Our final Road Test of the Year contender is one of the most hyped cars of 2014. The Jaguar F-Type has proved a huge success for the British marque, but can it really stand tall amongst our accomplished line up? To give it the best chance possible Jaguar sent us the range-topping V8 Coupe model, with its raucous 5.0-litre V8. Game on.
If any car really didn't have to justify its place in our Road Test of the Year line-up, it's the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe. After the aristocratic Rolls-Royce, the Bavarian accountant's S-Class and the student-done-good Audi S1, the F-Type is pure rock star.
Since the launch of the convertible model last year, the F-Type has worked its way into the hearts of car fans everywhere. And it's not hard to see why. Here is a car finally worthy of being a successor to the hallowed E-Type. But beyond the show-stopping good looks, supercar power and a very British sense of pomp and circumstance, there's one very good reason the F-Type has made it into our RTOTY shortlist: it feels alive.
Cliched perhaps, but in a world of turbocharged ecoism, the F-type – particularly in this snarling, supercharged V8 R guise – feels like a car from the old school. The faint supercharger whine underlying sporadic bursts of overrun gunfire from the exhausts harks back to a time when motoring was altogether a more exciting prospect.
All of which makes driving through the multitude of sleepy villages that line our test route a rather unsubtle affair. This is not the car to buy if you like to remain incognito. The rumble and crack from the tailpipes even at walking speed is enough to make you the centre of attention, and it elicits more than a few concerned looks from pedestrians.
That said, Jaguar, like Aston Martin, is one of those manufacturers that EVERYONE seems to like, and that you can pretty much get away with murder in. Never mind that you've just driven down the high street sounding like a Spitfire on a strafing run, you're in a Jaguar, carry on. Try that in a BMW.
And much like an Aston Martin, the baby Jag really is up there when it comes to the feel-good factor. Cocooning you like a soft leather glove, the snug interior is a joy to be in. Classy and restrained (bar the heater vents that rise up from the dash), it makes even the most mundane of drives an event.
There is one sticking point, though, and that's the price. At more than £100,000, our test car really is in the company of some very talented rivals. Sure, you could save some cash by foregoing much of the carbon-fibre trinketry that adorns this model, but the fact remains, compared with the likes of the sublime Porsche 911, the F-Type demands quite a premium for those movie-star good looks.
But there are some things you can't put a price on. Sitting in that low-slung cabin, watching the epic-ness of Snowdonia unfold before me to the sound of a force-fed V8 – it's the stuff of dreams. The BMW M4 – the closest-matched to the Jag of our RTOTY line-up – may be technically more brilliant, more efficient and better value but, frankly, life is just too short.
Model: Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
Engine: 5.0-litre, supercharged V8
Power: 542bhp, 678Nm
Max speed: 186mph (limited)
MPG (combined): 25.5mpg
Emissions: 259g/km CO2
Want to know which car is our winner? Read our verdict here.