Test drive: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible
The British are a singularly odd bunch when it comes to things automotive. When they fail to amaze, they do an epic job of it, but when they do hit the mark, they do so with such perfection that it’s awe inspiring. The 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible falls squarely into the latter camp and for us, this particular car is so utterly perfect that all other vehicles are henceforth relegated to the sad "not an F-Type" bin. It’s that awesome.
The exterior of the F-Type is simple, graceful, and beautiful. The simplistic design is a ruse, of course. Close inspection shows that there are a myriad of details in the F-Type’s bodywork that combine into something that every artist and design engineer wishes to accomplish: complex design so well-wrought that it looks easy.
The sharply sloping hood, wide body stance, and rounded rear quarter all denote the Jaguar F-Type’s intention.
Those intentions are spoken by the Jag’s supercharged engine. There are V6 options at the beginning of the F-Type lineup, but the real goods are behind the red-backed Jaguar emblems on the R models. Available as a coupe or convertible, the F-Type R roars to life with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that outputs a phenomenal 550 horsepower (404 kW) and 502 pound-feet (680 Nm) of torque. This turns an eight-speed automatic transmission that powers all four wheels. It does so with a roaring pantherine throat via a quad exhaust.
Jaguar says that a professional on a track can do 3.9-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprints with the F-Type R. In the hands of most drivers, breaking the 4.5-second pounce to sixty is very doable. Even if your personal times aren’t as good as these, you’ll be guaranteed to have a blast listening to that engine happily try to make it happen for you. The sounds that emit from this Jaguar are like no other car you’ve ever driven. Many muscle cars will shirk in fear at the beautiful tones from the F-Type R’s four trumpets. Especially if the magic button below the shifter is pushed, opening those beauties up completely.
Going fast in a straight line is one thing. Having finesse on the road and track is another. Having both is very unusual and puts the 2016 Jaguar F-Type R in a rare league. The all-wheel drive powertrain is a big part of that. We have a favorite 90-degree curve we test performance cars like this one with. The curve is marked at 15 mph (24 km/h), which is the speed that a large truck or top-heavy van would take it in one lane. Most performance cars can do the curve in one lane at around 45 mph (72 km/h) or so without squealing the tires (much). The F-Type R? 56 mph (90 km/h) on that curve in one lane. 77 mph (124 km/h) on that same curve using both lanes. All without tire chirp or even breaking a sweat. Compare that to a Corvette (74 mph), Mustang GT (66 mph), or a BMW i8 (75 mph). That is a solid indication of the F-Type R’s superb drivetrain and chassis tuning. It’s also a testament to the car’s roughly 1:6 horsepower to weight ratio (in pounds).
Performance driving aside, though, this Jaguar stays true to its make’s reputation for being a lovely open road cruiser. The engine sings gloriously at speed and the chassis and steering are enjoyable corner huggers. The design of the convertible model, in particular, is so well-wrought that with the top down and windows up, a normal conversation can be had inside the car. Even at express lane speeds.
Much of that road driving experience is thanks to the Jaguar F-Type’s interior. Where the exterior is marked by simple beauty, the interior is finely-wrought old world excellence. Seating is better than any two-seat sports car we’ve ever tried. Bolstering is perfect for the car’s performance capabilities without being over-the-top or uncomfortable. Also unusual for a two-seat sports car is the feeling of spaciousness the Jaguar imparts.
The driver’s controls are very well placed and intuitive. The standard Jag rotary shifter is replaced by a more robust pistol grip-style gear selector. To make up for the signature "rising shift knob" that gives the current-generation Jaguar models their "Good day, Mr. Bond" swank, the F-Type instead has rising air vents at the top of the console.
Infotainment in the 2016 Jaguar F-Type comes with an 8-inch touchscreen and 12-speaker Meridian sound system as standard in all models. The British automaker has been making long strides over the past couple of years, improving its once simplistic in-car consumer electronics interfaces with much more robust offerings. The F-Type includes a smart suite of basic apps for navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and so forth. Also included is Jaguar’s new InControl Apps integration, which puts the user’s smartphone to work as the brains behind the console’s touchscreen. This gives a plethora of new options, such as access to your contacts list and calendar as well as the use of third-party apps for music streaming, nav enhancement, and a lot more. Useful apps like Parkopedia and EventSeeker do just what you’d think they do.
As a total package, the 2016 Jaguar F-Type R is an expensive, beautiful, top shelf luxury two-seater. Every penny spent is worth it, with this being one of the best cars you’ll ever experience. After a glorious week and a breathtaking 457 miles (735 km) in the F-Type R Convertible, it’s likely ruined us for any other car.
Pricing for the 2016 Jaguar F-Type AWD Convertible starts at US$106,450.
Product page: Jaguar