Ask us what we’d improve about the Jaguar F-Type and we’d have to say ‘not a lot.’ This year we went to its launch in Spain, ran a Roadster S up the Goodwood Hillclimb against a Corvette Stingray and an Aston Martin V12 Vantage S before pitting a Coupe R against a Porsche 911 Turbo S. Not content with all that quality seat time we even drove one on the Mille Miglia as well.
Just when we thought that Jaguar would be reflecting on a job well done, it has revealed – at the LA Auto Show – not only a four-wheel-drive option but a manual gearbox, too. This leaves us grinning from ear to ear at the thought of having to do all those fun things again!
Sadly for those hoping to conduct Jaguar’s magnificent supercharged eight-cylinder orchestra with an H-gate shifter (wow, I almost called it ‘old fashioned’ then) the manual option is only available on the supercharged V6 models, but still we’re itching to try one out. The four-wheel-drive option is available with the fire-breathing 550PS V8 and is anticipated to bring with it even more control at speed and in adverse road conditions.
The AWD gubbins has meant a few alterations to the F-Type’s gorgeous lines though. The bonnet now features a more prominent bulge and repositioned vents to further improve cooling, not that this is a negative point in our eyes. The system itself uses what Jaguar calls Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, which means rear wheel drive for most of the time and a seamless transition to AWD when the system senses that the rear wheels are nearing the limit of their traction.
Another development which has caught or attention is the adoption of electric power assisted steering across the F-Type range. Electric PAS has been at the centre of many a disgruntled journalist’s scribblings of late, lamenting the demise of traditional hydraulic systems which are driven by the engine. Even Jaguar admits that hydraulic systems ‘delivered the most natural, intuitive performance’, but the power and emissions benefits of an electric system could no longer be ignored, it says. Besides, it claims that electric PAS technology is now ‘sufficiently mature.’
Jaguar reckons it has been working on this for some years, but we’re going to have to reserve judgement on that one until we’ve had a play …
Another key announcement from Coventry (or, strictly speaking, Los Angeles) is that the 500PS Roadster S will be replaced with a 550PS Roadster R which is also is available with the AWD system. It weighs just 15 kg more than the Coupe equivalent and apparently matches its roofed stablemate in every department except for boot space.
So, just when we thought we might have done everything with the F-Type that we can, we’re suddenly getting giddy at the prospect of putting some quality miles under some new ones. Roll on 2015.