Since launching back in 2012, the Jaguar F-Type has been all about supercharged V6s and V8s, but Jag is about to break with tradition and offer an alternative: a base-level four-cylinder turbo. The new engine drops a few bucks off the price, adds efficiency and still comes in right around 300 hp. Will it be convincing enough for buyers to jubilantly join Jaguar in embracing four-cylinder technology?
The F-Type is the kind of sexy sports car that you just want in your driveway, even if it doesn't have all-out flagship performance, and although US$1,500 off the price won't make it the most affordable sports car out there, we reckon it'll convince a driver or two (and maybe even their spouses) to pull the trigger.
Jaguar promises such buyers will be rewarded with a ride that's still fitting of an F-Type. The all-new, all-aluminum 2.0-liter Ingenium direct-injected gas engine puts out 296 bhp and 295 lb-ft with help from a twin-scroll turbocharger. The max torque figure comes in as early as 1,500 rpm, and with guidance from its eight-speed Quickshift transmission, the four-cylinder F sprints from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 5.4 seconds. Top speed comes at 155 mph (250 km/h).
Sure, that's not the 3.5-second 0-60 or 200 mph (322 km/h) top speed of the 575-hp SVR, but at just under $60,000, the entry-level F-Type 2.0 stands as far away from six figures as you can get while still putting you inside an all-new 2018 F-Type.
"The 296hp Ingenium petrol engine is engineered to deliver a compelling blend of performance, refinement and efficiency," explains Ron Lee, powertrain engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover. "Cutting-edge technologies including electrohydraulic intake valve lift control, integrated exhaust manifold and a twin-scroll turbocharger with ceramic ball bearings make this the most advanced petrol engine we've ever produced. Not only is this the most powerful four-cylinder ever offered in a production Jaguar, it also develops the highest specific power and torque ratings of any engine in the F-Type range."
The four-cylinder model is the lightest F-Type yet, losing over 114 lb (52 kg) compared to the 340-hp V6 variant. The weight loss is concentrated over the front axle and shifts the front/rear distribution one percentage point toward the back. To keep handling taut, Jaguar engineers have tuned the F-Type chassis and running gear around the new engine, by reducing front and rear spring rates and recalibrating the steering, for instance.
"We wanted the power and efficiency of the new four-cylinder engine to be matched by levels of responsiveness that would make the F-Type driving experience even more engaging and rewarding," says Mike Cross, Jaguar Land Rover chief engineer of vehicle integrity. "The result of the intensive development process is an even better balance, an even more connected feel, and enhanced ride comfort. Enthusiasts will want to drive this car - this is a true F-Type, with its own unique character."
Beyond just the new four-cylinder model, Jaguar will offer a total of 24 different 2018 F-Type variants for the US market. Other models will include a 400 Sport special edition, with a 400-hp version of the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 (up from the usual 380 hp) and an uprated chassis, and an R-Dynamic version of the 380-hp supercharged V6 model, with 20-in alloy wheels and gloss black accents.
MY2018 F-Type lineup standard and available improvements and additions include semi-automated parallel parking assist, a forward-facing stereo camera to support features like emergency braking and lane keep assist, full LED headlights and a slightly refreshed front fascia, standard InControl Touch Pro infotainment across the lineup and lightweight slimline seats. A new ReRun app developed in conjunction with GoPro seamlessly blends video shot on newer GoPro models with performance data like speed, throttle position, gear selection and g-force.
The 2018 Jaguar F-Type is on display now at the New York Auto Show. It will go on sale later this year, with starting prices ranging from $59,900 for the four-cylinder model to $125,000 for the SVR, both before $995 destination charge.