Review and road test of the Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible (2015 - 2019)
By Jonathan Crouch
The F-TYPE. It's not only a sports car - it's a Jaguar sports car: the difference is important. Don't expect a racetrack refugee - but don't expect a luxury GT either, the kind of car sporting fans of the brand previously had so often to be satisfied with. Think instead of what an Austin Healey or a Triumph TR6 might be like re-interpreted for the modern era: a coupe or, as in the case of the 2015-2019-era F-TYPE Convertible model we look at here, a roadster designed very much for the road. A machine you can't help but want to drive - and drive hard. That's what a F-TYPE can be in this facelifted post-2015-era form, thanks to widespread improvements that broadened its appeal. Let's check it out as a used buy.
2dr convertible (2.0 petrol / 3.0 V6 supercharged petrol / 5.0 V8 petrol)
What do you expect a Jaguar sports car to be? Charismatic? Memorable? Classically elegant? The company's F-TYPE model claims all these attributes. It's a little bit special.
And it changed quite a bit in its production lifetime, following an original launch for the Convertible version back in 2013. The first F-TYPE improvements came with the launch of an alternative fixed-top Coupe body style in 2014. Then with the announcement of manual transmission and AWD a year later. A frantic flagship SVR V8 derivative arrived in 2015 with supercar-style performance, just before the introduction of the minor facelift that created the car we're going to look at here. That facelift incorporated an uprated V6 engine option and, shortly afterwards, most significantly in late 2016, an entry-level four cylinder variant. In other words, if you're seeking a used F-TYPE, it's well worth seeking out this post-2015-era version.
The F-TYPE design was a car over half a century in the making. At the time of its original launch back in 2013, it had been that long since we'd seen a proper Jaguar sports car, a successor to the iconic C, D and E-Type models that defined this market in the Fifties and Sixties. In those days, the Coventry company was a brand known for true drivers' cars, rather than the luxurious GT models more familiar from the modern era. Think of peoples' perception of Porsche today: back then, you bought a Jag for that kind of thing.
Might you do so again today? Well the F-TYPE claimed to be better equipped than ever to persuade those in any doubt, a modern era Jaguar ready to take on sporting class leaders of the calibre of Porsche's 718 series and 911 models. Can one single design really do that? From the beginning of F-TYPE production, we had our doubts and sure enough, earlier versions of this car never sold in the kind of numbers high enough to really trouble the premium German brands. This revised post-2015-era model though, revitalised its appeal and if you're torn between a top sports car and a junior level supercar, it could offer the perfect package. The F-TYPE Convertible sold in this form until Autumn 2019, when it was more heavily facelifted. It's the 2015-2019-era models we're going to look at here.
What You Get
It's said that every piece of design should tell a story. That was certainly true of Jaguar's last proper sports roadster, the E-Type, once described by Enzo Ferrari as 'the world's most beautiful car'. So what would the great man have made of this, its modern day successor? The shape is certainly interesting, a complex mix that references past elegance and future technology while at the same time also clearly underlining Jaguar's determination to go its own way and offer something different. The main aesthetic change with this post-2015 facelifted model was found at the front, where large mesh-trimmed single air intakes at each lower corner replaced the previous double apertures.
Before you step inside, you grasp one of the lovely pop-out door handles (there to provide what Jaguar calls 'a mechanical handshake'). The door sills aren't excessively wide or deep, so you can climb in quite gracefully and lower yourself into a focused, enveloping cockpit that curves itself around your body. It's certainly very firmly driver-orientated inside, the two front occupants separated by a prominent grab handle which sweeps down from the top of the centre console and wraps around behind a proper joystick-shaped SportShift gear selector. In contrast to other Jaguar models from this era, there's no rotary gearshift controller here, which is as it should be and symptomatic of the design team's determination to create something very different. An intimate place where luxury is not allowed to supersede purpose.
The main interior change made to this revised post-2015-era model related to the addition of ergonomically-optimised slimline seats, which featured lightweight magnesium alloy frames and more supportive backrest bolsters. And we also approve of the small diameter, three-spoke leather-trimmed wheel which frames a brace of analogue instruments separated by a TFT information screen. Anything you want to know that it can't tell you will probably be covered by the infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dash - an 8-inch 'Touch Pro' set-up vastly better than the rather out-dated system this model featured at its original launch. Finally, the boot. You won't be expecting the trunk area of this Convertible model to be anything like as accommodating as it is in the F-TYPE Coupe - and you'd be right. Total capacity falls from the 407-litre total offered by the fixed-top variant to just 196-litres here.
What to Look For
Most F-TYPE Convertible owners in our survey seemed very satisfied, but we did come across a few issues. There have been reports that the rear differential can leak oil due to faulty seals. If this is repaired, make sure the coupling hasn't been over-tightened as this can ruin the diff completely, first signalled by worrying noises from the rear of the car.
Some owners have also found the valves in the active exhaust system can stick open. This can require a new back box, normally fitted under warranty. Original F-Types were susceptible to small stones getting between the window seal and the glass. The rising centre air vent and pop-out door handles have also caused issues for a few owners, and a few owners have reported a few squeaks and rattles. Otherwise, it's just the usual things - scratched alloys etc. Check that the powered hood functions faultlessly. And obviously insist on a fully stamped-up service history.
(approx based on a 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible 3.0 V6) A headlamp bulb is about £4. An oil filter is around £30. A front brake disc is in the £98-£185 bracket. The cost for front brake pads varies quite a lot - anything from around £38 - but obviously more for top Brembo pads. A wiper blade is around £8. An air filter is around £60.
On the Road
A true sports car - a real sports car - should pump the blood around a little faster long before the pedal hits the metal. This one does. It weighs a little more than its rivals, so handling isn't quite as agile as some competitors but it's still fun to drive, especially when you select the provided 'Dynamic' mode and everything sharpens up. Engine-wise, there were by 2016 three basic units on offer, the original all-supercharged V6 and V8 petrol line-up joined by an entry-level four cylinder 2.0-litre turbo variant. That lighter baseline model offers 300PS and comes only with a 'Quickshift' 8-speed auto gearbox and rear wheel drive. At the top of the range, the 550PS F-TYPE R and 575PS F-TYPE SVR models also use the auto 'box but must have AWD. Most original customers wanted the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine in either 340PS or 380PS guises.
With a V6, you get the option of a classic manual gearbox - or you can stick with the Quickshift auto and get the option of AWD. Either way, you're probably going to want to stretch up from entry-level trim and find a model that was originally trimmed in the more desirable 'R-Dynamic' spec, a move which gets you three of the key F-TYPE features that most customers want; 'Adaptive Dynamics' adjustable damping, larger 19-inch wheels and a 'Switchable Active Exhaust' system that emphasises what is probably this car's most endearing attribute: namely the noise it makes. You can of course hear that so much better if you switch from the Coupe body style to this Convertible, which can raise or lower its hood in just 12s at speeds of up to 30mph. Inevitably, if you go for the four cylinder derivative, the exhaust melody isn't quite as addictive, but that variant is of course significantly more efficient, managing 39.2mpg on the combined cycle and 163g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures).
It's hard not to have pre-conceptions about what this Jaguar might be like, especially if you're the kind of buyer who might ordinarily prefer a German-branded sports car. You might come into a test drive in this car with just such a preference, but we also think you might end it understanding afresh just why this F-TYPE is such an appealing prospect. Jaguar needed to find a younger, more demanding, hungrier audience for its sports cars. It needed to convince people like you that here and now in this market at this time in history, it could be great again. Try this car and you might see that as mission accomplished.
Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible (2015 - 2019) review by Jonathan Crouch