Jaguar F-Type Coupe 4-cyl 2017 review
Jaguar has followed Porsche along the 4-cyl route, and it has produced the best F-Type of the range
We were already fans of the Jaguar F-Type and the 2.0-litre is the best of the lot. It takes the looks, comfort and quality of the other models and adds even more fun, due to its drop in weight and a deeply impressive four-cylinder engine. Ultimately, it may not be quite as capable as a Porsche 718 Cayman, but it’s pretty close and it has a whole lot more character – exactly as a Jaguar sports car should.
If some posts on social media are to be believed, those responsible for putting a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine into Jaguar’s F-Type two-seat sports car should be hung, drawn and quartered. Anything other than a supercharged V6 or burbling V8 is sacrilege, surely? We’re not ones to pre-judge, so let’s start by looking at the numbers.
Jaguar’s engineers have boosted the 2.0-litre Ingenium engine found in the XE and XF saloons to 296bhp. Torque is up, too, with that figure now standing at 400Nm. That equates to a 0-62mph time of just 5.7 seconds, which isn’t too shabby. In fact, it’s just six-tenths of a second slower than a Porsche 718 Cayman.
But cars like this are as much about character as they are pure performance, and this is where the Jaguar team has worked its wonders. The existing V6 and V8 F-Types are the hooligans of the sports car world, and are all the better for it. They’re brutally fast and unsociably loud. And thankfully, the new 2.0-litre fulfils this brief, too.
In the real world, and on real roads, the new four-cylinder version feels pretty much as fast as its more expensive siblings. Better than that, it has an alertness that the other cars are missing. If anything, its throttle response is crisper and its turn-in is tighter. The car feels lighter and fitter than before.
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Jaguar chose to launch the new F-Type in Norway, alongside the sleek new Range Rover Velar, where the speed limit is just 50mph. However, that probably played to the 2.0-litre model’s strengths, because this is the sort of car that you can have fun in, even within the legal limits. This is the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever seen in a Jaguar, and it’s a gem. It revs freely with only a hint of turbo lag.
With Dynamic mode selected and the loud button (or switchable active exhaust as Jag calls it) pressed, there’s an instant response to a prod of the throttle from pretty much any revs, accompanied by a bassy exhaust rumble. It’s addictive.
It’s clearly a manufactured sound, but the noise is far preferable to what Porsche has achieved from its four-cylinder cars. You even get the odd pop and whizz from the exhaust as you lift off. It can’t match the drama found on the V6 or V8, but it’s enough to put a grin on your face.
The handling is only likely to widen that smile, because the new four-cylinder, like the bigger engines, sits quite a long way forward in the engine bay. That means most of the claimed 52kg weight saving has been made over the front axle.
With recent steering tweaks, the F-Type reacts quicker to inputs, feeling grippier and more controlled as it changes direction. Jaguar still seems to confuse steering weight for feel, though, and the F-Type lacks the delicacy of a Porsche Boxster or Cayman’s controls – but there’s definitely more fun to be had behind the wheel.
The 2.0-litre lacks the adaptive dampers of other models, but its new-found poise doesn’t come at the expense of comfort. Out of Dynamic mode, with the steering and throttle response a little more languid, this newest F-Type is a brilliant GT – surprisingly comfortable, refined and relaxing to drive.
Other recent changes to the range have mildly refreshed the looks, but the F-Type remains one of the most stylish sports cars you can buy, especially in Coupé form. The safety kit has also been updated, but the interior is pretty much unchanged. It’s just as well built as Jaguar’s most recent saloons and SUVs, but the small touchscreen looks a little old-hat these days. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile connectivity aren’t even available as options yet.
You can get a 2.0-litre F-Type Coupé for £49,900. The R-Dynamic, with its loud button and 19-inch wheels (rather than 18s), costs another £3,700, while the cheapest 3.0-litre starts at £52,265. The Convertible adds £5,485 but, to our eyes, doesn’t look as good – although that’s splitting hairs. A Cayman with a manual gearbox is £10,000 less, however, and losing the roof (by buying a Boxster) will cost less than £2k.
And if it really matters to sports car buyers, the 2.0-litre Jag claims nearly 40mpg and CO2 emissions of 163g/km. That puts it on par with the Cayman PDK.