The Jaguar F-Type Convertible was previewed back in 2011 by the C-X16 concept that made it to production largely the same as the concept version. The Ian Callum designed masterpiece is the spiritual successor to the famed E-Type – once dubbed the most beautiful car in the world by none other than Enzo Ferrari. Originally launched with a range of supercharged V-shaped engines, for 2018 Jaguar introduces a new 2.0-liter 4 cylinder. The F-Type Convertible competes in many leagues – top models bordering on supercar performance, whilst the new 4-pot models finally providing a credible rival to the Porsche 718 Boxster that doesn’t come from Germany.
Snug and fitted with low slung seating and a high waist line
A store-bought suit never quite fits right – but a tailored suit is snug in all the right places, free moving when you need it. That’s the interior of the F-Type convertible, snug and fitted with low slung seating and a high waist line. Forward visibility over the protruding hood is decent, but with a front-mounted engine it lacks the visibility mid-engined cars offer. Rearward visibility isn’t as compromised as many are – the soft-top folding roof stowing away neatly, and the hollow rollover hoops affording decent look-around visibility. But I losing the hard-top and hatchback opening, the roof stowage and mechanism compromise cargo volume – dropping the figure from 11 cubic feet in the coupe to 7 cubic feet in the convertible models.
The cabin may look and feel gorgeous inside, but technologically, it lags behind the Porsche 718 and 911 ranges. The touch screen is sluggish and the graphics look dated, and the system is generally unintuitive.
Over broken pavements the ride can become a bit jittery
If you’re not buying the F-Type for its gorgeous looks, you’re buying it for its handling and sports car attributes. It has those in abundance. The four-cylinder models, though wearing skinnier tires and with a softer suspension setup offer keen turn-in thanks to a lighter front end, making them nimble through slower corners and more pliant over rapidly changing surfaces. V6 models feature stiffer suspension, larger wheels, and wider, low profile tires. This has a negative impact on the ride quality, firming it substantially. Over broken pavements the ride can become a bit jittery, but Jaguar’s tuning of the dampers provides excellent secondary body control to create a smooth ride, despite the firmness. Body roll is kept in check and handling is still impressively sharp – particularly with the V6’s mechanical limited slip differential. Though rear-drive models offer plenty of smoky oversteer moments, the all-wheel drive models don’t compromise the fun – but add a layer of extra control.
Base models feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder under the hood, with outputs of 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is available with a standard 340hp, 332 lb-ft tune, a 380hp, 339 lb-ft tune in the V6 S, and in the F-Type 400, 400hp, though torque is unchanged. The R Convertible gets a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with 550hp and 502 lb-ft. Power gets sent to the rear wheels as standard, though all-wheel drive is available on V6 models and standard on the V8. A 6-speed manual can be had on the V6, but an 8-speed automatic is the better choice available on all models.
The F-Type convertible gets a sufficient list of standard equipment, including automatic climate control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather and suede upholstery, and a 12-speaker Meridian sound system. Premium trim adds keyless entry, adaptive headlights, and 14-way power adjustable seating. V6 S models get more kit, like adaptive damping and ambient lighting, whilst the V8 R gets a wind deflector, rear parking sensors, dual zone climate, and heated seats. The F-Type gets ABS brakes, stability and traction control, and rollover hoops for safety on all models, with a rear-view camera, front and rear park sensors, and rear cross traffic alerts available too.
Conceived as a drop-top, the F-Type Convertible is the F-Type in its most pure form. Sleek and sexy, it may not be as dynamically talented as a Porsche, but it has character by the bucket-load that few others can match. The V6 S is the one you’ll want, in rear-wheel drive.