Why The Jaguar F-Type Is Getting All-Wheel Drive

The Jaguar F-Type is one of the most compelling sports cars to come along in years, primarily because it adheres so closely to the classic sports car formula: open top, two seats, rear-wheel drive. (The sexy looks, sexy speed and sexy noises help too.) So why would Jaguar add all-wheel drive to that equation?

A few months ago we heard that the F-Type was probably getting an all-wheel drive option, as well as a much-coveted manual transmission, which it probably should have launched with if we're going to tout its pure sports car wonderfulness.

A new report in the UK's CAR magazine seems to confirm that, although Jaguar hasn't done so officially yet. They have some spy shots of a camouflaged F-Type prototype — a proto-F-Type, if you will — with a hood that seemed higher than usual. They say this is to accomodate a new set of driveshafts and a differential that will send power to all four wheels.

Why do this, you ask? Because Americans, and also people in northern Europe, love the security blanket of all-wheel drive:

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's actually smart on Jaguar's part. Sales of all-wheel drive cars have skyrocketed in recent years, with nearly one-third of all cars sold in the U.S. in much of 2013 having this layout. The F-Type has been a hit for Jaguar, and they're eager to make it a worthy competitor to the Porsche 911 Carrera 4, BMW 4-Series xDrive and other high-performance convertibles.

Still, the real good news is that the F-Type is probably getting a stick shift, although CAR predicts it will be on the base V6 engine only. Let's hope it spreads to the rest of the lineup too.