The Jaguar F-Type Coupé is precisely what we expected. This, as we'll explain, is no bad thing. Our lack of surprise at the essential rightness of this important automobile is a testament not only to a marketing job done well, but to Jaguar's steadfast refusal to compromise.
It's not often that a car company gets to make such an explicit shout out to a defining moment in its past. Usually, placing all out emphasis on the connection with heritage and history is something of a gamble, a direct appeal to emotions rather than rational thought. When the F-Type Convertible appeared last year, we noted how its associations with the past were more psychological than physical; the F- succeeds the E- in spirit, if not in strict linear chronology, for there were plenty of sporting Jaguars in between, as well as a brace of abandoned concept visions.
The Coupé has a far better claim to a direct physical lineage to its distinguished forebear. For a start, it looks fantastic, far prettier in the flesh than the Convertible. This imbalanced relationship between the two mirrors the original E-Type; the open car got all the glory, film roles and photo shoots, while it's the Fixed Head Coupé that still gets the nod from design aficionados, including Ian Callum, Jaguar's head designer. For Callum, getting the shape of the flowing roof just right was the defining moment in the development of this car; the result is one of the finest three-quarter views on the road today.
Those waiting for the Coupé have endured the usual long-lead reveal - a conceptual preview, a cinematic, stage-managed debut and now finally the chance to get behind the wheel before the first customer cars arrive in a few weeks time.
As we noted with the Convertible, the F-Type isn't shy or retiring, in terms of both noise and drama. Even the addition of a hefty chunk of aluminium over your head can't diminish the noise emitting from the tail pipes. In supercharged V8 'R' form especially, the F-Type pops, cracks and snarls, a sonic assault that is thankfully justified by the dynamic brilliance of the car itself. Adding a roof has made the F-Type stiff, as one would expect, giving even the most inexperienced driver balance, poise and agility when pushing hard. On a track, the F-Type is even more boorish, especially the flagship 'R', with clever electronic safety nets to the car toe the line in wet and dry conditions.
As is often the case, it's the more modestly powered V6 car that is the sweet spot, being slightly lighter, not quite as brash and offering up more than enough performance. A roof also brings a much bigger boot than the Convertible, making the Coupé a rather more attractive grand tourer, while the optional glass roof means you're not even missing out on a view of the sky. In short, the F-Type Coupé shoots straight to the top of a select list of cars you can love and also live with.