Jaguar’s eco boost

A four-pot F-type sticks in the craw but is it as bad as it sounds? – Jaguar F-Type 2.0 i4 –

I don’t know why I dislike the idea of a four-cylinder Jaguar F-type. Four-cylinder Jaguars are not news, indeed the vast majority of cars it sells these days have no more, but the F-type? I guess I feel the same way as I did when I learned Porsche was putting four-cylinder turbo motors under the engine covers of the Boxster and Cayman. It just doesn’t sound right, and I mean that both literally and figuratively.

But the two cases are not strictly comparable. Yes, this F-type has just two litres and four cylinders like the base-spec versions of those Porsches, but if you want one with a V6 or even a V8 Jag, that option remains. For the Porsches, it’s four or the door.

Moreover, Jaguar’s four is considerably easier on the ears than Porsche’s. Its strategy has not been to embark on some futile mission to make it sound like something else, but to make the most of the resources available. This is a four-cylinder in party dress and, for the most part, it scrubs up quite well. There’s a bit of boom and blare, but so too is there some crackle and fizz. More importantly it responds well from very low revs and changes up early, relying on its torque and excellent eight-speed auto to do the hard work, rather than let the engine spin to higher and harsher speeds. By and large the approach is successful.

That said, don’t look too closely as its performance, otherwise you might notice all those hot hatchbacks costing almost £20,000 less that would leave it struggling in their wake. This F-type is quick enough, and absolutely no more.

It remains a lovely thing to drive, though. Like other F-types it tries to put you off with an inadequate driving position for the tall, an interior that’s already ageing badly and a navigation system far behind those now offered by likes of Mercedes and BMW. But once you’re actually on the road, the inherent class of the chassis in impossible to miss. You’ll like the way the suspension is set quite soft yet remains beautifully controlled by its damping. Owners downgrading from heavier, more expensive F-types might be surprised to feel how eager is the nose to turn into corners with over 50kg less weight on it, and those who push a little further will likely love its resolutely neutral handling balance and impeccable on-limit behaviour.

Of course Jaguar didn’t make this car because it wanted an F-type with better weight distribution. In a world now dominated by downsizing and emissions, it would have concluded it had little choice in the matter, and all the benefits outlined above would have been no more than rather welcome side-effects. The real prize for Jaguar is CO2 emissions of 163g/km compared to the 199g/km of the next most expensive rear-drive automatic F-type whose engine, though half as large again and supercharged, yields just 40 additional horsepower; in power to weight terms they’re closer still.

You can most readily tell a four-cylinder F-type from its brethren by its single exhaust pipe, and I’ll be interested to see how many I spot out and about. For the truth is I didn’t like the idea of a four-cylinder F-type before I drove the car, and I still don’t. The reality, though, is far more appealing.


Jaguar F-Type 2.0 i4

Price £49,990 Engine 2.0 litres, 4 cylinders, turbocharged Power296bhp@5500 rpm Torque 295lb ft@1500rpm Weight 1545kg Power to weight 192bhp per tonne Transmission eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive 0-62mph 5.7sec Top speed 155mph Economy39.2mpg CO2 163g/km