The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.4
The Jaguar F-Type Convertible looks absolutely brilliant, and it’s just as enjoyable to drive as the Coupe. There are a superb range of petrol engines to choose from, in two and four-wheel drive versions. It's rather expensive to buy and run, even when compared with desirable sports car rivals, but you'll probably be having too much fun to care.
Reasons to buy
- Looks the business
- Good mix of ride comfort and handling prowess
- Incredible soundtrack
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
As the spiritual successor to Jaguar’s legendary E-Type, it’s no surprise the F-Type is jaw-dropping to look at, even by two-seat drop-top standards. The sleek lines and angular details give an exotic, glamourous look, and to our eye, it has more on-road presence that the Porsches (Boxster and 911 Cabriolet) with which it competes. The looks differ slightly depending on which version you go for – the 2.0-litre version has a big centrally-mounted exhaust, the V6 has centrally-mounted twin pipes and 18-inch alloys, while the V6 S gets 19s and the V8 R gets 20s and outboard-mounted quad pipes. Tiny differences in the design set the AWD models apart from the rest of the range, with a larger power bulge in the bonnet and unique vents to feed more air to the engine.
What's the interior like?
For the most part, the F-Type’s cabin has a high-quality feel. The dashboard is covered in sumptuous stitched leather and the fascia has a collection of glossy finishes. The cabin has drama, too, thanks to air vents that rise electrically out of the centre console when needed. However, some of the switches feel a little low-rent, and so do some of the less obvious interior panels (most notably, the steering column and the door pulls). The InControl touch-screen infotainment system is colourful, but it’s not as user friendly as the best systems out there. Another niggle is the gear selector, which doesn’t engage Drive unless you pull the well-hidden trigger on the back first (you’ll often forget to). Go for a manual version, and you'll find things even more awkward; the lever is mounted too far back, and the inconvenient obstacles surrounding it (like the side of the seat, the lid of the central storage compartment and a protruding part of the trim on the centre console) means you’re constantly catching your elbows and wrists as you change gear. The seats are supportive and the driving position has lots of adjustment, but rear visibility is pretty terrible with the roof up.
How practical is it?
This isn’t an area in which the F-Type excels. The tiny boot is barely big enough for a couple of overnight bags, so you’ll have to pack very carefully if you’re going away for a long weekend. It’s also shallow, oddly shaped and hard to access. Granted, you don’t buy a two-seat sports car for its practicality, but rivals from Porsche offer much more luggage space. At least the cabin has plentiful room for two adults in the seats. Again, though, other drop-top cars do a better job of giving you places to stash loose items like coats and scarves, coffee cups and other daily baggage.
What's it like to drive?
All versions of the F-Type handle like a sports car should, with plentiful grip, sharp body control, superb balance, and crisp, accurate steering with some decent feel. The ride on the 2.0-litre and V6 models is firm but comfortable, but the smaller-engined car is lighter and feels rather more nimble as a result. The V6 S model gets an adaptive suspension that improves both the ride and the handling, and the V8 model has it, too, but the epic power available through the rear wheels means it’s quite easy to unstick the back end if you’re clumsy with the throttle pedal. It’s fairly easy to correct, but it'll keep you very alert in the wet. Four-wheel drive cars are much easier to tame (especially on damp roads) but do add extra weight to what is already a fairly heavy car. You can feel some flex in the body under really hard cornering, too. Critically, when you compare any version of the F-Type with the Porsche product it competes with, the Jag doesn’t quite have the same scalpel-like sharpness or deftness of feel, but you’ll still have bags of fun nonetheless.
How powerful is it?
The entry-level engine is a turbocharged 2.0-litre with 300PS, and we reckon it’s the pick of the bunch in terms of delivering bang for your buck. It’s not particularly quick in the normal everyday driving modes, but it’s tractable enough to for easily around-town pootling. However, slot the selector for the standard automatic gearbox across into its Sport setting, and the car’s character changes from gentle cruiser to snarling monster. The engine thrives on revs, needing at least 4000 of them to deliver the kind of punch you want from an F-Type, and this gearbox mode give the engine exactly what it needs. The pace it delivers is astonishing given the engine’s modest capacity, and with pops and crackles coming from the exhaust, the noise it makes is just as entertaining.
