New ownership at Jaguar is not that new anymore. Tata (makers of Eight-O-Clock Coffee and others) came in and dropped the brand on its proverbial head and in the process, shook things up quite nicely, we’d say. One of their grandest achievements is the latest iteration of their flagship 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD. The ability to go topless has never been more appealing than in this personal two-seat neo-spectacular near-supercar. Sure it’s a mouthful, (with a few hyphens) but please work with us here.
Available in a variety of configurations, the Jaguar F-Type has even helped to grease the skids for its newly arrived F-Pace SUV. But is it really all that? We spend a week in the F-Type R Convertible to find out.
That’s pretty much what it will do. Designed to take your breath away from 20-feet, and mold you to it once inside, the 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD is the al-fresco (topless) version of the F-Type that was introduced in 2013. A two-door, two-passenger sportscar, it is offered with several engine flavors. Our sampler featured a 5.0-liter Supercharged V8 engine built by a Jaguar team in a dedicated facility within Ford UK’s Bridgend Engine Plant. In this guise, it produces 550-horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque that is capable of motivating the all-wheel-drive F-Type to 186 miles per hour. Power is delivered to all four wheels, as sensors see fit, by a ZF-built eight-speed automatic transmission and Jaguar Instinctive All Wheel Drive.
With its instinctive features, the system sends virtually 100-percent of the torque to the rear wheels for a typical sports/performance joint, in normal circumstances. Get in over your head (as determined by onboard sensors) and a center coupler can send up to 50-percent of the available torque forward to help control any possible over- or understeer that may swamp you. Like an insurance policy, it’s not always needed but good to know its there.
Also on board: Jaguar’s Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD). As the company explains, it is capable of sensing rain, ice and snowy conditions on the road and provides full functionality of AWD to the F-Type. Conversely under dry, optimum conditions, it sends approximately 90-percent of the traction and torque to the rear wheels. The beauty of the system, according to company brass, is that it works seamlessly and still maintains the F-Type’s Jaguar DNA.
This Jaguar now comes in five flavors ranging from base F-Type, F-Type Premium, F-Type S, F-Type R and top flight F-Type SVR. The three former are equipped with supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engines, while the two latter are supercharged V8 powered.
While not necessarily in the same wheelhouse as a rear-engined supercar, the Jaguar F-Type could almost sit at the same table. As such, it will be cross-shopped with such legendary rides as the Acura NSX, the Audi R8, the Mercedes-Benz SL and Nissan GT-R.
The 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible, in our mind’s eye, appears shorter than its E-Type predecessor. Still, it’s plenty slick without being over the top. While the Jaguar signature grille reappears, the power bulged hood now features revised ventilation to allow trapped underhood air an escape route to aid in front-end stability.
Designed at the same time as the coupé, the convertible has taken advantage of engineering that allowed the car’s rigidity to be a part of the initial construction rather than be cut out of it the same time the roof has been lopped off. The result is a car that is nearly as rigid as its hard-topped brother. The sidelines draw rearward in an appealingly swoopy design that culminates in signature LED taillamps and an underbumper diffuser. Oh did we mention the chrome-tipped exhaust finishers? A console-mounted button opens an internal exhaust baffle that makes the engine go from a purring gurgle to a toxic roar.
With precision tailoring, occupants of the cockpit wear the Jag’s interior like a fine Savile Row suit. Constantly in flux, the F-Type’s interior has seen improvements since its introduction in 2013. While the basic design remains as it did four years ago, it has undergone refinements including updated gauges and other accoutrements. While we are not particularly warmed to the ivory and black leather color scheme, we like the way the seats fit with their adjustable bolsters and lumbar support. We did hear some whining about a hard seating surface here or there, but generally more occupants liked the seating than not.
The F-Type now includes a standard 770-watt Meridian audio system with Sirius XM Satellite radio and Jaguar InControl Remote & Protect, and InControl Apps. With Remote & Protect, it’s possible for owners to check fuel level, door lock status, set the climate control temperature and even start the car remotely. InControl Protect automatically sends a call based on activation of a supplemental restraint trigger that alerts the emergency desk when a shunt has occurred.
Behind the wheel
The 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is an eight-pot jewel of an engine that offers supercar performance at a not-too-outrageous price. Sporting an oil filler cap with the legend FOMOCO imprinted on it, the engine shows off some of the lingering remnants of the technology swap that did, and may still benefit the two automakers. The F-Type’s electric power-assisted steering offers, for the first time in Jaguar brand history, a more efficient, and in this case, better steering feel than found in any previous Jaguar.
The cabin remains relatively quiet while at speed, thanks to the multi-layer fabric roof, which features a mechanism that can raise and lower in under 20-seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. On the other hand, if the interior gets too quiet, an exhaust by-pass valve can be opened which makes for a throatier growl coming out of the chrome exhaust finishers located within the rear under bumper diffuser.
The ZF eight-speed Sportshift automatic transmission really threw down when asked to, with sure shifts and no hunting for a proper gear. While it operates in a seamless manner in automatic mode, working the paddle shift levers clearly appeals to a driver’s emotional side. Downshifting while heading into a tight right-hander saw rev-matching do its thing to impart a feeling of oneness with the car. It was almost as if you thought about what your next move behind the wheel would be, and the F-Type would execute it for you. Flick the switch into Dynamic mode and it instantly causes a pushback into the seats. Running on bumpy roads did soak up most of the road imperfections but some of them still made their way through the harder than average seat cushioning.
Between the sound, performance and looks, the Jaguar F-Type R-Spec Convertible is firing on all cylinders. Along with others under the Jaguar/Land Rover (JLR) concern, it’s clear to see that Jaguar has a range of contenders in the stable.
2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD
Story and Photos by Mark Elias
Base MSRP: $108,250 As tested: $109,245.
Includes: Destination fee, $995.
Cylinders: Supercharged V8
Power: 550 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 502 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
Fuel System: Direct Injection
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds
Top Speed 186 mph (limited)
Drive Type AWD
Gearbox: ZF eight-speed automatic with “Quickshift”
Tire Size: 255/35R20 front/255/30R20 rear
Unladen Weight: 3,847-pounds
Cargo Volume: 7.3-cubic feet (trunk only)
Cd: 0.37 Cd