Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible review

Jaguar's improved F-TYPE convertible now offers the keen driver even more options. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

The improved F-TYPE Convertible has even more to please committed Jaguar enthusiasts. This latest car offers five engine choices, including 340, 380 and 400PS supercharged 3.0-litre V6s, plus 550 and 575PS versions of the ballistic supercharged 5.0-litre V8 that comes with AWD. In short, Jaguar's baby soft top just goes from strength to strength.

Background

Okay, time for a quick report card on the Jaguar F-TYPE. It's been nothing but good news for its maker and the addition of the F-TYPE Coupe only broadened its appeal. Thing is, Jaguar isn't sitting back, sparking up a Cuban and watching the money roll in. Instead it's ploughing huge investment into the car and the fruits of that research and development are starting to materialise. This improved model gets a smarter front end, upgraded infotainment, an extra 400PS V6 engine option and a clever 'ReRun' app that gives owners high quality video with real-time performance data. Let's check this car out in Convertible form.

Driving Experience

As before, there are still two main engines that power the F-TYPE, a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and a 5.0-litre V8. First up is the standard F-TYPE with a 340PS supercharged V6. The F-TYPE R-Dynamic offers buyers either this base unit or a 380PS version of the same engine, while the F-TYPE 400 Sport uses this powerplant in 400PS guise. The 380 and 400PS models get the option of AWD. With the 340 and 380PS variants, buyers can choose between manual and Quickshift auto transmission; with the '400 Sport', its 'Quickshift' only. You'll also be limited to the auto 'box if you opt for one of the 5.0-litre V8 models - and these potent variants only come with AWD. The F-TYPE R gets this powerplant in 550PS form, while the flagship SVR derivative uses this engine with 575PS on tap. Got all that? I'll be asking questions later. You're going to want to lower the fabric roof to better hear these engines of course - a process that can be accomplished in just 12s at speeds of up to 30mph - but once you do, you won't be disappointed. Personally, I usually like my automotive sound effects to come from the engine rather than, as here, the tailpipes at the back but even I have to admit that this car hums an addictive tune. Whichever variant you choose, performance is striking. Even the feeblest 340PS model makes 62mph from rest in just 5.7s, while the V8 F-TYPE R covers off that sprint in just 4.2s. As before, the 380PS F-TYPE variant most buyers choose gets a mechanical limited-slip differential, while the V8 gets an electronic item. Across the range, you get an all-aluminium chassis, double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link-suspended rear.

Design and Build

The visual changes made to this improved model are small but significant, centring mostly on a front end now embellished by full-LED headlights that sit above a re-styled bumper. Jaguar's distinctive J-Blade daytime running lights are retained, and these now double as the direction indicators, with the lamp's 'eyelid' indexing with the bonnet's cutline to further accentuate the lights' multi-layered graphics. Otherwise, it's as you were. Aesthetically, there are some lovely details such as the pop-out door handles and the single flying buttress that swoops down from one side of the centre console. Then there's the neatly styled gear selector, the giant TFT display in the dash and the deep-set driving position The roof, as you've probably already gathered from the clean, compact shape, isn't the kind of heavy metal folding deal you'll find in rival Mercedes sportscars: that would have upset the low centre of gravity and near 50:50 weight distribution the engineers prioritised so much with the light weight aluminium architecture of this design. So it's a multi-layered fabric affair with a thick Thinsulate lining that raises or lowers in just 12s and doesn't need a panel or a tonneau cover to smooth it over when stowed. Instead, the top section of the roof itself keeps everything looking tidy. Unlike a metal top of course, it doesn't rob you of bootspace when it's down. Which is just as well, because there isn't much. The 196-litre boot is one of the relatively few things that might make you think twice about this car.

Market and Model

This Convertible F-TYPE bodystyle commands a premium of around £5,500 over its Coupe counterpart, which seems a bit steep. That means that prices start at around £57,000 for the base 340PS model but you'll need a budget of around £66,000 if you want the pokier 380PS powerplant. There's a premium of around £1,700 to pay if you want Quickshift automatic transmission rather than the manual 'box. The auto-only F-TYPE R Convertible models start at around £92,000 and if you want the top SVR variant, think in terms of needing around £115,000. All F-TYPE models now get full-LED headlights, plus a more sophisticated 'Touch Pro' infotainment system which includes online services such as real-time traffic and live weather reports. Even the entry-level variant gets sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and sports seats with leather and suede-cloth. And buyers can also expect features like USB, auxiliary and iPod connections, a rear parking aid, climate control, six-way electrically adjustable sports seats, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and Jaguar's clever Pedestrian Contact System. True enthusiasts will be able to capture and share their driving experiences using the new ReRun app developed in collaboration with GoPro. In a world-first, ReRun combines real-time video from the driver's GoPro with key vehicle performance data including speed, throttle position, gear selection, braking force and g force. The high quality video - including unique 'highlights' sections - can be downloaded to the driver's smartphone and shared on social media.

Cost of Ownership

Jaguar hasn't always been right on the pace of its key German rivals when it comes to economy and emissions, though little consideration is usually given to the fact that its cars are usually priced more affordably and are better equipped. At the base of the range, the automatic 340PS RWD F-TYPE records 33.6mpg and emits 199g/km of carbon dioxide. Go for a manual model and those figures are significantly worse, at 28.8mpg and 234g/km respectively. Just to put those numbers into some sort of frame of reference, a 370PS Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet with a manual 'box records 33.2mpg and emits 195g/km. You'll need deep pockets to run the V8 model; the F-TYPE R manages 26.4mpg and 255g/km. Jaguar must be absolutely delighted with the way that F-TYPE residual values have held up, an entry-level automatic convertible retaining a bigger share of its value after three years than either a Porsche 718 Boxster S or a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet when both are fitted with an equivalent PDK transmission.

Summary

Jaguar is a company that has, in the past, demonstrated an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. When we first drove the F-TYPE, we wondered how they'd manage to shoot themselves in the foot with base material that good. But they didn't. The pricing was well-judged, the promotion spot-on and the car has, fingers crossed, appeared well screwed together. It's a case study in doing things right and the latest models only serve to underscore that fact. The all-wheel drive chassis is a logical choice for the more powerful F-TYPE models which could be a bit hairy-chested for some. In this damp and dismal isle, a little more of a traction advantage is never a bad thing. As for the rest of the changes, well the infotainment system's certainly better and we can see enthusiasts liking the clever 'ReRun' app for the recording of track day heroics. Ultimately, if you liked this car before, you'll like it even more now. Jaguar needed to find a younger, more demanding, hungrier audience for its sportscars. With the F-TYPE, it's done just that.