New York City, NY -- The Jaguar F-Type wears its sheet-metal skin more tightly than Kim Kardashian’s yoga pants, making it a wonder that engineers found space to stuff an all-wheel drive system underneath. Turns out, the popular two-seater gaining traction (literally) was designed as an AWD car from the get-go.
Why the extra-traction option? Giving this kitty more claws moves the F-Type another step closer to offering truly world-class levels of selection on a truly world-class sports and performance car. Selection sells cars in this segment; ensuring shoppers can devise the perfect setup for their needs, tastes, and budgets.
The classy Jaguar F-Type launched with numerous supercharged engine options in 6- or 8-cylinders, and a drop-top configuration followed shortly by a coupe, adding a gorgeously swoopy fixed-lid alternative.
For 2016, further selection has been layered upon the F-Type range. Now, AWD is available on the midline 380-horsepower V6 S model, and standard on the 550-horsepower F-Type R, helping it more strongly target shoppers after all-year, all-weather enjoyment of their investment. A manual transmission is available now, too -- in 6-cylinder, rear-drive models.
So, coupe or convertible, supercharged six or supercharged eight, manual or automatic, and rear or all-wheel drive: That’s a covetable list of choices to have to make in a two-seat posh-rocket.
But is it AWDsome?
The new AWD system was developed with serious steps taken to leave the F-Type’s underlying rear-drive hot-rod character intact. Mainly, this is an AWD system that, most of the time, doesn’t make its presence apparent.
In the dry, to prioritize the 2016 Jaguar F-Type’s rear-drive feel and friskiness, the AWD system only sends power up front as an absolute last resort after first using Torque Vectoring by Braking, and the Limited Slip Differential to turn up rear-wheel grip when drivers push. Only once these two options have been exhausted will the AWD system start clamping its electromagnetic clutches together to send power forward. This process happens in milliseconds and is as smooth as it is fast. The system can even anticipate the need for front-wheel power in some cases. Translation? Though extra traction is only activated when needed, it’s activated right-freaking-now.
In very extreme conditions, up to 50% of engine power can drive the F-Type’s front wheels, though the percentage is typically much lower. From the driver’s seat, piloting the 380-horsepower 2016 Jaguar F-Type S around some winding side roads, the system isn’t apparent at all.
Different story for those drivers piloting its almighty snort-monster the F-Type R around a fast circuit. More of the 550-horsepower can be used more of the time, and drivers can blast out of corners with more confidence and thrust, and less tire smoke and sliding and risk of dramatic surprise sideways-ness. The nearly constant traction-control intervention required to keep the rear tires from vaporizing is eliminated, and for novice and experienced track-day drivers alike, this AWD system puts more of the 2016 Jaguar F-Type R’s capability on offer more of the time.
It’s still very much a Jaguar F-Type
Don’t miss the whine of the supercharger pulling the F Type R past 130 mph on the track at Monticello or the gorgeous howl of the optional carbon ceramic brakes pulling it back down again and again with no fade or fuss, lap after lap.
The manual transmission available elsewhere in the model range adds a unique dimension, giving drivers even more control over the signature Jaguar F-Type engine sound; the result of month’s of development .
What’s a Jaguar stick feel like? The throw is short, creamy and solid: not rifle-bolt tight or precise, but the shift mechanism and effort fall nicely between flick-of-the-wrist lightness and a good bit of exertion to remind you you’re shifting something serious. Pedals are spaced nicely for heel and toe work, and though the throttle requires a deep and prolonged stomp for blipping, it’s easy to get into the rhythm of the gearbox and throttle with some practice.
The shift mechanism and light-but-grabby clutch reminds me strongly of a BMW 335i.
Test drivers with long arms are advised to ensure they’ll be able to enact a comfortable driving position though, as I frequently wished the gear shifter was mounted an inch or two further away. It sits right beside you.
In all, the hot-rod feel is maintained on all models via the ever present exhaust note (an exotic wail from the V6 and a crackling bellow from the V8), the right now torque enabled by the use of a supercharger instead of turbocharger(s), and the squirmy rear-drive character of the car when drivers push.
The added 176lb for the AWD system won’t be felt by average drivers in terms of steering response or turn-in, and ride quality in all model variants is admirable and composed over even very rough roads. Here’s a performance car with suspension that feels solid and robust over rough stuff, not flimsy and delicate.
With the recent updates, the 2016 Jaguar F-Type stays fully in stride with its soul. Units are available now, with pricing from $77,500.