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Car reviews - Jaguar - F-Type - AWD

Our Opinion

We like
Huge performance from the V8-equipped R, AWD system is a sporting yet refined package
Room for improvement
Cabin is tiny, overt exhaust could become too much on longer runs

10 Jun 2015

THIS is the kind of car that young kids put posters of up on their walls. Low, with a gaping maw, slung-back cabin, carbon roof and huge rims, Jaguar’s gorgeous F-Type Coupe is at once a throwback to the excesses of the 1980s and a glimpse into a future where style meets function and performance head-on.

The 2016 coupe is the first of the new F-Types to arrive in the country, and side-by side there is little difference between the $172,740 S Coupe and the $242,670 R Coupe.

“That’s intentional,” says Jaguar Australia’s technical support engineer Marc Gemmage. “The bonnet vents have moved down, and the design lines on the bonnet are more pronounced. That’s about it.”

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. The S runs Jaguar’s 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine in its higher state of tune, putting out 280kW and 360Nm of torque. Driving all four wheels via an eight-speed ‘regular’ automatic gearbox, the S also comes standard with a vastly updated chassis management system, including brake-induced torque vectoring at the front wheels and a sophisticated driveline control module known as Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, or IDD.

IDD ties all of the F-Type’s vital chassis functions together, combining with the ECU, gearbox modules, brake controls and more to send drive where you want it most and maximum traction and braking when you need it most.

The F-Type’s AWD system behaves primarily like a rear-driver, with 100 per cent of drive directed rearwards when you’re not pressing on. Engage Dynamic mode and lean on things a bit, and that soon changes.

Our quick test was certainly that, with just a few minutes in each car to get a feel for the new set-up, but it’s immediately obvious that Jag has executed a refined, feelsome and entertaining package that adds a veneer of sophistication to an already sporting platform.

While light at the helm, the new electric steering is full of feeling and responds with linearity through its range of movement. The torque vectoring, too, is subtle, but works with you to keep the nose of the car in when you need it, and freeing it up when you straighten up again.

The power delivery of the six-potter is genuinely surprising, with a raucous note, instant response all through the rev range and a lively character. The reduced mass over the front axle also lifts the overall agility of the car by a noticeable degree.

Lean a bit on the 404kW V8, though, and oooooh boy. It’s a simply astonishing engine. It really makes the F-Type properly quick in a straight line, while the noise it emits with the bi-modal exhaust pipes opened up will curdle blood at 500 metres.

It actually takes a little while to recalibrate your senses, such is the rate of knots at which you arrive at a corner. Thankfully, the carbon-ceramic brake package – a $20,400 option that also includes larger 20-inch rims – is up to the task of effortlessly washing off speed, while the chassis computers stay politely in the background – right up to the point where you need to be saved from yourself.

Even though my 184cm frame fit in behind the wheel just fine, the F-Type Coupe’s cabin is a very small, albeit beautiful, space in which to work. The switchable exhaust mode is a nice addition, but even in its quiet mode it still bellows with some volume, even on the quiet setting.

The F-Type is a genuinely good sportscar, with loads of personality in a sharp-looking suit. While the range-topping, show-stopping R will grab the headlines, it will be the equally handsome entry- and mid-level machines that will grab sales.

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