F-Type Jaguar: AWD or not to AWD, that is the question
I sat down to write about a fortnight with Jaguar’s fabulous F-Types, and the story I planned went out the window.
The sleek and sexy coupe evokes a time of cocktails by the Med, and of men in tuxes, and women in flowing gowns.
If you listen hard enough, you hear 50’s lounge music with cravats flapping at 20 paces. An F-Type is the car James Bond would drive.
And why not? Jaguar has a long history of fast sports cars for the landed gentry.
To recap on a couple of past observations:
The luscious rump celebrates the wonderfully evocative E-Type. Its rounded elegance was the epitome of style and grace and its young sister is no different.
The door handles disappear when locked, and the aggressive front looks like it is roaring even when it’s parked.
The body is full of movement, leaving the eye nowhere to rest. The aluminium makes the metalwork lighter so despite the electronics, the coupe weighs in at a mere 1,676kg.
At first glance, the F-Type looks small. But park it next to something that actually is small, like an MX5 and you soon see the Jaguar dwarfs small cars.
You get a sense of cocooned luxury once you press the leading edge of the door handle.
With the key in your pocket, the handle pops out ready to be pulled gently, and as you do, the light-as-a-feather door clicks open.
Unusually, even a decent sized driver can lower into the cockpit without having to be an expert in origami.
That’s typical of the design with everything thoughtfully planned to have impact in a good way.
The seats are firm, very firm, but luxurious all the same. There is plenty of adjustment to suit a variety of bottoms, even the very ample ones.
Rear view is limited. Previously, my coupes had a pop-up rear spoiler but for and extra $4,000 you can have your view even more obscured by a deck-mounted spoiler. Good god what a travesty.
The AWD coupe had the spare tyre present but the RWD one had the tyre removed, and what a difference it makes. You’re hardly likely to take the Jag a long distance, so leave the tyre at home.
The boot space is half decent when there isn’t a huge chunk of rarely used junk in it. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. I bang on ad nauseum that all cars must have a spare, or I don’t like them.
Rules are meant to be broken, so shaddup.
Oh, and there is a cracking set up luggage specially made to fit. There is also a few quite decent external luggage racks that fit on the upper side of the deck of the convertible.
So no matter what, all is not lost. You can have your cake and eat it too.
You might well do a trip and have the LV cases on the boot with a nice plumb space saver spare in the boot. Or, you could just fly and hire another F Type at the other end.
While we’re walking down memory lane, I have to mention the centre vent and rotary gear selector that glide upwards to reveal themselves, but only after the engine is started.
To those who say, “it’s only something else to break,” I say ,”aaaahhhh shappup”.
One thing to surprise me was the fact that somehow the doors seem to open slightly upwards so as to avoid very low gutters. Is it my imagination? I think not.
It doesn’t help you reaching up to ticket machines when you park at Coles.
The infotainment system works well, and sound sensational thanks to the high-end Meridian sound system.
The response it fast and it even works with “Hey Siri” whether plugged in to USB or not.
The second you press the start button, the engine snarls into life. It splutters and cackles like a couple of witches over a caldron.
If you’re very quick, you can press the Bi-Modal button which opens the full magnificence of the angry exhaust while the engine is firing in to life.
Every pop of the cacophony is music only a few will ever enjoy, because as good as it sounds from the outside, it is a million times better from inside the lavish cabin.
Our coupes were both 8 speed auto, which reminds me to have a word with my Jaguar man.
What all this “no manual” business. Apparently, like the rest of Australian buyers, the posh JLR buyers prefer the car to shift gears for them. Peasants!
I mustn’t grumble, the auto is as smooth as a baby’s bum. It’s always willing to kick down especially in Dynamic mode.
The problem is Dynamic Mode takes a hard ride and makes it unbearable. You needn’t bother because not once did I ever think it needed more power or a more responsive throttle.
And, because the Bi-Modal switch allows you to have the exhaust bark orders at you any time you like.
After a long day in the saddle, the barking becomes tiresome and hitting the button makes things all calm and quiet.
Were it not for the harshness of the ride, you’d think you were in an XJ.
I promised you a verdict on all wheels being driven, and is it better than just the ones in the back. I’m surprised because I’m such an advocate of AWD, but in this case I’m not sure it is worth the extra money.
On top of that you increase your fuel bill, and you have a slightly larger turning circle.
I noticed this especially when trying to shoehorn the little lady into a tight parking spot.
You have to watch yourself around my way. People drive like women-possessed.
The tighter you can turn, the better. I’ve given the F-type a good workout and many a twisty black ribbon, and never have I felt anything but joy.
The rear feels like it might perhaps break loose if pushed, but it never has. I tend not to drive like an idiot when on public roads.
That sense is lost in the AWD version, but the grip doesn’t feel appreciably better. As you set the corner up, you feel the Jag crouch down slightly, hunkering in to the bend as if psychically connected to the driver’s eyes.
Although the steering doesn’t feel quite as precise as my favourite Golf GTI, the handling matches anything costing double the not-so-humble F-type.
Not a super car, and not a true GT, the smallest Jaguar fits into a Personal Sports Coupe category.
Here, lives the likes of Aston Martin’s Vantage.
Some say the M’s and the RS’s and the AMG’s are in there too, but I think the F-type is a cut above, but that’s just me.
The performance is thrilling in all of the above, but they’re a dime a dozen, one and all, which is where the F-type’s relative rarity works in its favour.
So, is the AWD worth it? Ideally, if money was no object, I’d always go for the top spec, and tick every single options box on the way down, but there is no shame in the entry level.
There is no such a thing in Jaguar, and that has often worked against the British car maker.
Once upon a time, the company was dying along with most of its rapidly aging customers. The new blood, in the form of new owners TATA, have reinvigorated the brand.
Some don’t like the new models and say things like, “that’s not a real Jaguar motor car,” but that is all pish.
The new direction is cutting edge, but much of the really cool stuff is optional which can be annoying.
If a Hyundai can have active lane guidance, active cruise control, cross traffic warning on the reversing camera and CarPaly/Android Auto as standard, surely a car costing more than 5 times as much can manage it too.
I did the uncle thing and collected my 11 year old nephew from his school for apprentice Damiens.
Being an inner city Eastern Suburbs school in Sydney, many of the parents turn up in posh cars. You guessed it, there are Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz SUVs double parked by the dozen.
Yet, more than one head turned when my young passenger requested a low-speed drive-by.
I always know I am on a winner when he asks to go by the front gate. He admires “Tron Lighting” and the Jaguar has concealed mood lighting which can change colours depending on how your day has been.
For the record, regardless of which colour has been selected prior, soft blue is always chosen for the trip home. He now does it himself no matter what car he is picked up in. That’s kids for you.
At the end of the day, the F-Type is made for the person who has only themselves to please.
It’s a reward for a job well done.
You can’t carry more than one person so you won’t have a bunch of freeloaders asking you to turn the AC down, or the radio up. You can do, and go, wherever you want, you’re truly free.
Would I buy one? As always, yes. I adore the F-type and always will.
MAX POWER (KW)
MAX TORQUE (NM)
MAX SPEED (KPH)
FUEL ECON (L/100KM)
2995cc V6 Supercharged Petrol
280 @ 6500rpm
460 @ 3500-5000rpm
PRICE AS TESTED
$226 755.60 plus onroads