By on July 10, 2015

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD

I know the experience is inauthentic. I know the sounds are manufactured somewhat. I know the marketing telling me about this car’s “soul” and “passion” is wholly disingenuous.

I don’t particularly care.

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD is one of those genetically engineered chocolate-flavored bananas. It’s a trick; I get it. I just don’t care. Perhaps the Jaguar’s greatest trick is reminding you that your experience in the car is less organic than a Twinkie, then making you completely forget it.


The Tester

2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Convertible

Engine: 5.0-liter, supercharged V8 (550 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 502 pound-feet @ 2,500-5,000 rpm)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 15 city/23 highway/18 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 19.9 mpg in 50/50 city/highway — liberal helpings of “Dynamic Mode”

Options: 20-inch Gyrodyne Wheels, Performance Red Leather Seats, Red Leather Headliners, Redzone Seatbelts, Vision Pack, Extended Leather Pack-Upper Environment, Illuminated Tread Plate, Black Pack “R”

Price as tested: $121,575


The F-Type is easily one of the best-looking sportscars built for two. Alongside the Mercedes-AMG GT, Dodge Viper, Audi R8 and Porsche 911, the Jaguar is an expensive toy for most people — perhaps a fourth or fifth car. It’s easy to get carried away on the car’s impracticality: the trunk space is comically small, the ingress/egress isn’t ideal and outward visibility with the roof up for someone as tall as I am (6-foot-3) is incredibly limited.

I could have told you all that before I stepped foot into the car.

Rather, my interest in this car was whether AWD somehow spoiled the fun of the last RWD F-Type, and if I believed the inclusion of a manual — which I haven’t driven — could somehow connect people to a car many people say is too fake. Is any car natural anymore?

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD

Exterior
Despite the F-Type Convertible’s brash approach to transporting you and one of your passengers in a loud, shouting roadster — very little of the car’s exterior is polarizing.

The hood’s nostrils and creases are visible without dominating the entire front end, and the functional cooling ducts in the nose aren’t over-engineered a la BMW’s M4. I appreciate that. The black bar running across the grille spoils an otherwise very good nose, and the Jag’s black honeycomb nose does what it should: feed the neutron bomb under the hood without drawing attention to itself.

The Reader’s Digest version: The F-Type’s front is tasteful but aggressive without spoiling or over-promising what’s coming out of the back.

The rear boasts the same aggressive, squinty lamps and raised hips to curve and accentuate the F-Type’s wide 295mm-wide aftward. A body-colored diffuser splits the wide difference between two sets of two tailpipes, presumably to visually fill space between the high-sitting exhausts, but the effect is lost. I almost prefer Arden’s approach with a black diffuser accented by a thin pipe of color. But I digress.

From the side, Jaguar design is tough to beat in profiles. The F-Type’s high belt and level nose and tail are classic roadster look, while the low creases below the doors help ground an already low coupe. There’s almost too much space between the wheel arches and the thin, 3.5-inch sidewall tires, but if the F-Type were any lower it wouldn’t be a Jaguar — it’d be a damn snake.

The worst part of the F-Type Convertible’s look is that the F-Type Coupe exists. That’s really it.

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Seats

Interior
If our tester’s red leather seats with embossed R logos in the headrests don’t scream bombastic, then the red seatbelts will. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea (and probably not mine for $2,500 extra dollars), but it is fairly attractive when paired with the right exterior color.

Our white, black convertible with red leather was high contrast and good looking in classical terms — it’d be hard to imagine red leather looking the same with an orange exterior, however.

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD InteriorThe F-Type’s cockpit is appealing in its focus on the driver, and that’s it. The passenger hand grab on the left, near the center display screams: “Keep hands and arms away.” It’s a wonderful idea.

Jaguar’s new navigation is slightly easier to use than last generation’s, which is to say, it’s passable. It’s not one of the larger automaker’s systems — Uconnect, Sync, etc. — so it lacks the fit and polish one of those systems can offer. The 770-watt Meridian sound system is sublime, and it’s a damn shame it has to be bolted to a car with no top and four tailpipes.

