Jaguar F-Type R AWD: car review

Jaguar’s latest all-wheel-drive F-type is not only good-looking, it’s also the perfect fly-fishing wagon, purrs Charles Rangeley-Wilson.

The sign is on the door and you’ve ‘gone fishin’’. The two things you’ll want from your car are speed—to get to that ‘shady, wady pool’ in a hurry—and traction, because when you get there you might have to park on the grass.

And so I searched for a suitable vehicle to review while on a trout-fishing trip to the River Usk. With so many machines, you have one thing, but not the other. However, now Jaguar has added all-wheel drive (AWD) to its unambiguously fast F-Type, has it (inadvertently) created the perfect fly-fishing transport?

Jaguar’s E-type was a hard act to follow. Not until 2013 did the company dare continue the letter-based nomenclature that began with C (for Competition) in 1951, evolved to D in 1954 and most iconically to E between 1961 and 1975. That’s a 38-year hiatus, during which we have had the avocado-suite XJ-S of 1976 and then the bright-braces XK8 of 1996 and, although both owed styling cues to the E-types of the 1960s, neither was its unambiguous spiritual successor. The 2006 XKR, allegedly inspired by Kate Winslet’s curvy lines, took us a little closer with its fearsome supercharged V8 engine—but still not as far as the letter after E.

Thus, when Jaguar dared at last to whack an F in front of the word ‘Type’ in 2013, it was a bold statement indeed. Luckily, the F-Type, with its sharp steering, nimble chassis and delicious V6 and V8 engines, has more than lived up to the billing. It’s a serious rival to the Stuttgart opposition, which is no small achievement.

What’s more, the (almost) top-of-the-range F-Type AWD ‘R’ has 911 Turbo-rivalling oomph— 550bhp—but leaves a big chunk of change in your pocket relative to the German car: £91,680 versus £126,925. There’s a lot you can do with £35K and, in the Jag, you’ll still scare yourself witless and turn heads while doing it. Lots and lots of heads—I’ve rarely driven a car that gets more attention.

Recommended videos for you

There’s the looks, then there’s the power: 550bhp is more than James Hunt’s Grand Prix car produced when this machine’s predecessor last rolled off the line back in the 1970s. However, Jaguar’s trouble chasing down a 911 is how well developed the German design now is. Fifty years of evolution means a 2016 911 Turbo is utterly planted when you unleash all those horses, whereas, at full chat, the rear-drive F-Type R scrabbles for grip like a cat on a kitchen floor and can take the unwary on unintentional ploughing excursions.

Cue a couple more wheels to help that power delivery. With the AWD, a haldex-type clutch can divert up to 30% of the power to the front wheels, tightening up your lines when you might otherwise be looking at the road through the side window.

Best (or silliest) of all was the button that changed the exhaust pitch from loud to shouty loud. As I homed in on my host’s retreat above Monmouth, I played volcanic tunes with the throttle and gears, sending lambs scurrying to their mothers.

But how does it measure up as a fishing wagon? Very well, I reckon. The boot accommodated three-piece rods and easily swallowed a kit bag and a tackle holdall, not to mention waders, boots, coats and a slab of beer. The sports seats were comfortable enough to make Norfolk to Ross-on-Wye an easy-on-the-back ride. And would you believe 28mpg from a four-wheel-drive 550bhp supercharged V8?

On the road: Jaguar F-Type R AWD
Price: from £91,680
Annual road fund licence: First year £1,120, then £515
Combined fuel consumption: 25mpg (I got 28!)
Power: 550bhp
0–60mph: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 186mph