When it comes to beautifully sculpted sports cars, the name Jaguar has to be in the mix. Much of Jaguar’s history is intrinsically linked to the ever-stunning E-Type. Arguably, it was one of the first car’s to properly blend beauty and performance.
At present, Jaguar is making a habit of returning to its decorated history to inspire its brand identity. Jaguar’s current design language is now at a point that it is easily differentiated from other premium marques. Obviously having Ian Callum on staff helps, the services of the automotive equivalent of Rembrandt has given Jaguar showrooms the touch of modernity needed to return the brand to prosperity.
In 2013 Jaguar fired a very convincing shot at its rivals with the arrival of the F-TYPE, a car that quickly built a following based on the shape of its sheet metal and a rather intimidating soundtrack.
Now the 2018 Jaguar F-TYPE hasn’t changed a great deal, it’s still achingly pretty and it still screams, but the brand has fired another shot, one aimed squarely at Stuttgart.
The 2018 model year sees the F-TYPE offered with a four-cylinder engine for the first time, which puts it in the same space as Porche’s latest incarnations of the Boxster and Cayman.
Enthusiasts need not be concerned, unlike the Porsche models, Jaguar still offers the choice of V6 and V8 engines in the F-TYPE.
We are fans of Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium engine technology, these new powerplants offer genuine performance without sacrificing efficiency. That’s what we call a ‘win-win’ result.
The engine in question is a 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium which develops 221kW and 400Nm with peak torque available from only 1500rpm. It’s the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever offered in a production Jaguar. In terms of performance, it’s only 0.4 seconds slower to 100 than the supercharged V6, meaning from a standstill it can accelerate to triple figures in 5.7 seconds.
Ignoring the official acceleration figure is a good idea, the car feels faster than the spec sheet claims when you select dynamic mode and give it a bootful.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is a sublime piece of engineering that makes the most of the engine’s outputs. Shifts are silky smooth, though drivers can use the paddles to manually change gears if the mood strikes. This is one car where the paddles do add significantly to driver engagement.
The balance of the chassis with a near 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution means the F-TYPE can deliver a high level of precision and control in the bends. This is a car to remind us all of the joys of rear wheel drive. The limited slip differential with torque vectoring by braking also helps the car to keep the corners tight.
The car isn’t that heavy, so the engine isn’t encumbered with an excess of weight to haul around which keeps things nimble.
It does make a nice noise - yes, yes, we know software engineers have had a bit to do with it, but should that diminish the end result?
Our F-TYPE is the R-Dynamic trim level which brings 19-inch alloy wheels as standard, they look the part and add to the car’s visual appeal, however, the F-TYPE’s suspension is on the firm side so the larger wheels detract slightly from ride comfort.
Speaking of comfort, the F-TYPE has some grand touring ability, even with a ragtop. Occupants will notice uneven surfaces, but wind and road noise are minimal on a highway jaunt.
Moving to the roof, the F-TYPE has always looked stunning as a coupe, the convertible hasn’t had the same appeal. In saying that, the folding roof has grown on us in terms of looks. To take full advantage of the top the conditions need to be perfect, if the sun is out the reflection off the dash is extremely annoying. Regardless of the issues presented when the top is down, everyone should experience the open air thrill of a convertible at some stage.
Our week of testing covered nearly 1000 kilometres of city and highway driving which can only be described as enthusiastic. The 2.0-litre F-TYPE proved to be efficient consuming only 8.0L/100km.
Looking at the car, it’s still gorgeous, the proportions, lines and curves all come together beautifully.
The cabin lives up to the standard set by the exterior. The layout is superb and the feel of the switchgear is crisp. The deployable front air vents are a lovely touch. The interior offers a first-class experience that can easily compete with the quality people expect from high-end models from Mercedes.
One of the many options fitted to the car was the Premium Leather Interior Pack which includes a leather-wrapped console and instrument panel. It’s not cheap but it does kick things up a notch and adds to the cabin ambience.
Surprisingly, for a car of these proportions, there is plenty of interior space. It sounds crazy, but I stand 195cm tall and had no problem getting comfortable in either seat.
Opting for the four-cylinder isn't the compromise you would think it to be. It’s great to drive and it’s frugal for a car of its type. On top of these virtues, the 2.0-litre is considerably more affordable. The entry price to F-TYPE ownership now starts at $107,012 for the coupe and $125,712 for the convertible (all prices exclude on-roads).
The R-Dynamic convertible on test here comes in at $133,512. At nearly 19k extra to get the convertible, unless you are living out a childhood dream, there is better value in going for the coupe and adding a few options to personalise the car.
Regardless of which four-cylinder model strikes your fancy, prices are competitive. It’s still somewhat annoying that a rear view camera isn't standard in a car at this price.
Some additional value can be found when examining the cost of ownership. Jaguar provides complementary servicing for all F-TYPE variants for the first five years or 130,000km whichever comes first.
Jaguar is backing the F-TYPE with a standard three year/100,000km warranty coverage. Beefing this up to match the free servicing would nicely ice the cake.
Losing a couple of cylinders isn’t the tragedy some purists might have expected. The 2.0-litre F-TYPE has plenty to offer those who like to drive. As an enthusiast, it’s nice to see a resurgent Jaguar producing desirable sports cars.
Following in the footsteps of giants is never easy, the E-Type has secured its place in automotive history and is unlikely to ever be forgotten. The F-TYPE pays tribute to the legend by bringing some of the brand’s legacy to a new audience and is well on the way to being a modern classic in its own right.
2018 Jaguar F-TYPE R-Dynamic RWD Convertible Specifications:
Price from $133,512 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre i4 Ingenium turbocharged petrol Power 221kW @ 5500rpm Torque 400Nm @ 1500 - 4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Performance 0 to 100km/h 5.7 seconds Combined Fuel Consumption 7.2L/100km Tank Capacity 63L Length 4482mm Width 2042mm (including mirrors) Height 1310mm Wheelbase 2622mm Turning Circle 10.7m Kerb Weight 1545kg Service Intervals 12 months/26,000km Warranty three year/100,000 kilometre
More: All Reviews