THe Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD Driven - The Sound Of Thunder and then some_
The Jaguar F-Type R, it’s a car that does many things very well. The first thing I need to address is the soundtrack, the 5.0 V8 supercharged motor provides a soundtrack so amazingly brutal that I simply cannot believe that Jaguar gets away with the R being as loud and aggressive as it is; I mean I am very happy they do get away with it, but I’m just not sure quite how they achieved this.
It is the noise of thunder turned up to eleven, kudos to Jaguar for making the R sound as good as it does. Every prod of the throttle gives you an audible pleasure that you cannot fail to enjoy, every downshift from the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox merely enhances the greatness of this soundtrack. If you have never heard the R at full chat then you need to as it’s utterly amazing, the exhaust cracks and bangs as you let off the throttle just to let you know that you are backing off in case you were not already aware of the approaching scenery becoming less blurry in front of you.
Now, thankfully this is a thing of the past, the 2016 model refresh comes with all-wheel drive as part of the S and R sectors of the range. I am mostly grateful they put it in the R version I was driving as it made the car simply sublime to drive, featuring an Electronic Active Differential coupled with a Torque Vectoring system. Under hard acceleration and cornering you can feel the AWD system working away, it never once felt like it would step out of line, even on a damp cobbled English B-road, it just felt utterly planted and straight and true at all times.
The changes from the rear-wheel drive R version are mostly under the skin, the beautiful bonnet is slightly higher than its rear-wheel drive sibling in order to house all of the AWD set-up. The steering system has also been swapped it from a hydraulic system to an EPAS version; the additional weight gain from all the additional hardware is offset by a slightly stiffened suspension setting over the rear-wheel drive version in order to manage this extra weight.
There is no doubt, the F-Type is simply stunning to look at, park it next to the fabled E-Type and you can instantly tell both cars are from the same familial blood line.
From every angle this car looks gorgeous, from the chrome effect side gills to the to the flowing front to back lines of the car, even though the design is a few years old now, it’s still absolutely a head turner in every sense of the meaning.
For me personally, it’s one of those designs that still staggers you when you see one in the metal, you catch sight of that classic Jaguar grille design coupled with R model’s aggressive styling incorporating the deeper front valance and the additional air intakes contained within the front bumper. It’s just every part a properly great looking car.
At the back, the R is finished off with a deep rear splitter set-up housing the quad exhaust system which gives you that formidable soundtrack, this along with the deployable rear spoiler just finishing the design of the car perfectly.
Like the E-Type that came before, the F-Type has and will continue to remain one of the most beautiful cars on the road today.
On The Inside
Firstly, the seats, I am quite tall at 6,3 and I had no issues with being in the R, it never felt cramped and the seats are simply magnificent, comfortable whilst holding you in place perfectly.
Everything is as you would expect in a car with a base price of £97k, high-quality materials everywhere along with second to none build quality. Everything the driver needs is well laid out and within easy reach, overall it’s a very nice luxurious place to be where you could easily spend many hours covering many miles.
The 2016 model refresh features a new infotainment system that is simply a re-worked version prior version. The colourful new home screen is simple to use and well set up, the touch screen works very well and is reactive when you need to be. The only slight grumble is that some of the touch screen buttons are a little small for the more ham-fisted amongst us but with practice, this is something you should easily get used to.
The gearshift hub features most important buttons that you will need to either make the R louder (which you will want to) and the switchable drive modes which will also come in handy for those moments where you simply want to get somewhere like a normal person, essentially the layout makes the task of switching drive modes on the go a simple one.
The test car I had was equipped with the optional mini space saver spare wheel (£265 option), simply don’t bother, the boot on the F-Type is very very small indeed, with the addition of the spare wheel it simply becomes useless. Save your cash and make sure you get breakdown cover in case of a flat tyre, trust me without the spare wheel you could at least carry some luggage for two people for a few nights, with the spare wheel a water bottle is about all you can carry.
