Jaguar’s sporty convertible has some strong selling points, but is it Porsche 911 and Mercedes SL good?

LISTEN 14:24

It took 27 years for the Jaguar F-Type to be born, with its roots tracing all the way back to the XJ41 and XJ42 concepts of 1986. There was also the F-Type Concept back in 2000 and the C-X16 Concept in 2011. Finally, in 2013, this sexy two-seater grand tourer was born and – oddly enough – it was launched as a convertible first with the coupe model to follow a year later. That is, technically where the F-Type’s story stops as it’s been on the market ever since, soldiering on as a first-generation model. It was facelifted in 2019 for the 2020 model year and we’ve been wondering if the now-seven-year-old F-Type has aged as well as other dinosaurs on the market like the Dodge Challenger (2008) and Nissan GT-R (2007). Well, we finally got behind the wheel of the Jaguar F-Type P380 AWD, and let’s just say that we had a lot of fun. This is what you need to know about it.

Jaguar F-Type Powertrain – Engine, Performance, Economy

How Powerful is the Jaguar F-Type?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Drivetrain
- image 958298

The Jaguar F-Type is available in two different body styles – coupe and convertible – and can be had with one of three different engines. The base offering is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The mid-range engine, the same one found in our tester, is a 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 380 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. The range-topping F-Type R comes with a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that pumps out an impressive 575 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958264

Since we had the F-Type P380 Convertible, we’re decided to compare it to the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet and the Mercedes SL450 Roadster – two cars that deliver similar power but prove that power output isn’t the only factor in determining performance. The 911 Carrera comes with a 3.0-liter flat-six that’s good for 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. The SL450 also has a 3.0-liter V-6, but delivers the least horsepower and 362 ponies while taking the crown for torque at 369 pound-feet. The wildcard here is that the Porshce and Mercedes are both RWD while the Jaguar F-Type is AWD. This is where our comparison really starts.

How Fast is the Jaguar F-Type?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958205

Our Jaguar F-Type P380 is capable of getting to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds on the way to a top speed of 155 mph. That sounds pretty impressive and is on par with what you’d expect from a modern sports car, but being 7 years old as of the time of this writing means it’s also slower than the 911 Carrera Cabriolet and the Mercedes SL450 Roadster. The former can hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds while the latter gets to the same benchmark in 4.9 seconds. The SL450 does top out at an electronically limited 155 mph, but the 911 will blaze past both all the way up to 180 mph.

Jaguar F-Type Fuel Economy

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958204

The Jaguar F-Type P380 manages to deliver 20 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined. This puts it on par with the Mercedes SL450 but well about the Porsche 911 Carrera with its rating of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. If you’re really concerned about fuel economy, the Porsche 911 should be your last choice, despite being the newer of the three.

Jaguar F-Type Interior Design

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Interior
- image 958286
The Jaguar F-Type in both coupe and convertible form is beautiful inside and out. Despite this, the interior does come with the slight ambiance of age baked in.

Sure, you can enjoy the digital instrument cluster and the large infotainment display, but it’s still not quite as modern as other cars on the market, especially with a brand-new Porsche 911 now on the streets. Some of the cooler features include the map display inside the instrument cluster and the digital display built into the knobs of the HVAC console, the latter of which is a fine piece of ingenuity to save space in a car that doesn’t have a lot of it. It is a two-seater, after all.

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Interior
- image 958291

Despite its age, the interior trims panels fit nicely and the generous helping of leather is stitched in a way that screams premium as it should. The steering wheel is exactly what you’d expect from a sports car of this caliber and the seats offer ample support for some spirited driving. We will admit that it’s time for the F-Type to go through a major overhaul, but for a car that debuted 7 years ago and just went through a facelift, it’s still an impressive and comfortable machine.

How Much Interior Space Does the Jaguar F-Type Have?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Interior
- image 958295

If you’re looking at cars like the F-Type, then you’re aware that space inside comes at a premium. The convertible model obviously offers unlimited headspace with the top down, but otherwise, you’re looking at just 37 inches of headroom. You’ll also get 56.5 inches of shoulder room, and 43 inches of leg room. Porsche doesn’t reveal its interior figures so we can’t speak in an official capacity, here, but the Mercedes SL, for example, offers more headroom and 10 inches of extra leg room, so if you’re of the larger persuasion, you might want to check out the Porsche 911 or Mercedes SL as the F-Type, even as a convertible, might be a tight fit.

