At the launch of the new Jaguar F-Type Coupe the company’s technical specialist for performance and drivability attributes, Tim Clark, told CarAdvice that all-wheel drive wouldn’t form a part of the brand’s plans for its faster models despite key rivals turning to the technology in order to increase the usable power of their models.
Audi has been utilising all-paw traction for its power delivery for years under the quattro brand, while Mercedes has recently implemented a new strategy to fit its AMG performance models with the traction-aiding system as it knows its engines produce too much torque to send to the front or rear wheels only. In short, the power is wasted unless you can ensure it hits the tarmac.
Jaguar does offer all-wheel drive for some left-hand-drive models, including the XJ and XF, in markets such as the US. However, Jaguar won’t be pursuing AWD as a means of performance due to what Clark loosely described as a disconnect between the engine and the driver.
“Obviously we’ve got some parts in the parts bin. But we’ve showcased the F-Type R here, and that’s all about really good agility, steering feel and maximised traction for a two-wheel-drive car. So as a sports car, we think two-wheel drive is good,” Clark said.
The F-Type R does have some traction trickery, including an electronic differential that works at the limits of traction to help keep the car in shape. The differential can lock in just 200 milliseconds from open, helping stop a slide and push more power down through the rear wheels. The F-Type R also has a torque vectoring system that works by braking the inside wheels in the event of severe understeer, pulling the car back in towards its intended apex.
While both of those systems are highly effective, our test of the F-Type showed up a tendency for oversteer and understeer, both of which would be considerably muted by all-wheel drive.
Despite that, Clark said the company had no plans at this time for any all-wheel-drive performance models.
“There are certain markets that will ask for, and keep pushing for, [the] sports car experience [and all-wheel-drive] traction,” Clark said. “But there are no plans at the moment to do that.”
Clark argued that to do so would be to dull the experience of driving a sports car.
“All-wheel-drive doesn’t necessarily make a sports car experience, that’s the thing,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff you would need to do to actually make the car still have the same experience, and there aren’t many four-wheel-drive cars out there that actually do.
“They drive in a very different way. And that’s not where we wanted to go with the R Coupe,” he said.
The brand doesn’t currently offer any all-wheel-drive models with right-hand drive, but with important new cars such as the XE compact luxury sedan and a potential SUV spin-off, all-wheel drive could form part of the plans for the new lightweight aluminium underpinnings upon which both of those cars would be based.
Clark admitted that demand for all-wheel drive across the brand’s standard model range was “through the roof” in some markets. However, he wouldn't comment on whether the XE would be offered with AWD.
“I can’t really talk about that. But we have the parts in the parts bin… and the platform is enabled for lots of different things.”
If we had to place a wager on it, we’d think it highly likely that the XE – and it’s possible SUV spin-off, based on the C-X17 concept – will be offered with all-wheel drive across both petrol and diesel variants.
Jaguar will introduce a range of smaller-capacity four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with turbocharging technology for the XE and its likely SUV spin-off.