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  • Gavin Pouquette

Driving a 550hp Jaguar in Winter

Let’s take a step back about 5 years ago when the F-Type Convertible was officially released at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. At that point, it was the first Jaguar that had legitimately excited me. The combination checked all the right boxes; tantalizingly good looks and a V8 sending power to the correct wheels while sounding like machine guns from hell. We at Everyday Driver were supposed to have one on camera later in 2014, but the car was taken in for differential repair at the last minute, canceling the shoot. I’ve wanted to hang out with one ever since, even if it was just to take photos. Finally, the good folks at Ken Garff Jaguar threw me the keys to their 2016 F-Type R AWD to jaunt up a canyon road for a photo shoot.

Even with the threat of snow, not once did I feel like the Jag was going to get away from me or careen off the side of a mountain. And let me tell you, I didn’t drive this car like an old lady. Because the F-Type is a grand tourer that weighs 3800 lbs. it felt composed and relaxed, but still able to handle a corner. It felt solid and secure when it was pushed, but became civil while roaming around downtown and cruising on the freeway. Thanks to the 63% rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, attacking canyons is confidence inspiring. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the car took the bumps on poorly paved stretches of Emigration Canyon. It was a damn near flawless balance of stiff in the corners yet supple on bumps. I’ve driven a BMW M4 and Nissan GT-R down this same road and both were egregious in taking road imperfections. Mid-corner bumps in this F-Type were handled almost as well as the Porsche 991 GT3 I drove in the fall. Jaguar really earns a gold star here though.

The supercharged 5.0L V8 motor responds casually to slow city driving by putting out 502 lb/ft of torque between 2500 rpm and 5500 rpm. Down low, the R is torquey and sounds as a European V8 should: warm, chocolatey goodness. As you pass 3000 rpm, the engine note feels more open and less restricted. Above 5000 rpm, it screams like your favorite rockstar in concert, offering all 550hp at 6500 rpm. When you put your right foot all the way down, you best be holding on. Sixty comes in 4.0 seconds and keeps on charging to a top speed of 188 mph.

This Jaguar was equipped with the world renowned ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox that can be found in Audis, Bentleys, Jeeps, and the Hellcat cars alike. While in Drive, the shifts were crisp and smooth and keep the car in its happy spot in the torque curve. When you want to shift it yourself, the shifts are quick, but not as fast as a true dual-clutch like Porsche’s PDK. I could sense a delay between paddle pulls and gear engagement. Upshifts are eager, but kicking down a gear takes a little more thought from the transmission.

On the freeway the Jag gathers speed without notice. It’s easy to think you’re cruising 20 mph shy of your actual speed. That really is a testament to the car’s refinement.

All this refinement comes at a cost. The F-Type R AWD starts at $108,000, and this particular F-Type was $126,000. Included here is a set of $12,000 carbon ceramic brakes. Given that I was driving this car in the winter in Utah, I never got the brakes anywhere close to proving their worth so it’s very hard to say if they are worth the price of a new Nissan Versa. I would love to get some more time in this car once the snow melts and the ground warms up.

It’s been a long time coming to drive this car.. Having finally done it, I am glad I waited. Had I driven this car 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable. Driving a $120k+ vehicle in the dead of winter isn’t ideal, but with improved driving skills and knowing these roads like a close friend, I have truly fallen in love with the F-Type R. It finds the perfect medium between fun, comfortable, accommodating, and engaging in the drive. Considering the roads were cold, wet, and in some places snowy, the Jag took the weather flawlessly. Equip this car with winter tires, and I would drive it every single day of the week without question. Except for that price-tag.

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