Real-World Review

2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible: Real World Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Jason Fogelson July 2016

The Jaguar F-TYPE was the shot heard 'round the world, a clear announcement that the British icon was ready to compete at the highest levels. Not since the 1963 introduction of the E-Type had Jaguar made such a fully realized, astonishingly beautiful sports car.

So when we recently had a chance to get behind the wheel of the top-of-the-line 2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible at the Motor Press Guild's Droptops & Dirt event in Malibu, California, we couldn't say yes any faster. This driving event is held annually at Calamigos Ranch and combines a day of off-roading in SUVs, crossovers and trucks with canyon blasts in convertibles. It's a tough day at work, but we muddle through.

All Types of F-TYPEs

Jaguar's F-TYPE lineup consists of twelve models: six coupes and six convertible roadsters in F-TYPE, F-TYPE S and F-TYPE R trim levels with transmission and drive variants. Each step up adds features and capabilities -- and price, starting at $68,100 for the base coupe. Our test vehicle was the fully loaded F-TYPE R Convertible with a starting price of $106,450.

The F-TYPE R Convertible is a 2-passenger roadster. Crafted by Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum, there's just no family-friendly way to describe this car: It's sex on four wheels. Like the E-Type, which many experts feel is the most beautiful car ever built, the F-TYPE R borders on cartoonish in its proportions. An impossibly long hood promises massive power. Big wheel arches house 20-inch rims wearing wide 255-series tires in front and super-wide 295-series rubber in the rear.

The F-TYPE is long (176.0 inches), low (51.7 inches with 3.9 inches of ground clearance) and wide (75.7 inches for the body, 80.4 inches with mirrors). It looks great with the top up and even better with the top down, which only takes the operation of a switch. A hard tonneau cover rises to accept the canvas roof into its lair, then hides it away beneath a sleek exterior. Where does it go? The top eats up 4 cu ft. of trunk space versus the coupe, leaving 7 cu ft. of cargo capacity.

Luxurious and Tasteful

Open the long door of the F-TYPE and lower yourself into the driver's seat. In true sports-car fashion, your bum skims the pavement when you drive this Jaguar, legs stretched out in front. Jaguar has learned a lot about ergonomics and comfort since building the E-Type, and the F-TYPE has generous, real-world dimensions inside, with a great deal of adjustability that allows you to tailor the fit to your size.

Rich materials, tastefully designed and thoroughly modern, form a beautiful interior that is all sports car and all luxury. All of the controls are in exactly the right places, and there are tactile surprises throughout the cabin, such as gnarled surfaces on the side of the rotary gear selector. Touch the start/stop button on the center console, and the F-TYPE comes to life with light, sound and motion. It's finally time to drive.

Wheels Up

The old saying still holds true: There's no replacement for displacement. What's the big difference between the F-TYPE's R, base and S models? The base and S come with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine, while the R model comes with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The 550-horsepower engine can rocket the F-TYPE R from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, according to Jaguar. That's neck-snapping, breathtaking acceleration, and it keeps going up to a reported top speed of 186 mph -- good for bragging rights at rest stops but not meaningful on U.S. roads in any legal way.

Supercharging uses a pump to get more air into the engine and extract more power out of the fuel. This is different than turbocharging, which uses exhaust gases to spin a turbine that pumps air into the engine for a similar effect. The constant battle with turbocharging is managing when the power hits. Turbo lag is a frequent problem: The driver hits the gas, and the turbo takes a few seconds to spool up before delivering a punch of power up to the top end. That punch is great, but it isn't smooth. Supercharging is smoother, easier to manage and much more predictable, coming in at low rpm and working through the rev range.

However, the challenge with supercharging is that while it pumps air and improves power, it also takes energy from the engine to run the pump, which can affect fuel economy. Every choice has consequences and requires some compromise. The F-TYPE R is rated to achieve 15 miles per gallon in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg combined. That's the price you pay for rocket-ship performance.

All that power would be wasted if the F-TYPE's chassis and suspension weren't equally as refined as the rest of the vehicle. A double-wishbone front and rear suspension with selectable damping and sport settings eat up the road, and a super-stiff aluminum body structure makes the convertible's ride solid and secure. The R model comes standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Great steering from Jaguar's first electric power-assist system and surefooted handling, combined with all that speed, let you drive with authority and confidence with very little effort. The R model is the very definition of fun.

A Symphony of Motoring

The sound of the supercharged Jaguar V8 bounces off of the canyon walls in Malibu, a perfect British "blatttt." A button on the center console opens up the exhaust even more, delivering a more full-throated engine note that's music to a gearhead's ears. It's important to depress this button before entering any tunnel for the full exhaust effect.

If you need an alternative soundtrack, there's a standard 770-watt Meridian system included as standard equipment. Navigation is standard, and Jaguar has a new suite of smartphone apps that enhance the connectivity and telematics of the F-TYPE, even allowing you to start your convertible remotely using your phone.

It's much more fun to start the 2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible from the driver's seat, though, because that means you're about to go for a drive in one of the best roadsters you can buy for the money.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible: Real World Review - Autotrader