Although the display is bright, crisp and easily readable, there’s not a lot of information on the 8-inch touchscreen. Similarly, our F-Type’s rear backup camera (which seems a little unnecessary for such a short rear end) didn’t have the cleanest resolution. Also, the round climate control dials were attractive but difficult to understand. For example, the heated seats are controlled via pushing the temperature dial, something you’d only find out by staring at the dial and noticing a small red outline of a chair, roughly 1/4-inch tall. Meh.

Given all that, I found myself looking out more than I was looking in, listening to the car more than I was listening to the radio, and gripping the thick, leather-wrapped wheel more than the suede upper surfaces our Red Leather Package offered.

The driver controls and information are clean and sharp. Jaguar’s beefy three-spoke steering wheel is comfortable to grip and the tilt/telescopic wheel helps to find an ideal position for driving. A large, bright speedo that runs up to 210 mph (even though top speed is electronically limited to 186 mph) and expressive tachometer are classic needles and numbers, which fit the Jaguar.

The pistol-gripped shifter and dynamic control aren’t necessarily classical Jaguar features, if we’re being honest with each other. It takes a good 30 solid minutes with the shifter to discern how to get what gear and when (park is a button on top) and how to avoid shifting into neutral when you’re looking for drive. The dynamic control slider feels like a missile switch — which is awesome — but doesn’t necessarily fit the feel for the rest of the car.

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Tailpipes

Drivetrain
An extraordinary body deserves an extraordinary engine, in my opinion. In that event, the supercharged V8 has a lot to live up to. The throbbing, grunting, spitting V8 has been compared to a lot of God-related events, and here’s mine: The engine sounds like a symphonic arrangement of guns, testosterone, God’s pleasure and winning every pissing contest all at the same time.

It doesn’t matter that the cackle and runoff is manufactured. I’m not particularly concerned with the active exhaust button that quiets the F-Type when it needs to slink around a neighborhood corner at 5 a.m. I think everyone should be awake to see this car, no matter how many computers are controlling what sounds and feels so organic.

That was one of my biggest questions for the AWD Jaguar F-Type R, which is the only powertrain available for the top-of-the-line model: Do you need something to swing its ass out to help you forget that it’s a series of computers and sophisticated electronics, and not a wild animal?

Well, no. Jaguar’s Magna all-wheel drive system operates mostly in the background without much intrusion to the driver. One hundred percent of the Jag’s power is sent to the rear wheels in normal driving, but if the system detects slip in the rear wheels, up to 50 percent of the power can be pushed up front. For decidedly un-hero drivers like me, that’s helpful to bring a rear end into shape around a corner, or mitigate understeer in a car with a 53/47 weight-distribution split. In short, with 550 horsepower, you can get the back around all you like, but for drivers without their Super License like me, the machine is best helping us along to faster lap times.

Aside from Jaguar’s move to AWD in the F-Type R, the inclusion of a manual option in V6 models with RWD is the other big news this year. I haven’t driven that box, so it wouldn’t be prudent to speculate, but I do know the automatic 8-speed with paddle shifters is smooth and responsive. When pressed into dynamic mode, the gearbox responds with rapid upshifts and holds gears around corners incredibly well. It may not be amazing like the Corvette’s automatic, but it’s better than slipping a shift around a canyon corner.

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD

Drive
Now that I’ve buried the lede, the F-Type is glorious fun to drive. I don’t imagine it’ll be the quickest lap compared to its competition, but it may be the most entertaining.

There’s a prevailing feeling that the Jaguar is doing its best to convince you that you’re part of an organic experience — your right foot commands all the horses all the time, your hands can pummel corners into shape, and your eyes can look through and save a snap oversteer.

In reality, none of those things exist. It’s possible to manipulate the amount of spit the pipes cackle with light throttle applications and holding gears, the Jaguar’s electric assist rack is disconnected despite feeling taut and ready, and the computers can command all 550 horses to four wheels better than I ever could.

I still know all that and I still don’t care.

With the top down and the exhaust fired up, the F-Type AWD R still made me feel special every time I drove it. I care about that.

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22 Comments on “2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Review – Bringing the Kitty into Shape...”


