New Jaguar F-Type 4-cylinder ride review

We get taken for a drive in a prototype version of the brilliant new 4cyl Jaguar F-Type sports car

Jaguar’s F-Type sports car is about to get four-cylinder power to go along with its V6 and V8 engines - and Auto Express has been for a run in a late prototype of the car, driven by the firm’s top development driver Mike Cross.

The turbocharged four-cylinder motor is Jaguar’s latest Ingenium petrol unit and produces 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. It also takes 52kg off the F-Type’s overall kerbweight. On paper the performance figures are respectable rather than jaw-dropping; the 0-60mph dash takes 5.4 seconds, a few tenths of a second more than the (considerably cheaper) 2.0-litre Porsche 718 Cayman

Best sports cars on sale

But fuel efficiency is greatly improved, offering a 16 per cent improvement over the existing V6 F-Type, Jaguar claims. That means the 2.0 (which is only available with an eight-speed auto gearbox) manages an official combined economy figure of 39.2mpg, and CO2 emissions of 163g/km.

As Cross begins to showcase the entry-level F-Type’s potential on the roads near JLR’s HQ in Warwickshire, it’s clear that the engine’s shove is delivered in an impressively linear fashion. Indeed, as he revs it through to around 6,500rpm, it feels more like a normally aspirated motor instead of a turbocharged one. 

The V6’s howl has gone, of course, but there’s a pleasing bark from the exhaust. When you punch the throttle the sound is artificially enhanced via acoustic engineering through the car’s speaker system, but the overall effect doesn’t sound fake, thankfully. Cross takes great delight in demonstrating how it gets even more shrill towards the redline, too.

“The thing I like about the 2.0,” Cross says, “is that it feels like a car you can still thrash on UK roads - even with our speed limits.” He’s not wrong; part of our route near the Fosse Way opens up and JLR’s star driver is able to exploit the car's potential. The F-Type certainly doesn’t feel slow, but we’re able to enjoy hard acceleration up to third gear – a point at which the speedometers on V6 or V8 models would have been well beyond three figures.

Best of all, the F-Type’s poise appears better than ever, as the car clips apexes with vigour. The ride is sweet on our car’s 19in rims, too. In fact, we’d stick with that size, based on a second, shorter passenger run in a car equipped with 20s.

Cross spends most of his drive in the car’s default mode instead of the racier ‘Dynamic’ configuration; that’s because the difference between the settings is slightly smaller here than it is in the V6 or V8 models. The 2.0-litre car doesn’t feature adaptive dampers, but flick the chequered-flag switch in the centre console and you get a more aggressive throttle response, keener steering and even more pops and crackles from the exhaust.

If anything, there’s a duality to the standard set-up that should make it suitable for 99 per cent of drivers. Around town, the four-pot stays relatively muted, with its active exhaust remaining hushed and altogether rather polite. But on the open road, the same system can become much more rowdy, just because of more aggression on the throttle pedal. 

We’ll get to try the car for ourselves in a few weeks, but from this short passenger run, we can already detect the tempting prospect of the cheapest F-Type in the range actually being the best one for UK roads. 

Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

Most Popular

New MG3 hopes to disrupt the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa’s supermini dominance
MG3 on Geneva Motor Show stand - front
News

New MG3 hopes to disrupt the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa’s supermini dominance

New MG3 features the company’s first full-hybrid powertrain; pricing to be announced in March
26 Feb 2024
New Renault 4 will go 4x4 to get ahead in the baby EV SUV class
Renault 4EVER concept car in 1962 4L paint - front 3/4 static
News

New Renault 4 will go 4x4 to get ahead in the baby EV SUV class

The forthcoming Renault 4 is likely to offer a four-wheel-drive option, helping it to stand out in the market for baby all-electric SUVs
27 Feb 2024
Dacia heads for VW Golf and Ford Focus territory with new C-Neo that’s definitely ‘not an SUV’
Dacia badge
News

Dacia heads for VW Golf and Ford Focus territory with new C-Neo that’s definitely ‘not an SUV’

As big names vacate the traditional C-segment, Dacia sees an opportunity for its new petrol family car
27 Feb 2024