Jaguar F-Type R AWD Coupe review
Four-wheel drive makes the Jaguar F-Type R less of a handful, but only a little
Adding four-wheel drive to the line-up has further broadened the F-Type’s already vast appeal, particularly in flagship R form. The electronically controlled set- up allows you to make the most of the car’s considerable performance potential and improves the handling in slippery driving conditions. For most people, most of the time the AWD F-Type R is a much better bet than the standard model.
The Jaguar F-Type R Coupe is one of the most desirable cars on the planet, but there’s no denying that the hugely powerful rear-wheel-drive machine can be a bit of a handful, even in the dry. So in an effort to tame the fiercest of its big cats, the British brand now offers four-wheel drive.
Visually, there’s very little to distinguish the AWD model from the stunning standard F-Type. But eagle-eyed fans will spot the extra bonnet bulge needed to accommodate the 503bhp supercharged V8 engine. It’s been raised by 10mm to make room for the extra transmission hardware that’s only available with the slick eight-speed auto box.
At the heart of the new system is an electronically controlled clutch that can divert around 30 per cent of the engine’s torque to the front wheels, but in normal conditions it sends all its power to the rear axle. That means for most of the time the AWD car feels like the standard one to drive.
But accelerate hard out of a slow corner or a junction and the newcomer simply grips and goes. There’s a split second’s hesitation as the centre differential shuffles the Jag’s muscular 608Nm of torque between the axles, but then the F-Type simply squats down and fires down the road like a sprinter out of the blocks.
In the two-wheel-drive car you’ll experience a much slower getaway and a flashing traction control light as the electronics struggle to put the R’s monumental power output down on the road. According to Jaguar, the AWD will sprint from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds, which is a tenth quicker than the two-wheel-drive model. That might not sound like a huge gain, but it’s impressive given the new transmission adds 80kg of weight.
The effects are even more marked when you switch the stability control off. Where the old car would require a sensitive right foot to contain wheelspin, the AWD needs severe provocation to break traction – but when you do it will spin all four wheels!
In day-to-day use, the AWD system makes the R much more relaxing and confidence-inspiring companion on twisting back roads. It also allows you to access the full performance potential of the Jag’s brilliant V8 come rain or shine. It’s not quite as involving or composed as a four-wheel-drive Porsche 911, but the F-Type is still an agile and entertaining sports car, and the 1.4mpg drop in economy to 25mpg is unlikely to put off well heeled customers.