Hot cat with a tin roof

Hot cat with a tin roof

It is standard practice for car- makers to launch the hardtop version of a new model first, with the convertible variant following several months down the road. But since Porsche bucked the trend with its Boxster/Cayman twins, Jaguar must have felt entitled to follow suit.

Hence the appearance of the F-Type R Coupe, a year or so after the debut of the roadster version.

The Coupe is exactly how you would expect a tin- topped F-Type to look like. Its feral face, voluptuous wheel arches, fluid curves and trademark long-nose, cab-back stance all remain unchanged. Just that where above the taut waistline was once clear sky, there now sits more bodywork.

The Coupe's roof is a sleek affair, with the curve of its A-pillars continuing in a smooth, unbroken sweep all the way back to meet its pert, downswept tail. The roofline remains low, the pillars are elegantly slim and the whole cabin tapers towards the rear, like the deck of a speedboat.

The car looks proportionate and absolutely right, with no hint of the roof being an afterthought - which indeed it is not, the F-Type having been designed from the outset as both a coupe and a roadster.

That said, the roadster is still the more visually arresting car, its uninterrupted waistline and fabric drop-top giving it just that extra touch of sleek insouciance.

The Coupe claws back ground in other ways. With a fixed roof, it naturally has a stiffer bodyshell than the roadster. Jaguar says that at 33,000Nm per degree, it is its stiffest production car ever. It is also about 20kg lighter.

In terms of habitability, the Coupe is wonderful. Its cabin is effortlessly plush, with ample head and shoulder-room, visibility is excellent and the driving position is low-set and natural.

Even without the roadster's droptop, sun-lovers can still get their dose of sunlight with an optional full-length glass roof. The rear hatch conceals a substantial 407-litre boot, which is a much more realistic load-carrying prospect than the shallow space under the roadster's bootlid.

The Coupe's range mirrors that of the roadster, with two 3-litre supercharged V6 versions with 340bhp and 380bhp respectively, and a range-topping 5-litre supercharged V8. The two V6 cars are mechanically identical to their roadster counterparts, but the flagship F-Type R Coupe is markedly more extreme than the equivalent V8S roadster.

Where the V8S roadster's 5-litre supercharged V8 belts out an already ample 500bhp, the same unit in the F-Type R Coupe (which also does service in the XKR-S, XFR and XJR) is tweaked to a beastly 550bhp. Delivered to the rear wheels via a paddleshift-equipped eight-speed autobox, that power translates to a searing 4.2-second 0-100kmh time and an electronically limited 300kmh top speed.

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