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Jaguar’s AWD F-Type: The beast tamed

20.11.2015

THE Jaguar F-Type has been somewhat of a revelation for the brand, attracting a more youthful audience to the British marque than ever before. Last year we were fortunate to have the F-Type R in rear-wheel-drive guise for a week or so, and despite a prevailing feeling that the car was out to murder me, I absolutely loved it; the sound, the looks and the theatre of the thing. Now, Jaguar has decided to tame the monster by fitting an all-wheel-drive system to the R model, which I sampled recently.

Did Jaguar need to do it?

Every fibre of my being says to me that the rear-wheel-drive car was more fun and even slightly faster however, I cannot dispute that developing an all-wheel-drive system as an option for the car was a good idea. The car does have over 405kW/680Nm from its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and while it’s no lightweight it certainly isn’t exactly hefty. The power-to-weight ratio makes the rear-wheel-drive model insanely tail-happy and fairly lairy in the bends with the driver aids off, so perhaps it was better for all parties concerned.

The voice of an angel

The entire F-Type R experience is dominated by the sound. Press the exhaust button (the one with the logo that looks more like a shotgun than exhaust tips) and the flaps open up in the exhaust. The car instantly changes into something very angry indeed; I’d liken it to a WWII fighter plane. People gawk and turn around to hear whether there’s a low-flying Messerschmitt or Super marine Spitfire should I say, in the area. Then upon their marvel that it isn’t a plane or a Mercedes-AMG model - as many have remarked - they normally ask what it is and compliment it on its ravishing looks.

Listen to the Jag here

 That styling though...

Speaking of the looks, I have driven many cars and besides the BMW i8 I cannot think of another car that garnered as many admiring glances, compliments and petrol pump conversations. It’s perhaps good that the car looks good enough for fellow fuel station customers to approach you for a brief chat because you’ll be spending some time there; the car obliterates fuel and turns it into noise...sweet glorious V8 noise. I swiped my card with joy, mind.

Interior ambience

My test unit was fitted with red leather bucket seats, which, when combined with the carbon fibre inlays throughout the cabin, a decent infotainment system and the stunning anodised bronze touches makes for an interior that feels special. I still feel that the stalks behind the steering wheel look like they’ve been lifted from some lower-end vehicle, though.

What’s it like to drive?

In terms of driving, the new all-wheel-drive model is a very different experience; the car finds traction everywhere, you can pin it harder, more of the time. Some of the handling characteristics are perhaps less dynamic such as turn-in and feel however, it is far more planted and confidence-inspiring. If you had told me before I drove the car that a 400kW+ F-Type would be this accessible I probably wouldn’t believe you, but this new model is.

Verdict

The all-wheel-drive F-Type is something for all to enjoy; the brand has taken it upon itself to develop a more user-friendly sports car. Although it isn’t a technological masterpiece like the Nissan GTR or a precise tool, like a 911 Turbo, it has the sort of approachability, style and laugh-out-loud driving characteristics that make it a car that celebrates the sheer insanity of big, brash V8 sports cars and there's something insanely cool about that. I’ll have mine in white, please.

Price

R1 760 187

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Article written by Sean Nurse
20.11.2015
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