by Sebastian Cenizo
When the Jaguar F-Type debuted, it was dubbed a return to form for the brand and one of the most beautiful cars of the modern era. Ian Callum's design was slightly reminiscent of the proportions of the iconic E-Type, and now that it's time for a refresh, the man who took Mr. Callum's job, Julian Thompson, wisely chose not to mess with the dimensions much. Still, as the new head of design at a global powerhouse, you need to make your mark. The changes to the F-Type R convertible are more than just skin-deep though, with the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 now providing the same 567 horsepower as the old SVR version. 516 lb-ft of torque is sent through an updated eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, and various handling upgrades give the R a more accessible driving experience, too. Is it worth over $105,000 though? Let's see.
The most obvious changes are to the styling, with the front end featuring a sleeker look, while inside there is a new 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system. A quiet mode for start-ups will help keep you in the good graces of your neighbors. The suspension has been heavily revised too, with updated anti-roll bars, new springs, and retuned dampers that are intended to make the handling sharper while improving comfort too.
5.0-liter Supercharged V8 Gas
The front end of the new F-Type R convertible is far smoother than that of the already svelte original model, and new slim LED headlights drop the focal point of the nose, making the car appear even lower. New grilles that are larger than before tie in brilliantly with the design, while repositioned hood and fender vents improve cooling and aerodynamic efficiency respectively. At the back, the taillights have been sharpened with a squared-off look, while a body-colored diffuser houses the R's signature quad-tip exhaust arrangement. 20-inch wheels are standard, but you can choose from a range of designs in 18-, 19-, and 20-inch variations if the standard multi-spoke wheels don't do it for you.
Despite the refreshed design, dimensions on the R convertible are identical to those of the previous model, with length measuring 176 inches and height pegged at 51.5 inches. The wheelbase is unchanged at 103.2 inches, while width with the mirrors folded is 74.2 inches and a little over 80 inches with them extended. Curb weight, however, has increased by 40 pounds to 3,887 lbs, but the additional power from that 5.0-liter V8 should cancel it out with ease.
The F-Type R convertible promises a 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds, thanks in part to the Quickshift ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and, of course, that beefy power plant. The 5.0-liter supercharged V8 now produces 567 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel the F-Type R convertible to a top speed of 186 mph. The switchable active exhaust has also been retuned, and now offers a more refined sound that isn't as rowdy as before. Still, plant your right foot and you'll be sure to attract attention. Doing so not only draws a crowd but also instantly hurtles you forward. The throttle response is incredible, and thanks to that brilliant gearbox, going up and down the gears is an addictive exercise.
While we really liked the old F-Type R for its characterful engine and reassuring traction control system, it was still wanting for grip at the limit. Furthermore, the ride could be pretty crashy and corrugations were not fun at all. Thanks to the new enhancements, the current F-Type R convertible is remarkably well composed and wider tires enhance grip, although if you give it a bootful around a bend, you can initiate an easily controlled slide too. With these improvements and a wonderfully direct steering system that is more accurate than before, you may expect that the R is more hardcore than before but this is not the case - it's become a better sportscar and a better GT, absorbing bumps and irregularities in the road with ease. All in all, the R is still not a 911-beater but it is a brilliant all-round canyon carver and comfy cruiser.
Despite an increase in power, the F-Type R convertible returns the same gas mileage figures as its predecessor, with official EPA estimates of 16/24/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, you can expect an average of around 333 miles with mixed driving.
With the same dimensions as the old car, you won't find any more space in the R's cabin than in the previous model. There's still just about enough space for both occupants to sit with decent headroom and legroom, but you can expect to bump elbows with your passenger. Nevertheless, the seats themselves are very comfortable and are supportive in the corners too. Standard 12-way power-adjustability makes them suitable for pretty much anyone, but getting in and out with the roof up can be tricky, with visibility out the back similarly compromised. Still, you don't buy a convertible to keep the roof up.
The F-Type R convertible may be more comfortable than before, but it's no more accommodating in terms of cargo space, with just 7.3 cubic feet of volume allowing no more than a pair of carry-on suitcases in the tiny trunk.
In the cabin, you get a pair of cupholders, decent door pockets, a reasonable glovebox, and center armrest storage for your pockets' contents.
