Few cars make you smile every time you see them. Today's homogenous design makes it difficult to distinguish one car from another in mall parking lots, but the Jaguar F-Type is another story. It captures attention with its graceful, compact design.
Its nose may be shorter than an E-Type's, but it works in proportion to the cab and the aggressive rear fenders. Nose and engine in front and cab at the rear makes for a classic sports car look with historic precedent.
The F-Type's design makes it an exceptional car.
More exceptional are the performance dynamics of the 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe I'm driving. Simply firing up the engine lets it sound off with an exhilarating growl. Set to Dynamic mode, this all-wheel-drive racer gives immediate power on throttle and scrambles through each turn like the big cat on its badge.
Jaguar first launched the F-Type as a convertible in 2013, then followed up with the Coupe version. The sports car showed off a newly unleashed Jaguar design department following the company's acquisition by India's Tata Motors. Its base model comes with a 340-horsepower supercharged V6 engine, but in R trim, its supercharged 5-liter V8 makes 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque.
And it is quick: 3.9 seconds to 60 mph quick.
The F-Type R Coupe is also a dedicated sports car, in that you won't find any child-sized rear seats behind the front sport buckets. The rear track is almost 2 inches wider than the front, and an all-wheel-drive system, with a 63-to-37 rear to front torque split, comes standard.
Cruising down city streets, the powerful V8 reacts well to the excessive stops and starts of low-speed traffic, with the eight-speed automatic transmission gearing towards smooth launches and economy. An idle-stop feature even steps in at stop lights to reduce fuel wastage, bringing the engine back online quick enough to avoid annoyance.
The smartly decked-out cabin helps mitigate a ride that, even with the F-Type R Coupe in comfort mode, proves a little too stiff for rough road surfaces. Low-profile tires do nothing to prevent curbing the 20-inch wheels.
Sitting in traffic, I get the occasional thumbs-up from other drivers, which I answer with a sport exhaust-enabled engine roar.
Cruise control doesn't include an adaptive function, so I'm on my own for braking, but a blind spot monitor system is a welcome addition, given the low roof. The dashboard holds an 8-inch touchscreen, not surprisingly standard in the upscale F-Type, but its navigation and entertainment software looks familiar from Jaguars of recent years. That means it's a reasonably useful system, covering the basics, but it lacks a dedicated data connection for online services. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also missing.