Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: May 28, 2018
You might think it’s sacrilegious, transplanting a four-cylinder engine into the heart of a Jaguar F-Type. Porsche did it with their Boxsters and Caymans, Chevrolet with their Camaro, and even Audi with their TT. In the F-Type’s case, this downsized engine not only means a smaller price tag, but it also means it’s lighter in weight and more fuel efficient. And for a sports car, those aren’t exactly bad things. So is the F-Type doomed from the start? Or do we have a gem on our hands? We spent a week with one to find out.
So what’s this 2.0L all about? First off, it costs $69,500 and the model we tested had roughly $10,000 in options alone. To put it into perspective, the 2.0L costs $10,000 less than the equivalent V6 F-Type, and the only way people can tell you’ve cheaped out is by looking at the exhaust pipes. The four-cylinder has one rectangular center-mounted exhaust pipe, whereas V6 models have two circular pipes. V8 models have two on each side.
Nevertheless, you can get the same distinctive body, and this Ultra Blue paint colour is quite a head turner. You get the same interior too with beautiful accents and a driver-centric center console. It feels just as expensive to be honest but with this lower price tag, it does carry less standard features. Priced options include heated seats, a steering wheel, an electrically powered liftgate, and keyless entry.
The F-Type doesn’t get the new infotainment displays from the rest of Jaguar’s lineup either, and is beginning to look dated. I also despise how deep it’s pushed into the dashboard, making the button prompts on the very corners of the screen incredibly difficult to push and not very ergonomic. I had to resort to using my thumb at a “thumbs-down” angle to simply hit the “back” button on the bottom left side of the screen.
Back to the engine though. The 2.0-litre puts out a respectable 296 hp, not too far off from the base V6 model’s output of 340 horses, but it fundamentally changes how you drive the F-Type. With the previous engines and their superchargers, you had instant power off the line. You never had to wait. It was all go go go.
But this 2.0L has a twin-scroll turbo instead, and there is an ever-so-slight delay with power delivery thanks to turbo lag, but there’s just as much shove as the supercharger, it has just been shifted later in the powerband. Forward acceleration takes a little more planning, as it doesn’t rev nearly as quick or with the same kind of ferocity. The four-cylinder is not as smooth either, and there is lots of chassis vibration under acceleration.
That being said, the 0-100 km/h time is identical to the 340-hp V6 F-Type with the manual transmission - 5.7 seconds. So there is still lots of gusto but it runs out of steam quicker. There is less shove at the top end, so you’ll find yourself shifting gears more often, which isn’t a bad thing because this 8-speed automatic is smooth and quick. A manual is not available for the four-cylinders, which is unfortunate because I believe it would have made the F-Type even better (cheaper, and lighter too).
The front end feels more lithe than the V6 models, and it is also rear-wheel drive only. Turn-in is mildly more precise, more agile and less nose heavy. It weighs roughly 52 kg less than V6 but despite the weight reduction, it doesn’t exactly translate into a better sports car. It does feel more balanced when cornering forces increase, though, and definitely more relaxed, tempered, and suited towards cruising than carving. The ride is good, there is no adaptive suspension, and steering nothing to write home about.
The exhaust? This is the biggest disappointment, and it goes without saying that when you chop off two cylinders, you also chop off two of your symphony instruments. Yeah it’s piped through the speakers now and you can kind of tell, even with the optional sports exhaust. Watch our Exhaust Notes video below and listen for yourself. Keep in mind that the microphone is mounted outside right next to the exhaust for a pure audio experience, without all that speaker-brainwashery.
It’s not a bad noise. You still get those signature crackles and pops (though at a lesser rate), and it comes alive at full throttle, but low-end and start-up noise is disappointing. The exhaust lacks the rich emotion that comes with the bigger engines, and it is also bizarre hearing turbo whistles instead of supercharger whines, though the Jag's example isn't as bad as Porsche’s four-cylinders. Perhaps we have just been spoiled.
The four-cylinder F-Type succeeds in offering just as much speed and beauty as its V6 and V8 brothers, but with a lower price-tag and better fuel consumption. The exhaust, which was arguably the best part of the F-Type, just doesn’t cut it in this application and ultimately robs this sports car of its raison d'etre.
But perhaps this downsized F-Type is for a different kind of buyer. I personally think it will appeal to people who want the style and the badge, but might not exactly want to drive fast, don't care about noise or performance, or don't ever see themselves on the race track. Be that as it may, I would still recommend plopping down the extra cash for the extra cylinders. The F-Type feels a bit lost without them.
Model: 2018 Jaguar F-Type four-cylinder
Paint Type: Ultra Blue
Base Price: $69,500
Price as Tested: $80,192
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,470 / 1,923 / 1,311
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower: 296 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 1,500 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.8
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero