Is the all-wheel drive V6 S the sweet spot in Jaguar's F-TYPE Coupe range? Jonathan Crouch weighs its case.
Ten Second Review
Now offered with all-wheel drive, the Jaguar F-TYPE V6 S Coupe really delivers on multiple fronts. For many, that added all-weather ability merely bolsters what was already a really strong offering. A hefty 380PS and drive going to each corner? Sign us up.
Let's get the bad news out of the way straight off the bat. You might have heard that Jaguar was also offering manual gearboxes with the F-TYPE Coupe and it's true, you can buy a V6 S with a manual, but sadly not in all-wheel drive guise. So if you want to show off your footwork on three pedals, you're going to have to stick with the rear-wheel drive version. This all-wheel drive car comes with a pretty brilliant ZF eight-speed automatic transmission only. Not exactly a hardship, then. Jaguar has engineered a wholly convincing proposition here and although much will come down to personal preference, this all-wheel drive V6 S Coupe has a real claim on being the best car the company makes right now.
Clearly the all-wheel drive chassis is going to have all kinds of benefits when the going is a bit slippery. The AWD system features Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD), a control system networked to the powertrain, rear differential and centre coupling and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). Operating on the torque-on-demand principle, the AWD system sends 100 per cent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions, reducing unnecessary parasitic losses in the drivetrain. The system can also vary the front: rear torque split to mitigate oversteer during fast cornering. The 380PS V6 will deliver you to 62mph in a scant 5.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 171 mph. The inconvenient truth for Jaguar is that this is 0.2 seconds slower than the lighter rear-wheel drive car, but as soon as the surfaces get at all cold or damp, the all-wheel drive car will take great chunks out of the rear-driver. The ZF transmission is the best automatic in the business, with some fiendishly clever software that seems to telepathically know when you want to hold a gear or change. You can control it using the wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but after a very short while, you'll realise that the robots are better at this stuff than you are.
Design and Build
The shape works really well. What looked good as a drop top looks great as a coupe, with a short wheelbase, a power-packed set of rear haunches and an elegant roof line. It manages to make the Porsche Cayman seem rather hall-of-mirrors in its proportioning, and while it's not as instantly beautiful as an Aston Martin Vantage, it looks as if it would thoroughly work the Vantage over in a bar fight. It's that combination of sleekness and aggression that makes the F-TYPE Coupe such an accomplished styling job. The all-wheel drive cars look subtly different, with a deeper central power bulge. Either side are distinctive vents, positioned further apart and further forward than those of rear-wheel drive F-TYPEs. There are some lovely details such as the pop-out door handles and the single flying buttress that swoops down from one side of the centre console, to the neatly styled gear selector, the giant TFT display in the dash and the deep-set driving position. The instrument cluster features new dials and gauges and the infotainment system has been upgraded too: navigation routing is much faster than before and SD card-based mapping is available for the first time. The boot is relatively big, giving the F-TYPE Coupe genuine GT potential. You'll get 315-litres in up to the parcel shelf and 407-litres to the window line. A 72-litre fuel tank gives a realistic cruising range of over 340-miles. You can even specify the car with a panoramic glass or carbon fibre roof.
Market and Model
We're not about to pretend that £66,900 is chump change in any regard but that sum looks good value when compared to, say, an Aston Martin V8 Vantage which will set you back around £20,000 more for a car that's nowhere near as sharp to drive. But what of an Audi RS5 coupe? That also offers an all-wheel drive chassis and even more power - some 450PS - for around £7,000 less. On paper the Audi seems a compelling package and it doesn't lack for showroom wow factor, but drive the two cars and you'll realise they're chalk and cheese. The Audi is a long-distance autobahn bully-boy while the Jaguar is a scalpel-sharp weapon that will have you sketching out road trips across Europe's greatest driving roads. It's not as if it's shy of equipment though. The F-TYPE now comes as standard with InControl Remote telematics functions. When away from the vehicle, this system makes it possible to check information such as the fuel level or the door lock status using a smartphone. You can even use the phone to start the engine, enabling the climate control system to bring the cabin to the desired temperature before the journey even begins.
Cost of Ownership
If there's one area where the F-TYPE Coupe is objectively a little soft compared to its rivals it's in its efficiency measures. While getting too sniffy about 31.7mpg and 211g/km seems churlish when you've got 380PS under your right boot, it's worth considering that a BMW M4 coupe emits 194g/km, fully two taxation bands less. People will cross-shop these two cars too, the BMW cosying up towards the Jaguar's price once a few options are loaded on. Then there's the phenomenally good Porsche Cayman GTS that also undercuts the Jaguar and will eke better than 34 miles from a gallon of juice. As you can see, the F-TYPE isn't going to have things all its own way. Residual values are the Jaguar's ace in the hole. The F-TYPE Convertible hasn't been at all bad with the entry level car recording a 110 pence per mile cost of ownership over a three year/36,000 mile tenure. The Coupe is a good deal more affordable so should do even better, which is illuminating given that a Porsche Cayman S with PDK costs around 114 pence per mile to operate. Advantage Jaguar.
The case for the all-wheel drive Jaguar F-TYPE V6 S Coupe is relatively easy to make. The V8 R model is a bit too cartoonish for most, and this 380PS engine probably makes the most sense to most F-TYPE buyers. Pair it with the prettiest body shape, the best transmission and the real-world all-season benefits of all-wheel drive in this wet and windy isle and you have a formidable package. The genius in this model lies in the fine tuning. Jaguar has been able to pare back the highly-strung feel of the R yet has still retained an enthusiast appeal with this car. It's anything but a fat old Lothario's set of wheels which is what often happens when a sporting car sprouts an auto box and all-wheel drive. It's even priced quite keenly. Drive a Porsche Cayman, try a BMW M4, get behind the wheel of an Audi RS5 and then try the Jaguar. We think you'll like what it offers.