Have you heard? The sports car is dying. I’m afraid it’s terminal. The cause? Lack of disposable income. Living has become expensive, and that means less left over for fun, aka a third car. Manufacturers have noticed this trend. While the rise of performance sedans and SUVs have given the enthusiasts plenty of choice for their daily, it’s come at the expense of the sports car. You know – two seats, a big honkin’ motor, room for a tooth brush and a bikini. The 2023 Jaguar F-TYPE is the very definition of a sports car. Too bad it’s already dead.
The 2023 Jaguar F-TYPE R COUPE overview
Machines With Souls. Surely you’re thinking that if any kind of car carries a soul, it is of the sports variety. And the Jaguar F-TYPE R fits the bill. It takes the supercharged V-8 engine from the F-PACE SVR and stuffs it into a small (but not light) coupe body. The result is a thing of absolute beauty.
The F-TYPE has been around for awhile now. Launched in 2014, it was meant to be the spiritual successor to the classic E-TYPE. There have been various updates to the car’s looks and powertrain since inception, and Jag has now streamlined the trims with the P450 or this R. Both feature the wonderful V-8, but only the R gets the fully juiced 575 horsepower version. No more turbo four, SVR (boo), or V-6 (yay). No more stick either.
It’s also one of the last kids left at the dance, which is why 2023 will be the F-TYPE’s final year. That’s a shame because there really isn’t anything else like it. The Porsche 911 might be a more popular choice, but it’s not quite the same car, is it? Small back seat, rear-engine. Same for the Corvette. Ditto anything at the BMW store. Maybe you’re eyeing the Mercedes AMG GT, but that has a base price that starts where the Jaguar F-TYPE’s ends.
That makes it a special car. How special?
Performance Score: 8. Let’s hear it for the roar
Jag would have you believe that this car was built for touring the south of France, windows open, smile on your face. Truth is, it can perform the functions of a grand touring car nicely, but it’s missing some of the luxury associated with a true GT.
It also isn’t as hardcore as some offerings. I’m not sure you’ll ever see an F-TYPE at a track day. It can perform this mission too, though again, the Jag is missing a few things to make it a complete performance package. But one thing it isn’t missing is the…
I know and love this engine. It’s such a gem. Gone are the turbo four- and supercharged six-cylinder options from the original F-TYPE that probably never belonged in the car anyway. Now, you get the option of a single 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 with 444 horses or here, the full gonzo 575.
While the supercharger whine isn’t as pronounced as it is in the F-PACE SVR, you can still hear a subtle spool. Doesn’t matter. Press the exhaust button on the center console and just stomp on it. What you’ll hear is a little roar. Nothing much. Just keep your foot planted in it.
As the tach swings to 4,000 rpm, the valves open and BOOM. From there to the car’s redline, you hear the earthly recreation of divine intervention. Maybe the Blackwing is just as loud, but the sound quality of the Jag is unmatched; a unique staccato that makes you floor it whenever possible.
Acceleration is strong, ferocious even, but you need to rev the F-TYPE to make it go. Peak power happens up top at 6,500 rpm, and max torque of 516 comes on at 3,500. Compare that to the M5’s V-8, where max torque is available just off idle at 1,800 rpm.
If I want to be picky (I do), the throttle pedal isn’t floor mounted like in most European cars, and it can be a little uncomfortable to modulate the gas. So don’t modulate, just mash it to get that glorious sound again and again.
“Hmm, this feels familiar”, said my inner reptile brain as I zoomed down the road. And the lizard was right – this is the same ZF eight-speed used in modern BMWs.
It’s wonderfully matched to the V-8. Shifts are machine gun fast, and this is honestly the first car I’ve been in that has encouraged me to use the paddle shifters. Click, click. Aluminum slivers behind the wheel offer sidewinder snaps with each pull. Even the shifter itself, shaped like a joystick, makes you feel like you’re at the helm of an F-15.
And a special bonus awaits if you do shift for yourself. Pull the trigger under full engine load, and an even louder BRAP awaits on the upshift. It’s enough to make you tap the brakes so you can go through the gears again.
A stick? Nah. I’m sure it would be fun, but this engine/transmission combo just fits together like peanut butter jelly time.
We’re far enough into this review where you’ve seen the Soul and performance score of 8 and been wondering where the “but” is. Well..
The F-TYPE suffers from a stiff and somewhat bouncy ride. It’s not terrible, but it takes the GT tag away from what would be an otherwise magical touring trip. The Jag has an electronically controlled suspension with all-wheel drive. Unlike some other brands, drive modes are simplified and easily accessed via a cool-looking toggle switch next to the shifter. Choose from snow mode (ok sure), normal and race modes. You can adjust specific parts of these drive modes within the infotainment system, but everything seemed best on “Dynamic” – the factory setting. Surprise.
Perhaps it’s the short wheelbase, or those 20-inch 305 meats at the back, but the car feels unsettled on the highway. Turn onto a back road, and the F-TYPE comes alive. Steering response is excellent, with good weight and feedback through the nice-to-grab wheel. Turns out tuning a decent EPAS system isn’t black magic.
The back end is excited and ready to step out at a moment’s notice, despite the power going to every corner, so do keep that traction control on if you skipped drift school. Other sports cars might make you feel like the player one level is set to easy, but in the F-TYPE, you’re gonna need to work at it. That’s not necessarily bad, but more modern cars allow you do have it both ways.
