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Jaguar F-Type 4WD and manual: Driven

Sensible pants (relatively) four-wheel drive F-Type tested alongside long-awaited manual - happy days!

By Dale Lomas / Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's just a smidge too fast, there's no excusing it. The instructor on the passenger seat is probably already re-negotiating his contract with Jaguar. But in the spirit of all good journalistic helmsmanship the optimistic entry speed is all about seeing what happens next.

Don't worry, still does this very easily

Don't worry, still does this very easily

Surprisingly enough for the cynics the new electric power steering delivers the incoming message sharply and accurately. Resistance to the left-handed turn-in gradually and effortlessly decreasing. The steering wheel begins to rotate back to the centre position as the nose points too far in, then the corner really starts to begin. That'll be the lairy, oversteering slide for the photographer.

But what next? On last year's model it would be a gentle breath on the gas. A mosquito's wing-beat on the right pedal. This is a 550hp Jaguar F-Type V8 S, after all.

The power feeds instantly to the rear, threatening 360-degree catastrophe for a fraction of a second. Then around half of that cacophony gets shunted to the front axle and the photographer gets his shot. All four wheels spinning under power, smoke beginning to plume as we slide through another turn of Estoril circuit.

Too sensible? OK, here's the new purist option

Too sensible? OK, here's the new purist option

Within seconds, the Jag pulls itself straight. No further input from the driver, it thunders down the straight with irrepressible speed and noise.

Taming of the shrew
Yes, it's all-wheel-drive. Yes, it's easier-to-drive too. Does that make it any less of a driver's car? No, really it's not. At any speed this side of sanity, the AWD mode tricks you into believing the latest Jaguar is still RWD.

And for anybody who's ever driven the biggest and baddest RWD F-Type on wet back lanes or around greasy city-centre roundabouts, coated in the finest oily, taxi juices, this is a really good thing. Any type of progress in the old car needed perfect conditions or the only thing making an impression would be the glowing orange TC light.

Dan's 'ring-trip last year gave the biggest Jag its opportunity to impress, but even with a grin that threatened to become permanent, he had to admit that in the wet it wasn't quite such a confidence inspiring beast.

F-Type range now massively expanded

F-Type range now massively expanded

The addition of all-wheel drive will not spoil your dry weather too much, though it might reduce the length of the elevens drawn on corner exits, if not the frequency. If this glowing praise of such a 'simple' torque-on-demand AWD system still leaves you colder than December's turkey, don't worry. You just saved yourself nearly Β£5,000 off the option sheet. Yep, that's how much Intelligent Driveline Dynamics will cost you.

Back to basics
In fact, if you're the sort of guy to eschew sensible, performance enhancing and safety improving systems like AWD, you can save yourself nearly £50K off the price of your next F-Type. Drop the brain-melting, £97,135 F-Type R Convertible in favour of a £51,250 F-Type V6 Coupe. Do it.

Yes, it's time to talk about the really exciting addition to the 2015 F-Type line-up. The manual gearbox. Looking at the non-S entry-level 340hp V6 it's terrible for fuel consumption (28.8mpg manual versus 33.6mpg auto), it adds nearly half a second to your 0-62mph time (5.7 seconds manual versus 5.3 auto) but it's brilliant and we love it.

Emotive rather than logical reasons for manual

Emotive rather than logical reasons for manual

While the looks of the F-Type might be almost identical (barring some slight bonnet bulge reprofiling on the AWD model) it's the addition of a DIY shifter that's really got us excited. Forget the X-Type's five-speed manual for a second and you'd have to look back to the X300-series XJ or even the mighty XJ220 to find a manual 'box in a quick Jag.

Don't worry too much though, as the new one's a pleasure, but still a Jaguar. It's not that quick to shift, not in the league of benchmarks like a well-adjusted GT3 RS, for example. There's a lovely little click from position to position in the 'box, your elbow just clearing the rear firewall. You might want to check that if you're over six foot, though.

The clutch isn't too light either, though the weight isn't unwelcome when deploying the 380hp of the V6 S. Considering the torque demands and the delightfully short push from top to bottom, that's no big surprise. It's just the entry price to this olde worlde extravagance.

Consider that it's nearly half the price too!

Consider that it's nearly half the price too!

Take your pick

Is it a good idea though? Well, it's the cable TV argument, isn't it? With 880 channels to choose from, sometimes you still can't find anything on TV. Likewise, eight instantly selected speeds of the auto can leave you with a lot of button clicking but no real understanding of what's happening. Instead make every shift into a task, an occasion, and you'll shift less and appreciate what you have more. And then you really start to feel the torque, the noise and understand every single rpm of the big V6. It's a whole new lease of life for what many might see as the poor relation of the F-Type family.

With these new options in the mix, you might have noticed the F-Type range has been bumped up to a whopping 14 different models. Unfortunately, as previously discussed, the 'hero' spec model doesn't exist yet; the 550hp F-Type R with a manual. Though it sure sounds like a job for the new SVO department.

If this is the F-Type maturing we're all in favour

If this is the F-Type maturing we're all in favour

Inside and under the skin there are plenty more worthy upgrades to the 2016 model year machines. New extra-cost bodykits (Sport Design Packs) give the model some more presence for extra outlay. The InControl entertainment systems offer smartphone access and some interesting functions (when they don't crash, pre-production examples tested here, etc...). Oh, and you can spec the vaguely useful Torque Vectoring By Braking (TVBB) system on to the basic model now (at extra cost). It's still standard on the R and newly standard on the S.

Not that any of this blatant frippery matters when compared to the previously discussed mechanical headlines. The superbly-riding, apocalyptic sounding, unaplogetically British F-Type is now available with a good manual gearbox (for the drivers) or slightly hooligan AWD system (for the drivers who want to go even faster). Everything else is just very good window-dressing.

 


JAGUAR F-TYPE S COUPE MANUAL
Engine:
2,995cc V6 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 339@3,500-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.5sec
Top speed: 161mph
Weight: 1,585kg
MPG: 28.8mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 234g/km
Price: £60,250 (before options)

JAGUAR F-TYPE R COUPE AWD
Engine:
5,000cc V8 supercharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 550@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 502@3,500-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: 171mph
Weight: 1,730kg
MPG: 25.0mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 269g/km
Price: £91,650 (before options)

 

 

 

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