What's it like to drive a Jaguar F-Type R AWD?

I knew it would be good, but I never realized the baddest of the cats would be this fun. And the Noise... Oh, goodness, the noise.

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD has been on my gotta-drive-it radar for some time without much traction being made toward getting the keys to one. But, a little while ago, I was treated to a very kick-ass and unexpected surprise.

I was visiting a Jaguar dealership in a completely non-bloggy capacity. Trying to help my mother-in-law find a new car, I was actually being very well behaved. The cars of the showroom’s XF menagerie were stationed not a stone's throw from a shiny pack (or is it a clowder) of Jaguar F-Types... V6s, V8s and superchargers all lined up in a nice shiny row.

Seriously... What's a guy to do? I had to take a closer, more hands-on peek. I just planned to sit in the adjustably bolstered driver's seat and dream. But, thankfully, a kindly sales guy (let's call him Bob) had a different idea. Ever the vigilant salesman, Bob offered me a closer look after he took my mom-in-law for a spin in an XF.

What may have begun as a sales tactic to curry the favor of the daughter and son-in-law of a customer on the fence became and genuine car-based conversation between two very, very dyed-in-the-wool Jaguar fans (Bob and I) and one relatively recent convert (my wife).

"You have to drive the F-Type. You have time to take it out?" was the gist of Bob's final comment to me. I say "final comment" because after anyone offers me the keys to a 550 horse, $100,000+, 0 to 60 in 3-second sports car, everything else out of their mouth afterward is drowned out by exhaust warble, excitement and acceleration.

This particular car was a Stratus Gray 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD with Jet leather interior, red brake calipers and 20-inch Gyrodyne wheels. A supercharged V8 with 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque transferring its oomph to the pavement via all four wheels after passing through a "Quick Shift" eight-speed automatic paddle-shifting transmission means a spring from 0 to 60 miles-per-hour in about 3.4 seconds.

I can personally attest to this fact because the first thing I did when presented with a clear stretch of road was to hit the throttle and see what happened... All hell broke loose.

All four tires gripped as one, no slip, no drama, as the car surged forward (only up to the posted speed limit, of course). Hitting the paddles at the designated RPM, the transmission shifted very quickly and surprisingly smoothly. The Active Sport Exhaust opened the baffling in all four exhausts releasing one of the angriest bellows I've heard in a long time. (Be sure to check out the video below highlighting said bellow.)

So, yeah, the 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD can check going fast in a straight line off of the sports car list. What about turning? Having all-wheel-drive, a near 50/50 weight distribution, adjustable sport suspension and an Electronic Active Differential with Torque Vectoring means the car should handle well even in the twistiest of twisties. And, it does... sort of.

That speaks to what I find most enjoyable about what it’s like behind the wheel of the F-Type R. It'll happily pull 1.00 g on a skidpad. And, the supercharged V8 will happily launch you past sixty onto a governed top-speed of 186. And, the performance seats with adjustable bolsters will keep your ass exactly where is needs to be all day long. But, it does so in an almost feral fashion.

At city speeds, the steering is light. The cabin is well-built and beautiful. The exhaust is quiet. And, the ride is smooth-ish. Basically, the car is a luxurious pussycat. But, when you roll onto the throttle, every driving dynamic changes, and the pussycat turns into a jaguar. The 2016 F-Type R AWD is a precise machine. The steering is responsive at speed. The ride is firm but not jarring. And, the acceleration is omnipresent in any gear.

However, there is just enough rawness to the car to make it fun. It's not clinical like the 991 Porsche Carrera GTS. But, it's also not as much of an animal as the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. I'll give you an example. Straight-line acceleration is peerless. But, turn the wheel when hammering the throttle, and you'll get a good amount of understeer.

Traction control on, the torque vectoring will correct itself with just enough wiggle to let you know something happened. Traction control off, as was my case, and you need to do a bit of manual correction. A little oppo. A little throttle, and you're right as rain. It's just wild enough to make you actually drive the car. I like that.

They say the Jaguar F-Type was the reincarnation of the venerable Jaguar E-Type. In a lot of ways it is. But, in my humble opinion, given a little time, the 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD will become an icon all its own.

So, what's it like to drive the Jaguar F-Type R AWD? Quick. Nimble. Just wild enough to be loads of fun.

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