R Convertible is priced from £92,285

R Convertible is priced from £92,285

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With Jaguar registrations finally heading in the right direction thanks to the addition of the XE, the two-year old F-TYPE is also beginning to sell better. It's been a slow burn for this supercar, but its abilities have never been in doubt.

JLR began building the F-TYPE as a roadster in May 2013 with the less expensive hatchback added to the line at Castle Bromwich ten months later. Both cars are two-seaters and use a shorter, narrower variation of the XJ and former XK's aluminium platform.

On the engine and gearbox side of things, not much has changed since the original launch, apart from the V8 engine gaining more power. The base cars have a 340PS version of JLR's 3.0-litre V6, while the S variants have another forty horsepower. The top-spec R was once only available in hatchback, or as Jaguar calls it, Coupé form, and that meant a 550PS 5.0-litre V8. All three engines are supercharged, and come with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox as standard. The most powerful open-roof F-TYPE was once the 495PS V8 S but this has since been replaced by the 550PS R Convertible, the version I recently had temporary ownership of for a week.

What it's like? A very special experience, which seems to be linked to the rising awareness of Jaguar in Britain. The image is improving after the difficult years post-X-TYPE. That wasn't a bad car, it's more that the public tends to parrot the opinions of shouty journalists. In this case, the X was given a big thumbs down, and that's the direction its sales went soon after. 

I saw just under 24mpg in my time with the 5.0-litre F-TYPE so there were a few visits to fuel stations. Every time, someone wandered over to look at the car, or spoke to me in the payment queue. That just wouldn't happen to a Porsche driver. People wanted to know was it as good to drive as they thought it looked and sounded. My answer was always the same: better. And by the way, if there is a supercar on the market which has an exhaust note that can improve upon that of the R, then I haven't heard it. You can either press the button with the pics of the tailpipes or else select Dynamic Mode for the full ratta-tatta-bang-growl effect. It is….addictive. 

This is an expensive car, and it's possible to easily tip the price into six figures by choosing a few options (20" Tornado Black wheels: GBP1,500, or how about a 12 speaker Meridian sound system upgrade for GBP1,300?) but the big question is this: would you really want to pay over GBP90,000 to have the supercharged V8 when the V6 cars are tens of thousands of pounds less expensive? Of course you would. Well, once you'd heard the 5.0-litre engine at full tilt, there would be no going back to the dealership and saying "I'll take one of the quieter ones thanks".

Turn off the loud pipes and the R goes from feral feline to purring pussycat. Even with the roof down, so don't worry about anti-social behaviour. You might be embarrassed by something else though: the boot is ridiculously small and oddly shaped so you need to tell your other half to pack very lightly on weekends away. That's something which is addressed in the three-door car, so if practicality is an essential, choose the R Coupe.

JLR's infotainment system was as ever, superb, and yet some people think of it as old school. I have no time for them. A week or so after the F-TYPE, I drove the newly updated Toyota Avensis. Every time I got into it, the system took a minute or more to find my iPhone. In the F, it brought it up instantly. The whole shebang has been thoughtfully, intelligently, logically throught out. Want to turn the SatNav system's spoken guidance off? Easy. No tiresome scrolling through menus, just one push of a button and you see a picture of a speaker which you touch and instantly, no more chatty lady imploring you to take the direct route. Doesn't she understand that the long way is usually a lot more fun?

Apart from the tiny trunk, there's hardly anything you could take exception to in this car, such are the delights of just gazing at it, let alone how fantastic it is to drive. One thing which can irritate is the trigger gear selector. The Range Rover Sport has this too, and it takes some time to get used to. Press P on the top of it and the car obviously goes into park but it also applies the parking brake: very good. But when you want reverse, you must push the lever forwards, even though the shift pattern is the usual P-R-N-D (and across for S). And, you must hold a button while doing this. To find D from P, hold that button and pull once (i.e. not three clicks as you'd imagine, via R and N). Dear JLR: if you're currently working on the F-TYPE's mid-life changes, please could one of them be the rotary controller from the Range Rover and XE?

Enough with the not so good things, as this car turned out to be one that I really didn't want to give back. I could gaze at it all day long, and I could listen to it even longer. The thunder which is unleashed when you push the right pedal down hard from either a standing start (0-100kmh is 4.0 seconds) or to overtake just make you want to never run out of new roads to explore.

Jaguar is now seeing the results of all the heavy lifting done over the last few years with those memorable TV ads about British baddies. Its image is on the rise, and suddenly, the XE seems to be everywhere. That's backed up by data, with 2,622 units of the new saloon sold in September, making it Britain's 60th best seller. Doesn't sound too impressive when you read the ranking but it's early days. The only other Jaguar model for which I could obtain sales numbers for in Britain was the XF. In September, there were 1,770 registrations of this sedan and estate range. 

Jaguar is finally doing its bit for the Tata Motors group. What the parent firm terms wholesales reached 97,102 units last month, a gain of 21% over September 2014. That includes commercial vehicles but global wholesales of all passenger vehicles in September 2015 were 63,334 units, a 40% YoY surge. JLR made up most of that, its total being 51,074 vehicles, of which Jaguar was 8,211 vehicles - the best month in a very long time. Once the new XF rolls out worldwide in the coming months, followed by the F-PACE, I wouldn't be at all surprised to start seeing the F-TYPE also gaining more sales. This is an undeservedly rare car - it was probably priced too high when launched - which could in 2016 begin to get close to the supposed 15,000 units of annual build capacity reserved for it.

What replaces the F-TYPE?

X152 hasn't yet had its mid-life facelift - that's due in 2016 or 2017 - so it's a little early to be talking about anything more than the initial outline of the replacement model. X161, the successor for the F-TYPE, is due to enter production late in the third quarter of 2019. It should use an evolution of the current car's platform. Expect four-cylinder Ingenium diesel and petrol engines as well as larger units. There should also be a supercharged in-line six-cylinder petrol engine, and possibly an in-line six diesel too. These will be part of a new family of JLR units based on the smaller Ingenium series.