The R AWD is a thing of fury and absolute power, the bellowing V8 accompanied by the glorious whine of the supercharger turned heads wherever I went during my road tests in the North and South of England, people hear you coming as this car makes no apologies for what it is or the soundtrack it emits rather loudly.
On the road the EPAS works well, the steering is well weighted with a strong level of feedback for the driver as to what’s going on beneath you, giving you precision which will seek to inspire confidence. I have been informed that the convertible is slightly less rigid than the hardtop version, however during my seat time I could only detect very minor moments of this to the point where it should not be a concern when deciding between the drop-top or the hard-top versions.
The ride did suffer slightly on some of the rougher B-roads but show me a convertible that doesn’t suffer a hint of this on some of the excuses for what we call a road here in the UK. Overall, considering the car I tested was riding on 20’ inch wheels, it felt comfortable and would only crash somewhat on the worst surfaces as any other car would equipped with such larger wheels would suffer the same fate. You have to be realistic, it’s a low slung sports car and Jaguar have done an excellent job here of making it a comfortable place to be even on the worst roads England can throw at you.
Now, some would say that the addition of AWD could detract from the driving side of things, here, I can report that it is an absolute blast to drive, you feel engaged and involved in the process, the system gives you confidence to get the power down and offers a sharp turn in with an excellent amount of feedback as to what’s happening, some will hate me for saying this, but it’s an easy car to drive fast, the AWD keeps everything in check for the most part unless you are driving it like a raging lunatic. If you drive like a normal person within the limits of the law then it offers a thoroughly rewarding drive.
Leave the traction control systems on, you can detect a very millisecond hint of rear wheel slip but once the differential and torque vectoring system kick it will allow you to open the taps and accelerate hard, even during cornering the system just gives you the confidence to stay on the throttle without loss of traction.
Jaguar claims the V8 supercharged motor produces 543bhp, combined with 502Ibft of torque which results in a 0-62mph time of 4.1 second’s, I think these numbers are a little conservative. The R felt a little quicker during my tests and I suspect that on a runway somewhere with some proper timing gear attached that a sub 4.0 second 0-62mph time is possible. All this power and fury means that the R will continue onto a truly staggering top speed of 186mph, while I clearly didn’t test this number out, I can believe that it’s true.
I did also spend a fair amount of time in town with the R and I was presently surprised, during town driving the automatic gearbox is smooth and quiet, it’s almost like a normal car but with the constant reminder of the power and fury that lurks beneath the bonnet thanks to the constant and wonderful soundtrack. The R is an easy car to drive, in fact, I found it no more difficult to drive in traffic than a humble hatchback, I have to admit I didn’t actually stop and try and park it or anything silly like that, but it was just like any other car, as in no drawbacks.
The addition of the AWD system to the R is a great move by Jaguar; it gives you more access to the rampaging 543bhp more of the time in normal road conditions. AWD can detract from the driving experience of some cars, not here thankfully, it has improved it to the point where driver involvement is simply magnificent, even with the £4,850 additional cost over the rear-wheel drive model it is absolutely worth the additional premium.
Some would say drive the coupe before considering the convertible, I say don’t, the drop top gives you front row seats to quite possibly one of the greatest soundtracks ever produced, it will also give you full and unrivalled access to the all of that sky above you, when you add these things together it becomes an utterly amazing combination.
This is an expensive car, but regardless of if you’re inside it or simply gazing at it adoringly from the outside it looks and feels utterly premium and totally worth the price tag.
The R is as good as anything the Germans are currently building, it’s a genuine supercar, an absolute beast combining stunning looks, animalistic power and delicate poise, its absolutely a proper Jaguar.
Engine: V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol
Power and Torque: 543bhp at 6500rpm; 502lb ft at 3500rpm
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 1745kg
Top speed: 186mph
Economy: 25.0mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band:269g/km, 37%
Price: £97,145 (As tested £101,465.00)