Next on the list is a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with 340PS, but even though it’s more powerful than the 2.0-litre, it has a rather lazy power deliver that makes the acceleration less exciting, and it doesn’t feel as fast as a car like this should. Yes, it makes a ballistic noise, but that only serves to remind you of what you’re missing. The V6 S has the same engine, but it’s uprated to give 380PS. Thankfully, it feels much faster, and its rev-hungry nature really encourages you to play. Especially in the six-speed manual version, which lets you wring the engine out more often than in the auto. However, it's not the smoothest-shifting manual 'box we've tried, and the awkward placement of the lever and the inconvenient obstacles surrounding it (like the side of the seat, the lid of the central storage compartment and a protruding part of the trim on the centre console) means you’re constantly catching your elbows and wrists as you change gear.
The 5.0-litre engine in the V8 R can only be had with an auto, and with a stonking 550PS, it gives properly nutty acceleration. It sounds even better than the V6s, too, with a high-pitched scream accompanied by pops and bangs from the exhaust. The top-of-the-range F-Type SVR ekes out a colossal 575PS from the V8 engine for even crazier performance.
The 5.0-litre engine in the V8 R can only be had with an auto, and with a stonking 550PS, it gives properly nutty acceleration. It sounds even better than the V6s, too, with a high-pitched scream accompanied by pops and bangs from the exhaust. The top-of-the-range F-Type SVR ekes out a colossal 575PS from the V8 engine. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is excellent, with quick changes when required and smoother shifts in town, and we think it suits the GT character of the Jag better than the manual.
How much will it cost me?
Buying the F-Type will be a decision for the heart, because it doesn’t stack up well financially. Jaguar’s big problem is resale values, which are pretty poor and mean the F-Type’s overall running costs will be much higher than most rivals, regardless of which version you get. As an example, the entry-level 2.0-litre model is several thousand pounds more than the 2.0-litre Porsche 718 Boxster, which has the same power. The Jag gets worse fuel economy and will lose thousands more in depreciation over three years or 60,000 miles. Granted, servicing costs will be better with the F-Type, but by nowhere near enough to limit the financial damage. Comparison with other rivals like the BMW M240i Convertible or Audi TT S Roadster tells a similar story. That pattern is repeated up the range, with high purchase prices and poor resale values doing huge damage to Jaguar overall costs.
How reliable is it?
We don’t have any data on the F-Type specifically, but Jaguar has an improving, but still patchy overall record for reliability as a manufacturer, sitting well in the bottom half of the rankings on Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. Owner reviews for the F-Type Convertible on Auto Trader have been mixed, with some customers reporting no issues, while others have had lots. Jaguar offers a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, with extended warranty options available too.
How safe is it?
The F-Type hasn’t yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP, and considering the sort of car it is, it probably never will be. All models come with an electronic stability control system, high-performance brakes and four airbags, and a wide range of optional extras are available, such as blind-spot monitoring and intelligent high-beam assist.
How much equipment do I get?
Even the base-level F-Type comes with keyless entry, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a decent touch-screen sat-nav system, while the V6 S model adds ambient interior lighting and an active sports exhaust that sounds fantastic. Aside from a great deal of power, the V8 R model adds rear parking sensors. Heating for the seats and windscreen, a rear parking camera and upgraded sound system are just some of the many optional extras and accessories you can specify.
The Jaguar F-Type is a really good car in its own right: great to look at, fun to drive and a treat to listen to. But it’s expensive compared to rivals and many of those – particularly from Porsche – offer a much more polished driving experience. It also makes little financial sense largely due to weak resale values. That said, if the F-Type tickles your fancy, you’ll have a great time in one.