Gracious, it’s a surprise jumping into a low slung Euro convertible where everything is logical, and you don’t need to consult a handbook to drive the darned thing. And there are sensible buttons for things like hood activation, start-up, and exhaust noise. So it was after flopping down into a Jaguar F-Type convertible P 300, a car that has a dose of british sanity inside.
Practical? Once you remove the spare wheel that takes up all the boot space (there’s a can of gloop instead).
You can forgive almost anything when the looks and drive are so special. The P 300 R Dynamic is essentially the base model for the F-Type ragtop, utilising a four-pot 2.0-litre boosted mill. With VVT and lift, along with a twin-scroll blower, it pumps out 221kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm from 1500rpm. Pushing 1674kg, it should go okay then, right?
The downside is that there are only two seats, and even when you remove the spare, there’s not much luggage space, 207L. Still, that’s par for the course on cars with removable lids, the power top taking 12sec to do its thing in either direction, and you can make the transformation on the move.
The standard roof colour is black, though red, grey and brown hues are available for $1000. Black’s good, we reckon. For 2019, the Coupe and Convertible are slightly closer in price, there now being a $10k difference in favour of the fixed roof variant.
At $130k, the British convert competes with the 718 Boxster opposition, only the F-Type’s a bit bigger and heavier, so performance for the Porsche, which has a dual-clutch tranny, is better. Compared with the hardtop, you expect to pay a bit more for the extra shoring up of the chassis and the automated roof mechanism, and also for the mere privilege of wind-in-the-hair driving.
While there’s not quite so much in the way of exterior glitz with the Convertible, you’re not doing without either.
Aside from the eight-speed auto with wheel-mounted paddles, you also get adaptive damping, sports exhaust, LED lights, and heated folding mirrors. Cruise is manual – it shouldn’t be at this price – but there’s an idle-stop system, two drive modes, parking aids each end, powered and heated seats in leather and suede, metal and rubber pedals, keyless entry, dual zone air, and a reversing camera.
Wheels are 19 inches in diameter, the touch screen 10 inches. A 10-speaker Meridian sound system does the other entertaining. On the safety front, there’s roll-over protection, autonomous braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane keeping, RCTA and a deployable bonnet.
On the outside, this remains a stunner, six years on from its launch. The four-potter Ingenium engine is sensible, its combined fuel figure of 7.2L/100km down a ways on the 8.6 of the raucous V6 supercharged engine, not to mention the cost saving over the six potter. And it’s little slower; even this base F-Type is a runner, with a sprint time in the mid 5sec bracket.
In Normal mode, it goes effortlessly in town, the auto slurring up through the box at around 2000rpm, the ride easygoing. Get out into the countryside, stick it into Dynamic and this becomes a blur, still riding the bumps beautifully and cornering like a legend. There’s nothing quite like rear drive, near 50:50 weight balance and lots of sticky PZero rubber.
You’d not credit the midcorner grip, and initial turn in is super-sharp. Torque vectoring by brake helps keep things on line, but it’s virtually undetectable on road. This runs beautiful lines, tightening nicely on a dead throttle. Slower in and then piling on the gas overcomes the brief lag and the P 300 then steers from the rear through the apex.
In Dynamic mode there’s quite an agreeable soundtrack from the big centre-mounted pipe at the rear, minus the howl that accompanies the six- and eight-cylinder versions. It’s the ease with which it does everything that really singles this out as special.
The brakes speak to you from the pedal, while the surge in speed from 3000-4000rpm is epic. Best output lies in the 4500 to 6000rpm region, but even from 2000rpm onwards this blazes away. It can fly, and the eight-speed auto gets the best from the four-potter.
Fuel use rises when you climb into it, to around 14L/100km, but single figures are well possible, the long term figure registering 7.5L/100km. Even the seats and driving position are good, while the paddles work with the merest brush. It may be wildly impractical but for emotional jollies the P 300 is amongst the best of the 2.0 four-potters out there.
With cars like these, let’s hope Jaguar can soon extricate itself from its current Brexit-associated misfortunes.
|Model||Jaguar F-Type Convertible 300PS SE||Price||$129,990|
|Engine||1997cc, IL4, T/DI, 221kW/400Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||7.2L/100km||C02 Output||163g/km|