LOS ANGELES -- Beauty and the beast? These two concepts are not exclusive in the new 2015 Jaguar F-type Coupe, unveiled at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Pulling something of a reversal, Jaguar released the F-type convertible earlier this year, a stylish roadster with exceptional performance, and now is showing off the hardtop version. Automakers more frequently release convertible variants after a new hardtop model.
Jaguar's order of release is somewhat inexplicable, as it showed off a concept version of the F-type Coupe, called the C-X16, two years ago at the Frankfurt auto show. The F-type Coupe, with its GT styling, is also a better looking car than its convertible sibling. It seems that Jaguar saved the best for last.
As with the F-type convertible, the Coupe comes with three engine choices: two supercharged 3-liter V-6 engines, and a supercharged 5-liter V-8. Respectively, these models are designated the F-type, F-type S, and F-type R, with horsepower ranging from 340 all the way up to 550. Direct injection enhances efficiency in all of these engines, and each comes mated to a one-choice eight-speed automatic.
Three pedal fans may lament the lack of a manual transmission, but this automatic does an excellent job of delivering quick shifts in manual mode, with almost zero torque converter lag. Likewise, its Sport program is very capable.
The F-type Convertible delivers fantastic driving dynamics. On a cone course, it showed itself as a fun sports car, with traction control and vehicle stability programs letting the tail hang out just enough. The F-type Coupe will feature the same suspension and stability programs, so it should behave in a similar fashion.
However, the inclusion of the hardtop creates more rigidity throughout the body, allowing for flatter cornering. In fact, Jaguar notes that the F-type Coupe is its most rigid production car ever. With the F-type Coupe R's acceleration putting it at 60 mph in just 4 seconds, it is likely to be Jaguar's best performance car in the current line-up.
For the F-type Coupe, Jaguar was also able to retune the spring rates for better handling. A ceramic brake package will also be available for the S and R models, a choice suitable for drivers who intend to bring their cars to the track.
Of more qualitative consideration is the look of the coupe body. Where the F-type roadster's cloth top shows no particular style when up, the coupe body incorporates a graceful roofline stretching into a hatchback over the rear and lying in between the two rear fenders, which rise up like the haunches of a big car ready to spring.
Jaguar puts a big glass panel down the center of the hatchback, and notes that this configuration gives the F-type Coupe cargo room for a couple of golf bags.
Electronics in the dashboard, including standard navigation, will be the same as that in the F-type convertible. Here, Jaguar pushes few boundaries, merely providing very functional features for route guidance and hands-free phone use. Jaguar has not currently exploited connected car technology.
The centerpiece of the cabin electronics will be the Meridian audio system, available in a standard 10-speaker, 380-watt format, or an upgraded 12-speaker, 770-watt system. These systems deliver very fine audio reproduction in the convertible, although Jaguar does not seem to have taken advantage of the Coupe's hardtop to further enhance the system.
The 2015 Jaguar F-type Coupe will make a good alternative for more serious performance drivers who would not consider a convertible when it goes on sale in Spring of next year. The car's driving dynamics should make it very rewarding, although its fun, tail-happy driving character may have it struggling to keep up with more precise handling Porsches and BMW M models.
Beyond track performance, there can be no argument against its classic GT lines.