Test Drive: Jaguar is making signature roadster more accessible

Jaguar manages to sell a few hundred F-Type roadsters per month in the United States. We saw only one F-Type, other than the one we were driving during our week with a 2017 F-Type R convertible. This is a car that gets noticed, thanks to its rarity and stunning beauty.

The other piece of good news about the F-Type —  other than the fact it’s selling better in 2017 than it did the previous year — is that Jaguar is making its signature roadster accessible to a wider motoring audience. While our F-Type R was priced at a princely $110,263, with just $2,013 in options, some versions start under $60,000. That’s not out of line with competing models from Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Nissan and Lexus.

Our Ammonite Gray F-Type was blindingly fast — able to reach 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, and rated at a top speed of 186 mph – but we felt it best to exercise restraint … for the most part. The car handles more than well enough to justify its high-speed capabilities. And the ride, moderate noise level and overall refinement made for reasonable comfort while running ordinary errands as well.

Yes, the exhaust is notably loud, especially on starting the engine, and the test car was equipped with an active-exhaust control that quieted or amplified its song. Thus does the F-Type come with two great sound systems — the audio, featuring satellite radio, and the meaty, attention-grabbing exhaust note.

All F-Type models seat two. The hardtop coupe has an 11-cubic-foot trunk; our cloth-top convertible held just 7.3 cubic feet of luggage.

The test car had a supercharged 550-horsepower V-8, but there’s actually a faster model, the SVR, with a 575-horsepower V-8. For those who want the looks but can do without the muscle, the base F-Type coupe, priced at $59,900, has a 2.0-liter, 296-horsepower turbocharged inline Four. Also available are 340-, 380- and 400-horsepower V-6 engines. While a 6-speed manual transmission is available and may appeal to purists, the 8-speed QuickShift automatic transmission delivers better fuel economy and 0-60 performance.

We topped 25 mpg in mixed driving, better than the car’s rating of 15 mpg city, 23 highway. The F-Type requires premium unleaded gasoline.

Our test car was equipped with the optional Vision Package: front sensors, rear parking camera and blind-spot monitor. With the cloth top raised, we found ourselves relying on the blind-spot monitor, but we didn’t really need it when the top was down. And top-down driving truly is best with this car, which allows a gently swirling breeze past the steeply raked windshield, rather than a thunderous gale.

Our tallest driver was able to maximize leg-room by lowering the back of the seat cushion and raising the front, but when he placed the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel in the optimum position, he couldn’t see the speedometer. A head-up display would solve the problem, but Jaguar doesn’t offer one in this model.

 

2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

Price: $110,263

Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, 550 horsepower, 502 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed QuickShift automatic

Drive: all-wheel

Weight: 3,847 lb.

Suspension: 4-wheel independent

Wheels: 20-in. painted alloy

Tires: P295/30R20 high performance

Seating capacity: 2

Luggage capacity: 7.3 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 11.9 gal.

Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.

 

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