The cat that roars

The stereotypical cat will arrogantly lounge in the most comfortable seat in the house and groom itself to pristine perfection. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have flicked on the garage light during the witching hour and caught the Jaguar F-Type doing a little bit of a spit polish. And given her alluring, seductive curves and deep, lustrous paintwork who could blame her?

Make no mistake, this latest beast from JLR’s premium fleet is one beautiful piece of automotive artwork unequivocally targeted at drivers who appreciate the very finest motoring experience. 

The F-Type R isn’t flashy bling; it’s all class and fine design harmoniously cocooned in a breath takingly beautiful exterior and powered by a controlled nuclear reactor.

Embracing timeless contours and dimensions, a sassy short, tight tail and acreage of swooping bonnet this new F-Type embodies the very latest engineering design and technology advancements of the digital age. Yet its external aesthetics and exquisite interior details respectfully pay homage to the passionate artisanship, classic beauty, and thoroughbred lineage of its predecessors. 

Void of design inhibitions or accepted limitations, this big cat’s appealing form is a bold statement piece that snarls sporting performance.

Pull up behind this formidable feline at the traffic lights and its seductive low, wide stance personifies an apex predator.

There is subconscious respect from other drivers; some appreciate this vehicle’s outward beauty, whilst enthusiasts admire the engineering beneath its captivating exterior and deduce “don’t even try to keep up.”

As she prowls up the fast lane on the freeway with the baritone exhaust rumble echoing off the concrete barriers, in a throaty growl of “move over”; it seems sensible to get out of her way.

Drop into the heavily bolstered and oh, so comfortable driver’s seat and you won’t want to get out. The engine ignites with a sharp rasp from the exhaust, signifying this marauder has awakened from its slumber. Now aware of its surroundings, the tacho settles into a relaxed idle with the quad rear pipes harmonising to the deep rich dulcet tone rumblings that only a classic V8 can produce.

And this is something to keep in mind, one of the thrills of this F-Type is that it is almost certainly one of the last of its kind as manufacturers evolve toward the exhilarating performance of electrically powered vehicles. While they may well continue to try to perfect the electronic simulation of a powerful, well-tuned exhaust; I’m not sure if the visceral exhilaration generated when sitting behind a high performance supercharged V8 will ever be matched.

Of course, out on those long, lonely stretches of country roads, those of a practical disposition will point out that the fuel level in this hungry cat goes down with all the speed of vodka shooters at a Russian wedding. However, the F-Type makes up for that naughty little habit with a range of other impressive talents.

One of which is its ability to mimic the sensation of launching a jet fighter from the flightdeck of an aircraft carrier.

Think I’m kidding?

Select Dynamic mode, and the instrument cluster glows a wicked red.

Turn on active exhaust and as the pleasant burble becomes a demonic rumble so too will the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Foolishly snap open the throttle and refinement be damned!

With a deafening explosive surge, the all-wheel driveline switches to battle mode and fights feverishly to harness a blitzkrieg of torque and power.

This big cat takes no prisoners and makes no apologies for its anti-social behaviour as it slams your body back into the leather buckets. I was half expecting the sultry cultured British accented navigation voice to tell me to shut up and hang on! As the supercharger whine increased rapidly to a scream, force feeding the demented V8, those sticky low-profile tyres savagely sank their claws into the bitumen, hunkering down the rear end to launch a strike at its prey. 

The tacho grabs centre stage, frantically swinging its pointer like a possessed conductor directing the devil’s own demon choir to unleash a mechanical symphony with the supercharger howling, the exhaust snorting, crackling, and popping with each flick of the paddle shifters as you upshift, with an ever increasing and intoxicating V8 bellow from the rear.

As your eyes relax their gaping stare, your hands begin to ease their grip and you draw a long slow breath freed from an adrenalin gratifying sensory overload. You begin to ponder the laws of physics and what this exotic beauty at just a tad over 1,800kgs has achieved. This modest sized V8 generates a brutal 423kWs and 700Nms of torque with the AWD system maintaining traction and control with near surgical precision to peg the 100kph marker in a blistering 3.7s

Oh, its quick, very quick, and did I mention loud and boisterous. But this is a Jag, it’s supposed to be suave and sophisticated, right? Here’s this big cat’s party trick. Engage dynamic mode and the F-Type’s performance perfectly complements its don’t mess with me exterior persona, with on road dynamics to make your heart race along winding country roads.

But with a couple of screen taps, you can effortlessly back off the customisation settings to engage purr mode.

You’d think this beast would be a temperamental nightmare in stop-start traffic, but not so. It’s a pleasure to drive around town, the steering is light, and precise, the engine is relaxed, and that eight-speed auto is just divine. I don’t think I’ve driven another standard auto that’s as good in this type of configuration. And I’m not just talking about its shift quality under duress when being driven hard, this auto is almost precognitive.

Every gear change is rev perfect; hard throttle, lift off overrun, upshift, downshift, floating soft throttle, or braking into the next bend… I just couldn’t trip it up.

