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First drive: Jaguar F-Type R Roadster AWD. Image by Jaguar.

First drive: Jaguar F-Type R Roadster AWD
Jaguar now offers four-wheel drive in the F-Type R - is it worth selecting?

   



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Jaguar F-Type R Roadster AWD

5 5 5 5 5

Jaguar decides that, in order to make the super-rapid F-Type R Roadster a little less unruly on the road, drive can go to the front axle as well as the rear. Has the company pulled it off, or should you stick with rear-wheel drive for your R?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar F-Type R Roadster AWD
Pricing: from £97,145; F-Type Roadster range starts from £56,745
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: two-door, two-seat roadster
CO2 emissions: 269g/km (VED Band M, £1,100 year one, £505 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 25mpg
Top speed: 186mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Power: 550hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 680Nm from 2,500- to 5,500rpm

What's this?

The Jaguar F-Type R Roadster, which now has the full-fat 550hp supercharged V8 engine; no short measures for the open-top model any more. Thing is, when the 495hp V8 S first appeared in 2013, it was - how shall we put this - pretty wild. The Coupé handles the extra grunt through the rear wheels fairly well, because of its increased torsional rigidity, but the Roadster is another matter. However, Jaguar is now offering optional all-wheel drive in the 2016MY F-Type range, on all models bar the base 340hp V6.

Thus, here's the convertible F-Type with 550hp and all-wheel drive, the premium over the RWD R amounting to £4,850. Even the keenest of F-Type fans will struggle to notice anything externally that gives the game away, but the key indicators are subtle boot badging, bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels, a reshaped power dome on the bonnet and air vents either side of it that are of a unique design and slightly further apart than on RWD models. Everything else, including the lovely interior (now with InControl Touch infotainment software, a big improvement on its predecessor) and the laughable boot (bigger than on the original Roadster's, but still less than 200 litres), remains the same. Which is to say, this Jaguar is one of the most beautiful open-top vehicles in the business. It's just we'd sacrifice wind-in-our-hair motoring, as the F-Type R Coupé is even sexier.

How does it drive?

Better than any top-power F-Type Roadster has ever done before. The full 100 per cent of drive goes to the rear of the F-Type R in normal conditions, only pushing torque forwards if it senses a loss of grip. That means you can still get the back end to swing out under power, but instead of snapping into huge opposite lock oversteer, now the car slides progressively as the front end catches things quickly. It also blesses the R with epic traction, either from a standing start or rolling on.

Both of these things allow the driver to better exploit the F-Type's incredible drivetrain, making this car feel every bit as quick as it's phenomenal on-paper stats suggest. There seems to be little drawback in having four-wheel drive, save for the extra weight and steering that is a touch number than on the rear-wheel drive car. On the former score, the F-Type Roadster has never been a particularly light car anyway, so the added ballast of AWD is offset by the increased traction in terms of performance, while the latter is so negligible that you'd struggle to feel it in day-to-day circumstances. Everything else is wonderfully judged.

Which leaves us with one more thing to comment on - the noise. How Jaguar got this thing through sound regulations, we're not sure, but we're delighted that the West Midlands crew has. Because it makes a sensational racket. The pops and bangs of the exhaust on the overrun, hood down, are obscenely loud and hugely grin-inducing. You'll find yourself feathering the throttle in steady-state traffic flow, just to try and get the F-Type to lob some more unburnt fuel down the pipes. And the V8 adds its own shriek to proceedings under heavy throttle, all of which results in a car that eclipses all the opposition - that includes V12 Astons and extreme six-cylinder Porsches.

Verdict

Adding four-wheel drive to the Jaguar F-Type R has only enhanced the experience. All the rear-led fun is still there if you wish to access it, but the car is much more benign at or beyond the limits of adhesion. The pay-off is ever so slightly less communicative steering and a bit more expense, but we think it's worth it. This is the best F-Type Roadster we've driven.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 16 Jul 2015



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2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.



2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Image by Jaguar.
 






 

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