Jaguar F-Type P380 Porsche 911 Carrera Mercedes SL 450 Roadster
Front Headroom 37 TBA 39.1
Front Shoulder Room 56.5 TBA 55.5
Front Leg Room 43 TBA 53.6

How Much Cargo Room Does the Jaguar F-Type Convertible Have?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Interior
- image 958254

The Jaguar F-Type isn’t something that can haul a lot of cargo, offering up a maximum of 14 cubic feet in coupe form with the privacy screen removed. The convertible, on the other hand, offers up just 7.3 cubic feet. That’s not bad for a convertible and bests the 911 Cabrio by nearly 3 cubic feet, but falls far short of the Mercedes SL’s 13.5 cubic feet.

Does The Jaguar F-Type Have a Good Infotainment System?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Interior
- image 958222

Infotainment systems have, in general, become known as one of the weakest points of Jaguar vehicles, and this holds true with the 2021 Jaguar F-Type as well. The audio quality isn’t as good as what you expect from a car in this price bracket. Typical problems include phone connectivity via Bluetooth and USB, poor audio quality over Bluetooth, and a lack of driver aids. The infotainment system also seems dated for a car that was just updated for the 2021 model year, but the system is fairly well organized and easy to navigate, so it has that going for it.

Jaguar F-Type Convertible Exterior Design

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958313

While the Jaguar F-Type Convertible isn’t without its shortcomings, it doesn’t suffer in the appearance department one bit. It is a bit of an oddball in the Jaguar range, but that’s also part of what works for it. The muscular rear haunches, intricately styled hoot, and sleek headlights all come together to form one awesome sports car.

How Big is the Jaguar F-Type Convertible?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958315

The Jaguar F-Type Convertible is 176 inches long, 74.2 inches wide, and 51.5 inches tall. It also rides on a 103.2-inche wheelbase. In comparison to cars like the 911 Carrera Cabrio and Mercedes SL, The F-Type is shorter in terms of length but is wider and taller. It also has a much longer wheelbase. In terms of garagability, the F-Type is small enough to fit in just about any garage, as long as it’s not a super shallow one-car unit that’s more like a shed than a real garage.

How Long Does It Take To Raise Or Lower The F-Type’s Top?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958268

You can raise or lower the Jaguar F-Type Convertible’s roof in 12 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph, but it’s generally best to slow down as much as possible or come to a stop when whenever possible.

Jaguar F-Type Convertible Pricing

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958311

If you’re really itching for an F-Type convertible, you can actually get into a base model for just $64,700 – that’s a huge difference between the 911 Cabrio with a base price of $112,000 or the Mercedes SL Roadster with a base price of $91,000. Move up the line, and you’ll see the very best F-Type Convetible carry a price tag of $105,900 before options. That really narrows the gap between the range-topping Mercedes SL Roadster at $114,700 but is still significantly cheaper than the range-topping Porsche 911 Carrera Cabrio at $135,200. The biggest difference between the various F-Type trims is performance related, but you will find that higher trim levels do some with better materials and more standard features, so be sure you weigh your options before excluding anything beyond the base model.

Jaguar Type Convertible Competition

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958301

With the current nature of the automotive industry, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more than a few competitors for the Jaguar F-Type. It doesn’t necessarily sit within its own niche, but it’s not far off. Thus far, we’ve compared it to the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabrio and the Mercedes SL Roadster, so let’s have a closer look at these competitors.

Is the Jaguar F-Type Convertible Better Than the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet?

left right

When you talk about cars like the Porsche 911, you’re talking about on of the finest cars on earth, so it’s no necessarily fair to compare it to the F-Type outside of the fact that it, too, is a smaller drop top. The base price for the 911 Carrera Cabrio kicks off at $112,000, nearly double that of the entry-level F-Type. It’s also a rear-engined car, which means it will handle differently than the F-Type we’re talking about today. Materials are generally on the same level, but we’d be burned at the stake if we didn’t say that Porsche’s technology is far ahead of anything Jaguar offers today.

