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Jaguar F-Type R AWD: Review

Double the traction, half the fun?

By Dan Trent / Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Not so long ago we were asking if turbos hadΒ ruined

. Can the same be said of adding all-wheel drive to the Jaguar F-Type?

This one still sounds like it's gargling red hot ball bearings. But is more maturity in the way it transmits its power really what we want? And does adding a four-wheel drive system simply exacerbate the powerfully built Jag's existing weight problem? Given the new 575hp SVR will be all-wheel drive only, now's probably a good time to see if this is the emasculation of the F-Type. Or its making.

Glacier White almost seems apt on a day like this

Glacier White almost seems apt on a day like this

Sharp-eyed F-Type fans will notice the V8 Convertible is now full-beans 550hp R spec, not the

of the original line-up. That should help hurry along some of the additional 80kg of the AWD version, the 'from' weight of this car listed at 1,745kg. Which is quite a lot.

Glory hunter
Contributing to that and the rather different character of this car is Jaguar's Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, which adds a coupling after the gearbox and a propshaft to the front axle. Most of the time this sits idle and the AWD is actually RWD, like the standard one.

At such point as an idiot motoring journalist with dreams of YouTube glory (guilty as charged) wants to explore the V8's ability to overwhelm the rear tyres clever stuff starts happening. In conversation with the gearbox, active locking rear diff, DSC system and Torque Vectoring by Braking, IDD starts bleeding off drive torque to the front axle and working with the other systems to pull the car straight. Any real men reading this will probably now be muttering 'bloody killjoys'.

And, frankly, if you're accustomed to the heroic cornering stance of the rear-wheel drive F-Types it comes as a bit of a surprise to find you really can give it a bootful on corner exit and not disappear into a cloud of your own tyre smoke.

IDD tech aims to keep rear-driven balance

IDD tech aims to keep rear-driven balance

A tactful intervention

The integration and intervention of the IDD system is slick. Tactful might even be a better way to describe it. Jaguar's aim was to come up with a system that maintained rear-driven steering purity on turn-in and all-wheel drive traction on the way out. Get on the gas early and you'll feel that familiar sense of the car squatting down on its outside rear and the nose pushing into the turn in a gentle rotation out of the initial understeer. But where you'd usually start winding on opposite lock and waving to your fans the F-Type just grips and goes.

If that sounds like a disappointment it really isn't. Because you get the sense of rear-wheel drive balance, the adjustability on the throttle and all the rest. And then the ability to let rip with all that noise and power safe in the knowledge it'll go somewhere useful. As a result mid-way Trac DSC is a happy default and you don't need to swallow a brave pill (or call ahead to your tyre fitter) before turning everything off. Basically you get to enjoy more of the F-Type's performance more of the time.

And, by heck, there's plenty of it too. That kerbweight and the more linear power delivery of JLR's supercharged V8 makes it feel slightly blunted compared with the more dramatically boosty turbocharged equivalents in rivals like the AMG GT. But with that soundtrack - best enjoyed with the roof down of course - you'll forgive pretty much anything. And that's the thing about the F-Type; it's a feel good car.

For all the comedy value of the rear-driven car's theatrics hand on heart this is probably the F-Type most buyers want. And on the icy, ungritted Lincolnshire roads en route to our photo location at Blyton Park it was possible to drop the roof, snuggle into the fiercely heated seats and enjoy the best of a winter's morning without unduly tip-toeing along.

Don't mistake less smoke for less fun

Don't mistake less smoke for less fun

More F-Type, more of the time

All very nice, but after a few laps of the track has the F-Type played all its cards? Actually not. It may be fundamentally a more sensible and usable car but there is still a sense of playfulness if you start to really manhandle it. Stamp late on the brakes and trail them into the apex and the weight shift will pivot the F-Type around, at which point you can get hard on the power and ride out a lovely four-wheel drift with the wheel more or less dead ahead. It's a less natural cornering stance for a burly V8 roadster but fun in its own way. And faster too.

The electric steering introduced with the AWD and manual versions is good and the press pack makes great bones about the effort that's gone into it. Light steering has always been a Jaguar thing but there are times when the weighting feels a little unnatural and inconsistent; possibly the calibration of the assistance or perhaps a consequence of drive torque being fed to the wheels mid-corner but it's a little unnerving.

A worthwhile addition to a burgeoning range!

A worthwhile addition to a burgeoning range!

Spring rates are up by 10 per cent too and on the motorway the secondary ride feels a little fidgety, rattling your eyeballs in their sockets when you really should be able to relax into the journey. And for a six-figure car, especially one up against the likes of Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, there are parts of the interior that feel distinctly plasticky and low-rent. Superficial, perhaps, but the kind of thing you'd pick up on while flitting from one showroom to the next. Standard brakes are fine on the road too but in the unlikely event you're buying your F-Type as a track toy you may want to consider the Β£7,750 carbon ceramics.

Which brings us back to where we started. Does all-wheel drive ruin the F-Type? Certainly not for a large number of potential buyers and the way they might want to enjoy the car. And if it does sound a bit nannying for you within the 18-car range there remain the more hooligan spec V6 S manuals and rear-driven Rs. Each to their own and all that.

: 5,000cc, supercharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 550@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 502@3,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.1secs
Top speed: 186mph
Weight: 'From' 1,745kg
MPG: 25.0 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 269g/km
Price: £103,715 (Base of £97,145 with £700 for Glacier White paint, £880 for extended leather pack, £250 for illuminated tread plates, £500 for parking pack, £1,075 for visibility pack, £660 for reverse traffic detection with blind spot monitoring and closing vehicle sensing, £450 for Jaguar smart key system with keyless entry and start, £350 for dual-zone automatic climate control, £55 for air quality sensing with auto recirculation, £1,300 for 12-speaker Meridian surround sound system and £350 for heated seats)










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