Jaguar F-Type Convertible – Goodbye Summer

The iconic E-Type was a sensation when unveiled at the Geneva motor show in 1961. The F-Type convertible, launched with a fanfare in 2013 hasn’t quite matched the hype.

Firstly, it’s rather expensive and secondly – there’s a German soft-top that’s cheaper and more fun to drive. The roomier, better handling Porsche Boxster is still the class leader.

Thankfully, the F-Type convertible has been tweaked to near perfection over the last five years. The Coupe version is prettier but our 380 Dynamic-R is still a bit of a stunner.

Just as purposeful at the back as the front – very slippery from the side, the Jaguar definitely trumps the Boxster in a beauty contest.

The F-Type should be the perfect motor for this long, hot British summer that we will remember for years. The question is, will I still remember the Jaguar F-Type was just as special if I live to 2060?

The convertible is due a mid-term tweak five years on from launch but I can’t see much that needs shaving off or tweaking to improve on Ian Callum’s eye-catching design.

Well, not on the outside at least. However, it’s not quite the same story in the cabin. Some of the hard plastics, especially around the door trim, twin cupholders and buttons don’t have that premium feel.

The pop-up air vents on top of the dashboard are gimmicky but actually work well, while the standard issue Jaguar infotainment system is still one of the best around.

What is less impressive is the dog’s dinner of a set-up around the gear-shifter. It’s where all the buttons and switches they couldn’t find a home for have been scattered like dominoes.

Aesthetically, siting the passenger handgrip next to the gearchanger doesn’t help either. It’s well-meaning but gives the console a lop-sided look. Finally, the steering wheel is also a rash of buttons that makes my eyes flinch.

It’s hard not to like the F-Type but I can’t help feeling it could have been so much better…

The Jaguar F-Type S isn’t the best premium convertible but it has heart and soul

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The all-wheel drive F-Type R has been claiming all the publicity so far this year but the mid-range, supercharged S is still an eye-catching car. You have to know your F-Types to spot the difference – the best clue is the fact the S has only two tailpipes instead of four.

Our S is hardly tail happy but I can see the attraction of permanent all-wheel drive. It would make an exceptional responsive sports car even better, if that’s possible. The classic lines of the F-Type are still there – the back end is sculpted like a stylish violin.

The Jaguar goes head-to-head with the more expensive Porsche 911 Cabriolet and the ‘softer’ Mercedes SL. It’s prettier than both for my money but after just a day of living with the F-Type, I can tell you it’s more fun than the Merc but a less capable all-rounder than the 911.

And I say that with a heavy heart, having owned an E-Type in the past, I would love the Jaguar to stuff it to the Porsche. It doesn’t. But it does have great heart, style and passion, which will be more than enough for many people.

The Day I Downgraded To A Jaguar F-Type

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I don’t suppose that many people get the chance to downgrade to a Jaguar! Well, having spent the first half of the week driving a Bentley Continental around Sweden, I’ve done just that.

Now, I have to say, I have always considered myself more of a F-Type fella than a Bentley bloke. I was nearly seduced by the power and comfort of the Continental but the Jag is a much rawer and inspiring experience.

I love the rasp from the twin tailpipes that you can enhance with the acoustic button on the transmission tunnel – I love the low slung design and the styling cues that remind me of the E-Type.

So as much as I covet my neighbour’s Bentley, I know that I’m a long way from changing my allegiance too.

Thursday – Hubble Bubble…


You might not have noticed the twin sets of tailpipes peeping out from under the rear of the F-Type. If you are close enough to see them in the metal, you will definitely have heard them coming.

The old E-Type sported a beautiful pair, angled upwards and a joy to polish on a Sunday morning. Yes, I’ll admit to getting my cloth out for that!

Now the F-Type has joined the rank of sports cars which has an acoustic button for the exhaust system. You can read about the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vanquish equivalent elsewhere on the site.

Jaguar’s is on the centre console and it just ups the tempo, helping to spit and burble your journey away. I know some people don’t like it but it’s a great sound! Whoever the engineer was who came up with the idea deserves recognition.

While most cars are accoustically muffled for the sounds of silence, Jaguar uses sound to accentuate the benefits of a truly great car.

