Jaguar is preparing to launch four-wheel drive versions of the F-type coupe and roadster – and CAR’s spy photos capture the new Jag F-type 4wd models out on test.
Our photographer in the West Midlands thought there was something fishy on this F-type prototype spotted near the company’s Gaydon R&D base. On closer inspection, he was convinced the bonnet is higher than usual.
It turns out that Jaguar is readying a new four-wheel drive version of the F-type, as part of its strategy to offer 4wd models across much of its range in a bid to capture sales from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. These cars are penciled in for a 2015 launch.
Although the F-type is a lairy, rear-wheel drive sports car, there is a significant market for coupes and roadsters with the superior traction afforded by four-wheel drive, Jaguar forecasts – especially in wintry climes such as North America and Alpine Europe. Think Porsche Carrera 4 for inspiration…
Jaguar F-type four-wheel drive: the technology
That raised bonnet is a giveaway: underneath the hood lies a set of driveshafts and a differential that have forced Jaguar to re-engineer a higher hood – and which our comprehensive spyshots fail to mask on closer inspection.
Jaguar has already rolled out the four-wheel drive system on the XF and XJ, predominantly to bolster sales in North America. They use a transfer case alongside the gearbox to send drive to the front axle, torque being portioned out to each wheel according to data from vehicle speed sensors at each corner (see photo in our gallery above).
The F-type will use a similar set-up. Before long, Jaguar will have become a manufacturer with 4wd penetration to rival Audi’s Quattro range: the new XE will offer it, as will the new SUV coming in 2016 and based around the C-X17 concept car.
It is believed that Jaguar will launch the F-type 4x4 at a motor show close to its likely biggest market in the US. Our money would go on the Los Angeles motor show in November 2014.
It’s not just F-type 4x4s – there’ll be a manual F-type too!
Jaguar is keen to capitalise on the F-type’s success and is rolling out a string of derivatives to maintain its momentum. As well as the all-wheel drive F-type, there’ll be a six-speed manual transmission available for the first time from 2015. To date, all F-types have been auto-only, but CAR has seen a prototype with a stick shift. We predict this may be reserved for the V6 only.
Other gaps in the range will be filled, too. An F-type R roadster will join the coupe and in the longer run, even more engines will be added to the F-type range. We predict a four-cylinder F-type will be launched, once the new JLR Ingenium four-pot engine family is fully on stream.
Word is the junior F-type would get the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, tuned to around 300bhp.
So if you thought the F-type was bound to remain a rare-groove sports car, think again: it’s about to extend into more niches than ever.