THE 2016 JAGUAR F-TYPE R AWD COUPE IS ONE VERY DELICIOUS CLAM. BUT IT'S ONE THAT WILL SET YOU BACK $250,000.
The ‘R’ part of the F-Type equation represents a range-topping supercharged V8 engine that claims 0-100km/h in a bombastic 4.1 seconds in coupe bodystyle (there is also a convertible).
The ‘AWD’ bit stands for all-wheel-drive, as if you didn’t guess, and a relatively fresh F-Type addition.
We have had plenty of experience in the V6, V6 S and V8 R rear-wheel-drive versions of the F-Type. It’s the giant, boosted eight-cylinder engine of the latter that gives this long, wide and low rocketship the epic grunt it deserves.
Interestingly, however, it’s the cheaper six-cylinder models that are often referred to as the ‘sweet spot’.
But can the F-Type all-wheel-drive R outgun the rear-wheel-drive R? Foot down – it will make you gasp – and let’s find out.
Vehicle Style: Sports Coupe
Price: $242,280 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 404kW/680Nm 5.0 litre supercharged V8 petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.3 l/100km | tested: 13.4 l/100km
The F-Type R AWD Coupe costs from $242,280 plus on-road costs.
You can, however, save $15,700 and purchase the rear-wheel-drive version of the F-Type R Coupe.
We have driven this version before and it is epic – and not as scary as you might think for a vehicle that drills 404kW of power and 680Nm of torque through the rear tyres only.
The more expensive F-Type R AWD coupe weighs 1730kg, 80kg more than the cheaper RWD version, but, at 4.1 seconds 0-100km/h, is a tenth faster than its RWD stablemate.
It can thank the extra traction benefits of having four wheels instead of two slamming all that power and torque to the ground.
With such close performance, and assuming that you currently need to unburden yourself of a cool ‘quarter of a mill’, which F-Type R coupe do you buy?
- Standard equipment: cruise control, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, multi-function trip computer, leather seat trim, 6-way electrically adjustable sports bucket front seats, electrically adjustable steering column, single-zone climate control air conditioning, automatic dimming rear-view mirror and automatic on/off headlights and wipers
- Infotainment: 8.0in colour touchscreen with front AUX/USB inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, voice control and satellite navigation
- Options fitted: Extended leather package including leather sunvisor and headlining ($4700), convenience package including automatic high-beam, xenon adaptive headlights and dual-zone climate control ($3680), panoramic glass roof ($2000), blind-spot monitor and closing vehicle sensor ($1500), electric tail-gate ($1100) and tyre pressure monitor ($750)
- Cargo volume: 407 litres
Unlike some rivals, such as the Porsche 911, the Jaguar F-Type coupe is strictly a two-seater proposition. That may not be surprising given the rakish roofline, pert backside and overall length of 4.47 metres.
A Toyota Corolla sedan, in fact, is longer than this $250,000 sports coupe.
You will feel the width inside, however. From door to door this Jaguar stretches 1.923m across, making it wider than a Commodore. Good for fitting into a tight parallel parking space, not so good for angle parking or squeezing down urban laneways.
The dashboard and centre console are expansive, with plenty of room for buttons and toggles. The F-Type R AWD isn’t necessarily better equipped than even the entry-level V6 RWD version, though, which starts from $119,080 plus on-road costs.
The same 8.0-inch colour touchscreen figures on the main dashboard, with satellite navigation graphics that don’t quite look rich enough for the price. A 380-watt Meridian sound system is standard, but the 770W version is almost a must-have for this sort of car, and it’s a $6900 option. Even digital radio is a $600 option, while digital television asks $1500 extra.
Incredibly, adaptive headlights with auto high-beam, front parking sensors to match the standard rear units, and dual-zone replacing the standard single-zone climate control, requires spending another $4320 as part of a convenience package.
Even then, a reverse-view camera and heated front seats remain options.
Otherwise the sports buckets are as lovely as the low and sporty driving position. The steering wheel is nice to hold, with a fat rim, and the leather trim-quality feels as gorgeous as expected for the price.
