When the new F-Type came out five years ago, it offered V6 and V8 engine options. Weirdly enough, we liked the six about as much as we liked the eight. The chassis is so refined and the body that covers it is one of the most stunning on the market now — even in the highly competitive “stunning coupe and convertible” categories. So when we got to spend a couple hours driving the new four-cylinder F-Type, it wasn’t too much of a surprise we like that one, too.
In case anyone’s keeping track, the arrival of the four-cylinder means there are now 24 derivatives of F-Type. From the mighty and all-conquering 200-mph 575-hp supercharged V8 of the SVR all the way down to this, the (relatively) diminutive four-banger. But can you really call the four diminutive?
The 2018 Jaguar F Type four also comes as a convertible
Jaguar promises it “… delivers the driving experience promised by the award-winning (160 awards so far in just five years!) design.” The engine is 2.0 liters big and boosted with a turbocharger. But there’s an awful lot more technology packed into it than just that. The single turbo spins on ultra-efficient ceramic ball bearings. It is a twin-scroll design, which greatly reduces back pressure for more efficient turbocharging and more immediate boost – you get almost no turbo lag. The exhaust manifold itself is cast into the cylinder head for quicker warm-up and more efficient thermodynamic operation. It has direct injection right at the top middle of each cylinder.
The cylinder head itself is one of the things that gives this engine the Ingenium name. An electrohydraulic valvetrain, “…enables fully variable control of intake valve lift for optimum combustion efficiency, power and torque throughout the engine’s operating range,” according to Jaguar. Maybe someone’s written a book about the intake side of the valvetrain, but among its many talents is that it can not only infinitely vary the amount and duration of lift, it essentially replaces the throttle valve for engine load control. Suffice to say, you are getting the absolute most out of your two liters of displacement.
Thus configured the engine spins an eight-speed automatic and the rear wheels to launch the 2.0-liter, 3,360-pound F-Type to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds and to a top speed of 155 mph.
The powertrain resides in the F-Type’s all-aluminum-all-the-time chassis that weighs 115 pounds less than the next-lightest V6, meaning the spring rates can be 4 percent less in front and 3 in the rear.
Here’s that four-banger you’ve read so much about
Slide into the four-cylinder F-Type’s new die-cast magnesium-alloy Slimline seats (that are 17 pounds lighter) and you stare at Jaguar’s new InControl Touch Pro pinch-to-zoom infotainment system. A push of a button brings the demi-beast to life and right away you notice… sound. Engine sound. It sounds like an engine, anyway. And it’s being piped into… the stereo system. It’s fake and it sounds fake. Maybe you can bribe an engineer back in Coventry to remove this Stuart Smalley engine affirmation — but more than likely, you can’t. It does not sound inspiring. I’d have preferred just whatever sound the four-banger naturally makes to whatever this noise is.
And it’s misleading because the four-cylinder really does provide enough power. Had I never driven a V6 or V8 F-Type, I might have been perfectly happy with this car’s output. Of course, I have driven a number of V6 and V8 F-Types so I know that those are much more powerful and downright thrilling. But still, this one weighs a lot less than the larger-displacement models, so the power-to-weight ratio — 11.3 pounds per horsepower — while not supercar territory is quick enough. That 5.4-second 0-60 feels strong, at least.
In corners, the 2-liter F-Type feels like more of a GT than a sports car, which will be fine with almost all owners. The V8 F-Types feel like well-controlled muscle cars and this one feels about like that, albeit with less muscle. The electric power steering is a little faster than I prefer, but it’s overall pleasantly fast enough for an afternoon behind the wheel.
18s are standard but you can also get 19- and 20-inch wheels.
There are a lot of good options in this broad category: the Audi S5, Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, Corvette, Porsche Boxster and Mercedes SLC, to name a few. But the F-Type might be the most beautiful of them all, and this is the least expensive F-Type you can buy, even if it does start at $60,895. F-Types go all the way up to $125,000, after all. With this, you get a lot less power but the same beautiful body.
Does anyone need to know you only have four cylinders? No, they don’t.
On Sale: Later in 2017
Base Price: $60,895
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbo I-4, 8-speed automatic, RWD
Output: 296 hp at 5500 rpm, 295 lb-ft from 1500 to 4500 rpm
Curb Weight: 3360 pounds (mfg.)
0-60 MPH: 5.4 seconds (mfg.)
Pros: Looks great, still plenty of power
Cons: Fake engine noise piped in over the stereo
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