Drive: 2016 Jaguar F-type R Convertible Review

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The 2016 Jaguar F-type R Convertible A Near Perfect Recipe for a Four-Season Sports Car

We spend a week with the 550-hp 2016 F-type R Convertible Which Arrives to North America with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain

When Jaguar rolled the slinky F-Type into company stores two years ago it reinvigorated the stalwart brand, as the lithe little convertible represented the company’s first true sports model in nearly four decades. Jaguar now offers three model lines and two body configurations (a coupe was added to the mix last year), but it is the potent R variant that hits the high note for enthusiast drivers.

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I recently had the opportunity to spend a week behind the wheel of the latest version of the car in convertible form, which for model year 2016 arrives in North America with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain. This very graceful looking drop-top packs enough punch to embarrass many more expensive machines, but its beautiful lines and classic proportions also give it enormous curb appeal.

2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible (8 of 28)

V8 Supercharged Power

Under the long, graceful, forward-swing bonnet of this sultry automobile is a 5.0-litre V8 engine fitted with a supercharger. This potent combination produces 550-horsepower and 502 foot-pounds of torque. Sprints to 100 km/h can be executed in about four seconds, and as this car is equipped with Jaguar’s Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive system, traction and grip are phenomenal. In fact, having this system on board allows the driver to get on the throttle quicker when exiting a corner, and as this quick feline loves to prowl twisty back roads looking for prey, enthusiast drivers will quickly appreciate the car’s dynamic handling prowess.

2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

While some purists may moan and whine about the loss of the rear-wheel-drive layout on V8 powered F-Types, it is hard to argue with the fact that the all-wheel-drive system does a much more efficient job of distributing all this car’s power to the ground, and in a far more safe manner.

On the road

The all-wheel-drive system works with Jaguar’s Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) to constantly analyze the needs of all four wheels independently. This clever system decides exactly where to deliver power to optimize and maintain both traction and stability. It has been engineered to deliver up to 50-percent of the torque to the front wheels, but it also has the ability to decouple the prop shaft completely to drive only the rear wheels when operating in low-load situations.

IDD will also sense impending understeer or oversteer situations during cornering and will counteract this motion by directing additional torque to the other wheels in proportion to the level of traction they can achieve in hopes of maintaining dynamic control.

The F-Type R also employs Torque Vectoring technology as a means to sharpen the car’s handling. This innovative system has been designed to provide controlled braking on the inside rear wheel, while at the same time, feeding more power to the outside rear wheel. This greatly enhances steering performance and will inspire even greater driver confidence.

2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

Unfortunately, you cannot spec the F-Type R AWD with a manual transmission, as this open-top road missile utilizes a ZF-engineered “QuickShift” 8-speed automatic. On the plus side however, this super-efficient transmission is one smooth operator, and the steering wheel mounted shift paddles provide the driver with the ability to flick up and down the gearbox with exuberance. This activity is enhanced by deploying the driver-selectable Active Sport Exhaust at the touch of a console-mounted button. The healthy burble and snap that is emitted by the car’s quad exhaust will make your ears tickle and triggers passersby to spin on their heels to catch a glimpse of this car ’s muscular haunches as it disappears from view.

The F-Type R now features electric power steering, but it has been designed to provide the driver with exceptional feedback and the car handles with a level of precision usually reserved for well-sorted track machines. Handling also benefits from the car’s adaptive suspension which seamlessly adjusts the settings for each damper accordingly as needed.

The Jaguar Super Performance Braking System proved to be resistant to fade, and during our testing period the bold red calipers were able to help bring the car under control without any unnecessary drama.

Our test period corresponded with the arrival of a rather severe seasonal storm. The roads were speckled with pools of standing water as fallen leaves and debris had clogged the storm drains, and this made for rather treacherous driving conditions. Having all-wheel-drive inspired driver confidence as the car felt planted and stable and there was only minor evidence of wheel-spin.

Driving a lightweight car with a powerful engine can be a whole lot of fun, but to harness this car’s enormous performance potential the F-Type R is equipped with oversized ventilated disc brakes backed up by the latest in ABS technology. The Jaguar Super Performance Braking System proved to be resistant to fade, and during our testing period the bold red calipers were able to help bring the car under control without any unnecessary drama. 

2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

The Cabin

All the luxury and comfort equipment one expects in an automobile of this stature are present and accounted for as the R models include all the trappings of the well-equipped F-Type S as well as dual-zone climate control, reverse parking sensors, embossed performance seats with leather facings, a three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel, and the Climate Pack- which includes heated seats and a heated steering wheel surround. The outstanding 770-watt Meridian audio system is also part of the R upgrade, but it might go unnoticed as the mechanical symphony produced by this car is highly addictive. 

2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

The Ammonite Grey paint on the evaluation unit may not draw the attention many buyers of this type of car are looking for, but it will help you blend better with traffic in radar-rich environments. Personally I like the silver and grey colours on these cars, as it seems to elevate them a few extra rungs up the class ladder.

The F-Type R model represents the near perfect recipe for a four-season sports car. It offers superb handling, outstanding road grip, and visceral performance in an oh-so pretty package. 

Technical Specifications: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

Base price (MSRP): $120,500

Price as tested: $126,625 (Options: Vision Package – $2,300; 20-inch Gyrodyne black wheels – $1,200; Heated windscreen – $350; Exterior Sport Design and Black Package – $800; Destination and delivery – $1,375; Green Tax – $100.                                                                                                                         

Type: Two-passenger convertible

Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive.

Engine: 5.0-litre, supercharged V8

Horsepower:  550 @ 6,500 RPM

Torque: 502 @ 2,500-5,500 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance (0-100km/h): 4.1 seconds

Top speed: 300 km/h

Brakes: Disc/disc

Weight: 1,745 kg

Fuel economy (L/100km): City- TBD; Hwy- TBD

2016 Jaguar F-type R Convertible Gallery

2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible (8 of 28)


Russell Purcell
Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.