Here’s something neat. The 2023 Jaguar F-TYPE’s brakes are pretty much the same size front and rear. You get 15-inch diameter vented discs in the front, 14.8 in the back. Usually rear brakes are much smaller because less weight is on the back, and weight transfer makes the front brakes work harder.
And here they work well, providing a drama and fade-free experience. A big initial bite leads to a somewhat dead middle travel area. “Are you still there, guys?” They are. Overall, I think the F-TYPE demonstrates that cross-drilled, slatted, slotted, carbon ceramic whatever brake discs aren’t really needed unless you’re serious about track time.
One thing we skipped over on the F-TYPE was weight. 3,920 pounds. That’s more than the M3; it’s more than a lot of things. Combine the all-wheel drive, big motor and shared platform with other JLR products and you’ll get here.
This car has a lot of character, and it’s a lot of fun to drive. It’s just missing that last bit of refinement to make it a world beater in performance.
Utility Score: 4. Enough to make a weekend of it.
The 2023 F-TYPE is a two-seater, so that score should be kept in context of other sports cars. But you could do worse here.
Pop the hatch (and remove the privacy partition), and my camera case juuust fits in the trunk. You can use it to go food shopping easily.
Climb into the very comfortable seats, and you’ll find enough room for you, your honey, some sunglasses and a smile. Even the cup holders are in an awkward spot. You sit low, but ingress isn’t difficult; the Corvette was a lot harder to mount up. Speaking of, there’s a nice little grab handle on the passenger side of the F-TYPE, unlike the chastity wall of switches in the Vette’s cabin.
Also a nice surprise is visibility. It’s not hard to see out of the rear of the F-TYPE, and parking is no chore at all. In some low-slung cars, you need to dodge around mirrors and pillars to see, but not so here. Sit inside a Camaro to understand how bad a two-door can be to see out of.
There’s enough space here to keep you comfortable on the backroads, or for a weekend trip to the lake. Otherwise, grab the keys to your F-PACE.
Efficiency: 6. F-TYPE made me do it.
If you drive the 2023 Jaguar F-TYPE like a normal, responsible adult, you will easily achieve the 18 city / 24 highway MPG the EPA says is possible.
I did not do this during my time with the car, so my mileage was more in the 15 MPG range. That’s combined. Totally worth it. BRAP!
Features and comfort: 6. The pastures are calling.
Let’s first remember that the F-TYPE came out nearly ten years ago, and while it’s had plenty of updates, the car is nevertheless starting to show its age. That’s a problem when you consider the $121,780 as-tested price.
Let’s start with good things first. Sit inside, and you’re surrounded by the softest, highest-quality leather this side of an Aston. The seats, steering wheel, doors and dash are all swathed in it. And those seats are all-day comfortable. They hug you in just the right spots.
The gigantic sunroof fills the entire top of the car and makes you feel like you’re in a fighter jet. The glass actually comes forward of your field of view, so you’re getting a full panoramic experience. And since we’re talking jets, the old-school toggle switches on the dash look awesome, while the center stack air vents that rise out of the dash on startup are a nice “cool!” moment.
There are a few toys. A ducktail spoiler motors up at highway speeds, with a button on the dash to control it. A nice Meridian sound system complete with subwoofer is here, but went to waste for me because supercharger soundtracks are better. Beautiful SVO Ultra Metallic Gloss paint is a $4,550 option.
I can picture it already. The bean counters at Jag HQ saying “no, we can’t update the F-TYPE’s infotainment system. We sell five a month, and it’s going away soon.”
Fine. But because I’ve been in the F-PACE, I know what the company is capable of, and it’s hard not to feel a little let down by what can only be described as an outdated unit. Plug your phone into the USB port so you can use Apple CarPlay, nothing over the air. Ignore the washed out look of the second-rate center display. And though the digital dash offers easy-to-read dials, it’s carried over from the F-PACE and feels tacked on as an after thought. No Heads-up display is offered.
Cars like this need to feel special in every way, especially where you most interact with it.
Overall, the interior feels a bit on the cheap side considering the price point. Nice leather can only hide so much. It might make more sense at the F-TYPE’s base price of $74,675, but that’s for the slower P450 model. In fact, the F-TYPE itself might make more sense at that level. The $50,000 gap is a lot for the extra power, shiny paint and all-wheel drive.
But then you drive the R, rev the V-8, and honestly who the hell cares about plugging in a phone, or the bad day you just had, or anything else in your life that doesn’t make your insides vibrate.
The 2023 Jaguar F-TYPE R Coupe is a worthy good-bye
You know my thoughts on electric cars. They have their charms, and they are faster than this or any other V-8 sports car. But is that what a sports car is about?
Speed is a trick. It’s about the sensations you feel as well as the actual velocity you’re going. Don’t you want to hear the engine? To feel each shift? To not just get to 60 miles per hour, but actually feel like you’re going that fast? That’s what this F-TYPE does so well.
The Vette and 911 are so serious. M cars too. “Come at me, bro!” is all they yell from their perches at Cars & Coffee. Maybe those cars are all bored. Maybe my M3 yawns every time I get in it. I hope not.
The F-TYPE can step to bros too, but it’s not always nudging you to do it. It ignores the technicality of the perfect corner, and embraces the enjoyment of an imperfect one.
So please, be one of those 5 people per month that get an F-TYPE. Own a car with a soul. Let it roar one last time.
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