In terms of performance, our F-Type P380 would compete best against the base model Carrera, which has 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque from a 3.0-liter flat-six. These numbers are nearly identical, falling just 1 pony and 8 lb-ft shy of the F-type we tested, but the 911 Carrera Cabrio is much faster, taking just 4.2 seconds to hit 60 mph vs. the F-Types, 5.4 seconds. The Porsche also tops out at 180 mph, well above the F-Type at 155 mph. Overall, you can’t go wrong with the Porsche 911, but it’s expensive, and you’ll really have to pay up if you want even more power or performance. In fact, you could buy two base-model F-Type Convertibles for the cost of one range-topping Carrera Cabrio.

left right
Jaguar F-Type vs Porsche 911 Carrera
Jaguar F-Type P380 Porsche 911 Carrera
Engine 3.0-Liter V-6 3.0-Liter Flat-Six
Transmission 8AT 8AT
Horsepower 380 HP 379HP
Torque 339 LB-FT 331 LB-FT
Driveline AWD RWD
Fuel Premium Premium
Fuel Economy 20/28/23 17/24/20
Suspension Four-Wheel Independent Four-Wheel Independent
Steering Electric Electric
Turning Circle 37.0 Feet 36.8 Feet
Front Tire Size 295/30R20 P295/35ZR20
Rear Tire Size 295/30R20 P295/35ZR20
0-60 MPH 5.4 Seconds 4.2 Seconds
Top Speed 155 MPH 180 MPH

Read our full review on the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

Is The Jaguar F-Type Convertible Better Than The Mercedes SL Roadster?

left right

The Mercedes SL Roadster isn’t exactly the freshest fruit in the basket. The current model, the R231 generation, has been on the market since 2012 and was facelifted in 2016. As such, its technology, materials, and general design fall a little behind everything that Mercedes is churning out on its new-gen models. The SL Roadster is, however, very comfortable for a two-seater and is quite sporty in nature. Like the 911 Carrera, the SL sends power to its rear wheels, and features four-wheel independent suspension.

On the performance front, the Mercedes SL is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6. In the SL450, this engine is tuned to deliver 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, all of which is channeled through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Despite falling 18 horsepower short, the SL does have a 30 pound-foot torque advantage over the F-Type P380, and it’s a bit faster too. The 60 mph sprint comes in 4.9 seconds while top speed is limited to a very German 155 mph. The SL is also the heaviest of the bunch at 3,825 pounds, but it still manages to get off the line quicker. The SL Roadster starts out at $91,000 and climbs to as much as $114,700 in range-topping form. This makes it a little more expensive than the base F-Type, but at the top of the range, the prices between the two are close enough to be competitive.

left right
Jaguar F-Type vs Mercedes SL Roadster
Jaguar F-Type P380 Mercedes SL 450 Roadster
Engine 3.0-Liter V-6 3.0-liter V-6
Transmission 8AT 9AT
Horsepower 380 HP 362HP
Torque 339 LB-FT 369 LB-FT
Driveline AWD RWD
Fuel Premium Premium
Fuel Economy 20/28/23 20/28/22
Suspension Four-Wheel Independent Four-Wheel Independent
Steering Electric Electric
Turning Circle 37.0 Feet 36.2 Feet
Front Tire Size 295/30R20 P255/35R19
Rear Tire Size 295/30R20 P285/30R19
0-60 MPH 5.4 Seconds 4.9 Seconds
Top Speed 155 MPH 155 MPH

Read our full review on the Mercedes SL Roadster

Final Thoughts

2021 Jaguar F-Type Convertible - Driven Exterior
- image 958201

Overall, the Jaguar F-Type Convertible, even in non-SVR form, is a blast to drive. It is fairly comfortable, offers sporty handling, and despite its age is quite the head-turner. It does have its own list of faults, including Jaguar’s weak (at best) infotainment system, but overall the driving experience is enough to make up for the few shortcomings as long as you’re too overly picky and know what you’re getting into from the start.

Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
About the author

Related Articles

2021 Jaguar F-Type Coupe(updated)

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: