It’s always hard to think of the appropriate story to start one’s blog with. I had no such issue. It was pretty straight forward — I’d write about that one car which scared me the most in the past decade. And the one which didn’t. Ironically, they’re both Jaguar F-Type.
This is one of those cars where beauty overshadows everything. Aston Martin does this recipe pretty very well too.
The E-Type, in the words of one Mr. Enzo Ferrari, was the most beautiful car ever built. And the F-Type, an Ian Callum creation, is a sufficiently fitting tribute as a spiritual successor to the E-Type. I won’t even attempt to make comparisons between the two, but can say without reluctance that the F-Type is a very visually arresting shape.
I’ve driven the XKR and XKR-S and they were mighty fun things. Then I drove the F-Type R in 2014. The supercharged V8, 550 horses and nearly 700Nm — it was enough force to overwhelm the chassis. It was as fantastic an experience as it was scary. The steering felt accurate, the suspension had reasonable give but even the slightest excited press on the accelerator meant you were working overtime between managing the steering and throttle inputs to keep the rear aligned to the front. In the ‘R’ form, the F-Type seemed like an overexcited wild-child of an overconfident rockstar parent.
The 3.0-litre V6 was always fittingly powerful and extending the nameplate with a couple of cylinders more wasn’t necessary. That’s what I thought at the time. In hindsight, I was wrong. The V8 is immensely consuming. You just need to spend some time with it to know it well enough. And when you do, it’s a very shouty, beautiful experience. One that you’ll not forget for a long time.
And now, a few years down the line, we’ve got this. It’s still beautiful, but a bit less shouty. A lot less shouty.
And that’s the thing: yes I know that the world of automobiles is big on downsizing, but we still do love the high-capacity engines in performance oriented products. So, would a 4-cylinder engine in your fancy looking sports car really make you a draw in those bar stool conversations, especially if it’s a Jaguar? I don’t know.
But, there’s a very big reason why Jaguar has done a 4 cylinder F-Type. Due to the smaller engine, it is now more affordable than its hairy-chested siblings — a lot more affordable. The 2.0-litre F-Type costs a bit under one crore.
The practical reason aside, this is still an F-Type, so it’s still breathtakingly good-looking. So good in fact that Jaguar hasn’t changed it much. There are just some small sprinkles to justify this as a facelift. The most noticeable are the headlamps which are full LED units and that one big centrally mounted exhaust end.
So, this 2.0-litre engine — that’s 4 cylinders of injustice. Or, perhaps not. The first thing to set in place is this: it does not sound even half as glorious as the V8. It’s muted at slow RPMs, but that can be a blessing if you’re one of those who’d like to go about enjoying your drive in an unannounced manner. It’s only when you get north of 3,500rpm that things get a bass-y.
I expected this to give me a slight lag at low revs, but it didn’t. The torque is available from quite low down and it builds and keeps building till almost — almost — the top end.
The folks who’ve played with the internals of this 4-cylinder have made sure that it still delivers pops-and-bangs kind of an experience. So yes, there are some nice sounds at the peak and some fantastic farts upon throttling off. This has to be one of the most interesting and absorbing 2.0-litre engines out there.
Even with the thunderous 5-litre engine, I’d said that the F-Type is more of a Grand Tourer and not an outright track-attack weapon. And it’s the same with this smaller-engined one. This is a genuinely everyday sports car.
It feels slightly hectic at low speeds, but build the pace up and it rides very nicely! And the handling is fun. The V8 had so much torque and power that the F-Type was almost bored at getting its tail out every time you so much as even exhaled on its throttle pedal. With this in-line-4, power comes in a bit more linear way and the default grip levels are such that the power can’t overwhelm the balance unless you want it to happen with a forceful act of accelerator and steering feed being on the naughty levels.
Yes, it’s still a good motoring device. Not as crazy, not as passionate, not as scary, not as involving and not as satisfying as the V8 elder brother (or even the V6), but it does reward in its own unique ways. It’s friendlier. And still fantastically gorgeous. Now, I can’t wait to drive the newest F-Type — hopefully in its angriest form!