How Smart Engineering Puts The $100,000 2021 Jaguar F-Type Back On Top: Page 3 of 3

More precise control of this 575-horsepower cat is a much-appreciated upgrade.

Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

As fun as the P300 is, the V8 F-Type R is an entirely different experience, with its astonishing rush of power and thundering American muscle car voice. The most surprising aspect of the V8 car is how it turns into curves with alacrity despite the extra weight over the front wheels and the understeer-inducing potential of the power coursing through the front tires.

Previously, Jaguar tried to avoid this by dialing in intentional oversteer, a trait that could be hair-raising in a car with the V8 F-Type’s power.  “The old V8 had a tendency to be a bit more scary,” noted Tanmay Dube, F-Type vehicle integration manager. “This is more progressive.”

The answer came, not from the front suspension, but the rear. Dube tapped his experience developing cars like the McLaren 720S before he joined Jaguar to identify weaknesses in the old car’s rear suspension.

They were solved with the selection of beefy die-cast aluminum rear hub carriers that feature enlarged wheel bearings and upgraded upper ball joints to increase camber stiffness by 37 percent and toe stiffness by 41 percent. The resultingly more precise control of the rear tires’ contact patches contributes to the new car’s more connected steering feel from the front tires’ contact patches.

On the F-Type R, the tires making that contact are 265/35ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear Pirelli P Zeros that are 10 mm wider than the rubber on last year’s model. Power channeled to those tires is metered by the Intelligent Driveline Dynamics system that sends optimum torque to each wheel, as well as a rear electronic active differential that also helps maximize grip.

Despite all this wizardry and improvement, none of this is regarded by Dube as the area of biggest improvement for the 2021 F-Type. “The real standout factor is the recalibrated steering,” he insisted. “It has sharper on-center feel and more effort on turn-in. It took us months and months tuning the steering with (test driver) Mike Cross.”

Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

It wasn’t a matter of waiting for Cross to return from a drive to hear what needed changing for the next test. “The calibration guys rode along and tuned it live with Mike while he was driving,” Dube said.

How they rode along on Jaguar’s test track while making changes to the response of the car’s electric power steering while test driver Cross tore around the circuit without suffering debilitation motion sickness may be a future medical paper, but in the meanwhile, we’ll just appreciate the fruits of their labor, because the car really does deliver on the engineers’ promises of crisp, responsive steering response, strong feedback of the status of the tires and confidence-inspiring stability even while accelerating hard out of fast turns, when the previous car could lead to some white-knuckle experiences.

The V8 car, of course, boasts a lovely singing voice, so there is no surprise as with the P300 that it sounds good on the road. But the previous edition could be too raucous even for enthusiasts while driving and threatened neighborly relations with its excessive start-up roar that was unappreciated when it rattled windows in the dark morning hours.

Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar has added a quiet start feature to quell that racket when drivers and their neighbors aren’t interested in hearing from each of the F-Type’s 575 horses individually. But almost as importantly, the switch from vacuum-actuated muffler bypass valves to electric ones, along with the installation of close-coupled particulate filters on all F-Types seems to have taken the edge off the car’s crackle on overrun. The motivation for the sound, which is intentionally cultivated with a touch of “over fueling” that is programmed into the fuel injection system on lift-throttle conditions, is laudable, as it reminds drivers that their V8 sports car is supposed to be fun.

But in practice, it could be police-baitingly excessive, to the point of possibly embarrassing drivers long graduated from their learner’s permits. Now, the F-Type, with its exhaust changes and stabilized handling characteristics is easier for drivers to love.

“It is more refined and mature,” concluded Dube. Which can be critical when "Image is everything!"

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

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