As standard, the F-Type R convertible features a switchable active exhaust system with a quiet mode, automatic LED headlights, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, a new 12.3-inch configurable driver info display, heated power-folding wing mirrors, keyless entry with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, a driver condition monitor, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dynamic cruise control with traffic-sign recognition, lane keep assist, and single-zone climate control. Available features include an automatic parking system, a heated steering wheel, a heated windshield, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and dual-zone climate control.
The new Touch Pro infotainment system in the R convertible features a 10-inch touchscreen display that is hooked up to a 10-speaker Meridian sound system. It features all the usual amenities, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, and USB input. An improvement over the horrid system of the old model, the new setup is quicker to respond and has more modern graphics, but the buttons on the screen are still too small for accurate inputs while driving. Still, at least the sound system does a good job of mitigating the effects of wind noise, and an available 12-speaker surround-sound Meridian setup is even better than the standard system.
Thus far, no recalls have been issued for 2021's new model, but the 2020 model was subject to a recall late in September 2019. This was a minor one, however, for an incorrect tire placard label.
Should anything go wrong during your time with the R convertible, a comprehensive five-year/60,000-mile warranty is included with the car. Complimentary scheduled maintenance is also included for the same period.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has yet rated the F-Type in either coupe or convertible form. However, a strong list of standard safety features and some optional tech should keep occupants safe.
Standard equipment includes frontal and side-impact airbags, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, automatic emergency braking, a driver condition monitor, lane keep assist, parking sensors, and dynamic cruise control with traffic-sign recognition. Options include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and an automatic parking system.
The new F-Type R convertible carries many of the same faults as its predecessor, with a less than perfect infotainment system, minimal interior space, and a tiny trunk. However, many of the good parts have been carried over and even enhanced. The engine is a peach and the gearbox is brilliant. The interior is beautifully appointed, if a little short on the wow factor, and the handling is brilliant too. Where there was a serious trade-off in terms of comfort before, the new R convertible is the kind of all-rounder that you'll want to spend as much time in as possible. It's still a thirsty, compromised, and rorty machine, but it's more usable and thus more fun than before. The new looks may be a little polarizing, but it brings the styling forward and makes the F-Type R convertible even more striking than the old model. It's not perfect, but it's a blast. What more could you want?
The Jaguar F-Type R convertible starts at a base price of $105,900 before a $1,025 destination charge. This makes it just a thousand bucks pricier than the previous model, despite a host of changes. Fully loaded, you can spend over $145,000.
The F-Type R comes in a single trim variant with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that produces 567 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent through a ZF eight-speed automatic to all four corners. Inside, Windsor leather upholstery is standard, but dual-zone climate control isn't, so we'd add this and a heated steering wheel. We'd also consider the available Meridian surround-sound system to fully enjoy our music with the top down. When the top is up, visibility is rather poor over the rear quarters, so we'd add blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and we'd consider the automatic parking system too. Beyond that, some carbon bits to add aggression would go nicely, and a wind deflector would be a good investment to avoid turbulence in the cabin.
The Porsche 911 Carrera is one of those cars that is difficult to beat in the sports car segment. Its steering feel, handling ability, and flat-out performance are difficult to match, even with a base price of $110,200. That's only five grand or so more than the Jag retails for, but you don't get quite as much power. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six produces 379 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque, but the eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic is even better than the Jag's ZF eight-speed, and what it lacks in straight-line performance, it makes up for with an extra pair of seats (even if they are tiny) as well as a stunning interior and phenomenal suspension tuning. Based on the badge, the handling ability, and the outright style of the Porsche, it's the one we'd have, but the F-Type R doesn't lag as far behind as it used to.
The Corvette Stingray convertible is already known as a supercar killer, thanks to its 6.2-liter V8 engine that puts out up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels. Sure, it's not as strong as the Jag, but its exotic styling, driver-focused cockpit, and incredible handling make up for that. It's also more practical thanks to a pair of storage compartments at either end of the car, but the real kicker is that all of this comes at a price of just $66,400 for the base version. If you're looking for relatively cheap thrills, the Corvette is a brilliant choice, but if you're after effortless style and class, the elegance of the Jag and the status of its badge can never be matched by a Chevy product.