Rory Reid reviews the entry-level Jaguar F-Type Convertible. Is it as good as its more expensive siblings?
It’s official: the Jaguar F-Type Convertible is brilliant — we know it, you know it and all Jaguar’s rivals do too, even if they are reticent to admit the fact. There is just one minor question mark in its otherwise pristine reputation: while the goldilocks V6 S and top dog V8 S are both undeniably spectacular, is the entry-level F-Type V6 a dud? We jumped into the £58,538 Porsche Boxter rival to find out.
The F-Type Convertible looks the business regardless of which version you choose, but the entry-level V6 car isn’t adorned with quite as many performance accoutrements as its more expensive siblings. While the mid-level and top tier cars benefit from aggressive quad exhaust outlets and large 19- or 20-inch alloys, the cheapest F-Type Convertible uses a centrally-mounted twin-pipe exhaust and passable 18-inch alloys, making for a comparatively subdued appearance.
There’s lots to like though. The F-Type Convertible is a genuine head-turner and has lots of gorgeous fine detail up close, including electronic pop-out door handles, a motorised rear spoiler that deploys when the car reaches 60mph for added downforce, or at the push of a button when you fancy impressing passers-by.
The most bizarre addition is a motorised panel that rises from the dashboard to reveal a pair of vents. It’s utterly pointless, but utterly beautiful.
The F-Type’s Convertible’s weakest area is its practicality, but then it is a two-seater sports car. Both front seats are comfortable, it has a pair of cup holders on the centre console and the door bins are just about deep enough to hold a couple of bags of Haribo, some keys and a mobile phone. Lockable storage is important in a convertible, particularly when you hand the keys over to shady valet parking types, and the F-Type doesn’t disappoint thanks to a closable compartment between the seats.
The boot is relatively small but that’s only half the problem. It’s also poorly designed with a next-to-useless shape that will challenge even the most hardened Tetris players to get anything to fit properly.
Imagine a very shallow wheelbarrow that’s already three-quarters full except for a toaster-sized section in the middle. The main compartment is annexed by another, even shallower section deeper inside. We’ve yet to find any object that would actually fit there.
The boot is actually large enough to accommodate six or seven bags of shopping and you can throw a few more bags on the passenger seat. Just don’t get any ideas about putting large suitcases in there — this is a car best suited for weekend getaways where everybody travels light.
Performance & Handling
On paper, this entry-level F-Type Convertible looks a little weedy, managing 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 161mph. In the real world, it feels ballistic. It’s 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine may produce a mere 340PS but it channels a wealth of torque — 450Nm – seemingly from the moment you even contemplate pressing the accelerator pedal. Make no mistake, this is every bit the Jaguar – responsive, eager, thrilling and aggressive.
While the performance will raise a grin (or a scream from unsuspecting passengers) the best part of this car’s performance is its soundtrack. It makes a spine-tingling noise as standard, but specify the active exhaust and it’ll give you multiple eargasms.
Those centrally-mounted twin pipes will accompany high-rev gear changes with what sounds like a blast from sawed-off shotgun. Lift off the throttle high in the rev range and it’ll do a damn good impression of a submachine gun. It makes incredibly addictive noises that help provide the impression you’re traveling faster than you actually are. Way faster.
Should you encounter a corner, and you invariably will, you’ll find the F-Type Convertible acquits itself well. Its steering is lightning fast, requiring only small inputs to provoke large changes of direction, and there’s no discernible body roll through bends. Its steering is impressively feelsome, communicating the limits of grip well. The car lacks the fancy active differential found on the V6 S and V8 S models, so ultimately it can’t put its power down as effectively through bends, but this is a feature only eager trackday enthusiasts will miss.
On the whole, the entry-level F-Type is a very rewarding car to drive fast. Whereas its more powerful siblings might prove slightly intimidating, terrifying you with every blast of acceleration, this slightly slower car positively begs you exploit its abilities and perhaps, as a result, have a little more fun.
Everyday driving is rewarding. Switch the active exhaust off momentarily, slap the 8-speed automatic gearbox into top gear and the Jag behaves itself. It rides well over rutted roads, can plough over most speed bumps and even wind noise is kept to a minimum. You can actually have a conversation with your passenger or listen to the stereo when cruising at motorway speeds with the top down.
Economy & Environment
Fast Jaguars, particularly those powered by the company’s flagship supercharged V8, tend to inhale fuel like their lives depend on it. Its V6 is an altogether more frugal proposition though, returning a respectable 31mpg with emissions of 205g/km. Its chief rival, the Porsche Boxster, returns similar figures.
Equipment & Value
As standard, the Jaguar F-Type Convertible comes with a wind deflector, electrically-adjustable steering, single-zone climate control, partial electric seat, the fancy motorised vent, DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav, 8-inch touchsceen, day-running lights, rear parking aid and stop-start.
You can add loads of optional gear, too – and you don’t have to buy any confusing packs – just pick the bits you want. Jaguar offers rain-sensing wipers, heated windscreen, high performance tyres (£1,750), dual-zone climate (£350), ambient lighting (£250), heated seats (£350), air quality sensor (£55), In-control apps (£350), blind spot monitoring with closing speed warning (£460), cruise control (£350), carbon fibre rear diffuser (2,196) and a carbon fibre front splitter (£2,184).
If you’re feeling really extravagant, you can spend £1,928 on the carbon fibre engine cover. Nobody will ever see it, but you can bore people at dinner parties about the fact you bough it. Come to think of it, you might as well just strap £2,000 in cash under the hood.
The F-Type stops as quickly as it accelerates so, driven properly, you should be able to stay out of trouble. If the worst happens and you end up flipping the thing, you’ll be relieved to find rollover hoops that take the impact in place of your cranium. The baby Jag also comes with a deploying bonnet that pops up to cushion pedestrians as they make contact with the vehicle, electronic brake force distribution and a boot entrapment release lever thats lets contortionists escape from the trunk.
Hop into a Jaguar F-Type Convertible and we can guarantee it’ll be the most fun you’ll have in a car – legally. Almost everything about it is joyous, from its thrilling acceleration to its eager, responsive and rewarding handling, to its drop-dead gorgeous looks. Sure, the faster V6 S and V8 S models offer better performance, but we defy anyone to step on the throttle of the entry-level F-Type Convertible and successfully suppress a smile. It’s genuinely rapid, sounds fantastic and – most importantly of all – puts a huge grin on your face.