaguar calls its shape 'liquid metal' sculpture) projects forward from a rear-set cabin, with broad but tightly wrapped haunches behind it. The 20-inch, 10-spoke rims (in 'Gloss Black' with diamond-turned finish) fill the wheel arches perfectly.

I'm a huge fan of the tail-light cluster design, subtly reprofiled in the late 2019 update, which echoes the shape of the Series 1 E-Type and other classic Jags, but found it harder to warm to the outgoing F-Type's squarish headlight treatment.

Jaguar describes this two-seater as a ‘1+1’, confirming the F-Type’s focus on the driver, and our test car’s tan leather interior emphasises the fact. (image: James Cleary) Jaguar describes this two-seater as a ‘1+1’, confirming the F-Type’s focus on the driver, and our test car’s tan leather interior emphasises the fact. (image: James Cleary)

Always a subjective call, but to my eyes this car's slimmer, more feline (LED) eyes and ever-so-slightly larger grille deliver a better front to rear balance. And slender, flush-fitting pop-out exterior door handles remain sub-zero cool.

Our 'Santorini Black' test car had been optioned with the 'Exterior Black Design Pack' ($1820) for an extra hint of menace. It applies body-colour to the front splitter, side sills, and rear diffuser, at the same time blacking out the grille surround, side vents, side window surrounds, rear valance, Jaguar script, F-Type badge and 'Leaper' emblem.

Jaguar describes this two-seater as a '1+1', confirming the F-Type's focus on the driver, and our test car's tan leather interior emphasises the fact.

Always a subjective call, but to my eyes this car’s slimmer, more feline (LED) eyes and ever-so-slightly larger grille deliver a better front to rear balance. (image: James Cleary) Always a subjective call, but to my eyes this car’s slimmer, more feline (LED) eyes and ever-so-slightly larger grille deliver a better front to rear balance. (image: James Cleary)

Tan dash on the passenger side, complete with flying buttress-style grab handle for extra support when g-force starts to build. Contrasted by all black and all business on the driver's side.

A broad centre stack houses the 10-inch multimedia touchscreen, with easy-to-use dials for the climate control system below. And the 12.3-inch reconfigurable hi-def instrument cluster (with graphics unique to the F-type) is a model of clarity and simplicity.

The latter offers a choice of display themes, including full nav map, but the default mode highlights a large central tachometer. Nice.

An impressive design feature carried over from the previous model is deployable front air vents. The dashtop remains flat until a given climate control temperature setting causes an upper section, housing a pair of adjustable vents, to gently rise. Very cool (no pun intended).

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

If you're intending to daily drive your F-Type R, make sure your yoga fees are up to date, because entry and egress are for the fleet of foot and flexible of limb.

Once inside, though, within the bounds of its two-door coupe format, the F-Type offers an array of storage options, including a decent glove box, centre storage box/armrest, small door bins, a netted pocket on the top of the bulkhead between the seats, and a pair of console cupholders.

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Power and connectivity runs to a 12V socket in the dash, with another in the central storage bin, alongside two USB-A ports, and a micro SIM slot.

Notwithstanding the (alloy) space saver plonked on the boot floor, the F-Type Coupe delivers worthwhile cargo space, with 310 litres on offer, rising to 408 with the load cover removed.

That's enough to swallow small (36-litre) and large (95-litre) suitcases together, and there are two (nicely chromed) tie-down anchor, as well as elasticised retaining straps at either end of a small ledge on the bulkhead.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The F-Type R is powered by Jaguar's all-alloy (AJ133) 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine, featuring direct-injection, variable (intake) cam timing, and an Eaton (Roots-type) blower to produce 423kW (567hp) at 6500rpm, and 700Nm from 3500-5000rpm.

Drive goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed 'Quickshift' automatic transmission and Jaguar's own adaptive AWD system with 'Intelligent Driveline Dynamics' (IDD).

The AWD system is based on an electro-hydraulic multi-plate (wet) clutch, controlled by a centrifugal electro-hydraulic actuator. Default front/rear drive balance is 10/90, although Jaguar claims even a full shift of power from 100 per cent rear to 100 per cent front takes just 165 milliseconds.

The engine features direct-injection, variable (intake) cam timing, and an Eaton (Roots-type) blower to produce 423kW (567hp) at 6500rpm, and 700Nm from 3500-5000rpm. (image: James Cleary) The engine features direct-injection, variable (intake) cam timing, and an Eaton (Roots-type) blower to produce 423kW (567hp) at 6500rpm, and 700Nm from 3500-5000rpm. (image: James Cleary)

The IDD system continuously monitors each wheel's speed and traction, suspension compression, steering angle and braking force, as well as the car's rotational state.

It then uses an algorithm to determine which wheel(s) are likely to lose traction, and before grip is lost, transfer drive to the wheels that can make best use of it.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 11.3L/100km, the F-Type R emitting 269g/km of CO2 in the process.

Despite the standard auto stop/start function, over close to 350km of city, suburban, and freeway running we recorded a (dash-indicated) average of 16.1L/100km.

That's a solid drinking habit, but it kind of goes with this performance territory, and we did lean into the throttle on a regular basis.

Recommended fuel is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you'll need 70 litres of it to fill the tank. That equates to a range of 619km in line with the factory claim, and 434km using our real-world number as a guide.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The F-Type hasn't been assessed by ANCAP, but as well as the usual active safety suspects like ABS, EBD, traction and dynamic stability controls, the R features an AEB system operating at speeds above five km/h, Vehicle detection is in place at speeds of up to 80km/h, and pedestrian detection up to 60km/h.

