We’ve already tested the four-cylinder Jaguar F-type in tin-top coupe form, and now we’ve had chance to spend a week with its F-type Convertible sibling.
This is a natural extension of the sports car range; Jaguaris busy rolling out its in-house Ingenium petrol and diesel engines across the board, as it exits supply deals for shared and third-party engines and follows the zeitgeist in fitting smaller, more efficient motors to its fleet, just as Porsche has done with its 718 range.
End result? A two-seater convertible sporting a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing a round 296bhp, or 300ps in metric horsepower, and a mirror-image 295lb ft of torque, from a usefully low 1500rpm.
Does the four-cylinder engine turn the Jaguar F-type into an eco special then?
Hardly. Those outputs prove the muscle department is still well catered for, but Jaguar is keen to point out the 39.2mpg combined fuel economy figure and CO2 output of 163g/km – a decent chunk cleaner than the best V6 model.
Crucially, losing a pair of cylinders doesn’t damage the performance too badly. The official claim is 5.8sec 0-62mph and 155mph all-out. So rest assured, folks: this is hardly a poverty-spec F-type…
Our R-Dynamic model looked tremendous in an ice white paint job with contrasting red fabric roof (just ignore the Cyclopic reversing camera lens punctuating the rear deck). The F-type’s design is ageing well and still turns plenty of heads; we’d say Jag’s doing a decent job of managing the lifecycle well, and these (slightly) cheaper four-pots are a good way of stretching the range into higher-volume waters as it gets older.
You sink into low-slung sports seats, which proved comfortable for all CAR staffers, with a decent range of adjustment. The view out still thrills: cocooned and focused and sporty, with that long bonnet stretching ahead of you. They’ve finally fixed the paddle-changers nestling behind the steering wheel, which now feel less like they’re made from Lego. Bravo!
Shame the same can’t be said of the interior door handles; on this 4cyl model, they’re horrible, cheap black plastic items that knock you back every time you exit. The plastic gearlever surround feels cheaper too, reminding you this is a lower-rung model shorn of the V6 and V8’s niceties. We’re nit-picking here though. Overall the F-type feels special, solidly well built and the R Dynamic trim comes recommended for posing power and equipment.
How does the Jaguar F-type Convertible 2.0 300ps R-Dynamic drive?
The main event here is – happily – the Ingenium engine (below). It’s a well judged powertrain, syncing beautifully with the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and it always seems to be in the right gear when left to its own devices. Slip into Dynamic mode and everything is sharpened up further, the aforementioned paddles giving the option of zipping up and down the ‘box DIY style with some gusto.
There’s plenty of shove and the performance on tap is impressive for an entry-level model. The 5.7sec 0-62mph time says it all, really, and it’ll keep an entry-level 718 Boxster honest. Better still, the acoustics are spot-on: a dish of Snap, Crackle and Pop Light, compared with the raucous V6 and V8 F-types, but there’s zip and snarl aplenty and some welcome exhaust cackle too.
The chassis is set up beautifully on this car. The four-cylinder F feels more nimble than the bigger-engined models, the loss of cylinders over the front axle helping the F-type’s poise no end, and it flicks into corners with an eager swagger. Better still, it rides comfortably on its 275/35 ZR19 Pirelli P Zero tyres and you’d happily drive across France in one (assuming you could pack enough t-shirts in the risible 207-litre boot – down 100 litres from the coupe).
In extremis on a twisting back road, some road testers felt it needed a diff to quell turbocharged grunt spinning the inside rear wheel (all 4cyl F-types are RWD), but the less heroic among us felt more than happy with the handling balance. There’s less to go wrong than with the knife-edge lairy V6s and V8s.
That red roof is well insulated, hushing wind and road noise effectively when up. It lowers electrically at the flick of a button and then you’ll definitely need the mesh draft deflector to maintain conversation (and hair-dos) at speed.
The F-type still feels a real event and Jaguar is gradually rolling out new tech to keep abreast of class standards. The touchscreen sat-nav still lags behind the best competitors’, however, and you find yourself having to prod awkward buttons in the corner of the screen that require a game of Finger Twister™ to reach. We also worry about the long-term reliability of those dramatic pop-up air vents (only a worry if you’re looking to buy one of these used after 2027, perhaps).
The four-cylinder Jaguar F-type Convertible isn’t faultless, but it’s damn fanciable. They’ve done a cracking job of maintaining the drama and spectacle that go with a big cat sports car, and the powertrain and chassis balance have been tuned just so for this newly downsized engine.
While the performance is well judged, it’s a shame the hoped-for benefits of four-cylinder ownership (lower purchase price, more parsimonious fuel economy) are only marginally felt: this remains an expensive car at £59,980 for the 2.0 300ps R-Dynamic Convertible, and we averaged just 24mpg in our week with the car. For just £4500 more you could be in a sonically magical V6 F-type – and for £15k less you’ll bag an identically powered Porsche 718 Boxster.
If only Jaguar could make the sums add up to push the expensive-to-build, aluminium F-type into the £40-something-grand arena… That would be a very compelling choice indeed.
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|Price when new:||£59,980|
|On sale in the UK:||Now|
|Engine:||1997cc four-cylinder turbo, 296bhp @ 5500rpm, 295lb ft @ 1500rpm|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive|
|Performance:||5.7sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 39.2mpg, 163g/km CO2|
|Weight / material:||1545kg/aluminium|
|Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):||4482/1923/1308mm|