by Karl Furlong
Combining seductive looks with ferocious performance, the Jaguar F-Type R Convertible is one of the most desirable drop-tops on the market. The R sits just below the SVR, but it shares that halo model's 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine, mildly detuned here to provide 542 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. The lightweight fabric roof ensures that the R Convertible surges to 60 mph in only 3.9 seconds, the same time as the R Coupe and aided by the fitment of standard all-wheel-drive. This makes the F-Type R Convertible a worthy adversary to the faster but more expensive Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. While the German might be the more polished alternative, the F-Type R mesmerizes with its rowdy V8 and its alluring lines. The razor-sharp handling is slightly undone by a crashy ride that can prove tiresome quickly, but on the right surface and with the top down, the fun factor is off the charts.
Last year, Jaguar updated its infotainment system and for 2020, the Smartphone Package is standard and includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the driver assistance suite gets one addition in the form of a front parking aid. Finally, Eiger Grey and Portofino Blue expand the available color palette.
See trim levels and configurations:
5.0L Supercharged V8 Gas
The gorgeous F-Type R Convertible features a short rear overhang and a clamshell hood, along with a power-folding fabric roof that you'll want to keep stowed as often as the weather allows. While no single aspect of the F-Type is especially outlandish, it all combines for a truly beautiful convertible. Standard features like LED headlights with signature DRLs, a deployable rear spoiler, and 20-inch wheels only serve to accentuate the smooth lines. Unlike less powerful V6 versions of the F-Type, the V8-engined F-Type R features outboard-mounted quad exhaust outlets.
The F-Type R Convertible shares the coupe's dimensions but is a tad lower. The length works out to 176.5 inches, width is 80.4 inches including the side mirrors (and 76 inches without them), while height is 51.5 inches. The wheelbase measures 103.2 inches, shared with every other F-Type. Curb weight works out to 3,847 pounds, just 33 lbs heavier than the coupe which explains why the convertible is just as rapid. Ground clearance is a low 3.9 inches.
The 5.0-liter supercharged V8 under the curvaceous hood of the F-Type R delivers 542 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Channeled via an eight-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels (although the rear-biased system prefers to send power to the back most of the time), the F-Type R Convertible sounds incredible (especially with the roof down) and rockets to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. That's just four-tenths slower than the SVR and equally as quick as the lighter F-Type R Coupe. The Jag tops out at 186 mph, although at that point you'll probably prefer the roof to be closed. Throttle response is deliciously sharp and the F-Type R will see you take gaps in traffic that wouldn't be possible in lesser cars. The eight-speed 'box is equally adept whether you're taking it easy around town or wringing the F-Type's neck through high-speed sweeps.
The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system endows the F-Type R with exhilarating driving dynamics, as does the standard fitment of an electronic active differential with torque vectoring. While the coupe has a smidgen of extra body control thanks to its more rigid structure, the convertible isn't far behind and can be precisely thrown through a series of turns, exhibiting excellent grip and allowing the driver to build a consistent rhythm with the car. The steering is fast, even too fast at first, but you soon appreciate its sensitivity to even mild inputs, even though feedback isn't as generously dished out as in the Porsche 911.
It's when asked to settle down that the F-Type R struggles to deliver. The ride is crashy and bumps are transmitted to the cabin all too readily, again lacking the composure of the 911. Coupled with this is a high level of road and engine noise - a long trip on bumpy roads can see you emerge from the F-Type feeling a bit frazzled. In short, then, it's plenty of fun but lacks the breadth of ability that can be found in some competitors.
With only a small weight penalty for the convertible over the coupe, the drop-top F-Type R manages identical EPA-rated estimates of 16/24/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the F-Type R's combined cruising range works out to about 333 miles. The Porsche 911 is more efficient, though, with the comparable Carrera 4S Cabriolet returning 18/23/20 mpg.
Although the F-Type R Convertible has fairly generous proportions, this doesn't translate into an especially spacious cabin. Seating just the driver and one passenger, both legroom and shoulder room are adequate rather than generous. With the roof up, taller drivers don't have an abundance of head clearance, but obviously this is alleviated at the touch of a button. The Windsor leather seats themselves are lovely, though, offering a good mix of comfort and support (for those who can fit). Both seats are also 12-way power-adjustable with memory functions, making it a bit easier to get sorted behind the wheel. With the roof up, visibility out of the back and to the sides isn't great, while ingress and egress are also a bit cumbersome with the roof up.
Whereas the F-Type R Coupe has a quite generous 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space, the convertible has almost exactly half of that at just 7.3 cubes. If you want a space-saver spare wheel, the space shrinks even further to just 5.3 cubes. This is the price to pay for glamorous wind-in-your-hair motoring. Matters aren't much better for in-cabin storage. The obligatory cupholders are there, but the door pockets are narrow, the glovebox is quite tiny, and the center console bin is merely average in size.
