There’s nothing unusual about a willing high-performance turbo engine, although traditionally they’re found under bonnets of hot hatches and compact performance models.
Bigger, more powerful prestige coupes and convertibles with a performance skew have traditionally kept to big, brawny six and eight-cylinder engines - but times are changing, and fast.
Porsche swapped out its iconic flat-six engine for a boxer four in 2016 on 718 Cayman and Boxster models and now Jaguar has added turbo four-cylinder power to its F-Type range - although this time as an extra variant rather than a replacement for its existing supercharged V6 and V8 powertrains.
Purists may be up in arms, but after a quick introductory drive, TMR came away impressed with the new model, which offers a new kind of Jaguar experience.
Vehicle Style: Performance coupe and roadster
Price: $107,012 (coupe) $125,712 (roadster) plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 221kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 8spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.2 l/100km
Jaguar’s four-cylinder F-Type range has been kept relatively simple. You can have the new engine in a coupe or roadster but only with an eight-speed automatic and only with rear wheel drive.
Pricing starts from $107,012 plus on-road costs for the coupe, or $127,712 for the roadster, making the new variant at least $17,000 cheaper than the next-step-up 250kW supercharged V6 with an equivalent automatic and rear wheel drive specification.
It’s also cheaper in coupe form than the most affordable version of the Porsche 718 Cayman, though a Boxster roadster holds a pricing advantage compared to the four-cylinder F-Type coupe which also holds a meagre 1kW and 20Nm advantage compared to the Porsche twins.
The engine itself comes from Jaguar’s latest line of internally-developed Ingenium engines and is the most powerful variant available with 221kW and 400Nm from 2.0-litres. Next to Jag’s own V6 the new engine trails by 29kW and 50Nm meaning it steps back slightly, though not dramatically.
- Standard Equipment: Leather and suedecloth sports seats with partial electric adjustment, single-zone climate control, push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, Xenon headlights, leather steering wheel, electrically-adjustable steering column, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, USB input, 10-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 310 litres (coupe), 196 litres (roadster)
In its most basic form the F-Type 2.0-litre comes loaded with 18-inch alloy wheels, leather and suedecloth sports seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium trim, single-zone climate control, push-button ignition, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Safety is covered by six airbags in the coupe and four in the convertible as well as autonomous emergency braking as standard.
Though powertrain options may be limited, interior options certainly aren’t and delving into Jaguar’s long list of extras can soon add up.
There are some notable pieces of equipment you need to pay extra for, including a reversing camera ($1060), digital radio ($640), dual-zone climate control ($1040) and keyless entry ($1200) all of which should rightfully be included in a car asking over $100,000.
Jaguar of course isn’t the only prestige car brand guilty of sticking features you’d rightfully expect to find in an average hatchback on the options list - in fact the more you spend the worse the pricing for basics becomes in the world of thoroughbred supercars.
The option package most likely to find its way onto the base F-Type is Jaguar’s R-Dynamic upgrade (like the model we tested) which adds an active sports exhaust, LED headlights, Delta aluminium centre console, 19-inch alloy wheels, plus gloss black exterior trim with the inclusion of the Design Pack for $7800 all up.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder, 221kW @5500rpm, 400Nm @1500-44500rpm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: Double wishbone front and rear suspension
- Brakes: 335mm front discs, 325mm rear discs
- Steering: Electric power steering, 10.7m turning circle
The four-cylinder in question is the latest product of Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium engine family, measuring 2.0-litres in capacity and punching out a respectable 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque. In the F-Type it’s paired exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive set-up.
That compares to 250kW, 280kW and 294kW for the different tunes for the supercharged V6 and 404kW and 423kW for the supercharged V8.
Though it may be down slightly in outright grunt, the four-cylinder makes up for its shortfall in other areas.
One of the main advantages is weight, as it tips the scales a starting weight of 1525kg, making it up to 52kg lighter than its more powerful siblings, which has allowed Jaguar’s engineers to calibrate the suspension settings to give the four-pot F-Type a unique handling feel.
While it may be a very different engine to what you typically expect, on the road the new F-Type lives up to the expectations you have of a Jaguar sports car. For starters it sounds good, or at least it does when you get the active sports exhaust, part of the higher specification R-Dynamic models we tested.
It may be lacking cylinders compared to the other F-Type’s in the range but the 2.0-litre barks and pops and crackles just like a sports car should. There’s a nice, but subtle, growl from the engine under hard acceleration too.
Does it have the same aural drama as the V6 or V8? No, but it’s enough to make you feel like you’re in something special.
It must be noted though that Jaguar didn’t have the standard model available, so we can’t make a comment on the noise from the regular exhaust system.
In terms of performance, which is the same in the standard car and the R-Dynamic we tested, the 2.0-litre engine has plenty of go. It doesn’t shove you back in your seat like the V8 but once it gets going the F-Type is a properly quick sports car with the 0-100km/h drag race completed in a claimed 5.7 seconds.
There’s plenty of mid-range punch thanks to 400Nm of torque which means it feels quick corner to corner.
The lighter weight in the nose also helps it feel more agile and responsive in the corners. Not that the V6 or V8 feel slow, but the four-cylinder has a lighter, more lively character; like a grown-up Mazda MX-5.
The steering weight may be too light for some, and even in the slightly heavier Dynamic settings there’s a lack of feel off-centre that detracts slightly from the driving experience. But it’s only a minor criticism.
Of more concern is the ride quality in the convertible version. Although Jaguar has tried to make it more compliant the extra body strengthening for the soft-top translates to a busier ride that feels like it picks up every bump in the road.
By contrast the coupe feels more comfortable, soaking up the bumps with greater composure.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There are plenty of ways to buy similar grunt for less money, but the even in a varied performance market the four-cylinder F-Type is impressive.
Although it can’t quite match the dramatic accelerative punch and sonorous aural signatures of V6 and V8 versions, the four-cylinder F-Type isn’t short on dynamic thrills and a sportscar sense of occasion.
It still sounds good, and it still goes quickly, which are the two most important things a sports engine has to do. When you wrap it up in the stylish F-Type you have a very appealing sports car, no matter how many cylinders it has.
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