No Retraction: Jaguar’s Best Gets Even Better
A year ago, I found myself behind the wheel of a preproduction 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe all kitted up with a brand-spanking-new all-wheel-drive system. Two things you need to know about that. One is that I was only able to sample the big kitty on Portugal’s Autdromo do Estoril F1 circuit, a track I’d never previously so much as thought about, let alone driven. Racetracks are indeed super-fun places to drive big-horsepower sports cars. However, learning the track (in other words, not crashing) does eat into your critical experience. The second thing is something I wrote after the experience: “For the first time ever [in an F-Type] I found myself fully able to bury the throttle without fear of massive, butt-first-into-a-tree oversteer. The sex cat now grips.”
See, as groovy as Jag’s hot two-seater is, there was always a little voice in the back of your head telling you to go easy with the right foot. The more time you spent with the R Coupe, the more front-of-mind the voice becomes and the more the vocalization transforms into a roaring, warning shout. This exclamation applied especially and almost exclusively to the supercharged, 550-horsepower V-8 version. Welp, that’s all changed for 2016. You can’t get a rear-wheel-drive R version of the F-Type any longer. Meaning that the one-year-only 2015 R Coupe is now a collector’s item, especially if said collector is a drifting aficionado. The new version moves the 2016 F-Type R further up the performance ladder. Have a look.
The best numbers we ever got from a 2015 F-Type R Coupe saw the run to 60 mph happening in 3.6 seconds. Adding 135 pounds (61 kg) of AWD goodies (3,873 versus 4,008 pounds (1,757 vs. 1,818 kg) for the 2016 model) drops that time to a Z06-equaling 3.3 seconds. The story is similar for the quarter mile: 11.8 at 122.3 mph (197 km/h) for the RWD car against 11.6 at 121.5 mph (195 km/h) for the AWD car. Note the trap speeds. That’s what happens when power remains the same but weight increases. However, we can see that all four wheels being driven help out with the initial launch, and that carries across all 1,320 feet. Also, as any drag strip rat will tell you, a win’s a win.
In terms of braking, the 2015 model stops from 60 mph in a tidy 101 feet. The 2016 cat needs a full 111 feet. Huh? Well, both R Coupes had the optional (and $12,000 USD!) carbon-ceramic Brembo kit, but the brakes on the 2016 F-Type didn’t feel right. Our road test editor Chris Walton noticed this at the test track, Randy Pobst felt the same on the racetrack, and both Scott Evans and I experienced the lack of initial bite and long pedal travel out on the road. Had we paid $12K USD for the brakes, this car would be at the dealer.
As far as the figure-eight times go, 24.4 seconds was the best the RWD R Coupe could manage, whereas the AWD version popped off a 24.1-second lap. The AWD Jag’s average lateral grip was slightly higher (0.84 g versus 0.82), though its max skidpad number was a tick lower (0.93 versus 0.94). We can see via the numbers that in most aspects the AWD car performs better than its RWD predecessor.
What you can’t see from these numbers is the increased level of confidence the heavier car provides. Remember, our test team is composed of professionals who are used to pushing cars to their limits on a weekly basis. Moreover, we do our testing on a track in a relatively safe, controlled environment. An oversteering lunatic can be dealt with safely. Even if/when it spins out of control, which the old R Coupe was all too willing to do. In fairness, we mostly solved that problem on our long-termer by swapping out the Pirelli P Zeros for Michelin Super Sports. But the AWD F-Type solves that problem entirely, even sitting on Continental ContiForce Contacts. I’ll even go one step further. While I do miss the ability to do monstrous, adolescent burnouts at the drop of a foot, the 2016 F-Type R Coupe is more fun to drive on a winding road than the car it replaces. That’s what confidence—and traction—does for you.
|2016 Jaguar F-Type R (AWD)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$126,945|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||5.0L/550-hp/502-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,008 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||176.0 x 75.7 x 80.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||11.6 sec @ 121.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.1 sec @ 0.84 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/23/18 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/147 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.09 lb/mile|