When Jaguar unveiled the F-Type Convertible, praise was levied at its beautiful design and no-nonense approach to performance. And yet for all its greatness, it lived in the shadow of the magnificant C-X16 Concept unveiled back at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011.
Perhaps this is why Jaguar opted to release the Convertible first and the Coupe second, bucking the more typical trend. It was saving the best until last. Or was it? Just how different are the Convertible and Coupe models, if at all? We decided to pit the two cars against each other to find out.
The most obvious difference between the two models is the roof, or rather, lack of. While the Convertible lets you cruise around with the sun in your hair, the Coupe focusses on maintaining the C-X16 design vision and it looks all the better for it. Both cars look stunning – it’s just the Coupe looks more complete, more sporty.
Rather than have boring B-pillars, Jaguar developed a hydro-formed aluminium alloy beam that runs from the A-pillar to D-pillar, giving the car more rigidity than the convertible while ensuring people of height can fit inside. It also means the roof line mimics the Concept car.
Whether you go for the arguably more stylish panoramic glass or aluminium roof, the body retains the same rigidity. This means its handling should remain on point regardless of the terrain beneath it, although we’ll need to hit the track to really find out.
Such is the strength of the aluminium, there’s no need for any joints in the surface. As an added bonus, the process of bonding and riveting the body is more eco-friendly, saving as much as 80 per cent in nasty CO2 emissions.
Symmetry lovers will be pleased to know the F-Type R retains the quad exhaust pipes of the top-spec Convertible, while the V6s gets centrally-positioned outlets. For added noise, the Active Sports Exhaust System can open or close valves to change the exhaust note.
On the inside, a new full leather and Suedecloth interior can be specified.
Both the hard-top and soft-top F-Types offer plenty of performance, but the new top-spec model benefits from a number of performance-focussed changes and the naming convention of the range has been tweaked.
The Convertible comes in F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type S V8 flavours wheras the Coupe swaps the V8 S moniker for the top-spec model in favour of F-Type R. Seems like an uneccesary swap but performance Jags usually get the R tag, so it’s at least in-keeping with the XJR and XFR.
The Coupe is a much more aggressive proposition. Both models use the same 5.0-litre V8 supercharged beast under the bonnet, but the F-Type R has a whopping 550PS and 680Nm of torque, compared with the Convertible’s already healthy 495PS.
While the 0-62mph time is relatively similar for the Coupe and Convertible – 4.0 and 4.2 seconds, respectively and the top speed is a plentiful 186mph (electronically limited), it’s likely that extra torque and power will make the Coupe even more potent no matter what gear you’re in.
Interestingly, the F-Type and F-Type S Convertible and Coupe have the same engine outputs, which means 340PS and 460Nm of torque for the former and 380PS and 450Nm for the latter from the same supercharged V6 engine.
All power goes through an 8-speed Quickshift transmission that has been tuned to accomodate the F-Type R’s extra oomph.
With the optional Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes, 21kg of weight can be saved. Not enough to make a big difference in performance, but any weight saving is a good thing, especially when it should improve braking performance in the process.
Ride & handling
Like with the Convertible, the bog-standard V6 F-Type Coupe comes with sports suspension, leaving the F-Type S and F-Type R to benefit from Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics suspension system that monitors the road and adjusts the dampers accordingly — up to 500 times a second if need be. It worked nicely on the Convertible so we have high hopes it does just as good a job in Coupe form.
The F-Type R has bespoke suspension tuning — spring rates have been increase by 4.3 per cent at the front and 3.7 per cent at the back compared with the Convertible.
The F-Type R also gets the second-generation version of Jaguar’s Electronic Active Differential designed to maximise traction by being able to transfer torque to whichever wheel needs it most. The system is constantly estimating the surface friction of what you are driving on, allowing it to work with you, not against you.
A first for a Jaguar is the addition of Torque Vectoring by braking on the F-Type R. Basically it uses metered braking on the inner wheels to help it turn in more sharply. Clever maths works out your corner entry speed and whether you’re likely to suffer understeer. If so, the car works out how much brake force is needed for each inner wheel to keep you going around the corner as intended and not into any hedges.
Two seats and three doors makes both the Coupe and Convertible a bit, well, impractical. But at least the latter has a 407-litre boot, which Jaguar assures us is enough for two sets of golf clubs. This is more than double the 200 litres found in the Convertible.
The F-Type Convertible obviously benefits from more headroom when the roof is down. Both have a reasonable amount of cubby holes to store bits and bobs.
Economy & environment
At the moment we’re unsure what the F-Type Coupe can do in this area, but with both cars weighing the same and with stop/start technology, we get the feeling the figures will be pretty similar. Except, perhaps, the drastically more powerful V8 F-Type R.
That means the bottom of the range V6 will spew out about 209g/km of CO2, while the V8 a more harmful 259g/km. Expect fuel economy in the low twenties if you drive sensibly, which you will never do. Fuel economy in the mid to upper teens is likely for the thirstier V8 F-Type R.
At the bottom of the range, the F-Type Coupe starts at £51,235 versus £58,500 for the Convertible. It’s the same story for the the mid-range V6 Coupe, which starts at £60,235 versus £67,500. A few grand less in both cases.
The V8 Coupe bucks the trend of being cheaper than its roof-less cousin. It starts at £85,000 whereas the Convertible is £79,950. We’re guessing the added oomph is the reason for the difference.
If sheer performance is your bag, the Coupe F-Type R is the one for you, especially if your budget is a bit tighter. If you are happy to sacrifice a tiny bit of performance but look more posey and have the wind in your hair, the Convertible is the only choice.
Either way, you’re guaranteed an epic automotive soundtrack, styling that will have people double-taking and still have change from what you would’ve spent on a Ferrari. Oh, and it’s British. Nuff said.