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Garage Review: Jaguar F-Type 2.0-litre is a house cat

In 2010 BMW commissioned market research to learn how many of its 1-Series customers knew their cars were rear wheel drive. Disappointingly, fewer than a quarter did. Perception and fact are rarely related.

This brings me to Jaguar’s latest F-Type 2.0-litre, which like all other two-door Jags, looks stunning – even more so in the blue colour, first seen locally on the XKR-S. The classic GT-proportions, those wide hips and long bonnet, draw attention everywhere. But it’s when you stop, and strangers enquire about it, that faces turn to startled surprise. “What do you mean it’s a four-cylinder?”

Exactly. This is the F-Type 2.-litre, powered by Jaguar’s Ingenium four-cylinder engine, which boosts to 221kW. Nobody believes any of this, until you start it up and the characteristic V6/8 rumble is ominously absent. For enthusiasts the idea of a 2-litre F-Type is unconscionable. For Jaguar, it’s clever business. In many of its markets, capacity and emissions taxes are too severe and people desire to own the dramatic style and driving purity of an F-Type, but wish to avoid the burden of its large-capacity engine taxation.

In Mzansi, it’s a very curious car. One you must explain to exhaustion, kind of like the 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang. Confusingly, it’s only R28 100 cheaper than an entry-level supercharged F-Type V6. Jaguar’s engineers have done as good a job as any to try and enliven the four-cylinder’s sound, and though it does pop-and-crackle a bit on a throttle-lift overrun, it’s just not theatrical enough. Compared to the supercharged V6 and V8 F-Types there’s also too much lag between throttle input and engine response.

Surely there must be benefits to its downsizing? The efficiency gain is notable. We averaged just 9.8l/100km, a first single-figure statistic for any extended time with an F-Type. More importantly, is that the four-cylinder engine is 52kg lighter. And that’s a jockey’s worth of weight saving in exactly the right place, just above the front axle.

Exploit the performance and you discover this 2-litre F-Type is a lot better disciplined at turning into corners at speed, because the nose is that much lighter than a V6 or V8 Jaguar coupe. Power oversteer isn’t really an option because those rear wheel Pirelli P Zeros are superior in grip to the 400Nm of available torque, and besides, there’s no limited-slip differential to assist in sustaining a slide either, unlike other F-Types.

Jaguar’s 2-litre R-Dynamic coupe is a deeply troubling car to understand. It provides the opportunity to own one of the most desirable shapes in all of automobiledom, but there’s an absence of involvement from under the bonnet that will disappoint anyone who has ever driven any of the brand’s V6 or V8 powered coupes.

As a calculation of outcomes, this is a very sensibly executed coupe which is perhaps easier to drive quickly because it never requires guarded throttle inputs. In our market, where engine size taxation is not an issue, it doesn’t have the purchasing logic or allure of a supercharged F-Type. LANCE BRANQUINHO

TopGear’s other test review of the F-Type upon launch can be read here:

SPECIFICATION

  • Price: 1 023 200
  • 1997cc 4-cyl, turbo petrol, RWD, 221kW, 400Nm
  • 9.8l/100km, 162g/km
  • 0-100km/h 5.7 secs, 250km/h
  • 1525kg
  • Tester’s notes:
  • Should the smaller engine not be entitled to a bigger monetary discount?
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