by John Tallodi
The Jaguar F-Type is a 2-door sports car that offers stunning looks and a high level of customizability with a range of engines to suit most shoppers needs. Those seeking serious performance will gravitate towards the F-Type R which is equipped with a supercharged V8, the convertible model adds another level of immersiveness to the driving experience. Updates to the infotainment system and additional safety systems are new for 2018.
The F-Type R convertible is identical to the coupe derivative and features the same high-quality materials and soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin. The cabin is a bit tighter than you would find in a few rival convertible offerings although the seats offer enough adjustment to suit most adults. The folding soft top retracts quickly and alleviates the headroom issue that afflicts the coupe models. With the roof up you will find the accommodations rather snug. Finding a place for your oddments will be a challenge and the tiny trunk ca accommodate two small bags at best.
The F-Type R is equipped with all-wheel drive and a very sporty suspension setup, it has superb grip around corners and the steering is sharp and immediate. When pressing on, the loud V8 exhaust note and superbly responsive transmission and brakes make the F-Type R a really engaging drive.
When not exploring the limits of lateral grip, the suspension setting, even in its softest setting provides an overly firm ride and is quite firm over bumps. It is also noisy on longer trips which is exacerbated by the soft top which lets in a fair amount of engine and road noise.
A supercharged 5.0-liter V8 sends a substantial 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 0-60 mph time of 3.9-seconds is identical to that of the coupe and the theatrical V8 makes you feel as if you are travelling even faster than the numbers suggest. A switchable exhaust feature allows for slightly more stealthy driving on the way home.
Pricier rivals are even quicker but for the money the F-Type R is fast enough and that instant all-wheel drive traction advantage off the line will see you ahead of some more powerful rear-wheel drive rivals. A big V8 does mean that even on the highway you will be seeing around 23 mpg.
The F-Type R convertible is fitted with a very comprehensive list of standard features. Notable items include 20-inch alloy wheels, an electronic active differential, LED taillights, Windsor leather interior, 12-way power sport seats, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, keyless entry, adjustable ambient lighting, switchable active exhaust, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, Meridian audio system, Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity. Safety items also include emergency brake assist, rear parking aid, rearview camera, lane departure warning and keyless entry. Optional exterior design packages add a number of detail and trim changes such as body colored splitters, body-colored side sills and gloss black side vents or if you prefer you can have the whole lot in carbon fiber. A Drive Package includes a blind spot monitor and reverse traffic detection, driver condition monitor, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and an adaptive speed limiter.
The Extended Leather Package adds leather headlining and leather sun visors with vanity mirrors, you can also choose to have the headlining and sun visors covered in suede. Two climate packs are on offer and you get a heated windshield, heated seats and steering wheel as well as dual-zone climate control. The pricier of the two packages also adds a seat cooling feature. Carbon ceramic brakes, illuminated front treadplates and an upgraded Meridian audio system are available as well.
The Jaguar F-Type R convertible may be loud, hard-riding and totally impractical but these minor issues are all part of the undistilled sport car experience that it provides. Those wanting a soft suspension setup and a large trunk will not be looking at the F-Type R in the first place. The characterful V8 provides serious performance although the noisy cabin and cramped interior may make this convertible better suited to short weekend blasts than long cross-country trips.