  • avatar
    Spartan

    Worth every penny. I don’t care that a 911 has a back seat. I’d never use a 911’s back seat anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Take the Jag on a long trip and pull into a rest area to take a nap and realize you can’t recline the seat and then you will learn why it’s nice to have a backseat. Want to take your dog on a trip with you and your wife or girlfriend, nope. That backseat is damn handy.

  • avatar
    Senna1

    The F-Type is pure sex on wheels…

    …but needed AWD like it needs a second row of seating and 2 more doors.

    I mean it feels an awful lot like Jaguar just gave up on chassis tuning so they could offer a proper RWD version that won’t attempt to regularly kill you, threw AWD on there, then said, ‘fixed!’.

    Meh.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      The AWD is virtually invisible. I’m sure I got it to kick in, but I also tripped traction control in those events too. I think the F-Type is engine first, chassis second. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means there’s quicker ways around a track. For what it is, AWD fits with a car that’s engineered so much to make you believe it’s so raw. It works in a weird way.

      • 0 avatar
        Senna1

        I’ll certainly take your word for it; I haven’t driven one after all.

        I’m just disappointed that now that the ‘$100k-ish’ RWD coupe segment appears to be heating up again (911 Carrera GTS, AMG GT S), Jaguar appears to have just bowed out without even putting up a fight.

        I have a hard time believing there are technical reasons they couldn’t make a RWD F-Type better; they just chose not to.

        I guess there’s still the option of a RWD F-Type S manual – which in the fantasy world where I’m actually shopping these cars might very well be what I’d get.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I have no interest in this car, but I recall reading that the best selling 911 is usually the AWD convertible with an automatic transmission, so there’s no point in trying to build volume without catering to people that should really be driven around in google trolleys.

  • avatar
    John R

    Damn. I feel like RWD should still at least be an option.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Price as tested: $121,575”

    LMAO! No thank you, I’ll actually -save money- and get the more reliable, better considered, ever-in-demand (and RWD) SL550.

    This Jag doesn’t do it for me, especially in convertible guise. The hard top coupe is much more beautiful. But it’s still overpriced and will plummet in resale value, and will be quite a bit more fragile than the SL.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      “More reliable…SL550”

      [Citation Needed]

      It’s not 1972 anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Here are the years when Jags have been unreliable:

        1960-1999
        2003-2015

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          http://www.jdpower.com/sites/default/files/2015020%20VDS_Final.pdf

          Mercedes Benz ranked 8th in dependability, comfortably above average. Jaguar doesn’t sell in sufficient numbers for meaningful statistical analysis, but only Fiat makes worse cars than Land Rover, which is closely related to Jaguar these days.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Fair enough, at least you find something to back it up (although the three years JD Power uses isn’t exactly representative of long term ownership, and there’ve been years Jaguar scored quite well on that ranking). In addition, Consumer Reports isn’t predicting great long term dependability for Benzes yet.

            http://www.autonews.com/article/20150224/RETAIL03/150229935/buick-cracks-top-10-on-consumer-reports-report-card;-acura-mercedes

            Going a little closer to anecdotally, this doesn’t paint a bright picture of SL ownership, although it admittedly dates to Daimler’s dark period;
            http://www.autos.ca/used-car-reviews/used-vehicle-review-mercedes-benz-sl-class-2003-2007/

            Meanwhile, the outgoing XK (which, from what I understand, is somewhat related to the F-Type) comes across pretty well, for something European;
            http://www.autos.ca/used-car-reviews/used-vehicle-review-jaguar-xk-xkr-2007-2014/

            Now, I’m certainly not going to pretend this makes Jags as good as a warlord grade Toyota Hilux, but at least I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say they fall fairly closely in the spectrum with Mercedes.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Now, that’s a car review.

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Price as tested: $121,575”

    Insane in the membrane
    Insane in the brain!

  • avatar
    McGilligan

    In the fuel economy section, is 18city/16 highway/23 combined a typo or do I not understand how that information is presented?

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Agreed, this 991 GT3,GTS money. You’d have to have a serious aversion to the crest to go this route.

  • avatar
    John

    An aggressive rear? Sounds like something Tom of Finland would design.

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