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Higher Grade

Ezekiel Wheeler

The F-Type Coupe is as gorgeous as the roadster that preceded it, and it earns extra credit in road tests, where it demonstrates that it is a top-notch sports car.

While discussing the new F-Type Coupe during a media event earlier this year at the Motorland Aragón racetrack in Spain, Wayne Burgess, the head of Jaguar’s production studio, spoke about the philosophy that guides him and his team. “Good design, truly good design, can be expressed in three lines,” he said, attributing the credo to the company’s design director, Ian Callum.

For the F-Type Coupe, a truly good design, those three lines appear when the car is viewed from one side. They are the one that outlines the pronounced rear fender hump—the haunch, as Jaguar calls it—the one that begins at the headlight and fades elegantly into the first third of the door, and the roofline, which begins at the hood, rises over the cabin and slopes gently to the taillight and the integrated rear spoiler that automatically deploys when the car reaches 70 mph.

The rear haunches may be the signature design feature of the all-aluminum F-Type, but the roofline is no less significant. “Connecting the rear to the front with an unbroken roof rail isn’t something easily achieved,” said Burgess. “But we worked very closely with our engineering team. We went through hundreds of stamping prototypes to achieve both maximum strength while remaining true to the design concept.” (The F-Type is based on the C-X16, a concept car that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 as a gas-electric hybrid.)

Needless to say, the roofline distinguishes the coupe visually from the equally handsome F-Type convertible, which Jaguar introduced last year. The roof also contributes to the car’s rigidity, which is double that of the convertible; and that rigidity—along with stiffer springs and increased adjusting rates for the dynamic damping system—make the Coupe more agile than the convertible. Indeed, the F-Type R Coupe, the most powerful version of the car, completed a lap of the Nürburgring faster than any other Jaguar production car ever.

In its base form, the F-Type Coupe (which went on sale in May) is equipped with a supercharged V-6 that churns out 340 hp. The S Coupe’s V-6 produces 380 hp. The R Coupe is equipped with a supercharged V-8 that produces 550 hp and enables a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.0 seconds. Each engine is paired with an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Starting prices range from $65,000 for the standard model to $77,000 for the S Coupe to $99,000 for the R Coupe.

The F-Type R Coupe demonstrated its capabilities on the challenging Motorland Aragón, a 3.3-mile circuit built in 2009 that features blind corners, cresting corners, and a 1-mile back straightaway. The car’s power delivery was prompt, and the optional carbon-ceramic-matrix brakes neutralized that power just as quickly. The track run also provided a chance to test Jaguar’s new Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVbB) technology. The system is designed to correct and nearly eliminate understeer when the car enters or exits a corner. It does so by automatically applying the brakes as needed to the inside corner wheels while the car navigates a corner. Engaging the Dynamic Sport mode firmed up the suspension, sped up the throttle and steering responses, and disengaged a few electronic nannies—though not the TVbB.

The F-Type Coupe’s interior features taut leather upholstery with robotically precise stitching, an optional sport steering wheel with a flat bottom and anodized metallic-orange paddle shifters, and a center-console-mounted LCD screen for controlling or viewing the car’s various entertainment, tuning, and monitoring systems. The center console also contains a toggle switch for adjusting the suspension, engine performance, and steering inputs so that the car can run faster on the open road and move quicker through corners.

But whether it is in motion or at rest, the F-Type Coupe will command attention, because those three lines that Burgess spoke of make it look good from any angle.

Jaguar, www.jaguarusa.com