Jaguar’s All-Wheel-Drive F-Type
When we think of all-wheel-drive cars, most will envisage the likes of tall, bulky vehicles traversing over tough terrain. However, the modern sports car has also found use for such a set-up.
Traditionally, sports cars put their power exclusively through the rear wheels for maximum driveability (and enjoyment), but more and more models have entered the market with their horses being shared through each corner of the car.
Announced officially at this week’s LA motor show, Jaguar revealed the AWD F-type range that will comprise of the S and R models, while also resulting in the roadster variant offering a top-spec R option for the first time. Meanwhile, purists will be delighted to see a manual transmission available on a Jaguar sports car for the first time since the E-type.
With AWD employed by the F-type’s flagship R coupe, it is able to blitz the 0-62mph run in just 3.9sec – 0.2sec faster than its rear-wheel-drive counterpart – while the new R roadster will match the exact same time, despite its increased weight. The Jag will utilise torque vectoring as standard to improve the car’s agility by reducing the power to a wheel in case of lack of traction.
So, AWD obviously has its benefits and most will put the majority of the power to the rear of the car anyway, but what other four-wheel-drive rivals will the F-type be going up against when it goes on sale next year?
Audi R8 V10
The eight-cylinder Audi R8 might be the more immediate rival for the F-type as a whole, but when you consider the flagship R has 542bhp, you could only put such power against the V10 version of Audi’s everyday supercar.
Armed with its brand-new S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission, the Audi R8 is finally the precise machine it should have been from the start, despite that open-gate manual still very luring. The standard V10 variant actually has 20bhp less than the F-type R, but Audi now offers the R8 Plus which has a punchy 550bhp and accelerates to 62mph from standstill in just 3.5sec – 0.4sec quicker than the Jag.
What makes the Audi R8 so likeable is that it is so approachable, even in this most potent of guises; its all-wheel-drive system coupled with what is regarded as one of the best flappy systems out there ensure the R8 is very driveable at all times, while also allowing for those moments of sheer exhilaration when the occasion calls for it.
We’ve known since its launch in 2007 that the Nissan GT-R was a supercar destroyer, but like the R8, is still so useable. The latest ‘Godzilla’ serves up 523bhp from its twin-turbo V6 and still amazes with its sub-3.0sec 0-62mph run.
Everyone who has driven the GT-R has been completely blown away by its performance capabilities and how easy it is to utilise every horse under the bonnet. This is down to elements such as the car’s four-wheel traction, torque-vectoring differentials and also its sharp dual-clutch gearbox.
The big Nissan is admittedly a heavy car but hides its weight very well through raw performance and rigid body construction that ensures the GT-R has the stiffness required to put its power to the road. The car’s R mode is where you’ll find the most fun in the Nissan, where the engine is most ferocious and the gearbox is most responsive.
One car that needs to be mentioned in this article is the Dodge Charter. Is it the icon American muscle car.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
The most powerful of the four, the new Porsche 911 Turbo S is possibly the latest benchmark for all four-wheel-drive sports cars. In a similar way to the car from Japan, Stuttgart’s offering has 552bhp on tap and is blisteringly fast as a result.
This is a real g-force-inducing sports car, a model whose acceleration has been compared to that of an aeroplane taking off, yet once more, is a superfast vehicle with real-world capabilities. It’s not quite as fast to 62mph as the GT-R, but still manages the run in 3.1secs, and with less weight and an arguably better balance, the Turbo S is a car you can really stick into the corners.
Rear-wheel steering borrowed from the GT3 helps that case even further, while the rear wing pops up at 75mph and angles itself for maximum downforce and the Turbo S even boasts the world’s first ever variable front spoiler and again becomes active at 75mph to keep you very much stuck to the road. Porsche claims the two add 132kg of downforce between them; although, you have to be travelling at 186mph to enjoy the benefit.
The Turbo S’s four-wheel-drive system, meanwhile, might give you that blanket of safety on paper, but be very aware that the Porsche will not be all that forgiving when the traction snaps. It offers massive doses of grip; however, when it runs out you’re certain to know about it, but you won’t exactly know it’s coming until you’ve actually surpassed the threshold.