Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD review

The Jaguar F-type is now available with all-wheel drive, but does it ruin this sleek sports car's purity? We drive the range-topping F-type R Coupe AWD to find out...

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Matt Burt
17 Jul 2015 14:26 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

Until recently, the main choice for prospective Jaguar F-Type purchasers was how much engine power to opt for. Beyond that, all versions were rear-wheel drive and paired with an automatic transmission.

Now, though, there are no less than 14 F-type derivatives to choose from. You can choose from rear- or four-wheel drive, while driving enthusiasts looking for the last word in engagement can eschew the eight-speed automatic for a six-speed manual gearbox.

There’s a strong demand for all-wheel-drive Jaguars in certain markets, particularly those that experience dramatic seasonal variations in road conditions.

However, does a sports car with four driven wheels make for a compelling combination in the UK? We’ve driven the most powerful all-wheel-drive version, the F-type R Coupe, paired with the automatic transmission, to find out.


What’s the 2015 Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD like to drive?

There was a risk that all-wheel drive could cloud the purity of Jaguar’s halo car by adding unnecessary weight and technical complexity.

Happily, that’s far from the case. The F-type R Coupe AWD offers the best of both worlds, because Jaguar’s clever four-wheel drive system shuffles the available power between the front and rear axles only when it senses extra traction is needed. That means it predominantly operates in rear-wheel drive.

That’s only part of the story, because the technology also includes a ‘torque vectoring’ system that meters out the power between the rear wheels and automatically brakes the inside wheels to keep the car on line if necessary.

What does it mean on the road? The F-type R Coupe AWD feels less of a handful to drive than its rear-wheel-drive counterpart. Its cornering ability, particularly the way it slingshots out of bends under acceleration while the technology mitigates oversteer almost before it has happened, is little short of spellbinding.

The same goes for the way it accumulates speed. In spite of the additional weight, the F-type R Coupe remains rocket-ship quick. Jaguar claims it is capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in 3.9sec, and without a doubt it feels as fast as you need on a British road.

There’s also no change in the aural drama provided by the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine: it is aggressively loud when you press the ‘start’ button – perhaps even too loud for some. At speed, when you lift off the accelerator sharply the exhaust emits grin-inducing pops and bangs.

The latest F-types also have an electrically power-assisted steering (EPAS) system in preference to the hydraulically assisted system on earlier cars. Slick, accurate steering is often a Jaguar strong point and the F-type’s doesn’t disappoint, helping to make the broad car fairly easy to thread down narrow British roads.

All-wheel-drive F-types have a slightly stiffer suspension set-up compared with the rear-wheel-drive derivatives, something that’s necessary to allow for the car’s extra weight. It is still forgiving over pock-marked British roads, even when fitted with the 20in wheel rims that come as standard on the top-line R models. There is, however, a fair degree of road noise that can become tiresome during long journeys.

Not that you can go too far between stops at a petrol station. Fuel economy is a claimed 25mpg, less than the equivalent rear-wheel-drive variant. In our experience, driving in an enthusiastic manner – which is an ever-present temptation in this car – results in that figure falling away dramatically.

What’s the Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD like inside?

The interior is very similar to other F-type models. The cabin is strictly for two people, with no attempt to provide rear seats like its Porsche 911 rival, and is very much honed around the driver. There’s a 315-litre boot, albeit a fairly shallow one.

The cabin isn’t the most generous in terms of occupant space or storage, although one person driving alone shouldn’t feel cramped. As standard, the F-type R comes with upgraded Performance seats, which are very supportive and comfortable over long distances.

Also included in the latest F-type R is Jaguar's latest multimedia tech, which is swifter and more intuitive to operate than the system fitted to older cars.

Should I buy one?

This Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD is the most expensive hard-topped version you can buy, which means you have to really want four-wheel-drive capability to justify the extra spend over the rear-wheel-drive version of the most powerful variant.

It’s relatively easy to push the price closer to an eye-watering £100,000 by ticking a few boxes on the options list. If you want them, expect to pay for add-ons such as dual-zone air-con (£350), a parking sensor pack (£500), a panoramic roof (£1250) and a traffic detection system (£600).

Although it isn't the cheapest route into F-type ownership, it is one of the best derivatives, and there are plenty of reasons to recommend the all-wheel-drive version if you can afford it.

Most drivers should find it dynamically more accommodating to drive and, combined with the inherent ability we admired in previous F-type coupes, it adds up to a sublime package, albeit at a cost.

What Car? Says… 

Rivals

Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS

Mercedes-AMG GT

Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD

Engine size 5.0-litre V8 petrol

Price from £91,660

Power 543bhp

Torque 502lb ft

0-62mph 3.9 seconds

Top speed 186mph

Fuel economy 25.0mpg

CO2 269g/km