It pours out of buckets, but the radiance on Kevan Richardson's face is getting wider. While his English compatriots fly down here to the southwestern tip of Portugal so early in the spring, mainly because of the prospect of nicer weather, it can't be wet enough for him. Because the engineer is with Jaguar Project manager for the F-Type and can best demonstrate under such adverse circumstances what he gave the successful newcomer in the fast lane as the most important innovation for the next model year: the all-wheel drive. For a smooth 6.000 euros, it will be available from Coupé and Cabrio in the future as an option for the 278 kW, 380 PS version of the 3,0 liter V6 engine and for the V8 petrol engine, which is now available in both body variants on 403 kW / 550 HP is coming.
The difference behind the steering wheel is immediately noticeable from the outside only by a subtly retouched bonnet and the corresponding addition on the nameplate: while the standard model for hotspots has many surprises, especially on damp roads, and sometimes a dangerous life of its own is developed in the rear the F-Type with built-in traction advantage for line-true PS soldiers. No matter how hard you think about the Formula 1 circuit from Estoril: as long as the wheels do not rattle over the icy smooth curbs, the Jaguar literally bites into the ideal line and does not deviate from an iota.
But Richardson isn't just about traction. Otherwise he could have recommended a Land Rover to his customers. For all security, the fun shouldn't be left behind. That is why his four-wheel drive teams have developed an intelligent controller called IDD and also incorporated the torque vectoring previously known from the V8 model into the six-cylinder. Under normal circumstances, the F-Type continues to be driven at the rear and turns the corners with a correspondingly large cinema. Only when the electronics fear slippage can up to 50 percent of the power be diverted to the front. Then there is an end to lascivious hip swings and even in the rain battle of Estoril, the F-Type precisely follows the course that is set for the new power steering with electrical support.
But the AWD package also has its downsides: with it, the weight increases by 80 kilos, the consumption increases by 6 liters in the V0,3 and by 8 liters in the V0,6, and the sprint is sometimes not as quick. Because while the V8 with the better traction even takes a tenth of a second less to 100 km / h, the V6 AWD falls back by 0,2 seconds compared to the normal model.
AWD, IDD, torque vectoring or EPAS steering - how these systems work and how their interaction is regulated, project manager Richardson can safely philosophize for hours. But the best way to understand it is to sit in the prototype for the new model year and sweep the course. Where that was previously associated with a certain thrill, the all-wheel drive weighs you in a dangerous safety: You just have to accelerate and always push your limits. Because they are achieved much faster in the F-Type than that of the vehicle.
But Richardson isn't just upgrading to the new model year. For price hunters and purists, he has yet another innovation in both V6 versions: For the first time since the blessed E-Type, Jaguar will again have a sports car with a manual transmission. With the six-stage gear train, the driver not only literally has a better grip on the car, he also saves a smooth 2.500 euros. Because without the automatic system, the entry price for the 340 hp coupé drops to 65.000 euros and the convertible then starts at 72.000 euros.
When Jaguar started launching the F-Type two years ago, the British always cited the Porsche 911 as a role model and key competitor. Even after 11.500 units in the first full year, they are still far from the success of the long-running favorite from Stuttgart. However, the English made their debut and in many disciplines they are increasingly coming to the 911: In the UK, the F-Type is already the best-selling sports car, with 90 prizes it can confidently be celebrated as highly decorated. And now the English are also emulating the Swabian family planning. Because just as Porsche is fanning out the range finely and finely, Jaguar has also expanded its range with all-wheel drive vehicles and the manual switch. "Instead of six, we now have 14 variants in our portfolio at once," says Richardson. And it would have to be the devil if he couldn't think of a little more. Even if he would have to spend a few days in the rain again.
Author: Benjamin Bessinger / SP-X