Choosing just one $100,000 to $150,000 luxury performance coupe is a tall order. On one hand there’s the precise driving but somewhat predictable pick of the Porsche 911 or the All-Star-winning 911 S. Then there’s the sinister Mercedes-AMG GT, a less popular but no less worthy candidate. But some buyers may feel like these German options are a bit overplayed. Enter the Jaguar F Type R, which was just updated for the 2021 model year. We spent a week behind the wheel to see if its modernized looks and performance and luxury updates are enough to truly tantalize.
F-Type R: Sleek and Supercharged
We got the chance to sample one such example of Jaguar’s rambunctious coupe, which arrived wearing Sorrento Yellow Ultra Yellow Paint. As a result of its facelift, the F-Type R has a new face, new lighting, more tech, and a beefier version of its howling supercharged V-8 engine. Whereas the F-Type once looked truly beautiful, the new bodywork makes it appear sleek and modern with a jolt of aggression thanks to squinty headlights and L-shaped LED daytime running lights.
In its most recent incarnation, Jaguar’s 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 produces 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 25 hp and 14 lb-ft, respectively, over the previous model. A ZF-sourced eight-speed transmission sends that might and twist to all four wheels for breathtaking acceleration. Full throttle rips are met with a screaming, crackling exhaust note that injects a shot of adrenaline into the driver’s veins as it makes peak power at a wicked 6,500 rpm. Throttle response is incredibly linear, so it’s easy to get a feel for exactly how quickly the car will accelerate when the driver squeezes into the gas pedal.
Full torque is available from 3,500-5,000 rpm, so around town the Jaguar F-Type R is pretty docile, but once it’s in the manual or sport shift modes, it’s easy to keep it in the power band and crack into blistering acceleration at a moment’s notice. Lift the throttle and a report sounds from the exhaust, goading the driver to lay into the throttle once more to get the rpms back into the sweet spot. Accelerate. Lift. Repeat. It never gets old.
This Jaguar’s favorite prey is the sweeping mountain road, for the F-Type R is a lairy beast, and a bit more of a handful than its rivals, even with all-wheel drive as a standard feature. The transmission, which offers crisp and hard shifts in the performance driving setting, actually allows for smooth and relaxed gear changes when necessary. The steering weight is on the lighter side, but it gets the job done. Unlike a lot of other luxury automakers, Jaguar doesn’t offer an overwhelming number of drive modes, instead opting for just one fairly relaxed normal mode and a sporty dynamic mode that sharpens up the car’s responsiveness. It also features a toggle for the performance exhaust, which I left active 99 percent of the time the F-Type R was in my possession.
Jaguar also heavily revised the F-Type R’s suspension for the 2021 model year, bringing over the discontinued F-Type SVR’s aluminum suspension knuckles and also re-tuning the adaptive damping, spring rates, and anti-roll bar stiffness. In daily life, these changes made the F-Type R very pleasant to live with. In the standard drive mode, it’s very comfortable for a performance coupe, but the change to dynamic mode stiffens everything up, making the car feel nimbler and more eager to play. I preferred to drive the 2021 Jaguar F-Type R on big, sweeping curves rather than in super-tight turns at least in part to milk the V-8 for its incredible power and noise, but also because its light steering feel was less enjoyable in the most technical bits.
F-Type R Performance: An Athlete in a Tuxedo
Despite its glittering yellow paint, the Jaguar F-Type’s looks have matured in its latest form, and with our test car riding on handsome 20-inch Satin Grey wheels ($1,100), it drew the attention of admirers any time I got out of the car to pick up coffee or to grab dinner.
The slick, stylish interior largely remains intact with soft leathers and upscale metal accents, but the center console is adorned with a bigger 10-inch display. Unfortunately, the screen still uses a version of JLR’s slow and somewhat finicky Touch Pro infotainment system, but as I’ve commented in previous reviews such as this one about the Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto remedies a lot of the stickier issues with the user interface.
Our car came packed with options, but still managed to surprise me with its final price of $115,110, which is pretty modest for a well-equipped vehicle in the segment. The most expensive added touch was the SVO Ultra Metallic Paint in gloss finish, which rang up at $4,550. Anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time on the car side of Instagram knows that “spec” is everything nowadays, so premium paint is one way to ensure that one’s car stands out on the timeline.
This F-Type R also had a fixed panoramic roof ($1,175), the climate pack which adds two-zone climate control a heated windshield and a heated steering wheel ($1,125), a Meridian surround sound system ($870), Heated and cooled front seats ($800), black brake calipers ($510), the Blind Spot Assist pack ($500), and a garage door opener that pairs with Jaguar’s programmable HomeLink system ($225).
F-Type R High-Velocity Verdict: An Easy Decision
Jaguar asks $104,225 as an entry point for the F-Type R. For the sake of comparison, Porsche asks $98,750 for a base 911 Carrera and the Mercedes-AMG GT starts at a much more expensive $116,895. In this world of European sport coupes, Jaguar offers a tantalizing proposition that is comfortable, stylish, unconventional, and has an amazing exhaust note.
Jaguar did a great job making the F-Type R comfortable for daily driving with all of the necessary comforts to make it an extremely pleasant commuter. The exciting drivetrain takes a backseat when it’s in comfort mode, letting the awesome 770-watt sound system shine while the ventilated seats do their thing. In its way, the F-Type is the whole package—maybe the wealthy but not-quite-ultra-rich won’t have such a hard time picking a luxurious sports coupe after all.
2021 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Specifications
|PRICE||$104,225/$115,110 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINES||5.0L supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8/575 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 516 lb-ft @ 3,500-5,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, AWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||16/24 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||176.0 x 75.7 x 51.5-51.6 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||186 mph|