Few people envied Jaguar’s design and engineering team when they were tasked with creating the big car’s next important sports car. The iconic D and E-Type rightly have their place in automotive history so doing justice to that lineage whilst delivering something modern was a massive task.
Luckily, the F-Type was bang on the money, arriving as a progressive sports car without forgetting its heritage.
It first came as a soft-top convertible, then a fixed-roof coupe, then as the raging 3.5-second high-performance SVR in both bodystyles, and now, following the facelift treatment, we’re getting a new entry-level model.
With a price tag just short of £50k, describing it as ‘affordable’ might seem ridiculous for most of us, but it’s the F-Type’s lowest price to date. But is this model – driven by the same two-litre four-pot 296bhp Ingenium petrol engine as the Discovery Sport – any good? The British motoring press is about to let you know…
Auto Express admitted that the idea of an intentionally muzzled and modest engine in a relatively heavy car like the F-Type seemed destined for disappointment, but they were impressed, awarding it four out of five stars.
One notable drawback is that the two-litre engine is less audibly raucous than its V6 and V8 counterparts, with a much more polite soundtrack.
However, the motoring weekly commended Jag’s engineers for squeezing plenty of personality out of the four-pot.
They also liked how the engine took advantage of the car’s lighter weight, sharpening up the steering and delivering greater fuel efficiency. One thing they weren’t sold on though was the laughable notion that this was a ‘value’ car.
The two-litre F-Type is only available as an eight-speed automatic, which AE deemed “a pity” because a manual option would have contributed further to the 52kg weight saving already unlocked by the smaller engine. Would anyone have bought it though? Probably not, barely one in 20 F-Types pack a stick shift.
Autocar – who also gave it four stars – shared AE’s disappointment at the engine’s subdued soundtrack, recalling that Porsche’s 718 Cayman – another downsized four-cylinder car – suffered from the same issue.
On the plus side though, any Jag fans who “have easily irritated neighbours and early starts, perhaps this is the version for you”.
Despite being notably more hushed than other F-Types, Autocar didn’t note any issue with the car’s power delivery, with peak torque coming early from 1,500rpm and hanging around until 4,500rpm.
Jaguar claims this smaller F-Type can polish off 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds, but Autocar says it “seldom feels like a five-something car”. As such, it lands in similar territory as the Honda Civic Type R, which retails £20k cheaper.
No nasty surprises
Top Gear reckons the F-Type feels like a “tangibly different product” with the daintier engine, and “noticeably more trustworthy than the V6 and V8”.
“I’ve never driven an F-Type harder than this one,” wrote TG’s Stephen Dobie, who put this down to it being front-wheel-drive rather than all-wheel-drive.
He labelled it as “an F-Type you can drive with lots of confidence [and] no fear of the rear axle giving you a nasty surprise”, something the early V8s certainly couldn’t claim.
Pistonheads felt kinda sorry for the four-pot F-Type, noting that while its six- and eight-cylinder iterations had their own niche, this newly castrated model “could struggle against the more direct opposition it now faces”.
Should you buy one?
Autocar wasn’t convinced, summing up their predicament with this analogy: “Little brothers are great and all. But they’re usually better once they’ve grown up a bit.”
Auto Express hailed it a strong GT car with a well-judged ride and their main gripe was the price, which easily crept past £60k in R-Dynamic spec with bigger alloys and LED lights. Considering the equivalent V6 is just £3,000 more, it’s a tough sell, especially when the lighter and faster Boxster starts from under £45k.
Top Gear appreciated why Jaguar would conjure a four-pot F-Type, but as the car’s excitement was one of its major selling points, it just made them pine for the V6 and V8.
Would you still like to see a four-cylinder F-Type on your drive? Let us know in the comments below.