Wednesday – The Real Thing


I spent a day last week on a Formula One simulator. Not some X-Box nonsense but a proper, real-size machine with video graphics, a motion rig and booming sound system.

To be honest, it wasn’t that good. I drove Damon Hill’s Arrows car once and there was absolutely no similarity between the two. The simulator wasn’t a riotous assault on the senses – there was no sense of movement, no smells and no feeling.

The Jaguar F-Type is one of a small number of sports car that really does wrap the driver in a bubble of sensory experience. There are plenty of two-seaters on the market that offer great performance and looks but none compare to the F-Type for the all-round experience.

Of course, you are going to pay at least £70,000 to park an F-Type on your driveway but I wonder what they will be selling for secondhand in three year’s time? I know I’ll be looking for one when that time comes…




Tuesday – F For Fault-Free?


Finding faults with a car as good as the F-Type is difficult. Here are some thoughts.

The convertible has a tiny boot – it’s not affected by the fabric hood being down but there is little depth and no room for a set of golf clubs if you are  that way inclined.

The centre console that houses the infotainment screen has a rash of function buttons down each side which just don’t measure up to the build quality of the rest of the car.

Those black leather sports seats are hard – and I mean really hard! It’s nothing to do with the suspension but on an uneven surface it’s decidedly uncomfortable.

And while the sun visors are tiny, the centre storage bin small and rear visibility limited with the wind deflector in place, I doubt any of these issues will spoil your enjoyment of the F-Type.


Monday – Prat In A Maserati


There’s something very cool about the F-Type. Our convertible is a headturner but of the two, I think the latest coupe version is the more iconic. It’s no E-Type but I can think of few cars that have attracted as much attention as the Jaguar.

Today I saw a bright yellow Maserati driven down the high street of Stow-on-the-Wold by a dashing young chap with model looks. In his mirror sunglasses and ‘Maserati’ leather jacket, he managed to make a great car look quite ridiculous.

Somehow I just can’t see that happening in an F-Type. There’s a finesse about the Jag that is pretty hard to find. It’s the sort of rare refinement that comes in a 1930s Bentley, or a gullwing Mercedes.

Just how you bottle that and inject it into your newly designed sports car Lord only knows. Jaguar and designer Ian Callum have managed it…

Sunday – Press My Buttons


When we tested the Audi Q5 recently, it took five days before I found the right buttons to turn a good SUV into a great one. The 3.0 TDI was transformed in sport mode – a totally different beast to the car that I had become used to.

And you could say the same about the F-Type. It’s only when you switch to ‘dynamic’ mode, activate the acoustic exhaust button and, preferably, drop the hood, that the Jaguar awakes from a grand tourer into a rasping sports car.

I’m not sure I’ve had as much fun in a performance car since I first went sideways in a Caterham 7. There’s no need to push it hard either, the F-Type returns mile after mile of thrills in every situation.

Red is my least favourite colour for a car but I could even overlook the paintwork to have one parked in my garage permanently. And I haven’t even driven the coupe version yet, which is no doubt going to be even better. At last, some serious competition for the Porsche 911…

Saturday – Jaguar F-Type

583633_68730jagI keep wondering what it must have been like for those first motoring journalists who tested the Jaguar E-Type when it was launched back in the early 60s. The car arrived with such hype that it could have taken a very large fall.

Of course, it didn’t and the cigar-like shape of the convertible became a symbol of the sixties – one of the most recognisable cars of all time.

So creating a successor some 50 years on, Jaguar was very careful not to make too many comparisons. They talked about the heritage and DNA of the E-Type but didn’t risk  pushing it too far.

The F-Type has arrived to critical acclaim, a British sports car that could compete with the best, take them on, and win. Hopefully, after six days of testing, we’ll have a better idea of what the fuss is all about…


This Week’s Test Car

Jaguar F-Type R-Dynamic Convertible 380PS

As pretty convertibles go, the F-Type has to be one of the best. Slick as a Ferrari, or even an Aston Martin whichever way you look at it. The F-Type hasn’t quite lived up to expection since it was launched five years ago – so how does the 380PS V6 fare? The V8 models are faster but you can actually afford to run the £71,725 R-Dynamic, with rear-wheel drive. It returns 32.9mpg combined and holds its value well. Join us for the last rays of the summer in a sexy Jaguar…