Choosing the coupe over the convertible also results in getting a bigger boot, with 315 litres of volume; comparable with some small hatchbacks, such as Corolla.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 405kW/680Nm 5.0 supercharged V8 petrol
- Transmission/driveline: 8 speed Sequential Single Clutch Auto, AWD
- Suspension: Multi-link independent front and rear
- Brake type: ventilated front and rear discs
- Steering, turning circle: electric assisted mechanical steering, 10.7m
Grab the steering wheel (or the ‘holy shit’ grabhandle if in the passenger’s seat) and hold on, because the F-Type R AWD coupe is very fast.
This is one instance where it’s best to forget the 4.1sec 0-100km/h claim, because this Jaguar feels even quicker when accelerating from, say, 60km/h to 100km/h.
This engine’s mid-range is as epic as its vocal range. The thunderous V8 melds its bellow with a rising supercharger whine and a switchable sports exhaust that is plain rude – it pops, crackles, bangs and then fires as though part of the Queen’s Battalion.
The V8 engine suits the Jaguar’s bodystyle configuration. There are coupes and then there are coupes – some are mid-engined for perfect balance, in the case of the 911 it has its engine in the boot.
The F-Type however has a big, long nose with its front wheels pushed forward so the engine sits just behind them. It sits its driver right on the back axle, so the effect is a bit like sitting on the base of a big cannon, then waving it around from side to side. (We did mention you need to “hang on”?)
Like the rear-wheel-drive version, the AWD is a sledgehammer, and demands your respect.
But with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and standard 20-inch wheels with 295mm-wide rear rubber, it is surprising how fluid the handling of the F-Type R AWD is. Thank the linearity of the supercharged engine, which feeds in torque like a rising wave until a 3500rpm peak of 680Nm.
Many turbocharged engines throw all torque at your right foot from as low as 1500rpm - like BMW’s M6 coupe. But the Jaguar’s all-wheel-drive system, and that wonderful linearity, makes this car numbingly quick and balanced around a set of bends.
But that personality changes, and the remorseless Mr Hyde emerges, the moment you firewall the throttle.
We had to double check the badging on the rump to make sure this is actually the AWD version. Stamp it at low speed, and this F-Type still wants to go sideways.
Accelerating hard on a slightly damp road, the R jerks slightly sideways when the slick eight-speed automatic shifts into second gear. Then third gear.
The all-wheel-drive system is a variable unit that still prioritises torque to the rear wheels but juggles some to the front at its own discretion.
The problem is, it leaves you guessing a little as to how much work is being done at the front, and how much of the traction is relying on the rear. It changes, a little, the sense of trust, and can add a little tentativeness with the throttle.
This is guesswork that you need not do in the rear-wheel-drive version, and that frankly makes it easier to work with.
While all this is going on, and there is a thunderous soundtrack raising your neck hairs each time you stretch its lungs, you won’t have any complaints about the ride.
In true F-Type tradition, the standard adaptive suspension provides comfortable touring ride quality and the electro-mechanical steering is spot-on for feel and feedback whichever model you choose.
ANCAP rating: Not tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Four airbags including dual-front and front-side, ABS, ESC, rear parking sensors, parking assist, automatic headlights, limited slip differential.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Aston V8 Vantage and Maserati Gran Turismo are ‘getting on’, but still alluring, while the M6 is a fast but satisfying fat-cat that needs taming.
The Mercedes-AMG has a similar personality to the F-Type, and although it costs another $50K, it is better equipped, and truly stonking drive.
The pick, for most will be the base Porsche 911 Carrera. When optioned with automatic and Sport Chrono launch control, it can claim a 3.9sec 0-100km/h for around the same price as the Jaguar. It remains the toughest competitor for this plucky Brit.
- Aston Martin V8 Vantage S
- BMW M6 coupe
- Maserati GranTurismo MC Sportline
- Mercedes-AMG GT S
- Porsche 911 Carrera
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
This conclusion is a simple one: unless you live near snow-capped mountains, we would save $15,000 and buy the rear-wheel-drive version of the F-Type R coupe.
We would then drill the money saved back into a Jaguar dealership to specify a premium stereo to match the bark made by the engine and exhaust system. As it is, it loses half a star for feature omissions, that, at this price, really should be included.
But this flagship Jaguar coupe is sensational for all its own reasons, and you will love the sound it makes and the raw machismo at the wheel.
It is however nothing like the tight, technical, finessed, 911 Carrera; rather think of the V8 as a superbly-crafted British version of a Corvette.
It is big, loud and proud, though with excellent dynamics to match. It might be less of a track-car than the Porsche, but is in some ways more characterful and alluring.
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