I loved the previous Type R. It looked gorgeous, put a smile on your face with its handling prowess and was a fun car to drive, but that was it, you had to drive it. It felt a little out of sorts and not overly comfortable when being asked to move at a relaxed pace. Whereas this new variant has refined all the good stuff from the old model. They’ve modernised the outward appearance and embraced digital technology all to the betterment of this vehicle’s gracious form and sporting charisma. From the stunning digital instrumentation cluster and larger infotainment screen, with clearer fonts for visual appeal, to the gratifying tactile surfaces, switch controls and gorgeous double accented stitching throughout, Jaguar have successfully made important and necessary enhancements to the base formula without repressing the essence and very soul of what makes an F-Type so desirable.

They’ve made everything better, and for the right reason, pure driver enjoyment. It’s now more friendly; it’s no less focused at the pointy end of performance but has broader capability and real-world usability. It will happily cruise around all day without complaint, and with the snap of your fingers bare its razor-sharp fangs to terrorise winding country roads should you feel the urge.

But keep in mind this is a performance sports car that only embodies some of the best traits of a of GT (Grand Tourer). As well as it can walk both sides of the line, this is a purely 1+1 proposition, that’s just you and your partner. Practicality is not a word you find in the F-Types vocabulary. Even Waffles, your pet Chihuahua, will have to stay at home.

To be honest,

I didn’t care about the impracticality of a car designed to cater for two people with no more than a briefcase and handbag between them.

After all, everything was fit for purpose.

The glove box was perfectly sized to carry at least one pair of gloves and you could most definitely put a pair of boots in the boot.

To be fair, you might squeeze in a flat suit carrier– especially if you removed the spare tyre. Oh, and there was a tiny bit of room behind the seats, enough to store a bottle or two after lunch at the winery.

Those expecting overwhelming opulence in a car priced just north of $270K might be surprised by the absence of niceties such as heated and cooled seats. 

Or heavens to Murgatroyd, the need to both lift your hand AND then manually push to slide back the blind on the panoramic glass roof. Where was the button to press and save me from such extreme effort? 

Those wanting insular, soundless comfort might cringe at the audible offence of the humming of high-performance low-profile tyres travelling at 110km/h on a roughened stretch of highway. But if all you care about is practical functionality then this is not the car for you. I didn’t care.

Why? Simple.

Jaguar absolutely nailed the design brief for the F-Type R 575… it’s all about pure driving performance – and a fat, heavy athlete never sprints to the finish line.

Anything that could be stripped out without ruining a premium experience was left to one side of the assembly line. The air conditioner works well, the stereo might be good (I never turned it on as I love a bass rumble), a motor to replace a two second manual hand motion is difficult to justify and loads of heavy sound deadening makes for an insular experience in a vehicle designed for those who want to hear and feel the powerful roar and snarl of the big cat as it unleashes its ferocity to warp time and distance.

Of course, JLR didn’t go too far with their simplification. The beautifully crafted two-tone leather seats are fully powered with oodles of adjustment – and offer the choice of not two but three memory options on both the driver’s and passenger’s seats. To me, three settings seemed unnecessary. This is a car where you might begrudgingly allow your beloved partner to claw the keys from your hand, but share it with a third party, I think not!

And never, ever with a reckless young member of the family. No matter how much they begged, “Can I borrow the car, please?” 

Not even though it’s handling is reminiscent of all the joy you experienced as a kid when you first spun around a track in a go-kart.

I don’t think there’s another driving sensation I enjoyed more than the intoxicating sound and tactile engagement from this ground hugging, low slung, high performance V8 sports car.

It makes every roundabout a reason to smile, as you wriggle and flick around with a gentle caress of a leather clad steering wheel, and a tiny twitch in the tail on exit followed by a quick tap on the paddle shifter to effortlessly leave mundane traffic lumbering behind. For me, the F-Type R 575 personifies driver exhilaration, interaction, and reward and is a five-star drive.

Model: Jaguar F-Type R Coupe 575

Note: vehicle no longer available in yellow.

  • Price: $273,675
  • Engine: 5.0-litre Supercharged V8
  • Output: 423kW/700Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Claimed Fuel: 10.3L/100km
  • Warranty: 5 Years unlimited kms plus 5 Year roadside assist
Drive Editor - Ray Cully
Drive Editor – Ray Cully

About our Motoring Editor: Ray has been passionate about all things automotive since he first started collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels models when he was five. Since leaving his executive role at General Motors (GM), he’s been sharing his driving experiences with Australian audiences for nearly 20 years, commencing his automotive journalist career with a popular WA-based magazine and was writing his own column in The West Australian for 8 years.

Ray’s strong love of automotive engineering and clever design has seen his articles and photography featured in prominent national magazines in Australia and the UK. He loves sharing his passion with other drivers, including via a long running stint as Senior Instructor for Land Rover Experience, providing training and education for new vehicle owners.

Recently Ray has been presenting on TV shows including Ready for Adventure and the very popular Caravan and Camping WA, to showcase some of the great products, vehicles and companies that make getting out and exploring Western Australia that much more enjoyable.