I fear that my career as an automotive journalist might be over. After spending a week in the Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible, I’ve been ruined for every other car. This is, bar none, the most enjoyable on-road vehicle I’ve ever driven. It’s beautiful.
There are a few iterations of the F-TYPE, starting with the Jaguar F-TYPE coupe with its supercharged six-cylinder engine. At the other end of the model lineup for this car is the supercharged V8-powered F-TYPE R Convertible, the one that I got to drive. The two sports cars are almost identical in looks (sans that drop-top), but are a world apart in their power delivery and handling.
The 2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible houses a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine behind its screaming panther grille ornament. That engine outputs 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, which it sends to an eight-speed automatic transmission which in turn powers all four wheels. This gives the F-TYPE R a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds (my personal best was 4.4).
Speed is one thing, though, and driving is another. Going fast is nice in a straight line, but having the finesse to go fast and take the curve is a completely different level of performance engineering. And those Jaguar engineers? They’re on that level. They might even be the ones who define what that level is in street cars.
The 2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R hits curves with a distinct British aplomb that has an underscore of eagerness about it. There’s no rumple to the suit and tie as the F-TYPE takes a 90-degree two-lane turn at 77 miles per hour. The excitement is there, but stays just under the surface as the little Jag holds composure with nothing more than an engine growl and deep intake of breath through wide nostrils. The reward as you accelerate out and straighten is a satisfied, imagined grin from the Jaguar emblem as the cruise continues.
Although the 2016 F-TYPE R is more than capable on the track, it’s on the open road that it really shows its excellence. With the top down and windows up, cruising at highway speeds on long country roads is an unmatched experience. It’s also remarkably quiet for a convertible, with conversations requiring little change in volume to accommodate the wind. That’s the mark of a very well-designed aerodynamic build.
Many of the capabilities of this Jaguar can be attributed to the beautifully sinuous design of the F-TYPE’s aerodynamics in aluminum. Few cars have the class, style, and raw power of the Jaguar F-TYPE’s exterior design without becoming a contradiction.
The long, flowing, slightly arched hood is flanked by classic fender bolsters and the signature Jaguar side slit. The simple, rounded door panels and heavy haunched, pouncing rear fenders complete an overall design that looks well-heeled on the curb and exudes strength under control on the road.
The interior of the Jaguar F-TYPE R continues this, offering a distinct mixture of British old world design and modern convenience. A grab-handle shifter replaces the usual pop-up rotary dial found in most Jag models, but that signature “Good day, Mr. Bond” appeal is held with the rising vents upon engine start. The sport steering wheel is sized for a solid grip and instruments are positioned for an easy glance during the drive. Infotainment dominates the center stack, but there are enough dials and buttons surrounding it to take the bleeding edge off and keep the old school aircraft appeal of a sports car.
Seating is beyond excellent, with some of the best, most adjustable seating you’ll find in any two-seat coupe today. Beautiful stitching and perfectly-sized bolsters are what define the seats. There are few sports cars in this category that offer the kind of flexible roominess that the F-TYPE has, with even the big and tall, such as myself, having little trouble getting comfortable.
For the driver, there are no other cars that match the Jaguar F-TYPE R Convertible for its quality, excellence, and sheer perfection. This car, as I drove it, was just over $121,000 delivered and worth every single cent. It glides around town with manners, rumbles beautifully with a strong exhaust note, and then streaks into action when the throttle is pressed and the open highway beckons. The Jaguar F-TYPE will ruin you for any other car, becoming the benchmark against which all others pale.