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“EXPLORING THE LIFESTYLE AND GENEROSITY OF TAMPA BAY”

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In the words of that British songbird Adele, singing her classic James “007” Bond movie anthem Skyfall “This is the end”. 

 

So shed a tear, do a little weeping and wailing, and just feel the pain. Seems that after 75 years of building some of the greatest two-seaters to roll on four wheels, Jaguar is going to quit building sports cars.

The current F-Type will be the last of the true Big Cats when it roars out of production later this year. Come 2025, it’ll be all electrified SUVs.

But what a legacy. Starting back in 1948 with the XK120, the lineage has included the likes of the C-Type and D-Type, and the landmark E-Type – still to me the most beautiful car ever created. 

OK, we won’t gush about the grand-touring XJS or early XK8s, but the last, aluminum-bodied XKs from 2007 to 2015, still spin my head every time I spy one on the road. 

So to mark this solemn occasion, I felt it my duty to enjoy one last run in a “proper” Jaguar sports car, and spend a few days with a 2023 F-Type R Coupe and its 575 supercharged horses.  

I have to say I’ve never been a fan of the F-Type Convertible. Too stubby-looking. Too bland. Not enough visual drama. But the Coupe has always been a true piece of automotive art, with that swoopy roofline, muscles-of-Rambo haunches over the wheels, and mile-long hood. 

The Coupe got a refresh in 2021, which only added to its gorgeousness. Bigger grille, slimmer LED headlights, new bumpers. Standing still it looked like it was hitting its 186mph top speed on the German autobahn.

Our test car – base price $108,500, or $121,780 nicely loaded – looked even more spectacular, courtesy of $4,500-worth of custom paint creatively-titled Desire Deep Red Ultra Metallic. It was like staring into a glass of vintage Merlot. 

Climb aboard and the Jaguar quality and craftsmanship is at its best. Body-hugging sports seats with stunning quilted inserts, beautiful double-stitched Windsor leather, and embossed R logos in the headrests. 

Yes, the cabin still feels sportscar-tight, with its low roof and high door tops. But the must-have $1,200 fixed-glass roof floods the interior with light. 

Still a failing is the lack of storage space in the cabin. And with no back seat, however small, everything has to be stored beneath that high-lifting tailgate. Thankfully there’s a generous 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space. 

Now press the “start” button on the center console and hear the muffled nuclear explosion from the quad tailpipes out back. Whoomph

The source of this aural excitement is Jaguar’s still-sensational, supercharged 5.0-liter V8 cranking out a non-trivial 575-hp and 518 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a rapid-fire-shifting 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, it can rocket the R Coupe from standstill to 60mph in just 3.5 seconds. 

And unlike the last-generation R Coupe, with its near-obnoxious levels of exhaust snap, crackle and pop, this latest version is a much more refined beast. 

Yet select “Dynamic” driving mode, the exhaust opens this kitty goes into full Aslan mode, roaring and growling. While these days, 0-to-60 in 3.5 seconds seems tame set against electric Tesla Model S Plaids and Lucid Air Dream sedans, this R Coupe it’s still a thrill.      

And where the Jag really excites is in the way it scythes around curves. With standard all-wheel drive, adaptive suspension, laser-precise steering and brakes that could stop a Mack truck, it carves curves like it’s running on invisible rails.

But don’t expect traditional Jaguar ride comfort. Over anything but pool-table-smooth blacktop, the R jiggles and jolts, and feels just a little too firm.

Right now, you can get into a 2023 F-Type – the 444-hp P450 Coupe – for $74,675. Jaguar, however, wants us to focus on the final 2024 model year where it’s offering just two final celebratory R75 models – the Coupe (from $113,00) and Convertible (from $115,000) – marking 75 years of sportscar production. 

Enjoy these last Jag sportscars before they’re gone.

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