Jaguar F-Type 2.0-litre: still a pure sports car at heart

While Jaguar may been busy extending its range with the likes of the F-Pace and E-Pace SUVs, the brand will always be synonymous with gorgeous-looking sports cars. 

The F-Type sits at the heart of the Jaguar range, and until now had packed either a glorious-sounding V6 or burbling V8 engine under its rakish bonnet. But, in a move that might sound like sacrilege to some, the F-Type is now getting a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as well, making it – ever-so slightly – more attainable.

We drove

Jaguar F-Type 2.0 R-Dynamic convertible

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder

Power output: 296bhp

Max speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 5.7 seconds

Price: from £59,175

It’s not any old 2.0-litre lump either, with the new unit the most powerful four-cylinder engine we’ve seen in a production Jaguar to date, delivering an impressive 296bhp.

Rear-wheel-drive only, and with an 8-speed automatic gearbox (there’s no manual option), the new engine will propel the F-Type from 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds, with a top speed electronically limited to 155mph. To put that in perspective, the auto V6 is only marginally quicker from a standing start, taking 5.3 seconds to hit 62mph. 

As you’d expect, it should be more affordable to run as well, with a combined fuel economy of 39.2mpg that's claimed to be a 16% improvement over the equivalent V6, and CO2 emissions of 163g/km CO2, compared with 199g/km for the automatic V6 coupé. 

What about the price? The 'entry-level' 2.0-litre F-Type coupé starts £49,900 (the cheapest 3.0-litre V6 starts at £52,265), with the convertible option adding £5,485 to the price. Prices in the US will start from $59,900.

Still beautiful

The F-Type has bags of presence even when it's sitting still, with beautifully executed lines; it really is a cracking-looking car. We drove the convertible, but we reckon the look of the coupé just edges it – although we’d probably still go for the soft-top just for the sheer thrill of driving with the roof down.

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For 2017 the entire F-Type range (confusingly known as the 2018 models) gets some subtle styling tweaks, with redesigned bumpers and optional full LED headlights, while there are now slimmer seats and, for the 2.0-litre car, a single-tailpipe exhaust.

There are also a range of driver-assist features available, including autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign-assist, lane keep-assist and Jaguar’s adaptive speed limiter system.

Cocooned interior

Slide into the F-Type and you feel nicely cocooned, even with the roof down. Jaguar has managed to keep the interior of the F-Type nice and uncluttered – the central air vents disappear into the dash when not required (though these were pretty much going full-blast, and on hot, as we determinedly drove with the roof down in the middle of the bleak and chilly Norwegian nowhere), and a frameless rearview mirror adds to the premium feel. 

The F-Type features Jaguar’s latest InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, providing control over navigation, music, phone, climate and various additional driver aids. 

Whether it’s because we’d just jumped out of a Range Rover Velar, and had been spoilt by its futuristic dashboard, but the compact display felt a little like going from a iPhone 7 Plus to an iPhone SE. Still good, but a little behind the times perhaps, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto isn’t supported just yet. 

The boot’s also pretty compact – it's just big enough for two overnight bags, so if you've got more stuff to pack in the back you might want to go for the coupé. 

On the road

Any such misgivings are forgotten, however, as soon as you press the start button and the F-Type fires into life. While there’s not quite the same drama as when you start the V6 or V8, it’ll still raise a smile – and it's one that won’t disappear until you turn the engine off again.

That smile will grow into a grin as the F-Type growls and rumbles as you accelerate

We drove the R-Dynamic version (an extra £3,700) of the 2.0-litre F-Type, which sits on slightly larger 19-inch wheels, rather than the new lightweight 18-inch wheels that come with the standard model, but more importantly comes with a switchable active exhaust. Flick it into Dynamic mode and that smile will grow into a grin as the F-Type growls and rumbles as you accelerate, then spits and crackles resonate from the exhaust as you lift your foot off the pedal.

Even if you think you’re a restrained driver, you’ll soon be slowing for tunnels, only to accelerate hard and let the sound of the engine reverberate around you. This aural experience has been enhanced (or manufactured, depending on how you want to look at it) by some clever sound augmentation that comes through the F-Type’s loudspeakers, but we’d take this over a more sedate exhaust note any day.

The smaller engine also means the 2.0-litre F-Type is quite a bit lighter than its V6 brother – some 52kg lighter in fact, with Jaguar’s engineers tweaking the car under the skin to make the most of weight loss. On the winding, (mostly) smooth roads of Norway it felt incredibly agile and well composed. Come out of Dynamic mode and F-Type is a fantastic grand tourer too.

Verdict

The Jaguar F-Type 2.0-litre is achingly gorgeous to look at, and Jaguar’s got it pretty much spot on with the engine at its heart as well. It produces a great (albeit manufactured) engine note and, while it might not be quite a match for the slightly pricier V6, it delivers an incredibly fun drive thanks to the F-Type's lighter weight and tuned chassis. It might not be one for the purists, but the 2.0-litre F-Type still has bags of soul.