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2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe R First Drive

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When last we left the Jaguar F-Type, it was hustling substantial ass somewhere on some choice, shall-remain-unnamed mountain roads of north Georgia. Locked in close competition for our hearts and minds with the Porsche Cayman S, Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, and Chevy Corvette Stingray, the F-Type was a finalist for our annual Best Car To Buy honors.

Heavily in its corner: The Jaguar emitted noises like nothing we've heard this side of an AMG V-8 or an Aston V-12, and its sinewy stance drew more gapes per linear mile than any of the other entrants.

In the end, though, it finished behind the CLA45 and Cayman S, more a victim of the harrowingly sharp hairpins that kinked our driving course than anything. The tightly strung switchbacks worked against those wide hips, making it feel a little too big for those branches, and a slightly softer setup left it playing catch-up with those front-runners.

MORE: Read our first drive of the Jaguar F-Type roadster

What a difference the right road can make.

Since then, we've had the chance to drive the roofed version on the Motorland Aragona track and the emptied-out quarters between it and Barcelona. More than three miles long, with a mile-long straight, the F1-approved Motorland and its surrounding vistas fleshed out what we'd missed from the F-Type equation, why it's easily worth a second shot at those Best Car To Buy winners.

It's all about the body, as if you couldn't guess.

Before the rain blew in, we'd decided the F-Type Coupe R is the most affable, most tossable Jaguar ever to pass through our grip. Adding a roof adds tremendously to its stability. If anything, it's more subliminally sexy than the roadster.

And it still has the inestimable, intangible value of one of the best exhaust notes you can buy.

Impure, and riveting

The F-Type Coupe hasn't lost any of its visual extravagance in the short trip from the concept-car circuit to the real world. It made its mark as a C-X16 concept, and the very nearly identical shape that's emerged is impure, and riveting for it.

Call it a do-over: The gills and grille slash through the front end, sharply retracting the oval inlet cut into a whole generation of Jaguar XK grand tourers. But they're largely the same as in the F-Type roadster.

Where it's different from the roadster, obviously so, the Coupe nails down the essence of what a Jaguar should look like. The F-Type Coupe is a somewhat short car, and doesn't have the luxury of languid lines playing out as the XK had. (It's being retired after 2015, now that the F-Type is assuming its mantle). Adding a roofline could have abbreviated the F-Type's shape in ungainly ways, but it hasn't--it's only amplified those powerlifter haunches.

"This car is almost classical in its proportions," says Wayne Burgess, who worked out the winning details, like the tiniest flap of a decklid spoiler that mimics the modesty panel in a union suit. It rises at 70 mph to provide downforce, and lowers at below 50 mph.

The unseen effect of the hardtop is with the body structure. The F-Type coupes get a specific roof beam for strength, which nets out a body that's said to be 80 percent stiffer--a real accomplishment, given the F-Type's already stout glued-and-riveted aluminum body.


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