Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: May 16, 2022
Just as automakers have begun downsizing engines and focusing on electrification, Jaguar has instead done the opposite with their halo sports car, the F-Type. For 2022, they axed their smallest four- and six-cylinder engines, leaving the V8 as the sole option. Not that we’re complaining. Jaguar’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is full of character, sonic appeal, and near-instant power delivery.
The V8 is offered in two configurations, both in coupe and convertible guises. The entry-level P450 carries an engine tune of 444 hp and 428 lb-ft with both RWD and AWD, while the R we have on test is AWD only and bumps those figures up to 575 hp and 516 lb-ft. 0-100 km/h comes in an eye-opening 3.7 seconds, nearly a second quicker than the P450, and three-tenths quicker than the Cayman GTS 4.0. But compared to the Porsche, it’s neither as grounded or as stable at high speeds, as athletic in low-speed corners, nor does the steering breathe life into your fingertips.
What does it do well then, and why should you consider an F-Type R over its overwhelming list of rivals? Character, charm, and driver engagement, three aspects that Jaguar has always nailed down to the tee. And it starts with the exterior styling. While 911s have swollen in dimensions to accommodate its wider tracks and bigger engines, the F-Type has remained slim-fit and contoured, and it shows. It may be an aging platform but find me a more eye-catching front end, especially when draped in this $6,100 shade of Sorrento Yellow. 20-inch wheels are standard on all models, as are the menacing quad exhausts, arranged in the same stacked way as an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
Jaguar has tried to make it stand out with some unique features as well, like the pop-out door handles, a front hood that swings up backwards, a hatchback-like lift gate like in the AMG GT, hidden cabin fan vents, and airplane-style switchgear and shifters. But while the F-Type sheetmetal has been massaged out over the years to keep up with modern styling, the interior hasn’t. It’s the F-Type’s weakest area, and though we considered it stylish and chic back in 2014, it has become long in the tooth, blending together plasticky switchgear and an overall fit and finish that just hasn’t kept up, especially when you see Hondas and Toyotas clearly stepping up their game.
The steering wheel is a nice size and ergonomic in shape, but the paddle shifters feel cheap, and aren’t nearly as rewarding to click as the ones in current JLR products like the Defender V8. Cabin space is tight as well. Not as cramped as a Mercedes-AMG GT but sorely lacking in both storage options and cubbies when compared to 2+2 rivals like the Lexus LC 500. The 12-way adjustable seats look great and appear thin but still carry a good amount of lumbar and lateral support. Surprisingly, there is more than enough adjustment room for my six-foot figure to find a cozy driving position. The coupe’s integrated trunk space is actually quite decent - more than the AMG GT and McLaren GT, but don’t even bother as far as the convertible is concerned.
The F-Type’s strongest area is in the drive. Again, it doesn’t handle with the pinpoint precision of a 718, nor does it exude the confidence and stability of an all-wheel drive BMW M4, but it does put a smile on your face every time you go for a spin. We owe most of that to the supercharger, which offers a generous wave of power that swells up the moment you press the go-fast pedal, making it effortless to reach unholy speeds without even realizing it. Hard-edged gear shifts are at your command via the paddles or shifter, and this V8 begs you to explore the entire powerband, rewarding you with noise and power, and tickling your brain into letting out tidal waves of dopamine to all the feel good centres. We did notice the traction and stability control intervening more than pre-2019 models, even in the Dynamic Mode setting, ensuring the rear is always kept in check, so you have to add more much power than usual to instigate some oversteer, or simply turn the systems off altogether.
The orchestra that follows is unmistakably Jaguar. There’s a feral pitch to the way it revs up that no other V8 on the market can match. AMGs have their low, burbly, soulful tones, while BMWs carry a more sonorous, melodic, and pleasant track. This Jaguar is instead, exhaust noise distilled down to its most basic and raw form. They’ve unfortunately tuned out all those pops and bangs on throttle overrun, so those that desire the excessive artillery barrage of exhaust noises will want to look for a pre-2019 F-Type R. And unlike before, you can clearly tell when the exhaust valves are open, and they only do when you’re firmly past 50% of the gas pedal or when cresting past 3,500 rpm. Below that, they stay closed for a slightly more muted V8 roar, like stuffing a tennis ball inside a rotweiler’s mouth. I’m sure pulling a few plugs under the hood or some modding software can change this.
We all have different views on what makes up a driver’s car, whether it’s top speed, horsepower credentials, exhaust sound, or Nurburgring laptimes. And to many, the Jaguar F-Type R was never a performance rival to the Porsche 911. Realizing that, Jaguar cleverly played a different hand, and instead focused on the emotional appeal of a sports car. That’s why they knocked off the boring engines if you can even call them that, focused on the grander V8, and doubled down on the glitz, glamour, and acoustic thrill. When viewed in that light, the F-Type is, and always has been, shining bright, and a downright success.
Model: 2022 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe P575
Paint Type: Sorrento Yellow
Base Price: $121,400
Price as Tested: $134,910
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,470 / 1,923 / 1,311
Unladen weight (kg): 1,780
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Horsepower: 575 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 14.1
Tires: Pirelli P Zero