The AWD system facilitates specific 'Rain', 'Ice', and 'Snow' modes, plus there's active high-beam, lane keep assist, a reversing camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors, and a 'Driver Condition Monitor.'

But cross-traffic alert (front or rear) is missing-in-action, blind spot assist is an option ($900), as is park assist ($700), and tyre pressure monitoring ($700). Any car that's crested the $250K barrier should have all of these as standard.

If an impact's unavoidable there are six airbags (front, side, and curtain). But remember, the front passenger seat is a no-go zone for a rear-facing child restraint. And Jaguar says, "A child should only travel in the front passenger seat if it is essential and national or state legislation permits it."

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Jaguar covers its Australian new car range with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which looks particularly stingy next to the mainstream market norm of five years/unlimited km, and lags other premium players like Mercedes-Benz and Genesis, both sitting at five years/unlimited km.

On the plus side, paint and corrosion (perforation) are warranted for three years, and roadside assistance is complimentary for 12 months.

And on the big plus side, scheduled servicing for the F-Type (determined by an on-board service interval indicator) is free-of-charge for five years/130,000km.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Yep, no surprise, the 2021 Jaguar F-Type R is a proper, rip-snorting, beast of a machine. Weighing in at just over 1.7 tonnes, with 423kW/700Nm to propel it forward, in terms of straight line acceleration, it's every bit the scalded cat.

Bury the right foot and it will storm from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds, with furious aural accompaniment courtesy of the 4.0-litre supercharged V8 and sports exhaust system. Electrically-actuated bypass valves in the latter's rear silencer remain closed until they automatically open under load, and boy, do they open up.

Prospective F-Type R owners wishing to remain on good terms with their neighbours will be pleased to know there's a 'Quiet Start function', but once you're a few blocks clear the engine is capable of alerting the entire suburb to you presence, complete with raucous crackles and pops on the overrun.

It comes with a switchable active exhaust. (image: James Cleary) It comes with a switchable active exhaust. (image: James Cleary)

All 700Nm of maximum torque is available from 3500rpm through to 5000rpm, and mid-range thrust is ferocious. If you have access to a long enough private road Jaguar claims this car will storm on to a (electronically-limited!) maximum velocity of 300km/h.

The eight-speed auto transmission has picked up several tweaks courtesy of the XE-based SV Project 8, and it's brilliant. A conventional torque-converter based unit, rather than a dual-clutch, it's dubbed 'Quickshift', and that it does. Manual flicks between ratios, using the wheel-mounted paddles, are rapid and positive.

Head for your favourite B-road, and it's the F-Type R's ability to put every bit of its power down, without fuss, that impresses next. Push into a series of tight corners and the car grips, settles, and simply surges from one bend to the next, the tricky AWD system seamlessly shuffling torque between the axles and individual wheels.

The standard electronic active diff, and torque vectoring (by braking) also help keep everything under control, turning backroad tryhards into apex hunting virtuosos.

I’m a huge fan of the tail-light cluster design, subtly reprofiled in the late 2019 update. (image: James Cleary) I’m a huge fan of the tail-light cluster design, subtly reprofiled in the late 2019 update. (image: James Cleary)

Suspension is by (aluminium) double wishbones front and rear, with revised springs and anti-roll bars added in the 2019 upgrade. Continuously-variable dampers underpin the 'Adaptive Dynamics' system, learning your style and adjusting accordingly.

The electrically-assisted power steering combines great road feel with satisfying accuracy, and the car feels balanced yet agile and responsive in enthusiastic driving.

In a more relaxed mode the adaptive set-up detects rough road conditions and adjusts the suspension settings for greater ride comfort. According to Jaguar, the damper valves and control algorithms have been recalibrated to improve low-speed comfort and high-speed control, and I can vouch for their effectiveness.

Not long after steering this F-Type R I spent some time in the supercharged V6 F-Type P380 R-Dynamic, and this R is far more compliant.

Rubber is a specially-developed Pirelli P Zero (265/35 fr - 305/30 rr), and the supremely efficient brakes are ventilated 380mm at the front, and 376mm rear.

Yep, no surprise, the 2021 Jaguar F-Type R is a proper, rip-snorting, beast of a machine. (image: James Cleary) Yep, no surprise, the 2021 Jaguar F-Type R is a proper, rip-snorting, beast of a machine. (image: James Cleary)

Verdict

The Jaguar F-Type R is as fast and capable as it is beautiful. Although it's a little thirsty and comes up short on active safety, it's technically outstanding, delivering a stunning mix of performance, dynamics, and comfort.

Pricing guides

$196,516
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$128,065
Highest Price
$264,966

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 R-Dynamic RWD (221KW) 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP SEQ AUTO $146,765 2021 Jaguar F-Type 2021 2.0 R-Dynamic RWD (221KW) Pricing and Specs
V6 R-Dynamic RWD (280KW) 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP SEQ AUTO $193,466 2021 Jaguar F-Type 2021 V6 R-Dynamic RWD (280KW) Pricing and Specs
2.0 R-Dynamic RWD (221KW) 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP SEQ AUTO $128,065 2021 Jaguar F-Type 2021 2.0 R-Dynamic RWD (221KW) Pricing and Specs
V6 First Edition RWD (280KW) 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP SEQ AUTO $206,966 2021 Jaguar F-Type 2021 V6 First Edition RWD (280KW) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Price and features8
Design9
Practicality7
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership8
Driving9
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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