While far from spartan, the F-Type R Convertible lacks a few features that should be standard, not optional. For instance, a luxury convertible should get heated seats and a heated steering wheel out of the box, but these are both options. The climate control system, too, is a single zone rather than a dual-zone unit. You do get features like 12-way power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable steering column, an R-branded steering wheel in leather, a wind deflector, and the fully electric convertible roof. Configurable ambient interior lighting is standard as well, as are safety features like lane keep assist, front/rear parking aids, emergency braking, and a driver condition monitor. A five-inch central TFT display is used for key driver information.
The Touch Pro infotainment system comprises a color ten-inch touchscreen with navigation, InControl apps, Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, and for 2020, the Smartphone Package with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. A 380-watt Meridian audio system with ten speakers ships as standard, but buyers can upgrade to the 770-watt surround sound Meridian system with 12 speakers. Despite the improvements, it's not the most intuitive infotainment system around, but the standard smartphone integration does represent a crucial step up compared to last year's model.
For 2020, the one minor recall that did affect the F-Type Convertible (for incorrect tire placard labels) doesn't apply to the R variant, as only models with 18-inch wheels had the issue. Some 2019 F-Types were also affected by a recall for potential engine failure due to a crankshaft pulley bolt that could fracture. On the plus side, Jaguar's five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty is impressive, and roadside assistance forms part of the coverage, too.
Local authorities haven't evaluated the F-Type R for crashworthiness, but the convertible does ship with enough safety equipment to ensure peace of mind. The airbag count totals four, and the F-Type R also has LED headlights, dynamic stability control, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Driver assistance technologies encompass a rearview camera, front/rear parking sensors, cruise control with a speed limiter, emergency braking, lane keep assist, a driver condition monitor, and traffic sign recognition with an adaptive speed limiter. Park assist and blind spot assist (with rear cross-traffic monitoring) are options.
The 2021 Jaguar F-Type will receive quite a comprehensive facelift - one that we've already seen well ahead of time - so is it worth holding out for that one? Well, in R Convertible guise, this drop-top still has plenty of life left in it. For a significant cost saving, you're getting almost all the performance of the SVR from that raucous supercharged V8. While the convertible does have a smaller trunk, it seems worth it when you take in its beautiful lines for the first time. It's just a pity that the Jag isn't more balanced because, for everything it does spectacularly well, something else disappoints. While it handles brilliantly, the bumpy ride can frustrate. The interior is mostly well-finished and is a stylish place to be, but it simply isn't spacious enough for larger frames. So no, the F-Type R Convertible isn't as well-rounded as the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The question for most will be whether its considerable charms are convincing enough to atone for these flaws. For some buyers, they might well do so.
The F-Type R Convertible carries an MSRP of $104,900, excluding additional costs like tax, licensing, registration, and Jaguar's destination charge of $1,025. This makes the R Convertible $21,800 less expensive than the more powerful F-Type SVR. Of course, the base price also excludes pricey upgrades like the Black Exterior Design Package ($2,500), the Climate Package 1 with a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control ($1,125), and the Extended Windsor Leather Interior Package ($2,550). Fully loaded, it's all too easy to eclipse the SVR Convertible's base price.
As a standalone trim, you don't get to choose the powertrain or the standard specification of your F-Type R Convertible. We'd spec ours with the Climate Package, though, along with heated front seats ($500). We also like one of the darker shades in combination with the red soft-top ($615). If this is the model you're going for, we'd keep the options to a minimum otherwise you may as well go for the SVR. Including destination, our ideal F-Type R Convertible works out to $108,165.
Have you ever ordered the medium fries in an attempt to be a bit more sensible but stared enviously at your friend's larger portion? That's the danger in going for the R instead of the SVR, even if it's purely psychological. For an extra $21,800, the SVR gets you the same 5.0-liter supercharged V8, but retuned to churn out 25 hp and 14 lb-ft more than the R, shaving four-tenths off the benchmark 0-60 sprint in the process. Further upgrades include a lightweight titanium and Inconel exhaust system, 20-inch forged alloy wheels, SVR performance seats, and a carbon fiber rear aerodynamic wing. It would take a truly skilled driver and enough space to decipher the performance advantage of the lighter SVR, but sometimes it's even more about bragging rights than it is tangible performance. With that in mind, the SVR is the one we'd most like to park in our garage.
It's Britain versus a homegrown special in the form of the Corvette Z06 Convertible. If it's straight-line speed you're looking for, the F-Type R is blown away by the Z06, which can achieve a 0-60 time at around the three-second mark when equipped with the correct performance package. The shattering performance is as a result of packing over 100 hp more than the Jag, along with 650 lb-ft of torque from the Corvette's 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Despite sending power to the rear wheels only, the Z06 will still leave the Jag behind through the twisties, plus it's available with a manual gearbox for even more driver involvement. Notably, the Z06 also starts at over $20,000 less than the F-Type R. The British car fights back with a more luxurious cabin and superior material quality, but the Corvette is more spacious and also has a larger trunk. Not everyone will warm to the outlandish Corvette, but we'd happily save the extra cash and take the Chevy home.
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